One of the things that makes our Road to London drive as epic as it is, is that it’s an amalgamation of multiple road trips.
We hit the road and venture beyond not only borders but also continents. Our drive spanning from Hungary to Poland is a testament to just how our journey is a whirlwind of landscapes, culture, and stories.
In the span of a single day, our wanderlust-fueled convoy managed an astonishing feat – breakfast in Hungary, Coffee in Austria, a bio break in Slovakia, lunch in the Czech Republic, and dinner in Poland. Five countries, one epic adventure that left us breathless and exhilarated.
With the first rays of morning light, we set out from Hungary, our hearts brimming with anticipation. The road stretched before us, a myriad of possibilities leading us into new territories. Crossing into Slovakia, the air changed, carrying the scent of tea and the stories waiting to unfold.
As we sped through Bratislava’s streets, the city whispered tales of its own, secrets hidden within its ancient walls. Our journey, however, held more promises yet to be unveiled. Austria, with its picturesque windmills, beckoned us to make a fleeting visit, a glimpse of a countryside adorned with blades that swayed to the rhythm of the wind.
Little did we know that this corner of Austria was at the forefront of a sustainable revolution, with wind turbines carving a path towards renewable energy and a greener future. The border between nations blurred, and we marveled at how each one contributed its unique brushstroke to the canvas of our journey.
The Czech Republic welcomed us with its vibrant energy and well-known for its reputation – the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. In Prague, a city where beer flowed cheaper than water, we felt the heartbeat of a nation known for its hearty laughter and unbridled joy. Our lunch in Brno was a moment frozen in time, a moment of making memories amidst the long stretch of road.
The key to our five-country drive lay in the art of navigation and meticulous planning. The route was a symphony, each note harmonizing with the next, and allowed us to visit one nation after another with ease.
We were guided by the philosophy of responsible travel, as always. Our journey wasn’t just about ticking off countries on a checklist. It was about the imprint we left, the stories we collected, and the lands we tread upon. The diversity of cultures and landscapes etched indelible memories in our hearts and souls.
Kraków, the jewel of southern Poland, welcomed us with open arms. Situated by the Vistula River and cradled by the Carpathian Mountains, it was a city that bore witness to history’s triumphs and tribulations.
Poland’s beating heart pulsed through Kraków streets, offering us a glimpse into its soul. Choices unfolded like petals from a blossoming flower – the Old Town whispering tales of ages past, while the Wieliczka Salt Mines beckoned from beneath the surface, an intricate web of tunnels and chambers steeped in history. Each path we took was a thread woven into the intricate tapestry of our journey.
But history has its darker chapters, and as we ventured toward Warsaw, the air grew somber. Auschwitz II (Birkenau) stood as a haunting sentinel, a reminder of the cruelty that still brings shivers to the spine. The guide’s words painted a grim picture, echoing the horrors of the past in a somber tone. “The Nazis displayed cunning tactics,” He shared. “They lured the Jews, assuring them of a temporary stay and a brighter future elsewhere. Packed onto trains, many perished due to the agonizing conditions.Upon reaching the camp, the cruel selection process commenced. The fit and strong were deemed ‘useful’ and set apart from the ‘unfit’—pregnant mothers, the elderly, and young children. Those labeled ‘useless’ were led to a room, promised a cleansing shower due to the camp’s supposed infection. Instead, deadly gas (Zyklon B) filled the chamber, sparing no lives. Their bodies were consigned to crematorium ovens. Not even the children were spared from this horror.”
As poet W.H. Auden wrote, “Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith.”
Amidst these accounts of incomprehensible brutality, the struggle to reconcile the depths of human darkness with our understanding of the world became all the more touching.
In the shadow of this darkness, our journey carried us forward with a newfound appreciation for life’s intricacy.
And then, in a land far away from our country, we found a piece of home.
Her Excellency Nagma Malik, the Indian ambassador in Poland, bestowed warmth upon us, a reminder of the unity that Indians have always been known for. At the embassy, Indian flavors mingled with foreign air when various familiar dishes were served to us. The taste of Indian food on foreign soil was a comforting embrace, a connection to home and unity.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, Warsaw embraced us with open arms. Our hearts and minds spanning from Hungary to Poland, each thread representing a country, a moment, a memory. The magic of covering five countries in one day was more than a feat – it was a testament to our passion and our unquenchable thirst for exploration.
As told to Adventures Overland by Tushar Agarwal
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