May - July 2017
  • Day40

    The last post

    July 7, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Just for a change we went to see a modern art installation today, these revolving mirrors are mesmerising. The bits all line up to form a head, Franz Kafka, apparently, but how would I know.

    We head home tomorrow after a wonderful journey.

    Just to recap:

    1558 Kilometres: mostly bike path, usually nicely paved but some rough bits. Cobble stones in the towns.

    Rivers: Main, Regnitz, Tauber, Neckar, Rhine, Elbe and Vltava.

    Major cities: Frankfurt, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Klobenz, Cologne, Berlin, Wittenberg, Dresden and Prague.

    Our bikes were fantastic, no mechanical problems, no flat tyres.

    Weather was usually perfect, sometimes a bit hot, only one day of any significant rain for us.

    Villages, towns, ferries and castles: too many to count.

    Accomodation: excellent, thanks to JW's booking skills.

    Favourite food: Swabian and of course ice cream.

    Beer: too many to count.
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  • Day39

    Tourists in Prague

    July 6, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I don't think we could say that we've seen it all but we've given it our best shot. We've done a walking tour of the old town, we've spent hours at Prague Castle walking around listening to the audio guide, (there are over 90 segments on the audio guide), we've been up on the funicular, we've walked across Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) at dusk and in the early morning, we've mastered the public transport system and we've been to Wenceslas Square. I'll have to read more on Bohemian history, it's hard to remember all the stories and events.

    One thing we haven't really connected with is Czech food. Bread dumplings just aren't that appetising. We'll give it another go before we leave. But we do have a favourite Italian restaurant just near our hotel.

    We've also managed to get boxes and packing material and our bikes are now packed up and in the hotel storage room.

    We needed some bubble wrap for bike packing, how do you translate that into Czech? We googled "stationers" and found that the local Officeworks equivalent is "MacPen". No problem.
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  • Day37

    Rolling into Prague

    July 4, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    First stop on the last day of our ride was the supermarket, they like bread here.
    Signage all along our route has been great, all navigation errors have been our own, usually because we missed a sign. Signs for ice cream are especially helpful.

    The highlight of the day was crossing the river on this little ferry. The ferry could squeeze in about 10 bikes, but most were going the other way so we didn't have to wait. The ferry is linked to an overhead cable and uses the current to drive it across. Apparently it's called a reaction ferry. We've also been on a couple of bigger ones that use an anchor rather than an overhead cable.

    We left the path a few kilometres from the end and headed across the river on a pedestrian bridge, up through a park, along some back streets and came out at this big roundabout. Our hotel was on the other side, and finding our way safely around was a bit tricky, but we got there.

    Time to be tourists in Prague.
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  • Day36

    Last day on the Labe

    July 3, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We crossed the river from Litomerice to the small town of Terezin. This town was an important site in Nazi history, it was a Jewish ghetto and "transit" camp. The whole town is a historical site but there is a museum and a former fortress turned into a SS prison.

    Before visiting the museum in Terezin we needed to go to the supermarket for picnic supplies. The supermarket's name was Albert.

    We then followed the 2A path to the town of Roundnice, before joining main path again. We had been expecting poor quality paths today, the last 10K yesterday were a bit rough, but 2A was very good. Roller blades seem popular here, perhaps the roller bladers lobbied for better paths. A very smooth ride into Melnik.

    Our first view of Melnik was the castle and church on top of the hill. Our Pension is down behind this hill but there was a bit of a climb to get around to it. We then found a bar on the terrace of the castle, looking down on the junction of the Labe and the Vltava river. We head along the Vltava tomorrow to Prague. Melnik is a beautiful town, our favourite so far in Czech.
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  • Day35

    The Elbe becomes the Labe

    July 2, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Elbe is the German spelling for the river, we're now on the Labe. The view across the river as we left Decin was impressive. Sunday on the river wasn't quite as busy as in Germany, we were worried we wouldn't find a beer garden, but one appeared. The view across the river was a bit industrial, but I was impressed that my tea was served with very nice honey.

    Sign posting has been good, we're definitely heading for Praha.

    Our next stop, Litomerice, didn't have much going for it, but the Pension was interesting, there was a climbing wall in the courtyard and the bike storage room was filled with climbing gear if we wanted to borrow anything. The owners are climbers. We tried some Czech cuisine in Litomerice, so far we're not impressed but we've yet to try the fried cheese balls. I'm sure they'll be good.
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  • Day34

    On to the Czech Republic

    July 1, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We headed out from Dresden, just out of the city centre there was a big second hand market along the river bank, we didn't stop, no room for extra stuff. At first the river still had wide grassy flood plains.

    We saw this flood marker not far from Dresden, the very top one is the 2002 flood.

    Gradually the river valley narrowed with dramatic cliffs. We crossed the river a couple of times during the day, and had an ice cream in Bad Schandau, to mark our last town in Germany. Shortly after crossing back from Bad Schandau we came to the border post, literally a post. We could see a much bigger border crossing on the road on the other side of the river. Suddenly we couldn't read any of the signs. But we know our bike route is route 2 so as long as we follow the '2' signs we'll get to Prague.

