I thought going to the mountains would help with my mood. Yeah, it did, until I saw an email in the evening. It was an obituary.
[Zakopane photos = link.]
I woke up early to tidy up everything, including putting everything about the sofa bed back to order – my host Anna was impressed. Before she woke up I enjoyed yogurt and nectars and packed up some bread. It was lucky that she drove me to the bus “parking lot” and checked for me, since the bus was (again) not at the right place. Eventually we found a place right across the road, and there was a very new mini-bus, which surprisingly comes with air-conditioning. Anna hugged me and wished me luck, and I thanked her for her patience and accommodating efforts.
Air conditioning turned out not to be a good idea – maybe it has been too long since I had any so that it made me rather uncomfortable. Now there’s an irony. During the three-hour ride we had a break, during which a young lad (with the kind of very short hair) came after me to volunteer to help me find the toilet. Very sweet guy. The driver was also very nice and waited for me.
After getting off at Kraków bus station I helped an old foreign couple with directions – I have known a thing or two about this city (except for how to get my passport back, that is). I went to the nearby Galleria to find a supermarket, thinking it might be better to do some shopping, supposing that a touristy place in the mountains like Zakopane may have some price-gauge of its own, but eventually gave up that idea. I actually checked with a young clerk at Galleria’s information desk about certain Zakopane things: whether they have ATM, whether they have supermarkets, and so on. She was ultra-nice.
On the way to Zakopane – this time a big bus – the sky turned grey. There was one woman at the station asking whether I need accommodation, but I went directly to the tourist information. Directed to a certain tourist agency, I checked about various things. First, I have to wait for two days if I want the rafting trip, which are available on Saturdays and Tuesdays – today’s Thursday, and of course I’m too late for today’s tour. (She said something about the weather, but I think the true reason is that there aren’t enough tourists now.) Second, there seems to be no direct bus to the Sovakian side, and she seems to know hardly anything about it. But when I asked about accommodation, she told me Stary Smokovec is very touristy and should be no problem. Oh, and they have ultra-nice town map and hiking map here.
At Target Hostel I found a super helpful young little guy André. He never hesitated to volunteer to Google something or call someone for me, and it was great to stay in a 10-bed dorm in which only two beds or three are taken. After settling things down, I went out to take a walk. It was too late to do a hiking in the National Park’s side, but I still walked for at least four hours, seeing things, trying to find Szymanowsky Museum (closed for renovation), and so on. I went to the hill behind a cable car and hiked quite a bit – lots of sweaty cardio. The sky wasn’t great, but the woods and mountains made me contented. This is exactly what I need. I did the right thing by coming earlier to Zakopane and rounding up my visit in Poland, I thought.
I needed to do lots of things back at the hostel, sorting out a new schedule for Slovakia and Hungary, making a whole bunch of phone calls directly to Slovakian pensions and so on (some speak German instead of English, and of course I switched obligingly). And then I saw an email from James: “James’s Death.”
I thought it was a mail sent by some computer virus, but soon I discovered it’s a real email sent by Auntie announcing the death of Uncle James.
I restrained from breaking down and called Auntie. She was as composed as ever. She was very concerned about me, asking whether I have a goal in my life. No, I don’t. A fact I didn’t tell her is that I have been drifting. She expressed again her concern, telling me James had asked about my trip, and obviously he had not had the opportunity to check my blog.
I don’t remember much about the rest of the night. I probably called Tz and maybe not. I don’t remember how I wept in the hostel and how I stopped.
Stalowa Wola – Kraków迷你巴士學生票：30
Kraków – Zakopane：19