I know it’s been awhile since my last post, but I haven’t felt inspired enough to write anything lately. That hasn’t changed today; I’m just forcing myself to record the previous weeks’ events now since much will be changing very soon.
Last week end Julia and I went hiking in the Sudetes Mountains, in the Krkonoše range, in the Śnieżne Kotły glacial cirque. The names and locations sound a bit confusing, but the trail map we had (as well as the plethora of trail signs) were incredibly accurate. The first hour of the hike was the most arduous. That isn’t to say that it was the most strenuous. We started at about 1000 when the heat from the sun was making the initial uphill climb unbearably uncomfortable, but after about an hour we were high enough that it almost became chilly at times, with the increased elevation and wind. After the first portion of the climb we stopped along a river for snacks. I wandered off a bit to get some pictures of the valley below. As with all the other photos I’ve posted, my camera phone just couldn’t compare to the astounding picturesque landscape.
From there we trekked even farther up the mountain, reaching a point where the Polish and Czech borders were denoted by simple ground posts. We eventually reached the top of the first cirque several hours later and stopped again for quick snacks. The top of this climb offered a rest spot for climbers, right near an inaccessible antenna building and a steep and rocky valley. This picture was taken on approach, the rest area is the little rocky mound to the left.
Once on top of the mountain the hike is much easier – it’s mostly gradual rising and falling between peaks. We took a little detour to see a well-identified tiny stream that happens to be the source of the Elbe, one of the main rivers of Europe. It was a perfect opportunity to obtain another water sample for my collection.
We continued walking from there to the next peak, which (like most peaks) had a cottage that afforded food and lodging to climbers.
We ate dinner here then continued on to what was supposed to be our sleeping quarters: another cottage on another mountain. This is the cottage at which we arrived around 1700.
Julia had attempted to reserve us some beds, but was unable to due to the poor customer service of the attendants. Upon arrival we were informed that all the beds were reserved, but we could stay and either hope for beds to become available, or sleep on the floor. We had our mats and sleeping bags, so we decided that the floor wouldn’t be the worst idea. After about two hours of waiting, we just decided to take the two-hour hike down the mountains and back to the car. We apparently decided this just in time, because they bar the door shut at a certain time and only open it to let people in. We had just made “last call” to leave for the evening. Even so, the hike back to the car was long and dark. All in all, we spent a full twelve hours on the trials and in the cottages.
That was the extent of our hiking day. We had planned to stay overnight and see more peaks the next day, probably spending another eight or ten hours hiking, but boredom got the better of us. Still, I must admit that this was the most difficult and longest hike I’ve ever completed, and the views of the valley below were simply breathtaking.
Aside from the hike, I haven’t had many adventures lately. Julia and I went into Jelenia Gora a few days ago so I could get a haircut and pick up a few things at the mall. Otherwise, she has been working mostly daily and I’ve just been enjoying the relaxing environment before the next leg of my trip…which probably begins tomorrow.
As you may or may not know from my previous blogs, I splurged and bought tickets to UltraEurope, a huge EDM music festival in Croatia. I decided to go on the advice of a good friend I made in Croatia last year. Therefor, in order to not have wasted a lot of money on tickets, I need to be in Croatia within several days (six I believe). Getting from rural Poland to Split is not an easy task, especially with a deadline. I bought a ticket on Polski Bus for Monday at 0600 – early morning. But to get to…ugh…Wroclaw in time to make the bus I need to leave the village in which I’m staying the night before – tomorrow night. The bus will take me as far as Budapest, where I have booked a hostel for one night (probably unnecessarily). Assuming everything happens on time (which it won’t), I’ll be in Budapest at 1600 Monday, and my Orangeways bus to Zagreb doesn’t leave until 0600 the next morning. This is hardly enough time to do anything more than shower and get a few quick hours of sleep, but I feel like forgoing the shower for a few hours and sleeping at the bus station would have been a better option in order to save money.
Regardless, the bus will (allegedly) arrive in Zagreb right around noon. I have a hostel booked in Zagreb for the nights of the 12th and 13th, and several weeks ago booked an Airbnb for Split during the festival (the apartment cost as much as the festival tickets). That just leaves the transportation from Zagreb to Split, 400 kilometers of the Croatian countryside that I have to traverse before the festival. Being such a major event, many of the buses are booked – and the rest are horribly expensive. I think I really want to try my luck at hitchhiking again. Saving money is only a small part of the decision. To me, it seems like an enjoyable and adventurous journey. Planning ahead, I’ve already secured a sizable piece of cardboard to use as a sign. Wish me luck!
While researching transportation methods a few days ago, I sidetracked (due to Wikipedia) into gathering information on the countries of former Yugoslavia. I haven’t had a chance to really visit those before, and I think they will be at the top of my list after Croatia. They are nearby, relatively cheap, and most importantly not a part of Schengen. In fact, I discovered that I can stay in Albania for an entire year before needing a visa. It was brought to my attention that Albania technically wasn’t a member state of Yugoslavia, but it’s close enough that I’m going to include it in the area. I still have no clue what’s to become after Croatia, but I might stay in the southeast of Europe for awhile. Then again, I really want to go back to Romania and Ukraine, and within about two or three months it’s going to be getting incredibly cold in that area. I am dangerously unprepared for winter weather. I may need to start looking at a Workaway host that will allow me to hunker down for the coldest months, offering me a roof over my head to protect against the elements in exchange for English lessons or help around the house/farm. I feel that once spring hits I may need to start looking for a paying job, a way to make money on the $500 Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate I received several months back.
I feel that brings us up to date. As a quick recap for those of you keeping score, tomorrow is my last day in Poland. From there I’ll head down to Budapest for a day, then Zagreb for two days, then find a way to Split somehow for the festival. I think I’ll be there for about five days, then it’s decision time for my next adventure. I have no idea where I’ll be in two weeks!
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