Czech Republic Tour
We had talked about seeing Prague for some time and after a little research, we found that there was already a well-documented network of routes of the Czech Republic which we could download on our Garmin. For us this would be our 1st European experience with our new Garmin 800, so we were anxious to test it out.
We began and ended in Prague and planned extra days at the end of the tour to explore as much of this city as we could.
After a good night sleep in a convenient hotel near the rail station, we departed the next morning to the town of Breclav in the Moravian region. We were met at the station by our pre-arranged rental folks, who were waiting with bikes and all the necessary accessories, including a large bottle of water to start us on our way on this hot Stage 1.
We were on our way from the station and the Garmin was working like a champ. It beeps if you go off course. In no time at all we were heading out of town and into the countryside through the woods and to the grand scale park built by the Lichtenstein family to surround a castle. The grounds are extensive and criss crossed with paths, a lake and number of monuments. This offers a great picnic opportunity.
This region is known as the “Garden of Europe” stretching all the way from Lednice to Valtice and is designated a UNESCA World Heritage Site.
From the castle and town of Lednice, we’re on the road to another castle town of Valtice for a stay in the old chateau. We had time before and after dinner for a stroll around the grounds and some photo ops.
This was a short ride that did take longer than expected as the path was pretty rough. We were glad to arrive early in the hillside town of Mikulov, as there was much to see on foot, with an interesting town square, another Lichtenstein family castle and ruins on the hillside. This is the heart of the Moravian wine growing region and we enjoyed some with dinner.
This was followed by a 62.2km planned route to Znojmo. We followed the weather closely and with the long ride and uncertain condition of the path, as well as the predicted thunderstorm, we opted to catch the train to Znojmo, instead. We arrived just before the thunderstorm, at that. We did talk to some other cyclists the next morning, who had taken the route and aside from encountering the delay of the thunderstorm, they did say the route was good and not as the previous day. Something to keep in mind.
We still felt good that we had saved our legs for another day and missed the storm. Znomo has a fascinating catacomb tour that we recommend. The helpful tourist information is in the tower, which you really can’t miss. We also followed the path along the wall to visit one of the oldest Romanesque structures in the republic, the rotunda at St Catherine’s church.
We are rested and ready to ride today as we head out to Vranov nad Dyji. We did our best to try to learn to correctly pronounce the names; not an easy task.
The final approach down a very long winding, well paved road was one of the most spectacular approaches to a town. We could see the castle that looms above the town on the hill, as we glided into town. This was a stopping point for many cyclists who were stocking up on supplies, eating lunch or hiking up the hill to the castle.
For us, since we were spending the night in this quiet little town, we could check into the hotel, snack and leisurely climb the hill through the woods to the castle, for a nice visit and lots of photo opportunities.
This was a short ride on what turned out to be a rainy day to the hilltop town of Bitov. After drying out a bit at our hotel, we headed out to visit another castle and grounds. This was just a few km down the road and down a steep hill to enter the grounds. From here there are views down to the Dyji river, far below.
We begin with a foggy morning; which fortunately was beginning to clear by the time we finished breakfast. Then we were off down the hill, through the woods over the bridge over the river and then climbing again. The day is mostly rolling hills for an early arrival in Slavonice. This historic town dates to 1277. Durring the cold war, this was as close to Austria as Czechs were permitted. The facades of many of the buildings are works of art and a peek around a corner may reward you with views of a stork family, atop one of abandoned smokestacks. This town is another UNESCO historic sites.
Another day for rolling hills. Another challenging Czech name to pronounce, as well. The approach is story book; over an old bridge and through one of the stone portals and the iconic town square is just ahead. We stayed at the Cyklopenzion Kaspar; run by some major cycling enthusiasts. The main floor is literally a museum of cycling collectibles and we enjoyed swapping stories with the owner’s son.
There is another castle here, as well as a tower to climb for a good territorial view. The District Museum is noted for the room sized mechanized nativity; but, there is more than this in this interesting little museum.
This stage is quite lovely and a challenge to our trust of the GPS. We start with a small climb and then is it mostly downhill to Trebon. Most is on paved roads and lanes; but, there was a wooded section that caused us to question the Garmin. It literally dissolved into a muddy trail and we were forced to walk the bikes through part of this. We simply followed the bike tire tracks and soon we were back onto a paved section. This really was the right way, according to Cykolserver.
Just past the rail station we ride through the narrow portal and into the long square of Trebon. This afternoon it was filled with other cyclists; lounging, eating and stocking up on supplies at the convenient grocery.
The town has yet another castle and most of the defensive wall still encloses the town. We sampled one of the well known Czech beers from the local Regent Brewery. Also, since the surrounding countryside is a series of lakes and ponds, the region is noted for it’s fresh fish. You don’t need to guess what we had for dinner.
Satisfied and rested, we headed out the next morning to České Budějovice. This is where the “REAL” Budweiser is brewed & there is no comparison.
It was mostly uphill until the final descent into town and we had an easy approach that avoided any heavy traffic.
The town square is huge with the impressive Sampson fountain in the center and surrounded by colorful Renaissance building. Don’t miss a look at the 1555 Town Hall with it’s balustrade figures of Justice, Wisdom, Courage & Prudence and the exptic dragon gargoyles. There are plenty of little squares with restaurants and a nice riverside for strolling and admiring the art.
This ride to the Unesco town of Český Krumlov is mostly uphill all the way until the final descent after the rail station, into town. This deserved an extra day.
The approach is storybook and must be a best seller, at that, as there were tourists galore. The approach was over an old wooden bridge and then into the cobbled town square. Looking up the hill, we could see the most impressive castle and grounds we had yet seen in the Czech Republic. This town was just made for exploring. The river that runs through the town, is a haven for those who like boating and there is even a man-made rapids to challenge those who don’t mind getting wet.
At the time we were there, the town had banned any fast food places, so this was refreshing not to see any. The local cuisine offers excellent meat and fish and we enjoyed a riverside fish dinner.
There are plenty of overlooks for fantastic photos of the town, castle and river runners.
This was also where we left off our rental bikes and continued on by bus. The option is either bus or train and actually, the train would have been a better choice, as the bus route concludes at a more remote area of Prague.
From this point, we were on foot and trams for several days visit to the abundant glories of Art Nouveau Prague.