The original plan seemed easy. It seemed clear. Drive (just) into Ukraine. Hand over an ambulance to a large Ukrainian. Get a taxi from the border to Kraków airport and then a flight home. The reality of trying to fit into a global relief effort is a different though and and thus we found ourselves at the mercy of a bigger picture that was more changeable than we had anticipated.

Local feeling is clear

We decided that although we will not cross into Ukraine would like to see the border and so yesterday we drove past Kraków by about 90 minutes, wondering where that would take us. We thus write this in picturesque Rzeszów (pronounced “ZHEFF-oof” according to Wikipedia, obviously). Gosh it’s been a long time since we’ve travelled like this!

Sunny having transported us some 650 miles yesterday we are thus far closer to Ukraine – only about an hour’s drive away, in fact). We have started seeing military hardware – some of which is pictured below (the first and third photographs above are from the motorway that rings Kraków and were taken as an incongruously beautiful sunset developed behind us). Intriguingly much of the kit that we see is wrapped to conceal the detail. Understandable we suppose since the photographs of it end up places like this …

Seeing this equipment “for real” on a public road really brings home just how out-sized it is. The best comparison is when you find out just how large mining vehicles are. These things are massive. Whilst distant for most of us, encountering these vehicles on the roads must make the conflict very real indeed for the people who live here.

The main square in Rzeszów last night

That said, life in lovely Rzeszów seems untouched by the neighbouring war and all of the restaurants on the main square looked to be doing a decent trade – just one hour from the border. And very welcoming it was too with everyone we encounter switching effortlessly to English …

Whilst a large beer in Germany meant 0.5 litre it turns out that the Poles have rather a different interpretation.


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