Pilsen to Prague, Czech Republic

Arrival in Prague

Enjoying a little bubbly at Wenceslas Square in Prague

Microwave tower is always at the top of the hill

Friday 27 August 2010
Prague, Czech Republic
Hotel Boscolo Carlo IV
115 k, 6.48 hrs, 17kph
0900 – 1730

Olin plotted us a route over the roads, the paneuropa radweg at 135 km being too long. With a strong wind at our backs we made good progress, at one point with a nice spell at over 40kph down the 605. So with the road stretching empty before us, strong wind at our backs, a couple of short hours left to get to Prague, what did we do?

Head for the hills of course, trading fast (but more dangerous) major road for cross country mountain roads and some huge hills. Over 1050m in altitude over the day.

Once again we were cycling on top of the world this time thru the Czech landscape and farms. Things getting more prosperous as we get closer to Prague.

As we descended we hooked up again to the PR, Czech cycle route no. 3. (Good navigation Olin). Not as well marked this time and we had a couple of wrong turns and lots of asking people the way. The route generally follows the river and is flat and quite easy over a variety of quality of trail.  We lost it completely coming into Prague so have not seen the last PR sign.

Champagne and beer to celebrate in a cafe on the square. We have arrived!

Eslarn Germany to Pilsen Czech Republic

Pilsen train station

Thursday 26 August 2010
Hotel Rous, Pilsen
86.7k, 5hrs, 18kph
0900 – 1630

Route 37, paneuropa radweg, we have abandoned you. It was the route through the cow pasture which did it. We are cyclists not hikers.

So we deserted you at Kladruby and took the road, the lovely direct and fast route 203. And it is for that reason that are here in Pilsen at 1630 enjoying Pilsen’s most famous product. Otherwise we would still be labouring away in a paneuropa mud patch.

We got away by 0900 this morning but with stopping at the tourist office for maps and border crossing photos, it was 1000 before we really got underway. Route 37 was the bike route to Pilsen and the route of the paneuropa radweg. It is very well marked but it is wild. For the first 20k the route goes through high forests. Felt like the logging roads around Lake Cowichan with the fir and pine forests. The road was hilly and in poor condition, varying between rough gravel and poor pavement. Mushroom hunters were our only company.

The small towns were tired looking and remote. No one spoke a word of English and of course we speak no Czech.

We were getting onto some better roads when the route suddenly veered off into a cow pasture. We were persuaded by the good signage that we should take it. It was terrible. The cow pasture turned into huge mud puddles in the woods. We had to push our bikes through. That was it. We reached Kladruby, consulted the GPS and pointed our bikes to Pilsen. Cars trucks and all.

Our street, hotel on right, synagogue in background

Pilsen is a busy place. Cars parked everywhere. But we found our way to the central plaza and a nearby hotel and are happily ensconced.  Town varies between beauty and shabbiness, many interesting buildings.

Could not help but think about all the spy novels I’ve read while we were out in the woods around that remote border crossing. It was West Germany and Czechoslovakia during the cold war and must have been a porous spot.

Now Czech Republic is in the EU and the border is deserted.

Pilsen - many beautiful buildings

Paneuropa radweg, czech route #37, not on Olin's GPS, wonder why

Tiny deserted border crossing at Eslarn

Hirshau Bavaria to Eslarn on the Germany Czech border

Gasthof Schellenbach, Eslarn, Germany nr Czech border

Tuesday 24 August 2010
Gasthof Schellenbach
Eslarn, on the Germany Czech border
94.13k, 5.17 hrs, 17.8kph
0900 – 1615

Turned out that Gasthof Weich is the butcher and the Gasthof is also the metzgerei. The Herr and Frau live at the back. Lots of strapping grandsons live and work nearby. Seemed awfully quiet last night with us being the only people in the building but plenty of activity this morning. Also in the back: the butcher shop, 3 horses in the stable attached to the house, the dogs, and another house and courtyard.

