A few weeks ago we completed our first bike tour of the Eagles’ Nests. A three-day bike ride over limestone ridges sprinkled with medieval fortresses and castles perched atop cliffs, not unlike an Eagle’s nest.
Our first day we headed north out of Krakow to the national park of Ojcow. The temperature dropped that day to a meager 15 degrees but we were still in high spirits. After lunch in the national park, we visited our first castle ruins of Ojcow. From there we saw a wedding take place at the chapel on the river before continuing north to the castle on Dog’s rock. We made our way out of the park through Poland’s narrowest and longest town of Suloszowa. At this point, we were fighting against a strong head wind. But soon we were sheltered by trees as we traversed our way in the sand through the forest of Olewin. From there we climbed up to the second Eagle’s nest of Rabsztyn. Along the way, we passed by the house of Antoni Kacjan who is credited with helping win the war by finding the secret production of German V1 and V2 long-range rockets on Polish occupied territory. Our first night we finished cold and wet, but we enjoyed a nice meal at the hotel before a night cap.
Day 2 began the way Day 1 was supposed to finish; with a visit to the Bledkowski dessert. But as stated by Michael from Maryland a dessert in the rain is no dessert. The weather was pleasant that day a good breeze and not too hot. We dined at the foot of the largest castle, on our trip, in Ogrodziniec, then we took a tour of the enormous grounds. That weekend a kids fair surrounded the grounds. It was surreal to see a large castle overlooking a smaller inflated bouncy castle at its foot. Despite the number of people, it was easy to get lost the in the labyrinth of tunnels and rooms in the castle ruins. After our visit, we rode a nice paved bike path through wheat fields lined with protruding rocks. From there we climbed out of the valley into a forest where we saw the ruins of the Morsko castle and then we descended through the woods along a sandy trail, where we had to concentrate on not turning our handlebars in order to avoid sliding. We made it all unscathed. The day ended at our spa hotel where some of us took advantage of the masseuse on-site, and we all took advantage of the hot tub and numerous saunas.
Day 3 was hot! Immediately after we check out we headed into the woods where the foliage could shelter us from the heat. Our first ruins were only 12Km away in the town of Bobolice. This castle was bought by a Polish senator and restored to its original state. It almost looked like it was a castle from Disney world. This was one of few castles we got a guide to take us through, but to our dismay we were accompanied by fifty pre-teens at summer camp. The guide took his time and was very accessible to us, which made for an enjoyable tour. From there are next castle was only 3 Km away but was in ruins and not accessible. From there our lone bike path went out of the valley and down into the town of Zary, where we stopped for some taste bakery treats. After lunch it was time to do penance and climb up one of the steepest climbs on our trip at 12% gradient. But we would soon be blessed with a colorful paved bike path down through the forest. At the bottom i treated our guests with a visit to a secret cave slightly off the path. Many feared the sign that greeted us to ‘enter at your own risk’ With me as their guide they were in good hands. Afterwards we headed down a forested path that traversed wondrous rock formations whose origins were weaved in legends of devils and wizards. Our last castle ruins were in Olsztyn where Sheri took a break in the sunshine.
After reaching Czestochowa we said our good-byes to Pawel and Agnieszka as they took the train home. I stayed with Michael and Sheri and we celebrated their wedding anniversary with a fancy supper. The next day we would visit the holy site of the Black Madonna on ‘Bright Hill’. And so our trip came to a close with lots of sweat, satisfaction and sites. I hope this trip will be the first of many. Thanks to Sheri, Michael, Pawel and Agnieszka for making this a memorable trip.