But it was not going to be the same route. For starters, that was all highway, and it is incredibly dull. Second, I was driving throughout the day. I wanted something far more interesting to view on my way. And so the route was chose, north of Budapest towards Slovakia. And then through the breadth of this country until getting back into Poland before heading to Czestochowa for the night. The plan was for a ten hour drive, and yes, it did take that long!
Of course, it was done at a leisurely pace, and we left late. After all, the morning was spent wandering around Budapest’s wonderful City Park (it was a Sunday after all) and so the road trip was late in its commencement. But off we went, leaving our glorious apartment block in a not too bad district of Pest.
The drive to the border was quick and easy. As it is all Schengen that basically meant sailing straight through. International boundaries just became lines in the tarmac as one road surface changed into another. And then came Slovakia – country number 35 on my list of ‘places visited’.
(The Town of Krupina – Slovakia)
Driving through Slovakia on Sunday, I noticed that it was one hell of a quiet country! These people really observed their sabbath. Nothing was open, there was no one on the roads and it was almost like an empty film set. I was expecting zombies to jump out from round the corner, because the big question was where’s the people?
Apart from empty, Slovakia is beautiful. Partly as the country is so empty, so there is lot of countryside to view. And it is very hilly. The Caparthian mountains dominate the northern part of the country, along its border with Poland and I was heading over there. So as the roads climbed steadily upward, I continued my journey, this great road trip towards mother Poland, with stunning viast as along the way!
(Stream next to Harmanecka Cave in Slovakia)
We took a detour, and headed off the main road, and decided on a far more hilly route. It added around an hour to the journey, but it was worthwhile. Seeing the beauty of Slovakia, the freedom of the road, the choice of where to go. This was the reason behind taking a road trip, the reason to drive rather than fly to Budapest. It was the choices available. Stopping off wherever we wanted to. Eating here of there, seeing something because we could. No rushing, after all, our hotel was booked, they knew we were coming along.
But all good things have to come to an end, and this road trip was no different. Night was fast approaching, the fuel was running low and to be honest, we had run out of Euros. We had plenty of Zloty, but we needed to head back into Poland to make any use of that. And then the smart move was made. The short cut.
Short Cuts are great. They are a way to see a new place, they take you off the main routes and it is an adventure. But, when the car is running low on fuel, you are out of local currency and you are driving on the wrong side of the road, they are not a great way to travel. Plus, it was getting dark, and as there are no great urban centres in this part of Slovakia, there are no bloody street lights! Help me! And it is not as if I could floor it through these short cuts, as let me illustrate, the roads are almost dirt tracks!
But somehow, we made it off the single track roads, back into civilisation and then finally, we turned round the corner and destination reached – Viva Polska!
But the journey was not over. Despite the tribulations of Slovakia, we still had to cross Poland – and it is a big country. The EU’s sixth biggest nation in terms of area, this chunky country means that crossing the border is not enough. We had to stop off to get something to eat. Feed the driver…and Zywiec was the pit stop of choice for fine Polish fare in a really funky restaurant.
Belly full, it was time to head off to our destination – Czestochowa. Although Budapest was the primary destination of my road trip, the thought behind it was if we are going to travel so far, why not make another stop. And so my travels across Europe continued, but this time, back in Mother Poland…