Day 50: Levoca, Slovakia to Nowy Targ, Poland
The High Tatras from a few miles north of Poprad
I'm heading directly for them, to a road at that runs along them where you see those two white patches low down.
Low down, in this case, is at 900 M - about 3000 feet. The peaks are about three times that high
Todays ride was also short, 63 miles, with a lot of climbing. Based on the height of individual climbs, I'd guess well over a mile of vertical. It was a good days ride that almost didn't happen because I wasn't feeling well mentally this morning and, while stopped in Poprad, I considered not going to Poland at all. This is a complicated issue, but basically I was depressed and the thought of going to Auschwitz Concentration Camp while depressed was a bit much for me. I also want to be in Hamburg in time to enjoy my friends there and their baby, so skipping Poland would have helped there as well. I decided to go to Auschwitz, but skip Krakow, and, while it was hard riding getting to the High Tatra National Park, riding through it really lifted my spirits. Mountains do that for me.
Tonight, in Poland for the first time, I decided that I will probably - it depends on Auschwitz's effect on me - stay in Poland all the way to Germany. So far, I like Poland. If I can keep liking it after visiting Auschwitz, then I'll route in Poland, else I'll go ASAP to The Czech Republic.
Leaving Levoca, I see the first hill of the day
I did a lot of climbing getting to Poprad
The hills just kept coming, some of then quite steep
But then I saw some great mountains ahead and all that climbing became worthwhile
When I got to Poprad, I found a grocery store and bought supplies for the day. Then I rode through the centrum - quite nice - and stopped to contemplate my route. When I decided I should go through Poland, I took the first available road north out of Poprad. It went to Vel'ky Slavkov, and when I got there I saw a sign for
Horny Smokovec. That is on 537, a highway that runs across the front of the High Tatras National Park. I headed that way and just kept climbing till I got to 537. That took a lot of climbing of 8 to 10% grades for half a dozen kilometers. It was hard and I was tempted to turn back at the 850 M level, But I persisted and, once I got to 537, riding was MUCH easier.
Riding on 537, note the railroad tracks
The trains that use them must climb steep grades!
537 is populated with tourist facilities and camps, lot of them. Fortunately, it also has some places to eat, and I was able to get lunch at
Tatranska Lomnica. 537 had been almost all downhill from where I reached it to that point, so I had cooled down and dried out pretty well. Lunch was OK, about the same quality I had yesterday, but at 50% higher prices.
After lunch, 537 climbed quite a bit, then descended even more to meet 67 just outside the park. 67 goes to Poland. I rode about 20 miles on 537, and it was only a little over 20 more miles to Poland on 67. What a difference a few big hills can make! The second 20 miles took at least twice as long as the first. Then, in Poland, I got to climb yet another big hill!
67 started out pretty flat at about 700 M, and stayed that way for five miles or so.
Then it climbed to 1100 M. Those are three recreational bicyclists ahead of me
The view to the east from part way up the first big climb on 67
The purple patches in the fields are a beautiful weed
The little things with white tops at the right are hay stacks
A view of the Tatras and mountain meadows from the top of the first climb on 67
A mountain town on 67 about half way to Poland
The first hill on 67 climbed from about 700 M to 1100 M, mostly at 6% to 8% grades. A long climb, but with a pretty valley to look at on one side and great mountains on the other, a nice ride. Then it descended quickly to 800 M, stayed flat - OK small hills - and then started climbing again to 1000 M, then it descended into Poland, crossed a river and reached Lysa Polana where the border control station is.
Just past the border control in Poland - the trucks are waiting to get through the border
The road is not great, and I didn't take any more pictures till after the top of the next hill
Views of the High Tatras, which are in Slovakia, from Poland
After getting into Poland, the road quality was poorer and the road, highway 960, was narrow with no shoulder. It was climbed to the usual 1000 M or so, and then headed downhill. That was a long downhill, running through a lot of resort towns and, unfortunately, having half a dozen miles of pavement that was 'under construction.' Traffic was moderate, but heavy in bursts and the were buses, both local and tour buses, on the road. That wasn't a great bit of riding.
Once 960 ended at 97, the riding was better. The road was mostly flat to gentle downhill, and it travelled through a pretty, agricultural, valley to Nowy Targ. Nowy Targ is a nice town with a beautiful new church. I am in a small hotel right on the town square. I walked to a very good pizza place last night for supper and have, except for some 'features' of my room, enjoyed being here. I like the people and the general feel of Nowy Targ is nice.
The mountains just visible behind me on 97
On 97, heading for Nowy Targ
Polish valley from 960
Sheep being herded into a pen
The townsquare in Nowy Targ