(written by Nancy)
This will be a short post because it is already after 10pm and we are both completely knackered after today’s ride. The day turned out to be a lot longer than we expected, both in terms of kilometers and time. And we ended up with a lot more climbing than we expected – more meters climbed than going over Grossglockner!
The campground was quiet last night but It rained hard, waking both of us up sometime during the night. It rained again this morning as we tried to get packed up, making us a bit slow to get on the road – it was about 8:30 before we left the campground. We followed the signed bike route for most of the way up to the Austria/Czech Republic. It took us through lots of farmland, what seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. Nice riding though, with very few cars. The weather was pretty unsettled and it was actually kind of chilly at some points.
We stopped for morning tea in a small little village when Dave spotted a bakery along the road. He went in and came out with some very tasty pastries – not really sure what they were called but they had some kind of cream and raisin filling. Then, about 10k later we stopped to get some water and ended up with a coffee and some more pastries – this time some kind of bread with butter that the shop proprietor convinced Dave that we must try it. It was tasty and as it turned out we needed the extra fuel later on.
After much up and down and around the countryside we finally reached the Austria/Czech Republic border at about 55k. As Czech Republic is part of the EU there is no formal border crossing process anymore, just a ride through the lanes surrounded by abandoned border guard buildings. We stopped at the first gas station we saw to get something to drink and eat our PB&J sandwiches to fuel us for the rest of the ride into Ceske Budejovice.
We decided we would try to follow the bike route on the Czech side for bit, so when we saw a sign for National Bicycle Route 12 we headed that direction. Well, the first few kilometers were very rough – very bad pavement with lots of rocks. The road surface did get better, but I think the route went up and down every valley they could find. Much of it was through thick forest – very scenic but very slow riding as the hills were pretty steep, even had a 16% climb at one point. After about 20k of this we decided we needed to get to a more direct road or we would never get to our destination!
We finally got off the bike route and made our way along a road that paralleled the Vltava river. The river was full of people in kayaks paddling their way down the river – it looks like a popular pastime for this area. There were several campgrounds along the way but we decided to keep going to try get to Budweis. We made it into the town of Cesky Krumlov, an interesting looking place with lots of tourists about. It had a very impressive church and a neat-looking old town area but we didn’t really have time to check it out much.
From Cesky Krumlov it was another 24k or so into Ceske Budejovice. Unfortunately we had to ride a pretty busy road to get into town. Most of the drivers were polite but the speed and the lack of much shoulder made for a not very pleasant ride. At that point though we were pretty tired so we just put our head down and pedaled, hoping to get to town before the rain started. It never did actually rain on us but the sky got very dark several times as though it was going to really start dumping rain.
We pulled into the town square in Ceske Budejovice and found it filled with people all watching various kids groups dancing on a stage. Not sure what it was but it was fun to watch as various groups of kids got up on the stage and did a choreographed dance routine. While I watched Dave went into the tourist information centre right on the square and got some information about accommodation. He looked at a couple of pensions right near the square and then we rode around the old town area to see what else we could find, but ended up back at the first place he looked at, the Penzion Centrum.
By the time we got checked in and spread our wet tent and tarp around the room to dry it was after 7 and we were famished. On the recommendation of the hotel receptionist we headed to the Life is a Dream restaurant, which turned out to be quite good. Of course, we had to have a Budweiser to drink as well – not the watery US version but the original Czech beer, Budweiser Budvar.
This looks like a great little town so we have decided to take a day off here tomorrow and explore a bit. But right now it is time for some sleep after a very long day…