Road Trip The Departure
…and off we go. The driver ingests some ginger for its anti-clotting qualities, the navigator reaffirms her dislike of maps so that’s looking good, whilst the children settle in for the long haul. From the north-east of Poland, up near the border with Russia, our first destination lies only 630km away. It would take about 8 hours, as the unladen swallow flies. African or European?
The route is pretty much south-west towards Cieszyn, via Łomza, Warsaw, which of course is very busy, on southwards past Częstochowa and we swing into Cieszyn itself about 6pm, with its 30,000 residents at home or staying clear of us. We stayed at the Mercure Hotel. Looking like a building the architect decided he or she was never going to stay in and akin to a 1950’s American Motel. The family took the lift to the first floor. Well actually that was it, no more. As they loaded lazily into the lift I was hit with a spurt of competitiveness and ran up the adjoining stairs. One second ahead of them and breathing deeply, my victory enjoyed as they got out the lift..Reasonably priced rooms fitted out in dark wood with white clean crisp sheets and my favourite colour, maroon, for bedding and decor, and instant disliking. Luckily we plumped for two rooms, but with a connecting door so we could gatecrash the wi-fi internet games fest next door, whilst wearing the free silly shower cap pulled down as far as possible!
Czieszyn is half-Polish and half Czech and all European. There is a nice bridge that we wandered over thus entering the Czech Republic for a little amble around. Jumou=ing back and forth, Poland Czech, Poland …well you get the idea.We also purchased the obligatory vignette for driving in the Czech Republic, which as we were only going to drive through proved a little expensive. But as my wife sagely pointed out,
‘’A lot less expensive than the fine for not having a vignette’’. Wise.
We also took the opportunity to fill up the car as the cost of fuel in Poland is better than in Euroland. Stuffing everything into the back of the car, I mean repacking in an orderly fashion, off we toddled again. And little did I know it but our first real test awaited us. We liked Czieszyn so much we went round it a couple times and realized that…
- Our navigator really did not like maps
2. That we should have bought a GPS
3. That we were lost
By cunning and quiet reason we found the correct road and we were off and running again to Salzburg.
What is it about timing? Bereft of GPS we hade some vague maps wjich the navigaotr was poring over as we entered the environs of the town. Just then the children finished watching films, listening to music and filled the car with a cacaphony of questions and demands! Timing. In Salzburg we stayed in the Star Inn hotel where the staff were efficient and friendly and spoke good English, especially as the young lady who booked us in was an American! The hotel was 4km out of town, located next to the small airport. The rooms were basic, clean and comfortable and sported no maroon! We took a cheap inexpensive bus to the town centre. There we took the swift lift up to the castle wandered around enjoying the setting and walked through Old Town as time was pressing. Beware the schnitzel! Overpriced, over-rated and overly greasy. You have been warned, and not the best ballast for another days extended driving on the morrow.
Onwards. Picturesquely located as we drove down into Bolsano we simply headed for the town centre, and within a stones’ throw was the Museum of Otzi. The iceman found in 1991 was housed within. The staff spoke excellent English, the tickets were cheap and the museum absolutely fascinating. As much for Otzi himself, in his own refrigerated area, as for the tools and clothing found with him. Highly recommended and great for the children, and the adults! The town of Bolsano was an unexpected delight, clean and pretty and welcoming.