(written by Nancy)
After a good rest yesterday, some yogurt and 7-Up fetched by my private nurse Dave and more sleep last night I felt much better this morning. Not 100%, ready-for-a-big-breakfast kind of better but at least able to eat some of the nice breakfast spread at the hotel. Dave dug in to the fried eggs, cereal, yogurt, bread and jam and freshly made espresso.
We took the bicycle route 12 to get out of town to avoid the busier roads, though I suspect the roads would have been fairly quiet given it was Sunday morning. The bicycle route was pretty nice – smooth pavement that ran along the river without too much meandering. After about 5k we popped out onto road 105,which we stayed on for the rest of the day. The road was coloured yellow on my map, meaning a secondary road, and it turned out to be a really good road with very little traffic. In fact, other than the first 20k or so the road was such a small farming road it didn’t even have a center line painted on it.
Not long after we left České Budéjovice we could see some steam clouds up on the horizon. We finally caught sight of the Temelin power plant, a functioning nuclear power plant. It was apparently started by Communist Czechoslovakia but finished by the Czech Republic after upgrading to Western safety levels. There are four cooling towers but only two reactors. The road goes within 200 meters of the towers, with only a barbed wire fence between them. We didn’t see any security folks about but I suspect if we had gotten close up to the fence they might have appeared.
We continued along R105 and came upon a nice surprise, which was repeated several times throughout the day. Along the road at several spots there were mature fruit trees – mostly cherry and apple but also some pears. The apples were not quite ripe, but many of the cherry trees were bursting with ripe cherries. So of course we had to stop and pick a few… okay, maybe more than a few, but you can’t really carry too many cherries on your bike. They are small cherries but still sweet and tasty. Made for a nice morning treat.
The importance of religion is still very apparent in this country, as it has been in the countries we have been through. Many of the fields we rode past today had crosses at the roadside. These didn’t appear to be the crosses that people put up to mark the location of an accident but instead are similar to the shrines we saw in other countries. Some look to be very old – oxidized metal in the form of Jesus hanging on the cross, or sometimes a large simple cross made of concrete. Very picturesque against the fields of golden-coloured wheat.
We debated stopping at a town at about 75k where we saw a hotel but decided we could keep going on a bit to try to reduce the amount we have to ride into Prague tomorrow. We made it-into Sedlčany about 3pm, just as the skies began to darken overhead. We headed to the main town square and Dave started to wander around a bit to see if he could spot some pensions. The wind picked up and it suddenly got very cold and as the rain started to pelt down I ran across the street to shelter under a little overhang I could see. Dave dashed out of the information center with a flyer listing the pensions and hotels in town – all 4 of them. We stood in the shelter of a store to wait out the storm – now complete with thunder and lightning – and figure out a plan.
There was a hotel (Hotel Florian) just next to us but it looked a bit suspect from the outside. Before we headed out in the rain to look at the other spots I ran over to the hotel to see what it looked like inside. The lobby area was a bit odd, or perhaps it was just the characters standing at the bar, but there was a friendly gal at the counter who spoke English and the rooms were pretty good and modern. The price wasn’t bad so that was it – no need to ride any further in the rain.
We dragged all the bags upstairs and got cleaned up and then headed across the street to what looked like a pub for dinner. The food was okay – pub food, greasy but okay – and a Pilsner beer.
Tomorrow we ride into Prague, the biggest city we have been in since Istanbul. It’s only about 60k from here so hopefully we will be there with plenty of time to find a decent place to stay. We will take at least one day off there to see some of the sites, maybe two if I can convince Dave to relax for two days again.