Thursday, August 9, 2012

DAY 10: Schrödinger's Cat vs. The Little Frog

So, after flummoxing about last night, trying to find the border in total darkness, this morning we made one of those "Hmmnuuuuh!" discoveries (where "hmmnuuuuh!" roughly translates as "What a pair of dumbass tourists!").

Cycling about 20m to the end of the road from our pensjon, we found ... wait for it ... a bridge! It was about 50m long and it went straight over the river and into the centre of Görlitz.

Scott Goes to Poland
Görlitz-Zgorzelec Bridge, Germany/Poland, 09.08.12

So we cycled over to Germany for coffee (I don't think I'll ever get sick of saying that*) in a brilliantly decorated, slightly rundown and cavernous cafe restaurant. What a life, eh?

Cavernous and Full of Coffee
Görlitz, Germany, 09.08.12

On the way into town, we discovered a rather curious fact: namely, that the endlessly entertaining Jesus of Nazareth is alive and well, and has been baking bread and cakes in a German town this whole time. Either that, or he did die and then bugger off to heaven for a while, but now (much in the manner of, say, Jason the Texas Chainsaw Guy), he's back.

Why German Bread Tastes So Divine
Görlitz, Germany, 09.08.12
Suitable caffeinated, we then took off in the direction of a city called Jelenia Gora, which is about 65km from Zgorzelec. Didn't expect to get all the way there, because it's a long way and we'd started quite late. But there were a number of towns on the way where we could stop and find accommodation for the night if we needed to.

The first 24km were awesome: wide panoramas of spacious open fields, a couple of quirky villages (including one which contained a post office that seemed to have its own tomato patch), and a zippy downhill ride through lush green valleys which were among the most beautiful I've seen in this generally rather picturesque country. 

We then approached the little town of Luban, and this, sadly, was where the smooth run ended. Just before the turn-off into the town centre, Scott's rear wheel axle snapped in two, rendering his bike pretty much useless as anything other than a poor man's ginko** machine. Luckily there was a bike repair shop in the centre of Luban, but it was closed. So we found a cute, cheap little hotel on the town's outskirts and settled in.

Little Frog
Luban, Poland, 09.08.12
I taught a Skype lesson at 8pm, and then decided to go into the centre to try and grab some food, since we'd sort of forgotten about dinner with all the other stuff that had been going on. When I got there, everything was closed except the Źabka (it means "little frog", and it's a convenience store chain that's all over the country), so it was dinner from plastic packets for the second night in a row. 

(Btw, I'm posting the Źabka photo here mainly because I think the little frog is really cute :-)

Much worse than that, though, I had to make the journey on foot, because earlier I'd left my bicycle in the back yard of the hotel, and when I went into the yard to get it, it had disappeared. I looked around for ages, thinking the bike had been moved to make way for an incoming car, but nope: completely gone.

So now it's 11pm, there's no light in the locked reception area (i.e. no-one to ask about missing bikes), and I've got a big ol' Schrödinger's cat on my lap. Either the owners have put the bike into their garage to make sure it isn't stolen (they mentioned something about a garage when we arrived, but they were speaking Polish so I didn't understand much), or it already has been stolen. 

If it's the second one, it means we've gone from having two more or less working bikes to having one broken one between us, in the space of a single day. And that, of course, means our cycling trip is over. 

At this point, I just hope I can sleep. 

Good night!

** Not sure why borders fascinate me so much. Maybe because I was born in Australia, where there basically aren't any. (Well, there is one, but it's, y'know, The Pacific Ocean. Kind of a different thing.) Or maybe it's because I've spent most of the last seven years in 'visa countries', where crossing a border is a big deal and often involves quite a bit of bureaucracy, or at least a lot of suspicious looks from armed guards. D'know. 

** ginko = a Japanese form of gambling which involves big yellow machines full of silver balls that rattle and roll around madly, before some of them are spat out into a plastic cup – much like the ball-bearings inside a broken bicycle wheel, which rattle and roll around madly before spitting themselves out onto the road. The major difference is that it's quite possible to understand the bicycle ball-bearing system without being Japanese, whereas the principles underlying ginko are – at least to me – utterly beyond a foreigner's comprehension.

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