Monday 17th July
We woke up in our two man tent this morning, after a mercifully warm and rain free night. We’ve been travelling steadily south for the last few weeks, and finally, finally, we’ve found some hot weather! Morgan and Lex are most disgruntled about this. If we weren’t meeting Morgan’s family in Italy in August, I’d worry about the two of them just turning the car around and heading straight back up to the arctic circle.
After spending a large amount of yesterday eating ice cream in an air conditioned shopping mall, we decided to actually do some hiking today, in the nearby Kampinoski national park. We were right next to Warsaw, but decided to skip the city for now, due to the massive inconvenience of going into a major city with a car and a dog. We’ve saved a few cities in our minds for future, dog-free trips, figuring it’s easier to fly out for the weekend and stay in an Airbnb than it is to try and tackle the cities now, with the car and dog in tow.
Kampinoski national park was a classic forest and bog landscape, fairly similar to most of the national parks we saw in the Baltic states.
There was mossy green bog, which greatly exhilarated Lex:
And inky black bog, which he cared little for:
And this cool Mario mushroom!
Lovely as it was, the whole area was utterly plagued by mosquitoes! We were just about okay if we kept moving, but as soon as we stopped, the mosquitoes swarmed us, feasting on our bare arms. Morgan had even draped a shirt over his shoulders like a cape, in an attempt to strike a balance between increasing his “mosquito defences” and keeping cool in the heat.
“Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to the bog” I said to Morgan, as we kept up our brisk walking pace. “But I am looking forward to seeing some mountains when we cross over into Slovakia.”
“But the bog landscape uplifts the soul!” Morgan replied, scandalised. “Unless… Do they still have mosquitoes in the mountains?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied.
“Oh. Then why are we even in this bog?” Morgan frowned, not breaking his rapid, mosquito-repelling pace. His cape fluttered behind him in the breeze.
During our 10km march, Lex had some fun by poking his head into a patch of dirt, insistently and repeatedly.
“What are you doing, silly dog?” I muttered, trying to pull Lex away as he resisted with every ounce of strength.
“Might be another ant’s nest…” wondered Morgan aloud.
“He might be snorting them like Ozzy Osbourne!” I exclaimed gleefully. “He’s playing the part of rock’n’roll dog!”
Lex picked that exact moment to pull away suddenly, sneezing and twitching. It soon transpired he literally had just snorted a line of ants. A mixture of dead and alive ants were stuck in Lex’s nose, teeth, whiskers, on his tongue and in his surrounding fur. He at least had the decency to look embarrassed as Morgan wiped the remaining ants off his face.
We had long since abandoned any hope of having a nice picnic in the forest, instead leaping into the car and driving away from the mosquitoes as fast as possible. We contented ourselves with a lovely picnic on the tarmac in another supermarket car park, before getting back on the road.
I wanted to visit Auschwitz the next day, and knew I needed to be there very early for any chance of getting a ticket. So, we drove the 4 hours down to the town of Oświęcim that evening, arriving after dark. We had no chance of scouting out a pretty, off road sleeping spot in the pitch black, so contented ourselves with sleeping in the car right next to a busy road and train track. As I lay in the dark listening to the rumbling of a passing train, I thought of the millions of people who had arrived at this very place by train during WW2, and the fate that had awaited them. It was a swelteringly hot night, but I felt chilled to the bone.
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