Day 40 Dresden to Zdan
We had planned to stay in Prague for two full days but decided that we’d set off earlier and ride a small section today.
We left a note, thanking Palov for letting us stay in his apartment and set off at a leisurely hour of 12pm.
Our first hurdle was getting out of the hussle and bussle (city) and finding the river. This we hoped would be all downhill and fairly straight forward. We were pleased with ourselves after navigating the labyrinth of roads and as predicted it was all downhill.
Our map showed the A2 bike route following the river for around 30km, so we opted for this.
We had an easy first few hours passing through a couple of tunnels and we enjoyed the smooth wide path, which varied from dedicated cycle paths to quiet country roads.
The road ended at a train line. We stopped to check our maps as it looked as though it may be possible to cycle alongside the train tracks. The only other option was heading over the dedicated train 🚂 bridge to the opposite side of the river, but shrugged that idea off, as it would not have enough space for a train and us to pass and we would be putting our lives in danger.
As we were contemplating our situation a local Czech man on his bike with his two kids, asked if we needed help. He explained (in broken English) that you could not cycle any further on this side and we would have to cross over. He was also going in the same direction to Davle. He said there was a train coming in 2 minutes and we would need to wait, then cross. He seemed to have the train information on his phone. We followed as there didn’t seem to be any other option and because he seemed to be familiar with this route. We crossed over the train bridge as quickly as possible, getting off our bikes and walking along. On the opposite side, a dirt track led down to the main road. We carefully went down this skinny narrow path, holding onto our brakes tightly. At the road we cycled in a line, following the family. We took a small diversion through a town trying to avoid traffic on the main road. Then shortly after arrived in Davle, said our goodbyes to the Czech family, as they were heading in a different direction across the river and decided as it was 2 o’clock, we would stop for lunch.
We had already cycled 30km and didn’t want to do much more today so decided to head for a small town called ‘Bus’ and reassess our situation there, which was around 10km away. We knew we had a steep hill ahead, so prepared by de-clothing as much as possible.
A few km in, we started our ascent. The sun was out, making it quite warm, luckily for us there was some shade along the way. Sweat dripped from every pore and just as you thought you were almost at the peak, it wound round to reveal an even steeper section. The climb seemed to go on for an eternity! We stopped at a layby to cool down in the shade and to regain our composure before heading off for the final few hundred metres. All up we climbed steeply to 350 metres above sea level with a 10 percent incline. Relieved that we’d reached the top, we turned towards ‘Slapy’ (strange name for a village) then cycled straight onto ‘Bus’ (an even stranger name). We stopped at a very nice looking cafe and had two well earned refreshments as well as an ice cream 🍦. We searched for the nearest campground ⛺️, which happened to be 2.3km downhill at a peninsular called Zdan. We weren’t too keen on heading down as we knew we’d have to ride back up the hill the following day but it was the closest option.
Arriving we at ‘Autokemp Zdan’ we set up camp, strolled along the river front, ate dinner and had an early night.
Today was literally a day of ups and downs. We set off from our campsite at 9.30am, knowing that we had a steep 2.7km climb back up to the small village of Bus, before we started to head Southwards again.
As it was already quite warm we decided to ditch the t-shirts and wear only our high-viz tops (Vanessa also had a crop top in case you were wondering) from the get go. This turned out to be a smart move, as we were already sweating when we reached Bus.
From then on the pattern was of steep descents and steep climbs through meandering valleys, mainly along quiet country roads. It wasn’t too long before we were starting to miss the flat profile of the previous few days along the Elbe. At least the weather was kind to us.
At one stage we climbed over 200 metres, only to then hurtle all the way down the valley (narrowly avoiding a slow moving elderly couple, trying to utilise the poorly located pedestrian crossing at the foot of the hill), before crossing a bridge and repeating the whole process again.
By 1pm we had had enough of the ups and downs and stopped for lunch at a picnic spot next to the River Vltava, in the town of Kamyk nad Vltavou. After eating we diverted across the bridge and popped into the small tourist info office, where we managed to find a booklet detailing the cycle route South (or North depending on your direction) along the Vltava from Prague to the Austrian border.
