Author Topic: London to Auschwitz  (Read 7030 times)

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #50 on: 30 July, 2023, 06:38:07 pm »
Also enjoying these writeups and photos. Thank you for sharing.

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #51 on: 30 July, 2023, 07:33:55 pm »
I find this diary an absolutely compelling read 👍

A
👍

StuAff

  • Folding not boring
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #52 on: 30 July, 2023, 09:10:37 pm »
+1. Great stuff, Pete.

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #53 on: 31 July, 2023, 09:17:17 am »
DAY 21: London to Aushcwitz - in Oswiecim, Poland
Breakfast was starting early at the hotel so I was there at 7am, on the road by 7.30, ready to get the final stage under my belt. It was the first day of the whole trip where it was warm enough to start the day in shorts and short sleeves as the sun was shining brightly. Within 3km I crossed the border on the main road into Poland. There was the usual headwind but no hills to speak of and I rolled into Oswiecim around noon having taken it easy all the way. It was only later that I discovered that Oswiecim is pronounced 'Auschwitz' - up till then I'd believed it to be the town where the camp was situated. Doh!
I gulped down a burger and chips where the chap behind the counter, a fluent English speaker called Bartosz, asked me all about the trip. He was cheerful and interested and made sure I had everything I needed. I then called in at the Aushcwitz camp entrance for photos before sitting on a bench waiting for the time to check into my airbnb. Janusz walked by and asked if I was okay. I must have been looking rough and was sat in the shade outside his apartment. Though his English was limited he understood what I'd achieved. He wandered off down the road and returned with an ice cream, and later brought water and an orange from his flat!!!
My home for the next two nights is a pretty newly built apartment. My bike's in the hall and it might not turn a wheel tomorrow!
Almost 72km today, and a grand total of 1963km. Which is the same as my year of birth!
I'll let you know if there are any adventures on the train journey home: should be fun!

Poland border, before 8am on a Sunday

And so this is Poland....(to the tune of the Christmas song)

A few muddy tracks today but lovely flat terrain, with the usual lakes

The Polish version of an avenue of trees, and a very fine one it was.

A Magnum on a petrol station forecourt - how very audax.

A horse show of some sort in Pszczyna - pretty, stocky ponies but that's as far as my horsey knowledge takes me, and I was too early for the competition to have started.

Nice venue, though

Trees in spring.

Bartosz - his English was so good I thought he might have lived in the UK for a while. But I guess Oswiecim is the town in Poland most visited by English speakers.

Entrance to the camp. Returning here tomorrow.

The old girl done good! Bought in 1996 after I'd been cycling for a year and wanted to keep going. She's seen me through an RRTY (a 200km ride each month for a year) as well as a couple of 300's. I have a sexier model at home, but don't tell Tif.
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #54 on: 31 July, 2023, 09:33:06 am »
Marvelous, well done. But i think you should have cycled back  ;) , that way we would have had more to look forward to.
Regards,

Alan

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #55 on: 31 July, 2023, 09:41:22 am »
It was only later that I discovered that Oswiecim is pronounced 'Auschwitz' - up till then I'd believed it to be the town where the camp was situated. Doh!
Confused by this. Oswiecim is the Polish version of the German name Auschwitz, but it's not pronounced quite the same. Polish governments get into all sorts of twists over this; they don't want the town called by the German name cos that might imply it still belonged to Germany, but they don't want people to refer to the camp as Polish...

Anyway, you've reached your destination, well done, and nice touch on the distance matching your year of birth.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #56 on: 31 July, 2023, 11:31:19 am »
It was only later that I discovered that Oswiecim is pronounced 'Auschwitz' - up till then I'd believed it to be the town where the camp was situated. Doh!
Confused by this. Oswiecim is the Polish version of the German name Auschwitz, but it's not pronounced quite the same. Polish governments get into all sorts of twists over this; they don't want the town called by the German name cos that might imply it still belonged to Germany, but they don't want people to refer to the camp as Polish...
That's interesting, because I asked one of the young guides at the camp about this. She must have been too young to have been bothered in the way those who lived through it all (and their descendants) are, or else have heard the word mis-pronounced so many times by the tourists that she's inured to it.
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

gibbo

  • Riding for fun, cake and beer.
    • Boxford Bike Club
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #57 on: 31 July, 2023, 01:35:49 pm »
I've been waiting for the conclusion to your trip before responding so as not to clog the thread up. Great trip and enjoyed your write-up.

Re: London to Aushcwitz
« Reply #58 on: 31 July, 2023, 03:30:44 pm »
Great writeup so far, I look forward to further updates.

I too am a huge fan of Primo Levi's books. The first one I read was The Periodic Table as a youngun going to university to read chemistry. I later read If This is a Man which is an astonishing book. I am probably due a reread of both.

I have never been to any of the former concentration camps, I'm not sure I'm brave enough.
I went to Dachau once. I don't regret it, but it was distressing.

I think Auschwitz would be worse.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #59 on: 01 August, 2023, 08:34:34 am »
Auschwitz: Today I visited the camp. In the queue for the English language introductory video a couple sat down next to me and promptly took out their Tupperware boxes and ate their packed lunches - Brits on a day trip from Katowice.

