There is no red line which one crosses to mark the beginning of an epic overland journey to the east, especially when we have already been living in Toyotoro for over a week before we entered Poland. Nonetheless, our hearts leaped a little upon encountering our first unintelligible polish road sign. There is just something magical and humane in open border crossings. However, travelling in the EU zone in general is a bit of an anti-climax because one can drive past so many different languages, cultures, histories and delicious cuisines without even realising so.
Since we were in Berlin visiting a friend we entered Poland through the German city of Frankfurt an der Oder. It was a rather unapparent entry into another country, especially because the landscape and architecture remained rather similar.
We immediately headed towards the south hitting Wroclaw and Krakow with Auschwitz between them before going up to Warsaw. On the third day of entering Poland, however, we had our first puncture. Looking puzzled at a gradually deflating tire I was reminded of an all-too-excited Henning proclaiming: “Our BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires are indestructible!” So, I was a little astonished to discover a steady flow of air exiting one of our back tires. I imagined getting a puncture if we drove over magma when we eventually camp next to a semi-active volcano or accidentally going over a bear trap in a forest somewhere. But in Poland?! Nevertheless, we are prepared. Out came the compressor and tire repair kit and in next to no time, with sticky fingers and a sweaty back, we were back on the road.
Contrary to our image of the cold polish climate, this trip has completely changed our minds. Polish summers are hot and stuffy, according to locals, but this one is a global phenomenon. So we relished the heavy down pour of rainfall when we wandered through the streets of the student city of Wroclaw. It seems like a pretty relaxed place full of young people basking in the sun in parks, enjoying a drink in bars setup along the river Oder that runs through the city.
As we neared Krakow we had to make one stop. For more than one reason, Auschwitz was a destination we marked on the map to visit. One cannot go through the concentration camp without a heavy heart, without feeling a sense of loss for humanity, without weeping for the atrocities we are capable of inflicting on one another. That day, despite the sun hung high in the sky against a cloudless blue canvas, a deep chill went through our bodies and lingered in our bones as we tread on the grounds of history where genocide took place not more than 80 years ago. I can describe the pile of shoes counting into the tens of thousands; or depict the bags of prisoners’ hairs weighing more than seven tonnes; or recount the claustrophobic condition of single cells, where prisoners could only stand and were left to die through suffocation, starvation or thirst; but I cannot express the pure evil energy this place possesses.
As we left this dark chapter behind us we escaped to the polish countryside, which is quite charming and where people seem to be more relaxed with the concept of wild camping than in the UK or Germany. However, as much as we liked sleeping next to lakes and being in one with nature we thought it was time to design our logo before setting up our social media channels, especially as we realised Toyotoro was starting to gather quite a fan group with his/her charm. After this experience we have new-found respect for logo designers and if we had more money or were more organised we would totally have hired you instead.
Here are some stages of how it came about:
While we worked on the logo we also explored Warsaw during the evenings when it got much cooler. This city really surprised me. It is modern and bustling full of youthful and energetic people with everything you would expect from capital city. The beer is flowing, the food of great quality and the decoration in restaurants are chic and fresh and yet everything half the price of what we are used to. We thought the cost of living would get cheaper the further east we ventured but we did not expect to have such a drop so soon. Among many grocery items having access to cheap fresh fruit was the best. Fuel is also around 20% cheaper than Germany, which was a plus but not cheap enough. Russia we are coming!