    Our day from Dresden to Decin was probably the one of the most beautiful of the trip. The area near the border is national park on both sides, Saxony Switzerland on the German side and Bohemia Switzerland on the Czech side. Some one thought the mountains looked like Switzerland. Luckily the bike path beside the river is mostly flat.
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  • Day33

    A story of rebuilding

    June 30, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We only had a short time in Dresden so we decided on a walking tour. Our guide had all the info on the history going back 800 years. The key historic sites are all packed into a very small area, an area that was reduced to rubble and rebuilt, so what looks like an old building is actually a reconstructed building and you can see where old stones have been used a patchwork with the new stone. The rebuilding of this church was only completed in about 2005. It was left as rubble throughout the GDR era.
    The mural depicts all the Saxon kings (Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony) going back 800 years, one of the longest continuous dynasties in Europe. This one is George the Strong, clearly the guides favourite. The mural is made of porcelain tiles. Most were saved during the war but you can pick out the replacements.

    There was quite a bit of rain around over the last few days, although we missed most of it the guide said the river had risen about half a metre overnight. We could see the mark on the bridge of the flood of 2002, were the river was up 9 metres.

    Trabi cars are a bit of a gimmick, the guide said they never rusted because they were made of a type of cardboard. They were made in Saxony.

    Not sure why there is a restaurant called Ayers Rock here, we didn't investigate.

    I didn't really get any good photos here, it was hard to get a good perspective.

    The washing machine was very welcome, the apartment in a great location. It makes a nice change to spread out a bit, and cook a couple of meals. The supermarket is about 100 metres away.
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  • Day32

    An apartment in Dresden

    June 29, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We have 2 nights in Dresden so we booked an apartment. The building looks drab from the outside but the apartment is fantastic, spacious and well equipped. I'm looking forward to using the washing machine!

    Our ride today was just over 50K. A very grey day when we set out and rain was forecast.

    The character of the river has changed, no more meandering across the floodplain and the path stayed close to the river. We stopped for lunch in Meissen, in case you haven't heard of it, it's renowned for its porcelain. The town square was very quiet, tourists avoiding the threat of rain but we did see a couple of buses heading to the porcelain factory. We didn't think we could carry porcelain so we gave it a miss.

    The rain started just as we finished lunch so we road in gentle rain for about 26K.

    The local bird life is amazing, the photos aren't very good but if you look carefully you can see nests with chicks on top of the pole and the old chimney.
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  • Day31

    2 days on the Elbe

    June 28, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    After the end of our "cruise" we made our way through the town of Wittenberg. Martin Luther is big here and 2017 is an important anniversary year, so the town was buzzing with tourists, at least 10 tour buses were parked just outside the old town. The town recently changed its name to Lutherstadt-Wittenberg.

    It was a long day to Torbau, about 74K, but we got to know the character of the river. It meanders through the valley, lots of billabong and side streams. It is very prone to flooding and there are flood levees all over the valley. Towns don't have river fronts, they're behind the levees. Consequently our path meanders and we only see the river occasionally. Many of the towns favour cobble stones, very hard to ride on.
    Our host in a small Pension liked to chat so we heard a lot about how life had changed since the "change", reunification.
    Torbau is an important renaissance town, as well as another important Luther town, apparently he visited 40 times.
    Our afternoon tea stop on the way to Torbau was at a Schloss cafe, obviously the only cafe in this little town.

    After Torbau we headed off to Reisa. Nothing special about it, just the right distance before Dresden.
    Thunderstorms were forecast, but just as the downpour started Jan spotted a restaurant that had been advertising along the route. It proved to be a huge dark empty venue, however they were happy to get us a drink. We were the only ones there until another cyclist came in to shelter from the rain so we had a fine chat over tea and beer, then headed off after the rain cleared. Another storm came about 10k from our destination, this time we found a picnic shelter.

    We found the Irish Pub in Reisa for dinner tonight, very nice, rated the best restaurant in town.
    We are used to seeing cigarette vending machines but outside the bike shop here is vending machine for tubes. I'm not sure what that says about the paths around here. Lots of empty shops in the Hauptstrasse, the town has seen better days.
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  • Day29

    Obstacles on the way to the Elbe

    June 26, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We were late leaving our Pension in Berlin, then we had to go to the Hauptbahnhof to organise train tickets to Dessau on the Elbe river. The Hbf in Berlin is big, Mary would love it, 16 platforms on several different levels. Jan managed to work out how to buy tickets from the machine, easy getting ours but it wasn't clear how to get the bike tickets. Our train went from platform 13, the lifts to this platform weren't working, so it's up 2 flights of stairs, luggage on and off the bike, bikes are too heavy fully loaded to carry them up the stairs.

    Finally on the train. Dessau looks very drab, particularly the Bahnhof. We find a bike shop with a pump outside so we manage to pump up our tyres, finally on our way about 3pm. No problem only 40k to go. At last we get to the river, a gorgeous covered bridge, things are looking up. And then a Biergarten, even better, of course beer gardens also have tea and cake.

    There had been a big thunderstorm a few nights ago, lots of trees down. A couple of times we had to take the bags off to get over or around the fallen logs.

    Ferries across the Elbe work on an interesting cable system, they're slow and only take a few vehicles, but there are usually more bikes than cars. This one was nicely decorated with pot plants. Only 3 Euros for 2 plus bikes.

    We had to ring up to get directions to our accomodation in Wittenberg, a cruise boat doing a stint as a hotel before cruising again in September. We had passed it but didn't realise it was the one, we didn't have a name on the booking sheet, and we thought the one we passed looked too grand.

    Then at last, a beer on the top deck of course, while we pretend we're cruising. We even had dinner on the boat rather than go into town looking for the cheap eats. The current was so strong that if you didn't look to closely at the far bank you could imagine you're moving. A great ride once we got going and a lovely evening.
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