Czechia and beyond

Weds. 5th June – Cesky Krumlov

We spent the day exploring the town and enjoying a warmer day.

We had a nice meal at a Vietnamese restaurant in the old town. Favourite restaurants in the countries we have crossed seem to be pizzerias and for some reason Vietnamese/ Chinese restaurants. They are everywhere.

Thursday 6th June – Karlovy Vary – Czechia – 200kms

Check out of hotels seem to be 10am everywhere we go, so we left our flat at 10. We kept to the backroads and passed some very nice towns, castles, and amazing mountains. It was slow going though so it took us a long time to get to our destination.

The hotel was about 7 kms out of town. Finding a hotel in town with secure carpark for our bikes was a difficult ask so we decided on this massive country pile, with equestrian centre attached to it. It included 2 large outdoor training arenas and a huge Olympic size indoor manège. There were few people around training their horses when we got there. Very nice place and nice horses.

Friday 7th June – Karlovy Vary

We spent the day exploring the town. It is incredibly touristic. The region is famous for its thermal springs. The town also has a very hot geyser! The town was frequently visited by head of states, famous artists to “take the waters” in the 19th century. Included Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Freud etc…. More recently, Hollywood stars are frequently spotted around, like Antonio Banderas, Jude Law, Robert de Niro….

The town is exquisite in its architecture the buildings very beautiful.

After a long walk we rode back to our hotel and watched the horses being trained in the arenas and the many cats and kitten being fed, petted and playing in the terrace. All that enjoying a nice local beer of course.

Saturday 8th June – Cheb – 130kms

Our last night in Czechia we spent near the border with Germany. To get there was only 50 kms, so we took a detour across other famous spas towns around.

Our hotel was in the town centre so we had a good walk around. The town was very pretty, like most Czech towns, with ancient beautiful buildings, churches, castles, fortifications etc…

It was a nice little town and a nice place to spend our last night in such a beautiful country.

Sunday 9th June – Gotha, Germany – 280kms

It was time to get back home and cross Germany. We started with small roads until we caught the motorway around lunch time. We stopped at a McDonalds for lunch and a rest and then continued on the motorway. As it was Sunday there were almost no trucks on the road and without rain the ride was not too bad.

Once we arrived at our hotel we “enjoyed” the German hospitality! The place was deserted, we needed a code to get in. Like in France, hotels in Germany are ghosts towns with not a single staff around.

We had to phone a German number to get a code and access our keys to get to the building and room. Thankfully, Alistair still had some credit on his Skype account, so he was able to get us the code and keys. Otherwise the place was like Fort Knox, no way in!

This system of phoning to get a code to access the room is very frustrating. Sadly like in France, companies will go as far as possible not to employ someone. Mainly because it cost about 2.5 time the salary of staff in various social stuff . So if some staff is paid say, 2000 euros (before income tax!), the employer has to play an extra 4000 or 5000 euros of various taxes etc to the state. So in total it costs 7000 euros to employ someone. Then of course the employee will pay tax on his salary. This is state racketing and is resulting on less and less low level jobs available. But productivity is high apparently so that’s ok I guess!?

Later in the evening, as everything including food stores were closed, as it was Sunday, we had to have a meal out. We had a walk in town. The town centre was pleasant enough with nice buildings. We found an Italian restaurant so we had dinner there. Payment by cash only. But at least they had an English menu.

Although the bill was no detailed and the total was more than we calculated, by 6 or 7 euros. Not happy.

Monday 10th June – near Werl, Germany – 260kms

The day was grey and cold. Barely 12 degrees mid morning. I put some extra layers and off we went. The day was long and boring. We took a short cut as the motorway was doing a big detour south before going north west. By mid day we finally picked up the motorway. Then the rain started. We stopped at a McDonalds for a rest and got all our waterproof out and winter gloves.

We stopped for a rest at a simple rest area by the motorway, there were mainly trucks there as the place had no facilities at all.

Near us, two Turkish truck drivers were having tea and waved as we parked near their trucks. When we saw their trucks storage door open, we joked they had enough food for a kebab. we started talking to one of them, they were going to London, from Budrum with two giant trucks full of frozen fish. It takes them 7 days and they were on their way to the Hook of Holland, like us. The guy asked us if we wanted food, then he insisted on giving us two packet of biscuits and a big bottle of water. It was impossible to refuse. It reminded us of our ride through Turkey and how welcoming people were. Really great people ( as long as you avoid the super touristic places).

After a tiring cold and wet ride we finally got to the motel for the night. The usual “no staff” one but at least the check-in could be done using a machine that would give us the codes to get to the hotel and the room.