I'd read fairly extensively about the camp over the last few years so, tbh, I didn't discover a huge amount that I wasn't already aware of, but it was overwhelmingly sobering. Our guide had an immense passion to make sure that the memories are not lost and I will remember her for a long time. And the monumental scale and efficiency of the operation was breathtaking. As my good friend Alison said, it's a place everyone should visit once in their life. A couple of token pictures below but I didn't feel the need to record the more chilling evidence on show.







alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #60 on: 01 August, 2023, 08:35:46 am »
Following today's episode there are a few more posts about my train journey home still to come but we're off to the UCI World Champs in Glasgow tomorrow so they won't be up for another week or so.
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #61 on: 14 August, 2023, 08:36:59 am »
Auschwitz to London:
Early train into Katowice then great help from the lady at the ticket office trying to get a ticket to Berlin, including the bike which complicated things considerably. She got me to Rzepin which is on the Berlin line and I struggled with getting the bike and luggage up the three steep steps through the narrow train doors, but thankfully only had to change trains once.  Once at Rzepin it was easier to cycle the 20km across the border than risk trying to take the bike on the wrong train. Enjoyed the ride on flat, beautiful tarmac until the rain started and traffic increased. Stopped to put on rain jacket, then to put on lights, then to put rain protection on panniers etc, then to cover the Brooks saddle, then to clean glasses cos steaming up. Arrival in Frankfort (not that one), Frankfort (Oder), revealed a busy, large town straddling the Polish border with Stubice on the Polish side.
Had great assistance from Lee negotiating the ticket machine - she didn't use trains a lot herself - but we got me on to a Berlin train where I'm now staying in a hostel (hotels extortionate) before tackling the next leg tomorrow. Currywurst, strudel and beer for tea.
Only 29km in total today!

Wasn't till I went to the loo that I realised our carriage was the last on the train!!

At Rzepin station

Joelle (middle) and lovely Lee

She's had a hard time

...needs a wash, and a good bit more tlc.
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #62 on: 14 August, 2023, 08:56:00 am »
As my good friend Alison said, it's a place everyone should visit once in their life.
Yes. I've been meaning to go myself for some time.

Well done on the trip.
It'll be a memory now, but one you won't forget.
Garry Broad

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #63 on: 14 August, 2023, 09:25:28 am »
Just to be pedantic, there's no such place as Stubice. It's SÅ‚ubice. Looks like a t but is actually an L with an accent. Not that knowing this would have helped you get the right ticket for the right train.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #64 on: 15 August, 2023, 02:10:15 pm »
Auschwitz to London:
Spent the whole day on one train or another, starting in Berlin. Bike reservations were a recurring problem but I took a lucky gamble that a train to Brussels might let me stash the bike. Myself and two Germans got a very stern telling off from the Belgian train guard who made us get off, run along the platform, and re embark in the correct carriage. Suitably humiliated I lucked out on discovering that the train went beyond Brussels all the way to Ostend, just along the coast from Dunkirk. 6km on the bike, and 1100km in total for the day with 5 trains involved.
I'd read that the only way to book bike spaces across borders was to visit the ticket office in a major station as finding the correct options online was tricky. The problem was that the ticket office staff, whilst trying very hard, couldn't help with that in another country. Still, that's a first world problem.

I parked my bike whilst I discussed tickets in the office in Berlin. I kept catching sight of this bloke out of the corner of eye and repeatedly thought he was nabbing the bike.

Imagine having to go to work every day.Happily retired

Tif's getting frisky on the train. Her wheel's off the ground in excitement as she tries to mount her neighbour.

These lads were admonished with me by the 'guard. They were going on a five day cycling holiday from Bruges, doing 60-80km each day. Didn't get their names, but the younger one has type 1 diabetes like me!!! We compared notes on the challenges of cycling and maintaining stable blood sugars.

Post sunset at Ostend

Art
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #65 on: 16 August, 2023, 08:55:58 am »
Auschwitz to London: The final post as I sit on the ferry leaving Dunkirk.
I wussed out on a three hour ride to the ferry this morning and booked a taxi instead. Just didn't fancy it and, as Mrs Alfapete says, it's only money😄. This gave me a couple of hours in hand to explore Ostend - what a beautiful place, especially out of season on a very bright morning, and on market day.
There were traffic hold ups on the autoroute but I had 15 minutes to spare when the taxi dropped me off at the port. I loaded the luggage and rode 200m to the first window to check in only to discover my left foot completely stuck in the pedal. I had to lie the bike down and take off my shoe to extricate myself. After 2000km a bolt securing my cleat chose this moment to fall out. I've fashioned a sort of repair in the queue but am mighty relieved that I don't have to do too much further.
On the whole trip I've only come across one other true cycling tourist, ie carrying a load of gear, and he was leaving a train as I got on. At the ferry port there was a jolly bunch of Germans and a woman from the south of France who were all doing some serious distances on their way to the UK.
And so I sign off. Thank you to every single one of you who has commented or liked a (Facebook) post - it's made me smile a lot and I always looked forward to seeing the reactions at the end of a long day.
Notice I'm not saying "Here's to the next one"😁😁

Ostend aka Oostende, beautiful beach and a beautiful city, surprisingly large

A busy harbour, both pleasure craft...

...and commercial.

Love a market

Sausages!!

And a splendiferous bike shop

Queuing for the ferry, shoe repairs semi-complete

The four Germans had traditional Dutch bikes and we're towing a very heavy load with limited gears🙂
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #66 on: 16 August, 2023, 09:00:09 am »
Wow that is towing the kitchen sink. Well done on making it back.

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #67 on: 18 August, 2023, 06:29:00 pm »
Thanks Pete, I have really enjoyed following your journey.

Re: London to Auschwitz
« Reply #68 on: 18 August, 2023, 07:04:40 pm »
Many thanks for publishing this. I've looked forward to each episode.