I left Krakow with the sun shining - things are looking up. Horrendous traffic jams for the first few miles. Filtering is tough as Polish drivers won't move at all, and trucks have worn big grooves which make the filter area a nightmare of ripples and unpredictable slopes and cracks leading to sudden wobbles which risk scraping nearby cars. There is a lot of road repair work going on, so maybe that will improve. After a few miles, the scenery changes - alpine style villages, rivers, rolling green hills - very pretty. Road is single carriageway, busy and illegal to overtake - which would have been tough anyway due to traffic and bends. So I bumble along looking around me, and I think avoided a speeding ticket as I finally looked back in front of me to see a cop with a radar gun pointing straight at me. Luckily I usually slow down when I'm not looking where I am going...
Entering the Tatra range, the roads get more fun. Less traffic, more hairpins, better views. Lots of small hotels available. This is what I was looking for ! Stopped for a few photos on the lower slopes, but its tougher to stop higher up and the light is not as good as I reach cloud level. Round the next bend and brakes full on.... what turns out to be about a 3 mile queue of cars and trucks queuing for the Slovak border. I lead 4 Austrians right to the front of the queue....maybe thats why Polish drivers don't like bikes :) Tough to see why the queue was so bad - they do the usual quick passport check, but those cars were looking at waiting several hours at the speed one guy was working at...
The Slovak border crossing looked like a real border - narrow bridge over a mountain river. Sort of what you imagine. The slovak side of the Tatras is equally impressive. Lots of parked cars in the middle of nowhere - this is trekking and cycling country. Roads improve. I ride with the Austrians for a while until we can all fill up with fuel.
Once out of the Tatras, the Slovakian countryside remains impressive. Attractive villages, churches and old castles - interesting scenery. The last big city - Kosice - looks pretty grim though.... Eastern European tower blocks... grey and not very appealing. The Hungarian border appears with no announcement or signs - completely deserted. No one interested in Hungary ? I start realising why - completely flat, no scenery whatever and even the villages are unappealing. However, although the first few miles were again being extensively repaired, the road to Budapest is excellent. Fast, well surfaced and fairly quiet.Posted by Kevin Payne at August 13, 2005 11:36 AM GMT
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