My last two blogs about Poland have been very centred around Krakow, which is because for the first half of the trip, that is where we were based. It was, however, a trip which intended to explore the outdoors, so we not only visited the many (large) parks in the city, but also took adventurous trips out.
The first was a very easy but long day in Ojcow National Park. After getting up early in the morning, Luke, Ruth and I headed once again to Krakow Glowny station, this time searching for a bus to take us into the north. 4.5 Polish zloty were enough to get us to a small town (Czajowice) which was just on the border of the national park, possibly the smallest national park I have been in.
Much of the park is forested. Rolling hills suddenly give way to Karst rock formations, and wide, clearly marked trails lead through the area. The map we had received from fellow travelers at the hostel proved largely unnecessary as we followed coloured signs and lables further north, through valleys and up hills.
The main aim of the day’s outing was to visit two castles which are on the ‘Eagle’s Nest Trail’. One is still a ruin, a memory of a fortress that once was, the other is a stately, rebuilt castle, standing proudly. Unfortunately we arrived at the second castle, (the rebuilt one) after it had already closed for the day, so we had to be satisfied with a stroll in the courtyard and a visit to one of the watchtowers-turned-cafe.
While the castles were impressive, I think I’m more likely to remember lunch. It’s been a long time since I embarked on a walk without a packed lunch, but if the consequences are always so delightful, I might make it a habit. It was shortly after reaching the first castle when we decided it was time for our pit stop, and we found a restaurant in the valley, surrounded by a massive garden, with tables next to a small river. Out in the sunshine we enjoyed a beer and a rest, before being served massive portions of delicious food. I had chosen roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables, while the others went for the traditional Goulash. All of us finished with very full and very happy tummies. True, the food probably didn’t match the level of exertion, but man, it was glorious.