Our first two nights in Krakow we are generously hosted by Magda and Maciek, two other cyclists. I say generous because Magda is due to give birth at the end of the year, they are about to move out of their studio flat and, er, it's a studio flat, which means we're sleeping in their lounge/bedroom. It takes us a while to realise how much we are imposing on them - Maciek had suggested we leave any baggage on the bikes that we didn't need in the store room - and Gayle mistakenly thinks the wardrobe in the corner leads, CS Lewis-like, to another room. However, they are so relaxed that we instantly feel like old friends. They have toured the length and breadth of Italy, Corsica and Sardinia and for their honeymoon, Morocco and it's great to hear about their experiences. Magda reflects that when they prepare more for a trip they lose some of the excitement that unpredictablity brings.
Our stop in Krakow is scheduled to include some bike maintenance and Magda helps us by translating for us at their local bike shop. It occurred to me while cycling with Magali and Jean-Baptiste that Gayle was overdue a replacement chain, and rear cassette and chainrings. She has cycled about 12,000 kilometres with the same set. Needless to say it's much cheaper to replace here than back in Blighty. It occurs to Maciek that they could be getting a discount at their local bike shop as they're always taking cycle tourists there for something or other.
|despite Magda and Maciek's best efforts I still screw up the photo|
On the Monday evening they take us into the old town for our first glimpse of the sights, some Polish fast food and a natter over a beer in a sailor's pub (yes, a sailor's pub.) We talk and talk and talk and talk and at one point I have to remind myself we're in Poland. For the first few days we cycled in this country I smiled at everyone we passed in the villages and along the road. The Poles are not naturally smiley people. I only stopped smiling when I read in the guidebook that here people do not smile at strangers - it is considered stupid.