Got away as the bells struck 9.00. Fairly easy ride E thru farms and woods then a turn N to go up the Naab River. Turned into the Waldnaab as we went upstream. Gentle valley, road winding through farming communities beside the river

Morning break at Weiden in der Oberpfalz. Small town with lovely public square, with 16 restaurants and cafes in the main square, probably 500 seats, many more down the side streets. Our coffee served on beautiful china at this little perfect cafe.

Weiden would be a good place to stay the night. Hirshau was a little quiet.

We continued on to Neustad where we picked up the next part of the route; a 50km train bed called the Bockl-Radweg. Paved the first half, gravel the next, it took us from 400m to 600m, where we had a late picnic lunch among the mushroom pickers.

Arrived at Eslarn at about 4.15 and found a room at the very nice Gasthof Schellenbach from which we have budged not one inch.

Beautiful country town of Weiden, centre of porcelain

Bockl-Radweg - beautiful, paved and virtually deserted

Nuremberg to Hirshau Bavaria

Lauf - We've come 1142 km

Monday 23 August 2010
Gasthof Weich Hirshau Bavaria
84.4 k, 4.6 hrs, 17.1kph
0900 – 1630

A couple of days ago we cycled down the long Bibert River valley. Today we are going back up, this time along the Pegnitz River valley. Very flat along the 5 Rivers/ Paneuropa Radweg route. Coffee in Lauf, just in time for the first downpour of the morning, it’s raining again. Warm though.  Paneurapa radweg signs in Lauf pleased us – first we have seen with distances to Paris and Prague.

The path went steadily but gradually uphill with no real hills. Reached the end of the valley at about 40k and are into the Bavarian mountains. The river has become a little stream curving through the green meadows.

The roadside flowers are much prettier here. Worldwide invasives have taken over most of the roads we’ve been on, but not in this area.

Lunch in Etzelwang at the Bierstueberl Hagerer where the Frau has taken pity on us and is cleaning us up to the enjoyment of the other patrons, while we learn German fast. Specials which we declined were pig knuckle, pig insides (unknown) and pig brains. We settled for bratwurst mit sauerkraut.

Lauf - 395 km to Prague

Much hillier ride after lunch but the rain stopped. Arrived at Gasthof Weich in Hirschau at1630. V old, and NO soap!!

Now having very nice evening refreshments in a nearby restaurant and listening to 9 German men talk louder and laugh more heartily with each beer. They laugh and we just smile because we can’t understand even one word.

We’re in the “old” Bavaria, unlike the Johnny-come-lately’s in Nuremberg, which only became part of Bavaria when turned over by Napoleon 200 yrs ago.

Behind the Gasthof Weich in Hirschau - butcher shop on left, horses under the arch

Lunch in the metzgerei

Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nuremberg, Germany

Lovely paths into town

Saturday 21 August 2010
Hotel Deutscher Kaiser Nuremberg
95.7, 5.12 hrs, 18.4 kph
0900 – 1630

We left Rothenburg in good time, at 0900, en route to Nuremberg via the Altmuehlweg and the Biberttal-Radweg (the Paneuropa Radweg uses a lot of the existing routes). Only one routing problem at Neustetten, but we are learning that when in doubt, stop completely and figure it out.

The early part of day took us up one very steep hill (pushed the bikes) then it was easy going after that. More farm communities up high then a tremendous view down the Bibert River valley.  Our route was a long gradual descent down the valley, first on roads then on an old railway bed most of the way into Furth/ Nuremberg.  Love that 1% downhill, very easy riding.

Our lunch in the Gasthof-Metzgerei in Dietenhofen deserves a special mention.  The proprietress looked around at 11.00 and decided they needed more bratwurst.  By 1230 it was on Olin’s plate and it was, he says, totally delicious:  Cloves, marjorem, chives, and pork, in a vinager sauce – very light and completely outstanding. 

The signage all day was excellent – thanks to the good folks in the German cycling federations who do all the work.  However it was hopeless to try to follow it in the city and we would have spared ourselves 10 k  and about an hour by just following a map to the city centre instead of taking the PR through Furth.

No trouble finding accomodation, and we are in the very pretty old family run hotel, the Deutscher Kaiser, right in the heart of the old city.  An excellent spot to take a rest day and explore Nuremberg  tomorrow.

