Leaving Vienna for Poland I collected my rental car and hit the road. And so the adventure began… the first hurdle, the fact my rental car is a manual… which means changing gear on my right… thankfully the pedals are on the same side… so it was only a case of getting my right hand operating the gears instead of my left!! Thankfully it takes less time to get used to being on the opposite side of the road and the car than it does to get used to the foreign drivers and the fact that on the motorways in Czech and Austria the limit is 130kmph and in Poland 140kmph!
I drove from Vienna to Katowice, a journey of about 4 hours and got there unscathed (thankfully a recurring theme throughout the trip) and was graciously met by our team mate Piotr and his lovely wife Ola where I joined colleague Dan and his wife Marianne with whom we spent the next few days.
Our one day in Katowice took us to visit Jasna Góra, a monastery at Częstochowa and one of the most holy sites of pilgrimage in the Catholic Church and the spiritual centre of Poland.
The monastery is famous for its icon of ‘The Black Madonna’ and whose mircaulous history (documented here) began in Poland in the late 1300s). The icon is periodically veiled, presumably for preservation and was covered when we got there; however, we waited long enough to see her and were rewarded for our patience.
I tiptoe around my faith these days, particularly where it pertains to the organised church, and to be honest, even more so for such massively institutionalised organisations like the Catholic Church, but even so, the day was actually a moving experience, so many devout and dedicated people in a peaceful atmosphere. I’m glad to have been there.