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Up, Up, Up!

May 3, 2013

I had to pay 179 złoty for a night in a real hotel in Bielsko-Biała, something I only do in extremis, but I’m really glad I didn’t try to get to Hostel Góra Żar  that first night.  There’s no way I would have found it.  Aside from being 22 km from the train station, it’s completely unmarked, except for the address, which wouldn’t have been visible in the dark.  I reached my mountaintop destination yesterday evening.

Yep, that’s right, it’s on top of a mountain, 1000 meters above where I started.  Maybe I should have read the description on the website.

Hostel newly opened on the mountain Zar in a stunning surrounding with scenic hiking routes, water and mountains.

(Emphasis mine.)  But no, I just did what I always do, which is book the cheapest hostel, (in this case the only hostel), in my target city, and then figure out how to get there later. Lesson learned: read everything and look at the map before booking the room.

Oh, and did I mention there was another mountain in between Bielsko-Biała and the little village of Międzybrodzie Żywieckie, which I could see right now in the valley far below me, if there weren’t clouds in the way.  That’s two mountains I had to ascend on my beat-up old bicycle, with a pack weighing 20 kg (44 kbs.)

And yet, as often happens, it was a happy accident.  Yesterday, I called to ask for directions.  It looked like I had reached the limits of civilization atop the mountain, but no, I still had a good ways to go.  “Up, up, up!” said the woman on the phone, laughing.

(Side note: It dawned on me with horror that this heavy pack is actually only 4/5 of the weight I used to carry in my body, before I started my diet in November 2011.  Yikes.  No wonder I can do 15 push-ups now and then I could do none.)

Can’t post any pictures yet because I forgot the cord for my camera.  But take my word for it, arduous though it was, my bicycle trek across the mountainous forest was worth it for the stunning views.  Even in the stop-and-start rain.  (For once, I thought to pack my poncho and lots of plastic bags. I do sometimes learn, eventually. With spaced reptition and very clear reinforcement.)

It’s a holiday today, Constitution Day, so everything is closed.  I’m pretty tired and sore, but it’s a good kind of tired.  I’ll go hike in the woods a bit later if the rain lets up.  Right now I’m going to take a little nap.  This evening, I’ll be having dinner with the proprietress, a charming woman with both a teenage daughter and a two year-old.

All I can hear right now is the whirring of my laptop and the birds chirping in the mountaintop mist.  Life is good.

Evening Update

I hiked to the top of the mountain.  It was awesome.  It took me back to being a kid, clambering around the mountains in west Texas and southern New Mexico, but what it really reminds me of here is the Smokies, which I visited once when I was quite young and never forgot.

Then my hostess, going way above and beyond, invited me into her quarters for a fantastic home-cooked meal with her and her two daughters.  She offered to pick me up tomorrow evening if I get back to the village late from my jaunt into town.  (On the bus, not by bicycle!)

Poland, you are AWESOME.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Diana permalink
    May 3, 2013 7:11 pm

    🙂 🙂 🙂 !!! ★ ♥

  2. Katie permalink
    May 3, 2013 7:13 pm

    Careful, there might be a teenager, a three year old and a toddler next year if you’re not careful…
    JUST KIDDING.
    Anyhow, that sounds amazing! How beautiful the area sounds. Pictures when you can, please!
    And yay for choosing to carry extra weight outside the body. It makes a world of difference.
    I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I am with your progress.

    • May 3, 2013 8:05 pm

      Thanks, sis! It feels great to have you in my court. If you ever come over here, I’m going to know my way around pretty well and have a fair handle on survival Polish. Free custom tour for the coolest gal I know.

  3. May 3, 2013 7:48 pm

    Can you call in sick next week? Take a mental health week ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN!!!!!

    • May 3, 2013 8:12 pm

      I could take quite the extended break here, but civilization beckons, with its paychecks and its… paychecks.

  4. May 6, 2013 4:33 am

    Most people I know in the States are working their asses off and overstressed and most people I know in Europe are traveling around frequently and not speaking about their lives with the same sense of urgency…

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