Monday, 1 October 2012

liberté, égalité, fraternité

It's a slow start to the day.  When we woke first thing there was frost in the field and the sun is slow to rise above the trees.  We cycle into a small town, the last town in Lithuania before we enter Poland.  It's a Saturday and tourist information is closed. We want to find the library and use the internet, but there's a cafe open and we decide to go in and plan our journey through Poland.  We should have done this in Vilnius but we were having too much of a good time.  Even now we do no planning.

We are both sat facing the street, with an eye on our loaded bikes, when another cycling couple draw up.  They stop and look in - we smile and wave and they park up and join us inside.  Magali and Jean-Baptiste.  Heading southwards after a long ride north from near Paris up though Sweden and Norway and back through Finland.  After a long chat we decide we need to get on.  First thing is the lunch we promised ourselves at the Chinese restaurant.  Then to the library for the internet.  When we get there it is closed.  Whilst we hum and haw about what to do, Jean-Baptiste and Magali turn up.  They ask if we would be happy to ride together to Poland and the question seems so obvious we wonder why we didn't think of it ourselves.  But then we know how personal cycling can be and camping too.  We say yes straight away and this is a Good Thing.
ice cream is also a Good Thing
Within a couple of days cycling together we have agreed to head to Warsaw where Daniel has offered to host us.  After one lousy wet day we are blessed with dry and sometimes sunny days.  It seems to be getting warmer not colder.  We have to learn to cycle in a group - difficult for us as we can barely ride together as a couple - but it works out best in Poland as the roads are noticeably busier.   We soon realise that les francaises are more relaxed about their cycling day and don't try and go too far.  Noticeably they enjoy a longer lunch than we're used to.  As far as we're concerned it's good for us to have a change of pace - something we had talked about but never achieved.

It takes about five days to reach Warsaw (pronounced Varshava in Polish) and in this time we have great fun with our new cycling comrades.  We learn some new tricks from them - it's a good opportunity for us to share experience with them and discover how they do things - especially on the camping and cooking side.  Being French, Jean-Baptiste and Magali are epicurists.  Gayle is inspired by Jean-Baptiste's Normandy upbringing that requires a little cream in all the cooking.  Up to this point we've been losing weight on our journey.  Now we start to put it on.

Critically we had been feeling a little bit low since we left Vilnius and said goodbye to Laurynas and Giedre.  It seems we make new friends and then leave - wholly unsatisfactory. With Magali and Jean Baptiste we cheer up quickly and start enjoying this transient life again.

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