Today we had a short ride of only 39 km, into the Czech republic. I was a little apprehensive about leaving the safety and comfort of touring in Germany. For one thing, the accommodation in Czech republic is not really advertised on internet booking sites (Booking.com etc), so booking ahead the day before was problematic. We found a place on line and sent them an email which they replied to the previous evening.
The border crossing was only around 3km from Furth im Wald, on the cycle path. It was pretty much an uphill climb to the crossing.
The cycle path after the crossing was very good, a tarred path going through a forest with tall pines and every now and then a babbling brook. There were even some picnic tables at stopping places every now and then. The signage on the path was not as good as in Austria/Germany – so we had to be extra careful not to miss any turnoffs. The route we are following is marked as number 3.
Coming out of the forest, we passed through several small towns (including Babylon!), but the first big town was Domazlice. We stopped to draw some Czech money (Koruna) from the cash machine. We had a look at the main street, which has lovely historical buildings an was quite busy. Unfortunately they haven’t closed the street off to cars, as they do with similar streets in the German towns we have been through lately. Kris went into the tourist info while I watched the bikes. We are not as trusting leaving our fully packed bikes out in public places here as we are in Germany. He got some more maps and advice on finding accommodation – it seems the best way will be to ask at the tourist info office when we get to a town.
It was tricky finding the bike path again out of Domazlice. The rest of the route (less than 20 km) was on very quiet country roads. There were a lot of hills, so quite tiring and good views. The roads are also not as well maintained, with patches and pot holes in places – slowing progress on some of the long downhill runs. The countryside was pretty, especially with the splashes of yellow of the rape seed fields.
When we got to Horšovský Týn we easily found our Pension near the centre. It didn’t look like much and seemed all closed up. We had only just stopped when a passer-by asked if he could help. He phoned the owner for us and we had a confused conversation – as no one’s German is very good. It transpired the room is available but we couldn’t understand when. In the meantime the passer by asked if we wanted anything to eat or drink – it was just past 1 pm. We ended up at a local pub – not far away in a courtyard – we would never have found it on our own. We had their recommendation off the tap – Pilsner Urquell – evidently the best beer in the world. Our new best friend (Alexander) speaks very little German, virtually no English (only Czech, Russian and Romanian). Communication grew easier as we went along. We were given some traditional Moldovian dumplings to try (this is where his is originally from). It started to rain as we sat there, a heavy shower that we just had to wait out. We phoned the pension again and established that the door and our room were open – so after picking up the tab (not expensive by NZ standards), we made our way back to the pension.
The pension room is really nice – basic but much better on the inside than outside. All the rooms are around a central courtyard. The room is also quite big and has a kettle. This is also the only place so far where there has been no formal paperwork filled out – and paid cash – so we may be off the books.
Later on we went out for a walk around town and to buy some food – the town is very small – with an ornate (painted) castle, church and some old gabled houses at the centre.