“What do you like best about Poland?” When I answered in all honesty that it would be the inhabitants themselves, she laughed saying that she was surprised that I didn’t say the alcohol. When I said that the booze comes in combination with the people, she laughed even more and we toasted with our metal cups filled with red wine cheering na zdrownie.
It is indeed the Poles that I like best about Poland. In previous blog entries I praised the country in all its facets and the Poles in particular. I won’t do that again. Oh, I can easily sum up all the terrific things I experienced in this country since the last blog post, but I’ve drunk off my vodka and being at the brink of leaving Poland and entering Germany it is now time for some reflecting.
That I like Poland so much is also an intrinsic element. I have finally slowed down a pace. In Sweden I just wanted to reach the North Cape. In Finland I wanted to go south to get a bit of warmth. In the Baltics I started to relax and I’ve perfectioned that here in Poland. So, now I take it all in much more than before. I cycle less per day and I’ve made a ‘detour’ going north to the city of Elblag (I wrote Elbing before, but of course I should use the Polish name) in order not to go through Warschau. Again, I won’t repeat myself how lovely that route was (read my previous blog post).
Apart from the fact that I enjoy riding through Poland from east to west, doesn’t mean I want to stretch it more than I do now. Yes, I have long breaks, I take a swim when there is a lake or river, I eat an icecream, I’m not packing up my tent as fast as possible in the morning and I cycle less kilometers per day. But since I’ve made up my mind to go home (for a very good reason!), it is like a switch has been pulled. Therefore I do long to get home as well, even though my girlfriend won’t be home when I expect to arrive – yes, the sweet, sweet irony. When I am in the saddle, my feet peddle on the rythm of the leaves waving in the trees, a Pole on his roadbike waves and the sun is trying to tan my arms even more, there is not a care in the world. But when I found a campspot (have I mentioned before how easy that is in Poland?) and I am boiling my pasta, the longing comes creeping in my head like the bugs in my tent. Having eaten the simple dinner and lit my pipe, I start to calculate where I can be tomorrow, the day after and next week. How long does it take me to reach Germany and how fast can I ride through that country to the city of Groningen? I look at Google Maps, dividing the kilometers between days of riding and I can’t deny that I feel a strange sense of relieve that it won’t take that long anymore.
My girlfriend was right (as always she would say) by pointing out that I don’t have a deadline, so don’t rush. I don’t and I won’t, but nonetheless I ride to the west day by day. Therefore I just enjoy every meter, every ray of sunshine, every drop of rain on my tent and every smile as long as I am still on this trip.