This past Sunday, I have returned from a nearly month-long vacation in Europe. As usual, the first stop was Poland, the country of my birth.
With every passing year Poland is moving further and further away from the depressing years of communist rule. Instead of grey, crumbling streets and sullen-looking people, it is now a vibrant, dynamic country, where people actually have the time, money and motivation to do such things as Nordic walking!
After a week in Poland, we headed for Madrid, Spain and points south – to Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Granada. Then back to Poland, through Germany.
As always, when air travel is involved I had my LEKI Travellers with me and Nordic-walked at every opportunity.
From Warsaw we flew to Madrid, through Zurich, with a long enough layover to conduct a whirlwind tour of the Swiss financial capital, stayed in Madrid overnight and headed for Toledo. A great, hilltop town, famous for its edged weapons.
Then on to Cordoba, with the absolutely marvelous cathedral, built over a Moorish mosque, which was built over a Christian church.
Next stop was Seville, one of Spain’s largest cities and home to quaint, winding streets, practically no parking and the third largest cathedral in the world. Seville is more than 2,000-years-old.
Temperatures averaged over 100F (40C), but our rented Citroen C4 Picasso, with its beautiful diesel engine handled the heat with aplomb. I sooo wish that we could have these efficient, well, designed and economical engines here in the U.S. They are not only great to drive, but also contribute in much lesser degree to global warming, when compared to gasoline engines. I guess we will have to wait at least until 2009, when our sulfur-laden diesel fuel will finally get cleaned-up.
Granada was our next and last major stop in Spain. The Sierra Nevada mountains, topping out at 3,479 meters separate the city from the sea. I suppose that the perfect vacation would be to visit the seacoast in the spring, going to the beach one day and skiing the next!
From Granada we returned to Madrid, with just enough time for a quicky tour of the city and then, thanks to another long layover in Düsseldorf, Germany were able to spend a bit of time with some family members.
Have done quite a bit of Nordic walking in Konstancin, near Warsaw, largely along the banks of the small Jeziorka River, going as far as the Vistula. This was prime walking territory. The packed, sandy trail allowed the use of tungsten spikes all the way and my new Springboost shoes really got tested in a serious way.
Days before returning to the US managed to once again visit the beautiful, old city of Kazimierz Dolny, on the Vistula River, south of Warsaw, just in time for a major film festival and even hitched a fast, jarring ride in a Russian jeep through some of the many earth canyons, surrounding the city.