On accomodation:  we booked the first 3 nights of the trip and since then, just look in the evening.  We have yet to find a hotel that is full.

Langenburg to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

 

Chatting with the locals - he works for Bosch in Stuttgart and commutes once a week

Friday 20 August 2010
Golden Rose gasthof,Rothenburg
39 km, 2.4 hrs, 14.8 kph
0915 – 1215

Short ride today as every German we have met is most insistent that we spend time in the historic and beautiful city of Rothenburg.

We left Langenburg in good time from our Gasthof perched above the valley and continued on the Paneuropa Radweg, more steep hills and valleys, with the route generally following the farm roads and going right through the middle of the small farm communities.

The road to Rothenburg

Everything looks prosperous. The buildings are well maintained, each farm with its group of houses, outbuildings, farm workers, cows, machinery,clothes on the line and flowers. It’s the time for spreading manure on the fields so there is a certain farm fragrence in the air wherever we go. The PR divides at Langenburg. We took the more northerly slightly shorter route. Reached an altitude of 510m.

The approach to Rothenburg was from the west over the famous double bridge and through the Kolbolzell Gate. Now sitting in the square in front of the Rathaus waiting for the clock to turn 3.00. The town is packed with tourists, more than we have seen in any other town. Lots of rooms though and no difficulty in finding accommodation.

Entertainment in Rothenburg tonight: wine festival. All the local vineyards are here, the accordion is playing, the mayor is shaking hands and our new friends are very hospitable.

We have left the state of Baden Wuerttenberg and are now in Bavaria, the Franken region, a historic remnant of the Frankish empire.

Rothenburg was 50% destroyed by bombing in 1945. No one we were talking to seemed to know why as there was never a military target here. Now completely restored and under strict heritage guidelines inside the walls of the old city. The wall around the city is restored with a walkway much of the way. Contributions from around the world are noted in the wall, many Americans as there was a large base near here after the war.

We closed the music down in the festival, though the party was still going strong when we left. Saibling fish? Red like salmon, cooked by smoking next to an open fire, looks like trout and tastes delicious.

Rotenburg

On the double bridge

Bad Wimpfen to Langenburg, Germany

Langenburg

Thursday 19 August 2010
Gasthof Krone, Langenburg
73 km, 4.34, 16kph
1000 – 1700

Left Bad Wimpfen at 1015. We don’t get the early start on this trip. We skipped Heilbronn and took the cross country route over the L1088 to get directly to Ohringen. I wouldn’t recommend the route but it was fast and saved us about an hour.  Vehicles don’t much like us on the roads though – the country has obviously invested a lot of effort into the bike routes so that’s where we should be.

It is warm and sunny today, the first good weather we’ve had in a week.

Bike route sign

Bike route sign

Light lunch in Ohringen, another beautiful town with a lot to see, but we kept going, rejoining the Paneuropa Radweg. At Schloss Waldenburg, the bike paths separate, and we took the slightly shorter Kraichgau-Hohenlohe-Radweg direct to Braunsbach, then the PR again on to Langenburg.

The cycling is some of the prettiest we have ever done but it was hard today. The route goes across high hills and up and down deep valleys, so there is significant climbing (over 1000m today on total).

Autobahn bridge, bikes use hills

Well tended farms all around, and on the hilltops, farming of energy with the big windmills. Many rooftops are covered with solar which must be going back into the grid, expensive energy but it must work because we are seeing it everywhere.

The last hill into Langenburg was a killer, at 17% we were pushing our bikes. If you are coming this way – don’t take the bike route, cycle up the road instead.

Langenburg has a huge schloss looking over two deep valleys.  Unfortunately cycling hours don’t always lend themselves to going into the attractions.  They close just as we are ready to have a look.

The town really is a most spectacular setting.  Our very pretty gasthof perches high above the farming valley below.  Dinner in the gasthof restaurant right over the view.  With all of BC’s mountains and valleys, I can’t think of a place like this.

Langenburg

Looking down the valley from Langenburg