Our last stretch of riding in Germany on the Regental and Chambtal Radwegs was our favorite of all. The countryside was less populated and there were fewer fields of corn and more forests; it was the most beautiful scenery we have seen in Germany. No spectacular mountains, but just nice green forested hills with clear blue lakes and rivers.
We also got off the cycle paths and onto the roads more on this last stretch. For some reason, cycling on a road is more enjoyable than a cycle path for us. There is something nice about traveling along quickly along a smooth, open road and we feel like we are actually seeing the country rather than riding in a park the entire time.
Saying goodbye to Germany meant saying goodbye to amazing bread and copious amounts of Haribo gummy bears. I spent most of the last days with my cheeks packed full of gummy bears as we rode along. Better than any energy gel I’ve ever tasted!
As we neared the border, things got more and more hilly. We were never very high, but the climbs were short and steep. Sarah shows off her now famous “Lance” face.
We were glad we were going down this one instead of up! The German translates roughly as “Give up you poor bastard.”
We were just about to cross the border from Germany into the Czech Republic when we decided to stop on a residential corner to eat our last meal of German bread, cheese, and salami. We had only been sitting in the grass for a few minutes when a woman came over and said something quickly to us in German. It took us a few seconds to realize that she was asking us if we would rather eat our meal on her porch instead of the curb. Once we understood the message we quickly said yes and followed her to her house. I can speak a little German, so we were able to tell her that we were Americans and that we were cycling through Eastern Europe for four months. She was impressed, but even more impressed when we told her that we were cycling for one year and had come from New Zealand and Southeast Asia before Europe. We chatted for a few minutes and she fed us some delicious cheesecake and coffee. Just as we were about to leave, she asked us where we were going to stay for the night and we told her that we planned to cross the border and after that, we didn’t know. Hearing that, we were invited to camp in the garden and we accepted. As we headed to the backyard to set up our tent, we realized that there were a dozen kids running around the yard. At first we thought it was a daycare but then we realized all the children were cousins and they were together to celebrate the first day of summer vacation from school in Bavaria. We were introduced to all the children of the family and we spent the evening practicing our German with all the kids and cousins. In the morning we had breakfast with the family and then set off. Here are Monika, Veronika, and Helena. Vielen Dank to the entire family for welcoming us into their home!
After we crossed the border into the Czech Republic (very easy, the guard was impressed we’d ridden from Frankfurt), the terrain was very similar to Germany.
The towns and villages looked a little shabbier though. All the buildings were a little more run-down.
The people were noticeably different too. Mullets are popular here as is dying your hair various shades of red. Blonde with red stripes is a popular option.
The Czech Republic has a network of bicycle routes running all over it, including the elusive international route number 3. Route 3 runs from Vienna to Prague and we were thinking of following it, but this sign was the last we saw of it and soon we found ourselves on the busy main highway.
We stopped at an internet cafe along the way to try and figure out where we went wrong, but there is very little information on the Czech cycling routes online, so we decided to forge our own path. This is actually the first country where we have had to avoid major roads. In every other country we have cycled in, there was only one road to follow so we didn’t have much of a choice. There are lots of roads here in the Czech Republic so we have been searching out the nice quiet ones where we can relax.
We were planning on riding all the way to Pilsen on our first day, but the hills got the best of us and we stopped at a campsite outside a small town called Nepomunk. We only had to pay 135.00 crowns for our site (less than 5€)which is quite a bit more reasonable than the 20€ we paid once for a nasty, crowded site in Germany!
Today we woke up with some tired legs, so we decided to take a rest day here at the campsite. We spent the day relaxing by the lakeside and enjoying the famous Pilsner Urquell lager while perusing through our Lonely Planet Eastern Europe and planning the rest of our route. Tomorrow we head for Prague and the Bohemian Switzerland National Park.