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Biking Through the Czech Countryside

Biking Through the Czech Countryside

Today was our first full length bicycle ride but the day began with a tour of the Cesky Krumlov Castle. The first section of the castle was built in the 1200s and through the centuries more and more wings were built until it eventually became the massive structure it is today.   All of the rooms we toured were furnished completely with the original furniture, paintings, sculptures, tapestries, murals and chandeliers.   It was quite lavish.  The castle houses a baroque theater which is one of the world’s most completely preserved baroque theatres with its original theatre building, auditorium, orchestra pit, stage, stage technology, machinery, coulisses (stage curtains), librettos, costumes etc.  They still actually use it for performances.

The view of Cesky Krumlov from the castle

The view of Cesky Krumlov from the castle

The VBT van carted us to a parking lot outside of town where we were reunited with our bicycles.  Only my bicycle wasn’t there.  They got me a new one!  With no more water bottle holder on the handlebars!!  And it was a boy’s bike.  I LOVE boy’s bikes!  That’s the only thing I ever ride at home because they just feel stronger and I think girl’s bikes look kinda sissyish.  That was so nice of them!  I certainly hadn’t requested it or really even complained too much (I hope not anyway).  So I was all kinds of happy as I pedaled out of the parking lot to begin our 26 mile ride through the Czech Republic countryside.

Our tour group waiting for our guide through the castle.  This is a great group of folks!!

Our tour group waiting for our guide through the castle. This is a great group of folks!!

Our ride today was mostly on “bike trails” so I was very relieved that we wouldn’t have to deal with the crazy Czech drivers again today.  But you noticed the quotation marks didn’t you?  Yep… “bike trails” in Czech Republic means something completely different than it does in the U.S.  To the Czechs it means, if you are on the bike trail and happen to be driving in a car, make sure you drive very fast.  So we were quite surprised by the first car that came whizzing around the corner at full speed on the very narrow bike path.  My dreams of a day of car free cycling were quickly dashed.

Cycling through a village

Cycling through a village

But there were very few cars overall and the countryside was beautiful.  The scenery was so fantastic that it didn’t seem real as we cycled through the postcard perfect landscapes.  The terrain was gentle rolling hills with farmed fields and forested areas.  Small fallow deer could often be seen standing in the fields.  We cycled through many small villages that looked as if they’d remained unchanged since medieval times with their ancient cottages, barns and walls constructed of stone and clay.  Sheep, chickens, turkeys, horses and cows were often in pens in the yards.  Most of the yards contained manicured flower and vegetable gardens.  Colorful flower boxes bloomed in the windows.  The people we saw were often working in their gardens, tending sheep, or some other outdoor chore that could have been the same sorts of chores done by their grandfather’s grandfather.  So much picturesque history and quiet, peaceful beauty.  I kept wanting to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Lunch at a Czech residence in Plav

Lunch at a Czech residence in Plav

Lunch was with a real live Czech family in the town of Plav.  Their house was a common type of Czech construction which included four rectangular buildings surrounding an inner courtyard.  Our meal was a wonderfully fresh assortment of salads, soups, cheeses, and breads with delicious apple strudel for dessert.  After lunch we played an outdoor Czech bowling game and then made a toast together with shots of Czech homemade whisky.  Such a fun lunch!

Czech bowling game

Czech bowling game

After lunch we were back on the bikes and continuing on the “bike trail” through more beautiful countryside.  I had gotten into the habit by this time of stopping and jumping off the trail now when a car passed by.  The trail was just too narrow and the drivers never even touched their brakes.  On one downhill section, a wide van came barreling around the corner toward me and as I hit my brakes to stop and get off the trail, my front tire skidded toward the van for a heart stopping moment before I was able to jump off to the side.  The driver honked his horn at me and I swear he actually SPED UP before he zoomed by.  Sheesh!  I just stood there for a few moments with my head on my handlebars silently thanking the good Lord that I was still among the land of the living.

There were many roadside shrines.

There were many roadside shrines.

I know I’ve been harping on the Czech drivers a lot and there were a couple of scary times, I admit.  But most of today’s ride was just fabulous and we had so much fun.  After we returned to Cesky Krumlov, Craig and I got cleaned up and did a little shopping in the town square.  I found a wonderfully dangerous little shop that sells unique artsy clothing created by Czech designers.  I loved everything there and had no choice but to buy a cute little skirt and jacket to add to my Little Old Lady Cycle Chic collection.  Fortunately I was able to escape without buying anything more; the prices were certainly fair for such amazing clothes but more than I usually spend.  Craig and I also both bought nice rain jackets at a sporting goods clothing store.  It is supposed to be rainy and cold tomorrow and we might need them.

Fallow deer in a field next to the trail

Fallow deer in a field next to the trail

Dinner was in a local restaurant along with most of the others from our tour group.  I had a delicious salmon dish and a nice Riesling.  My new skirt was a huge hit.  Then it was back to the hotel for snoozing and tomorrow we go to GERMANY!

Want to see more photos from this day?  You can see them on my Crazy Guy On A Bike journal HERE.

Just wow

Just wow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craig’s awesome little video of our adventures in Cesky Krumlov…

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