Armed with the booklet and maps therein, we headed back over the bridge and set off, hoping that the afternoon’s ride would be less strenuous. However, within a few hundred metres, we made an error of judgment, when Jon convinced Vanessa to take the shorter (possibly less defined) cycle path, rather than the longer, defined, route. As it turned out the route was more appropriate for mountain biking and certainly not for touring bikes with loaded panniers. For the next hour we struggled through a combination of cycling and pushing our bikes up the hillside, until we met with the sealed road which we evidently should have taken to start with…As penance for his earlier error, Jon was made to assist in pushing Vanessa’s bike up some of the steeper sections of the track, in addition to his own.
Back on the road we completed a few more rises and falls before reaching the village of Milesov, where we stopped at the only pub for a drink and the chance to figure out where we would stay the night. Unfortunately the nearest campsite was over 5km away and next to the river…Having covered approx. 55km of hills already today, neither of us was keen on expending any more energy, nor the thought of a steep climb back up from the river the following morning. We decided we would wild camp.
Whilst Vanessa rested her weary limbs, Jon scouted around the village for a suitable spot to pitch a tent. This was a little difficult with the recently acquired knowledge that wild camping is illegal in Czech. He reported back soon after, with news of an ideal location right next to the village church which was on a small hill overlooking the village’s pond.
We filled our water bottles at the pub, then cooked and ate a pretty fine meal, as we sat next to the village pond, waiting for sunset. Once it started to get a little dark, we climbed the grassy path with our bikes and stealthily pitch our tent under the trees next to the church, in the fading light, before settling down for the night.
Day 42 Milesov to Neznasov (Czech)
At 7am the church bells 🔔 went into action and we jumped out of our cosy sleeping bags and went into pack up mode, mainly because we were camping illegally and were a little concerned that someone may spot us on the luscious church green. (It was a perfect location though, overlooking the town and a quiet restful nights sleep was had).
We scooted our bikes down to the small lake and sat eating breakfast watching the bird life and the town come to life, apparently everyone in this town gets up at 7am.
We knew we had a steady climb out of the town, so we were mentally prepared. Using every gear possible and wishing for an even lower gear to appear, we rounded each curve and headed up. 4km’s later the road plateaued and we started to appreciate the countryside and it’s surrounding beauty.
We passed several lakes and an abundance of ripe juicy looking apple trees, we had no choice but to forage. Satisfied with our small collection of apples 🍎, ‘Why small?’ I hear you say, well we do have to carry the things and every ounce adds to our load.
The first half of the day was mainly on sealed quiet country lanes, generally going up, with the occasional dirt track. We passed an interesting farm of Ostriches and headed for our lunch spot in ‘Kluky’.
Relaxing on the town park green, we ate lunch, read our books in Spanish and English and watched the impressive small aircraft display overhead, breaking sound barriers and doing impressions turns. We decided that this was a dedicated display, just for us. An hour later we were off.
The second part of the day sent us through countryside with rougher terrain, making riding a little bit more of a challenge. We wished for flat ground but it wasn’t meant to be. The path steeply ascended and descended over and over again, not just a small ascent but real drastic 20% inclines. Vanessa started dreaming of hills with pulleys or conveyor belts (just like ski resorts, why not?). It was exhausting and they just kept on coming, plus the ground was full of loose rocks and dirt, making traction even more difficult.
Once at the peak, we had 6km of steep downhill towards our campsite in Neznasov.
Arriving in town (Neznasov), we headed for the pub and had a refreshing cold beverage, before cycling the last km to our campsite, which happened to be on a hill (why not throw another one in!).
We searched for some flat ground to pitch our tent, ate dinner, then watch a movie on Vanessa’s mobile as the wifi was extremely good.
Day 43 – Neznasov to Hamr (Czech)
We had a slow start to the day, then cycled 2.5km into town to buy 2 days worth of groceries, withdrew some Czech currency and post the keys back to our Latvian Warmshower hosts (about time too!).
By the time we set off it was almost midday and the sun was beating down on us as it did all day, with a top temperature of around 29 degrees it was perfect for leisurely cyclists but not any strenuous stuff.
We crossed the river on a bridge where the shadows created a web-like effect, then started the first of many long steady climbs.
At the top of the hill we reached the hamlet of Horni Knezeklady (no, we’re not making these names up), then started descending. We respected this pattern for 2 and a half hours, before reaching the riverside town of Ceske Budejovice, by which time the climbs, extra weight of the shopping and the heat were taking its toll on Jon who became unusually ‘hangry’.
Fortunately the hanger was cured by the overdue lunch and Vanessa read whilst Jon snoozed for a short while lying on our makeshift picnic blanket.
The ride after lunch involved less inclines, as it mainly followed the river…incidentally we had re-encountered the Eurovelo 7 signs earlier that day after a couple of days were it was ‘un-marked’. This meant that there were an abundance of cycle route options to follow as Czech sure has a lot of signs. Our main issue was, which one? On the whole we followed the recommended trail in the booklet we had bought 2 days earlier, as it stayed near to the river…but not always.
Leaving Ceske Budejovice we passed numerous summer sunbathers, riverside sports activities (including an ultra cool canoe facility) plus several cyclists and roller blades. The route then started to take us onto some single dirt tracks, which were entertaining but still manageable as they were flattish.
After a riverside stop at a cafe for a drink we set off at around 5pm to cover the last 12km or so to a campsite marked near the village of Hamr. This is where the bike route started to have its fun, as it took us up and over some very steep climbs, often off-road and also involved carrying the bikes over bridges and steps, whilst the river meandered sharply from side to side. All the while we passed through beautiful countryside, forests and meadows and spot real picture postcard types of properties which were tucked away from civilisation.
By 7pm we reached the campsite, which was relatively quiet (no school kids). We paid the absolute bargain price of 75k (€3) and set up camp. Unfortunately it was a little late for a swim in the river, as we needed to pitch tent, cook and shower before it got too dark. After which Jon grabbed a locally brewed beer at the bar area, (Vanessa stuck to tea) and we both fell asleep pretty soon afterwards.
Waking up in what felt like our own campsite, we hung our fly to dry, ate at the deserted camp bar/restaurant and left at around 9am.
We had a few kilometres on quiet main road before rejoining with the marked bike route on our map.
We cycled the majority of the time uphill in 30 degree heat, it was tough to put it in a good way. We even got a little aggravated with each other whilst making some simple route choices (the heat was getting to us!!).
We decided to veer off the signed bike routes for the last 10km and go direct via the main highway, which ‘yes’ was a little busier, but sooooo much quicker! The last 4 kilometres was an exhilarating downhill, which was well deserved .
Arriving in Cesky Krumlov, we searched for tourist information, to one, get a map, two find out if there were any close campsites and three, establish what sights/activities were recommended in the area. Armed with all this information, we headed to the campsite, set up, showered ate lunch, then headed into the historic town.
We were impressed immediately with the 18th century architecture and renascence atmosphere. We were a little tired from the day’s cycling, so we didn’t want to do too much walking. We headed towards the cylindrical gothic tower which dates back to the 13th century.
Bought a ticket for 50 krown, and climbed up the 100 steps to the view point. We were extremely impressed, the beauty of the castle, river and old town was just something plucked out of an 18th century painting. Romantic and historical all at once. Simply beautiful!! We snapped a few photos, then headed for an ice cream 🍦 near the riverside.
We knew that Cesky Krumlov was meant to have the best tourist information centre in Czech, so we decided to check it out. It didn’t disappoint, as we obtained two excellent maps, specifically dedicated to the Eurovelo 13 and outlining the various other bike paths available. Excellent score for us, plus they were free!!!
The sky started looking a little grey and our stomachs a little empty, so we headed for a restaurant along the riverside to grab a drink and treat ourselves to dinner. We also got a little excited checking out our newly acquired maps. The rain did start but luckily for us, we had a large parasol to shade under whilst eating.
On the way home, we wanted to check the local cinema out, as we fancied a movie. Unfortunately they had no English language movies showing. We noticed that the wifi was pretty good, so bought some popcorn and sat at the bar area of the cinema complex and watched a movie on our phone…a little naughty but so much cheaper! We got asked to leave as the bar was closing with 30 minutes left of our movie, so we sat outside watching the rest. Unfortunately by the time our movie finished, a storm had rolled in and it rained ☔️ hard. We hung around for 30 minutes before making a break for it back to our campsite.