Central Europe – Day 6 – Bicycles & Rafts

Breakfast is lunch meat and hard boiled eggs. The waitress is less than enthused that we exist on the same planet as her. She jabs a finger at a table and grunts “Coffee or Tea?” I smile at her and she scowls back.

“Water, please.”

After breakfast, six of us meet for a bike ride. We are ported to a hill several kilometers from town and dropped off with 18-speed bikes and helmets.

“Do not use left shifter. Mostly flat.”

The first kilometer is at a 10 % grade uphill. It is not difficult but I am reminded that I have not ridden a bike in a couple of years.

At the apex of the hill we stop to take pictures on some rotten hay bales. My leg penetrates the hay and surrounding foliage up to my thigh on my first attempt, but I make it to the top. Within a few seconds my entire leg feels as though it is covered in paper cuts. I’m a bit confused as to why (not a normal effect of hay) until our guide mentions that we should be careful not to touch the fuzzy-leafed weeds surrounding the bales as they will cause your skin to burn.

“They are good for you though. The Russians hit each other with them.”

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My leg has stopped burning by the time I climb down from the hay. We peddle on further into the forest.

The rest of the ride is downhill and we pick up a decent amount of speed, but brake cautiously against the menace of cars traveling the narrow road. We are underneath the canopy of the cedar forest until we reach the edge of town.

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I recover from our ride in the hotel room, which is slightly warmer than the previous day but not unpleasant.

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In the afternoon, our group is again carted out of town, but this time deposited with inflatable rafts by the riverside.

Our float trip is far less crowded than what I am used to in the U.S. and there is a riverside bar around almost every bend in the river. Our raft makes slow progress both because of the refreshment breaks and some spectacularly in-effective rowing. We mostly float, and this is OK.

It is 7PM by the time we make it back to town and well dressed locals are filtering   in for a concert taking place on the castle grounds. As a result, the restaurants are mostly full and it takes several stops before we can find one that can accommodate 16 people. It is an outdoor pizza place covered in a haze of cigarette smoke.

The pizza is very good and the waiter works hard at hamming it up for tips.

Swarms of insects gather around the town’s lights as twilight transitions into night. The massive halogen flood lights targeting the castle are surrounded in clouds of gnats thick enough to dim their glow.

The town remains busy well into the early morning and we are woken by a fight taking place somewhere below our room’s window.

I will miss Český Krumlov.