Slovakia

Saturday24November

I’ve not actually been to bed.  One hour turns into another and before I know it the dawn is breaking and I might as well stay up for the early traffic to get across the border.  It’s only now that I can see the beauty of my surroundings, and the morning mist on the snowy mountains creates a promise of a glorious day ahead.  I take a few snaps from the balcony and slip quietly away.

The first car that passes takes me 5km further toward my home base, but as it’s driver is going climbing today he apologies that he cannot take me onwards.  A bus that passes within minutes drops me over the border.  My initial distaste for Polish hitching has been drastically improved over the past 24 hours.  My goal is to reach the next popular town on this road, Zdiar, and to stay at the famous Ginger Monkey hostel.  I should have no problem in this spot.

Except of course I do.  Nobody is coming into Slovakia, everyone is leaving Poland.  Any car that is passing is rammed full of people, and it takes me a while to realise folk are ride sharing to go climbing over the weekend.  There’s no space for little old me.  After what feels like an eternity, albeit in the beautiful morning sun, I decide to set off on foot.  It’s only 12 km away after all.

That’s 12km up a damn mountain.  I’m heaving and whining within a few hundred metres, but still no joy with a vehicle.  I’m still positive, because at least I’m going in the right direction, I’ll get there eventually, and the day could not be clearer.  Stopping to take a picture for posterity, I half heart-idly wave my sign at three cars pulling out of a hotel driveway.  The last one stops and a nods acceptance.

It becomes apparent during the remainder of the journey that in no way could I have walked it.  Well i could, but I would have been found dead by the side of the road in the mountains, buzzards pecking at my frozen eyes.  After wandering the length and breadth of Zdiar to find the hostel, I eventually locate it tucked behind a church and I crash through the doors to be greeted by a wagging tail and a wall of warmth.  Three hours to travel what should have taken 20 minutes.  I love hitchhiking.

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