facebook twitter pinterest email

Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov

Our actual VBT (Vermont Bicycle Travel) tour began this morning.  We got all packed up and met the other 13 people on our tour in the hotel lobby along with Barbara (the VBT guide who picked us up at the airport three days ago) and got on a bus for the three hour trip to Cesky Krumlov in the south Bohemian region of Czech Republic.  Everyone seems really nice… mostly 60 somethings couples, and several single women.  It’s an interesting mix of folks: two chemists (husband and wife team), a couple of CPAs, a nurse, several others with computer related occupations, and retired teachers.  I’m sure we’ll all get to know each other very well by the end of our tour.  The bus was nice and comfy and I took a little snooze on the way there.

The fairy tale town of Cesky Krumlov.

The fairy tale town of Cesky Krumlov.

Outside of Prague the landscape is mostly agrarian with small villages… many appear unchanged since medieval times.  Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a charming medieval town of about 14,000 people.  The village is crowned by the massive Cesky Krumlov  Castle built on the highest point of the town in the 1200s.  Red roofed houses spill down the hillside from the castle down to the Vltava River which winds through the town.  Like Prague’s old town area, most of the ground is cobbled with a variety of cobblestone styles and designs.  Difficult to walk on but so lovely.

The Cesky Krumlov Castle.  Second largest castle in Czech Republic.

The Cesky Krumlov Castle. Second largest castle in Czech Republic.

On the way to Cesky Krumlov we said goodbye to Barbara and met our two bicycle tour guides for the rest of the trip, Andrea and Richard, both native Czechs.  They seem very energetic and fun.

Our hotel, the Hotel Ruze, is a former Jesuit monastery from the 16th century.  It is quite an interesting building with thick walls and medieval-ish furnishings.  I could maybe do without all the creepy mannequins dressed in medieval garb in every corner… but overall a very comfortable unique place to rest our heads and certainly appropriate for our stay in such an ancient city.

Our guide, Standa, is the Czech version of our St. Louis friend, John O'Shaughnessy.  Same humor.  Same personality (with a Czech accent).  Even looks the same.  We forgot to ask him his philosophy about peanut butter (inside joke)

Our guide, Standa, is the Czech version of our St. Louis friend, John O’Shaughnessy. Same humor. Same personality (with a Czech accent). Even looks the same. We forgot to ask him his philosophy about peanut butter (inside joke)

We all met in a conference room for a brief introduction meeting and safety review.  They handed out helmets to everyone… but of course I had furnished one of my own from my extensive helmet collection.  We must not compromise our Little Old Lady Chic fashion even when cycling in other countries!  For this trip I chose my brand new Sawako Furuno Italian Cycling Helmet. Stylish!

Then it was an hour long tour of the Cesky Krumlov town center with our tour guide, Standa.  I think Standa is short for “Standap Comedienne” because this guy had a dead pan dry wit that was hilarious.  Had us all peeing in our pants.  Craig and I don’t often do touristy sorts of things that require tour guides but so far on this trip all of our guides have been top notch.  It all started with our ex-New York cop comedic flight attendant (remember that guy?).  This has surely been a trip of laughter… the best kind.

The town square

The town square

Then it was off to the van for our bike fittings and a 9 mile warmup ride around Cesky Krumlov.  The bikes that are included with our VBT trip are very nice Fuji hybrids.  I brought my own beloved Terry saddle and my Detours Bicycle Purse, of course!  My bike was too small for the water bottle holder to fit under the cross bar (story of my life… I’m just too small!  Have to wear kid’s shoes, kid’s bicycle helmets… etc.  They just don’t make things for tiny people!) so they had attached it to my handlebars and my Detours bag wouldn’t fit over it.  Uh oh… teeny weeny catastrophe.  That bag is very important!  I keep my camera in it and other things I like to be able to access while I’m riding.  So we rigged it up to work by turning the holder on backwards and off we went once again onto the crazy Czech streets.

The Vltava River

The Vltava River

VBT provides maps and directions that we strap onto our handlebars to follow as we ride.  Today’s route was a nine mile warm up ride through the town out into a bit of countryside, along the river and back.  Czech riders out here are no better than they were in Prague.  In the states, drivers almost always swerve out around you as they pass.  They might not like it but they really don’t want to hit you.  Czech riders seem like they want to hit you.  When they aren’t in their cars, Czech people are generally friendly and helpful.  But give them the car keys and boy they turn into homicidal maniacs.  You’d better get the hell outa’ their way!  I’ve quickly discarded all my Successfully Cycling With Cars guidelines for this trip and adopted a brand new strategy… STAY ALIVE.  If there’s a sidewalk, I AM ON IT.  Very exciting!

The ride ended back at the van with baskets full of cookies and snacks (COOKIES AND SNACKS!!!).  I’m thinking this is gonna be a great tour!

More cobblestones

More cobblestones

We had a little time to clean up at the hotel and then a short mixer back in the conference room.  Everyone is getting along grandly by now.  There seems to be a good chemistry in the group.  We toasted our champaign glasses and then walked together down to our restaurant for dinner which was in the catacombs of an ancient shop building in the town square.  More delicious food and cream sauces and beer and then off to the hotel for some snoozes.  Tomorrow we ride 26 miles through the countryside.  Can’t wait!

Our bicycle tour guides, Richard and Andrea.  No they don't always dress like this.

Our bicycle tour guides, Richard and Andrea. No they don’t always dress like this.

 

 

<<–PREVIOUS

NEXT–>>

Got somethin' to say? Leave a comment!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: