Europe · 26 Days · 175 Moments · September 2017

Cycling Prague to Florence 2017

6 October 2017

Going home - thank you, Hans, for the ride to the airport 😀!

4 October 2017

We spent the past couple of days enjoying the Tuscan countryside with Hans and Margit.

3 October 2017

Celebrating our achievement at Zia Emilia's in Poggio alla Croce.

2 October 2017

We didn't get back to the villa until 8:00 pm, so we quickly went to work and cooked dinner. It was an awesome meal of salad, focaccia bread and fresh pasta with tomato sauce.
Pam, Eric, Laird and Hans returned to Figline with the rental car while Don and I stayed on in Florence to do some sightseeing. We caught the 5:35 pm train back to Figline and met up with Hans at the grocery store and picked up a couple days worth of groceries.
Carrying our bike boxes through the streets of Florence to the hotel where Pam, Eric, Laird and Dennis will be staying and to the car rental place so the other three can be transported by car to the villa.
We woke up to a beautiful sunny and warm day in Tuscany. The cycling part of our trip is over and the total kilometres we rode from Prague to Figline was 909. After breakfast we walked down the hill we had struggled to ride up last night. Once in Figline, would took a train to Florence to a bike shop there to get bike boxes. Hans had emailed Florence by Bike a few weeks before our trip to see if they would save seven boxes for us and they had, which was so kind of them. This saved us a lot of time and effort having to search for boxes.

1 October 2017

We finished supper at about 10:00 pm and then had a couple kilometres to ride along a trail to the villa. We had to walk most of it because it was quite rough and, of course, completely dark. We were glad we didn't run into any wild boar along the way 😳
We had a fantastic meal of traditional Italian food at Zia Emilia's. The locals gave us curious looks as we sat there in our bright yellow shirts and sweaty faces.
We arrived in Figline at 6:40 pm. As we unloaded our bikes and bags, the conductor watched us from his little window up above us at the front of the train then wished us well and waved goodbye. As you can see from the photo it was getting dark and we had about 10 km to ride to get to the villa - straight up a steep hill. It was a tough climb and mostly in the dark. We rode up to Zia Emilia's in Poggio alla Croce, our favourite place from when we were here four years ago, and arrived there just after 8:00 pm. We were starved after having had very little for lunch and the exhausting ride up the hill.
We arrived in Florence about 5:30 pm. Hans went and bought tickets for Figline and we caught the 18:13 pm train.
We arrived in Prato and then struggled with our bikes down and then up the stairs to get to the platform for the train to Florence. The first train that was going to Florence did not have a bike car, so we had to wait about 20 minutes for the next train, which did have a bike car.
We knew we would have to scramble to catch our next train, but it turned out the one we had just got off of was now the train going to Prato. So, we quickly got our bikes and bags loaded on the train. No sooner did we get settled on the train, the conductor (not the same one as before) flipped out and went up and down the train cars saying something about the bikes. He kicked Laird off the train and the rest us watched as the conductor paced the platform talking to someone on his phone. We weren't sure if he was going to let Laird back on or kick us all off. Several minutes later, the police showed up and told us we had to get off the train and take a later one. An officer talking to Laird said we could be charged with delaying public transportation 😳The seven of us, plus three other cyclists, all got off the train. We went to the ticket office where we were told there would be a train with a bike car at 3:09 pm, so we hung around our bikes and ate the food we had in our bags.
We left the hotel at 10:45 am and rode to the train station to catch the 11:31 am train to Bologna. When we got to the platform where the train to Bologna was, the conductor said there was no room for bikes and we would have to take a later train. But, when we explained that we would miss our connections in Bologna and Prato, he relented and said to spread the bikes out with no more than two per car. By the time our train arrived in Bologna, it was full and there was standing room only. As we hurried to get our bikes and bags off of the train, the other passengers, mostly young kids and teenagers, were wonderful in helping us.
The original plan was to take the train from Ravenna to Florence and then cycle from Florence to Figline, but we decided to take the time in the morning to go see the famous mosaics of Ravenna. A ticket to see the mosaics at the five sites costs 9.50 euro. We managed to get to four of them before we had to head back to the hotel to gather our luggage and bikes and go to the train station. The mosaics are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

30 September 2017

Some late-night gelato 😋
We had an awesome meal at Rustichello - one of the best this trip. It was classic Italian including antipasti, homemade pasta dishes and tiramisu.
Dante's Tomb in Ravenna.
We rode 91 km today and arrived in Ravenna at 3:30 pm. Once we checked in to our hotel, Hotel Sant Andrea, we showered and headed out to see the city centre.
The cable ferry we took at Fiume Reno.
We stopped by Valli di Comacchio for our picnic lunch today. Valli di Comacchio means "fish basins of Comacchio" and are brackish lagoons south of Comacchio, close to the Adriatic coast. We rode about 15 km along these lagoons. A good place to stop for lunch, except for the flies, ants and mosquitoes 😝
Views along the way today. We had a couple of busy bridges to cross, but mostly the roads were fairly quiet and overall it was a great ride.
In Pontelangorino, we stopped for coffee and grocery shopping.
We left Porto Viro at 8:45 am this morning. After an hour into our ride we rode through the the town of Mesola where we stopped for a short break to look at the Saturday market at Castello Estense della Mesola.

29 September 2017

Dinner in Porto Viro
We arrived in Porto Viro at 4:30 pm. Our ride from Chioggia was mainly roads in the countryside, but we did have some city riding and busy highway bridges to cross. The terrain is flat, so riding is easy. We rode 73 km today.
In Chioggia
Our third and final ferry today was from Pellestrina Island to the city Chioggia on the mainland. From here, we would have another 30 km to ride to get to Porto Viro, our destination for today.
It is about 8 km to ride the length of Pellestrina Island. It is a beautiful ride meandering along through the villages.
Taking the ferry from Lido Island to Pellestrina Island.
Coffee break in Malamocco on Lido Island.
We rode the length of Lido Island (about 13 km) to the southern point where we would catch our next ferry. Some views along the way.
Once we were off the ferry in Lido, we bought groceries for lunch.
Approaching Lido.
View of Venice as we rode the ferry to Lido.
We were happy all seven of us could get on the same ferry. Apparently, some ferries, the smaller ones I assume, will only take two.
We arrived in Punta Sabbioni just in time to buy our tickets and board the 9:30 am ferry.
Most of the route to Punta Sabbioni had separate bike lanes 🙂
We left our hotel, Hotel Rosa, just after 8:00 am this morning. We had to ride 20 km to Punta Sabbioni to catch the ferry to Lido Island.

28 September 2017

More views around Venice.
This time in Venice, we decided to take a gondola ride. We went with a couple from Spain, and then ran into them two more times that afternoon - amazing given the thousands of people visiting Venice.
Lunch break in Venice
Today was a rest day, so we took the bus to Punta Sabbioni and then the ferry from there to Venice. The total trip is an hour and ten minutes and costs 20.50 euro round trip.

27 September 2017

We are staying in Lido di Jesolo, which is near Venice. After we got cleaned up after our ride today, we went to check out the beach. It is completely taken up with numbered beach umbrellas and lounges. It must be a mob scene in the summer time.
Lunchtime in Latisana.
Fixing Don's chain
Coffee break in Precenicco
Some views along the route today. The weather is finally cooperating and we enjoyed the warmth. For the main part of the day we were on secondary roads and now and then on a bike trail. In some towns, there were separate bike lanes, which made cycling a lot less stressful when the traffic got heavier later in the day. When we are on the busier roads we spread out to allow the cars to pass more easily, but today we were a bit too spread out and at one of the larger traffic circles Don and Hans got separated from the rest of us. They thought we were ahead of them and kept going. We weren't sure where they had gone and couldn't reach them by phone, so we finally had to carry on and hope we would catch up to them. Losing each other happens more easily than anyone expects. Anyway, they ended up in Jesolo at our hotel for the next two nights a half hour before the rest of us. We arrived in Jesolo at 4:30 pm and rode 92 km today.
We were on our way by 9:00 this morning. It would be a long day of riding, but now we were in flat terrain and wouldn't have the hills like most of our other cycling days.

26 September 2017

Dinner at the hotel's restaurant 😀 We rode 51 km today.
Brake change
Our hotel for the night - Agriturismo La Rosta. Our bikes were stored in the silo!
Taking a short break at a gas station along the way.
Once we left Sezana, we had about fifty kilometres to go to get to Cervignano del Friuli. The first part of the ride was on quiet roads through numerous little villages, but the last 30 kilometres were on a busy road that got worse as rush hour started. We made it safely to our hotel near Cervignano del Friuli, but riding in heavy traffic is stressful and the traffic circles were particularly challenging 😳. I only got a couple of photos along our route today.
Arriving in Sezana. Once we got off the train, we rode to a nearby grocery store and bought food for lunch. Right after that, we rode across the border to Italy, just a couple of kilometres away, and then got on a secondary road through a forested area where there are many caves. We stopped for lunch beside one of the caves.
Not many were on the train and the conductor said it was ok to sit in the first class car. We were all relieved to be on the train and relaxed on the hour and 45 minute ride to Sezana.
We went back to the office with ticket agent who then went out of his way to come up with options for us. He asked about our cycling trip and whether we had had train problems in any other country. He seemed concerned that our only problem had occurred in Slovenia. He was awesome in helping us and in the end we decided to go to Sezana instead of Nova Gorica - the ride to Cervignano del Friuli (our destination for today) would be longer, but it was our best option. (Photo is of the bike car on the train)
Hans was so happy last night that we were able to get train tickets from Ljubljana to Nova Gorica. When he planned the trip he wasn't sure if we would be able to get all 7 bikes on the train and, with the track construction going on, there were few options, so he was relieved that he was able to get tickets for the 8:10 am train. So, we were up early to get to the train station by 7:30 am. When the train came in, we started loading our bikes only to be stopped by the conductor who said there was only room for two bikes and it was not possible to take 7. He explained that we could catch the 9:43 am train, but that would only go as far as Sezana. We went to the ticket office and explained our situation. The man at the ticket office sprang into action and one minute later he, Laird, Hans and I were dashing across the railroad tracks (not using the underpass 😳). Unfortunately, the conductor had to hold firm that only 2 bikes could go on the train.

25 September 2017

Street in Ljubljana - notice the faces 😳
More views of Ljubljana.
View of Ljubljana from the castle.
The funicular up to the castle - we took it up, but walked the trail down after walking around the castle grounds.
We've seen signs for the Camino here.
Ljubljana - the castle is on the hill in the distance.
Ljubljana's city centre is beautiful with its historic buildings, lively restaurants and cafes and unique shops. The streets in the centre are pedestrian and cyclist only, so walking around is relaxing and enjoyable.
We arrived in Ljubljana just before 3:00 pm. Before we left the train station, Hans went and bought our tickets for tomorrow's ride from Ljubljana to Nova Gorica. We rode the short distance to our hotel (Galeria Rooms), checked in and then headed to the city centre to do some sightseeing.
Train ride from Celje to Ljubljana.
At the Celje train station.
Grabbing lunch in Celje before our train ride.
As planned, we would be taking the train from Celje to Ljubljana today. Hans had not been able to find a suitable route for bicycling - there are only busy narrow roads. It was cool and sprinkling rain as we headed to the train station with the plan to catch the 10:30 am train. Unfortunately, there were no bicycle cars on the 10:30 train, so we had to wait for the 12:45 pm. While we waited, we went for a ride along the Savinja River. While the guys stopped for coffee along the way, Pam and I went a bit farther along the trail.

24 September 2017

Once we were back at the hotel, we enjoyed another taste of the slivovitz 🙂
Not much was open because it was Sunday, but we did find one restaurant open - Hotel Europa. It was excellent. Pumpkin seed oil is popular here, and in the area where we were in Austria, and it is used like olive oil - on salads and as a bread dip. It is delicious! I had spelt risotto for dinner 😋
Views in the centre of Celje.
We arrived in Celje at 4:30 pm and after checking into our hotel, the Hotel Grande, we rested in the lobby and had a beer before cleaning up and heading into the old part of the city. We rode 70 km today.
The views along the route today. We had many hills today, so it was another physically demanding day.
Our coffee break/lunch spot along the way.
After he washed our bikes he invited us into his house, introduced us to his wife and then poured us some homemade slivovitz he had retrieved from his cellar. They spoke in Slovenian and German, but we managed to gather that their house was 300 years old and used to be a hotel and restaurant. Once the others arrived from fixing the tire, we were able to learn more about them and their home because Hans could converse with them. They were so kind to us and gave us hugs when we had to get on our way. Oh, and they gave us a bottle of slivovitz as well. We still had another 50 km to go today.
About 20 km into our ride today, Hans got a flat tire. Pam, Eric and I were ahead, so we waited at this corner by a train station while Hans and Don worked on fixing the tire. While we were waiting, a man in his yard across from us said a couple of things to us, but we didn't understand. A few minutes later he was pressure washing his driveway. Because our bikes were still filthy with mud, Pam and I approached him and, through various gestures, asked if he could wash our bikes. He was very happy to do this and in no time the mud was gone from our bikes.
We also had to go under the railroad tracks along the way, which is a bit of a challenge taking our loaded bikes down and then up the stairs.
Today we got away 8:00 am. We could hear it raining during the night, but, thankfully, it had stopped by the time we left. We got off to a good start, but the gravel trail we were on became thick mud at this underpass. It was hard pushing our bikes through and very slippery. Once we got through it, we had to spend a good twenty minutes or so cleaning our bikes, especially the brakes.

23 September 2017

Our hotel for tonight is Hotel Bajt. As usual, we quickly got cleaned up to head out for dinner (we are not in a "Bad" town, so no spa tonight). We took a taxi downtown and had an excellent meal at Rozmarin. We rode 72 km today.
We arrived in Maribor, our destination for today, at around 4:00 pm and then had to navigate our way through the city and get to our hotel. By this time we were tired and just wanted the ride finished. I did manage to at least get a couple of photos.
We crossed into Slovenia at 2:20 pm today. This is our first photo in Slovenia taken as we rested after a very steep climb along the bike route.
The afternoon trail as we neared the Slovenian border.
Lunch along the Mur River. There were many cyclists on the trails today.
The ferry taking cyclists across the Mur River. On the other side of the river is Slovenia (but we would be going there later from a different crossing).
Coffee break this morning in Deutsch Goritz.
This gentleman came to talk with us as we were resting after our first hill climb this morning. He is somehow involved with the local bike trails and book about them. He gave us the book about the trails and then photographed us as we were leaving - all in a line going single file down the hill (maybe for the next edition of the book 😀)
It was a great ride this morning - bike trails away from the busy roads, beautiful countryside and perfect weather.
Morning views at the hotel and getting ready to go for today's ride. We were away by 8:45 am.

22 September 2017

We found Gleichenberger Kellerstüberl and went there for dinner. To eat we had bean salad and potato strudel and to drink we had sturm (semi-fermented low alcohol grape juice from the first grape harvest of the season). We got back to our hotel at 10:45 pm. We rode 77 km today.
After the pools, we walked through the city square of Bad Gleichenberg and looked for a place to have dinner.
We arrived at our hotel (Hotel Garni Fuksas) in Bad Gleichenberg at just before 6:00 pm. It had been a long and physically demanding day with all of the hills we had. Don and I had a brief rest and then headed down the hill from our hotel to the Hotel Life Resort for some soaking in the warm mineral pools. We stayed in the pools until closing which was 9:00 pm.
The scenery along our way in the afternoon. Very beautiful, but for a lot of it we were on a busy road which I don't enjoy at all. There was no bike lane and the traffic, although the drivers are respectful, is extremely fast.
We found a quiet spot for lunch in Ubersbach.
We had a coffee break at about 10:00 and then bought groceries for lunch.
Yesterday (September 22nd) was such a full day, I didn't get a chance to post anything. We were away a little after 8:00 am (after sorting out a problem with my brakes 😳) We had a bit of everything - small towns, busy towns, wooded areas, beautiful countryside and highways. The weather was finally good!

21 September 2017

As soon as we got the bikes put away in the garage and checked in to our rooms, we got a taxi to Avita Resort, one several resorts in Bad Tatzmannsdorf with hot pools ("Bad" means "bath"). It was a wonderful way to relax after our ride. Later, we met for supper at the restaurant just down from our hotel.
We arrived in Bad Tatzmannsdorf at 3:45 pm and rode a total of 82 km today. Our hotel is Pension Fruhwirth.
We met up with the others at Gasthaus Prenner in Pinggau. They had arrived there about 45 minutes before us. We had some lunch and then headed out on the rest our journey for today. We had about another 22 km to go to get to our destination Bad Tatzmannsdorf.
After our long climb up the mountains, we then had steep downhills in to Pinggau (near Friedberg). Part of the downhill was cobblestone which made it bit nervewracking. We arrived in Pinggau at 1:45 pm.
Our ride over the mountains was a long, continuous fairly steep climb and it took us 2 1/2 hours to do the 23 km. We had to walk frequently and near the top we had wind and some rain to deal with. There were many beautiful old farms along the way.
We made it to Aspang-Markt by about 10:15 am. Aspang-Markt is the town just before the mountains we would have to get through to get to Friedberg. As planned, those who wanted to take the train caught it here. Pam, Eric and I decided to go over the mountains.
The weather was quite a bit better today, but still quite cool and windy at times.
We left Weikersdorf just before 7:30 am.

20 September 2017

The whole group is together now! We had dinner at the hotel's restaurant and made plans for tomorrow's long (and mountainous) ride.
We arrived in Weikersdorf am Steinfelde at 4:20 pm and will stay at Zum Dorfmeister Wirt for the night. Hans, Pam and Eric arrived about 5:00 pm. We rode 40 km today.
We stopped at about 2:00 pm for lunch at Gasthaus am Kirchenfeld in Sollenau. It was an excellent meal and the owner of the restaurant chatted with us for a while and talked about the few years he had lived in Canada.
The route today - we were mainly on bike trails today although we did have a few kilometres of road riding.
Waiting at the train station at Gumpoldskirchen for Hans, Pam and Eric to arrive from the airport. It turned out that they would be catching a train later than planned, so we started on our way to Weikersdorf am Steinfelde at about 12:20 pm.
Getting ready to head out on our ride on yet another cold and blustery day. At least it wasn't raining much.
Our bikes were stored in the wine cellar - the cellar and barrels date back to the 16th century. Don thought he should prepare for today's ride and fill up his bottle.

19 September 2017

We went to Freigut Thallern's restaurant The Klostergasthaus for dinner, which has been serving meals for more than 350 years. We had a fantastic meal of typical Austrian food - schnitzel, chanterelle goulash, dumplings and strudel.
Our hotel is part of the Freigut Thallern vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in Austria. The Romans brought vines and the knowledge of wine production to the areas surrounding Vienna over 2,000 years ago. Freigut Thallern has been in operation since 1141.
We only had 25 km to ride today, but that was plenty long enough given the rain. I managed to get one photo along the way.
Right after Laird suggested we stop for a coffee break, he got a flat tire. Luckily, a man nearby offered to drive Laird to a bike shop to have it repaired. While Laird left in the man's van, the three of us found a restaurant where we had lunch while we waited for Laird to return. Laird's tire had been cut by a piece of glass picked up somewhere along our ride. Once he had a new tire installed, he met up with us and had lunch too.
Getting ready to head out on our wet ride. I think we were all dreading riding through the rainy city streets.
Today we would be travelling south of Vienna to a town called Guntramsdorf and, as forecasted, it was raining 100% 🙁. But first, we walked to the Spanish Riding School to watch the morning training of the Lippizanner horses. The school has been in Vienna since the 16th century.

18 September 2017

Night views along our walk back to the hotel from the concert. The opera has a screen outside showing the opera live. We watched for a while.
We went to a concert at Karlskirche after supper. We were thinking of going to the opera, but the cheapest seats available were 196 euro, so we decided to go to a concert instead for 36 euro.
Supper - vegetable dumpling and mushroom sauce. We ate at a little restaurant near Karskirche (St Charles Church).
More views around old Vienna.
We spent the day exploring the old part of the city. The forecast for tomorrow is 100% rain, so we made the most of the day.
Our hotel, the monastery, on a sunny day.
Dennis has arrived! We had a little coffee break in the hotel's breakfast room and then put Dennis's bike together.

17 September 2017

Spinach dumplings! Our favourite from the last time we were in Austria.
Of course, Don couldn't help himself 😝
Once we checked into our hotel we went out to explore the city and find a place for dinner.
We arrived in Vienna just after 3:00 pm and from the train station we rode to the old city along mostly dedicated bike lanes. It was pouring rain, but we only had 3 km to go. As we rode to our hotel we could hardly believe the beauty of the buildings and monuments along the way. The photos don't even begin to capture the magnificence.
Our hotel in Vienna - the Benediktushaus in the heart of old Vienna. It is the Benedictine Abbey of Our Beloved Lady of the Scots which was founded in 1155. The rooms are reasonably priced compared to the hotels in this part of the city and there is a courtyard where we can store our bikes.
When we arrived in Brno we only had 18 minutes to get our stuff off of the train, find the ticket office where the international tickets are sold and then find the train going to Vienna. It was a bit stressful as it took me a few minutes to find the ticket office and then the woman selling the tickets seemed quite flustered, maybe because she was hurrying so we wouldn't miss our train. Luckily Laird and Don weren't too far behind me with all our gear because I was short by 400 korunas, which, thankfully, Laird had a 500 left. We grabbed the tickets and ran to the platform. Luckily for us the train was 5 minutes late and we made it. Once on the train we relaxed and spent our remaining korunas on snacks. The trip was about an hour and 40 minutes.
As planned, today was our day to go by train to Vienna, so after our early morning trip to Dzbanov and Jehnedi, Zdenek brought us back to our hotel and after we checked out he met us at the train station and helped us buy our tickets to Brno. He also helped get our bikes on the train and then we said farewell. It had been great to get to know him.
This morning we all went to Dzbanov (the correct one!) and found the cemetery and the several graves with the Skerik name. We rode with Zdenek and his brother who then took us to Jehnedi where we saw the home where the Skeriks lived generations ago.

16 September 2017

When we arrived back in Svitavy, we met up with the other Skeriks who Don had connected with a few months ago. We had a wonderful evening with them talking about their shared ancestry. When we mentioned how we had tried to find the cemetery, they all decided they wanted to find it too, so we made plans to go early the next morning. Turns out there is another village called Dzbanov which is why we couldn't find the cemetery!
Zhedni first took us to Svojanov which is one of the oldest castles in the Czech Republic. Then he took us to nearby Policka where he treated us to a drink which is from the first fermentation of wine grapes.
We arrived in Svitavy at 3:15, so pretty well on time, but we checked in quickly, got changed and met up with Zdenek, a young man who Don had connected with via email a few months ago.
Bike route 4028 - this part is through the forest just before Svitavy. Notice the excellent paved path. But we are soaked by this time.
After Litomysl, we followed a fairly quiet road along the Loucna River for several kilometres. We then noticed the bike path signs and decided to follow 4028 to Svitavy. It was longer than going strictly by road, but more scenic and less stressful.
We rode through Litomysl on our way to Svitavy, but didn't stop to really see it because we were still hoping to be in Svitavy by 3:00, plus it was still pouring. It has a wide cobblestone central street lined with beautiful and colourful historic buildings.
By now it was raining and we were concerned about time because we wanted to be in Svitavy by 3:00 pm to meet with the Skeriks Don had arranged to meet. Given the rain and the distance we still had to cover we decided to ride to Cerekvice and try to catch a train. The train station there is not staffed and even seemed abandoned except for the man living above the station (who couldn't help us at all as he looked down at me from his window saying something in Czech that indicated that our wish to catch a train was likely not possible). We sat in the train station for about half an hour checking train schedules on our phones and then gave up on the idea and started riding again in the pouring rain.
We took a brief break on our rainy ride to pose with the turnips 😝
Today the plan was to ride to Dzbanov, a small village not too far from Vysoke Myto, to go to the cemetery where Don's ancestors were buried. The day was dark and the forecast was for rain. When we got to Dzbanov, we couldn't find a cemetery, so we asked a man who was working in his yard where it was. He said in Knirov, a village we had ridden through to get to Dzbanov. So, we rode back and found the cemetery, but, unfortunately, it wasn't the right one and no Skerik's were buried there.

15 September 2017

Vysoké Mýto was founded in 1262 and has a beautiful city square and many architectural monuments.
We arrived at our hotel, Via Ironia, at a little after 5:00 pm, quickly changed, went for a walk around city centre, had a beer at a pub on the city square and then went back to our hotel and had dinner at their excellent italian restaurant. We rode 86 km today.
Only 5 km left to our destination - Vysoké Mýto!
The map showed a trail here, but it must have been plowed over, so we walked along the edge of the field.
More views along our route today.
One of several people who went out of their way to help us with directions today. His shirt describes our life on this trip😉
We left Kutna Hora just before 9:00 this morning. It was cool and windy. We had a route all planned, but just a few kilometres into our trip, the road going over the railroad tracks was under major repair and we had to change our route. We ended up changing our plans throughout the day to take bike paths and farm roads where we could. We avoided the highways almost completely and only had to be on one for 2 km. The highways are not fun to ride - there is no shoulder whatsoever and the traffic is flying. At least the drivers are respectful. We travelled through the countryside for almost the entire day. The main scenery included wide expanses of corn and potato fields to beautiful and quaint pastoral views of the many little towns along the way.

14 September 2017

Supper! Breaded cauliflower and mashed potatoes.
The weather was not good today, but at least we had a beautiful sunset 😀
More views in Kutna Hora.
We arrived in Kutna Hora at 5:30 pm and once we checked into our hotel, Pension Bed and Breakfast, we quickly changed so we could see as much as we could before sundown. Kutna Hora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We rode 70 km today.
The weather got worse as the day went on - blustery, rainy and cold. We were sure happy to see the 5 km sign to Kutna Hora.
We had a fantastic lunch at about 2:00 at a restaurant called Sotto Ponte along the Elbe River in Podebrady. We had met a young Spanish couple along the route who were heading there and we took their recommendation and it was well worth it. As we were leaving to continue riding we met a group of German cyclists who we talked with for a while about each other's travels. They were amazed that Canadians had come so far for a bike ride!
The trail along the river was often just a narrow path and it was slow going most of the time. After about 10 km, we decided to take a route along the roads instead. The bike trails here are very well marked and in places there is new infrastructure for bikes including wide paved roads, street lighting bridges and overpasses. We followed route 8240 for a long section of our trip today.
We took the train from Prague to Čelákovice and got off at the Jiřina stop. From there we only had a short way to go to get to the trail along Elbe river. The train cost about $6 each (including the bike charge) for the half hour ride. We were on the trail by a little after 11:00 am.
We were ready to go at 8:30 this morning. It had rained during the night and just as we were about to leave it started raining quite heavily. Luckily, it slowed to a drizzle and we didn't get too wet. We headed straight towards Prague Castle, the way we had walked on our first day in Prague and from Saint Roch we headed down Petrin hill along the paved trail. This was far easier than riding in traffic. At the bottom of the hill, we crossed the Hunter's Island bridge and then made our way, mostly walking due traffic and the wet cobblestone streets, the 1.5 km to the train station.

13 September 2017

After we got the bikes put together with all the necessary gear, Don and I headed to the city centre for more sightseeing. We also checked out a couple of routes to take us to the train station in the morning.
We spent about 2 hours in the morning putting the bikes together and then had a few problems to sort out - Don forgot his pannier rack and needed a pump, a few items were missing from Laird's bike box, and my bike needed to have the brakes adjusted. We had found a couple of bike shops yesterday, just in case Laird would have to buy a bike today, so we went to the one about 1.5 km away where we were able to get everything we needed. Our ride to and from the bike shop gave us comfort that the bikes were ready to go. Tomorrow we head out on our bike ride!

12 September 2017

We took the tram to our hotel after the concert and arrived at 10:45 pm. The bike still had not been delivered! But, about 15 minutes later, it arrived 😀We are all relieved because now we can put our bikes together in the morning and not worry about Laird having to buy a bike.
We went to the Rudolfinum for the Essener Philharmoniker evening concert.
Amazing food at Tři Století for dinner.
Interesting water fountain...
The sun came out in the afternoon 😀 More views of Old Town.
The Astronomical Clock in the Old Town district.
More views in Prague.
We went to Krčma U krále Brabantského for lunch which is a medieval pub that's been open daily since 1375!
Laird's bike still has not arrived, so instead of putting our bikes together, we walked the 3 km from our hotel to the city centre of Prague and spent the day exploring the beautiful old streets.
Daytime views of our hotel and the monastery where it is located.

11 September 2017

It was dark by the time we arrived at our hotel. Adalbert Hotel is situated in the Brevnov Monestry founded in 993 AD and is the first eco hotel in the Czech Republic. Once we checked in, we went to the onsite tavern for delicious Bohemian food - dumplings, pancakes and barley risotto. We will be staying here 3 nights.
We had short stopovers in Vancouver and Munich and then on to Prague. Our flight was about 20 minutes late and Laird's was 2 hours late, which wouldn't have been so bad except that we then had a long wait for Laird 's bike to show up. Unfortunately, it got left in Amsterdam, so hopefully it gets here tomorrow. With the delays and the one bike not arriving, we took a taxi to our hotel instead of riding.

10 September 2017

Checking in at Victoria Airport to start our next cycling adventure!