Poland the final frontier...

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 29, 2009

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Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Monday, July 20, 2009

We have been in Poland nearly a week now, when we got here it was jumpers and jeans weather, it didn't stop raining for days and it felt like the summer had come prematurely to an end, so we didn't stay in the mountain region in the south west, you wouldn't have guessed the weather was bad though the Poles packed the resorts out completely, this was probably the busiest we had seen any holiday destination in Europe, come rain or shine the Poles won't let the weather spoil there holiday. But for us we couldn't face walking the mountains in the rain so we headed inland to Wroclaw to check out our first Polish city and hopefully calmer weather back on the Polish planes.

In the quite countryside of the Czech Republic and Poland we have had time to reflect on our journey and start to piece together our next journey to our final destination in Adelaide. Its been a pretty amazing four months on the road and the van and changing landscape feels like home, but unfortunately we have to think about getting to Australia as there is only so long we have to validate the visa before it runs out, it would have been great to carry on eastwards and we feel confident the van would take us for as long as we wanted to go, but unfortunately travel by its nature means things have to change and we have to think about the journey ahead.

We did consider leaving the van in Europe and flying straight to our next destination but it soon became clear flight costs were actually much higher across Europe so it makes more sense to drop the van off in the UK and fly from London. We obviously are looking forward to seeing friends and family but we are dreading going back to the UK, already it doesn't feel like home and coming back to leave again feels a little like a traveling cop out. So after much deliberation we have found a flight to Kuala Lumpur, its only 200 one way and with the right connection we could get to Australia for under 300! We thought it would be better to break up the journey with a few weeks in Asia, we had originally planned a few months but we are really keen to get going in Australia and see our new home for the next few years. So a few weeks Island hoping to Australia sounds like a good plan, we may live to regret flying budget but as ever less money means more time on the road.

With a rough plan for the future it felt like the last stage of our European tour was now underway, once we toured south Poland and Warsaw to visit my relatives we would be swinging back towards the UK for the final push. With the worst of the mountain weather behind us we traveled to Wroclaw and on to the high Tatra mountains of the south. We thought Wroclaw would be quite industrial but it did have allot of character in the center very typical of the old fashion cities and how the Poles love to build lots of ornate churches and colorful tall city buildings. We took the long road towards the Ski resort of Zakopane next, also very popular in the summer. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the mountains I had heard so much about as a kid from my Grandfather, all through my childhood I was promised I would be taken but for one reason or another it didn't happen so it would be a small ambition finally achieved.

The route we had taken quite accidentally took us through Oswiecim, more commonly referred to as Auschwitz, we had planned to visit Auschwitz this time but we thought it was closer to Cracow so we were surprised to stumble on it this far east and as It was getting late we decided to camp and visit the complex the next day. The car park allows campervans to stay the night and has good 24hr facilities and for a ridiculously cheap price of 4 we had secure parking, facilities, electricity and entry to the grounds. We were apprehensive at first as the area does have a somber feel, driving past the heavy industrial rail tracks you can't help thinking for many this was a final destination and truly the end of the line. But with secure parking we slept well and the next day took our time tying to absorb the mountain of information and unimaginable cruelty that went on here. I thought it would be overwhelming but it seemed a place at peace trying to remember the lives lost in a dignified way, the shear amount of information to try to comprehend leaves you a little numb and for us almost stripped of emotion. We set off later that day quiet but glad to have had a chance to see and understand, it may not be nice but it happened and I think its important to see such a place at least once.

The road to Zakopane was brilliant, the sun had come out and the rolling hills and villages that seemed untouched for years really made the drive enjoyable. As we saw the high Tatras in the distance across this timeless route we really felt lifted, Poland was really opening up to us, after two previous visits we though we may not be able to see anything with fresh eyes but we were seeing more and more the country had to offer.
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