After my sightseeing tour in Dresden, I was about to jump into the next big European city: Prague. Originally, I wanted to cross the German-Czech border by bike. But I didn’t know if this would be possible in Corona times. Therefore, I decided to take the train. Loading the bike with luggage was unfortunately not as easy as before in the regional trains. But on the trip, I was compensated with well functioning free Wi-Fi and a breathtaking view.
On the train, I met Simon, who studies in Denmark and was on his way home after the months of Corona isolation and the end of the semester. He told me a lot about Czech culture and economy and warned me about the car drivers in the capital.
When we crossed the border, there was only a short announcement that mouth protection is also mandatory in trains in the czech republic. In addition, there was a change of the train attendants, who then checked our tickets once again.
Arrived in Prague, I immediately made the acquaintance of the apparently notorious drivers. Cyclists are often only seen as a traffic obstruction, I had learned before.
After I had pushed my bike with luggage up the first mountains of the city, it turned out that the hotel name I was looking for existed four times. Of course, I had googled the name and not the street address and so I had to cycle down the mountain again on a busy road. But: everything went well.
One of the first lessons of this tour is, to stay in bigger cities for at least two nights. This leaves a little more time to work – and for a city tour before continuing the journey.
So I also had time in Prague for an interesting tour through the old town, along the Vltava river and up to the Prague castle.
The last destination was a challenge for the e-bike motor, even without luggage. But with a little pushing, we made it. So I was able to enjoy a spectacular view over the whole city – before we went down the hill again.
But no need to pause. After sunset, especially the young inhabitants meet around the river, for example on a Vltava island, where there is also an alternative theatre and a bike shop that becomes a bar in the evening. From there, you have a beautiful view on the river and the lights of the city. In combination with a typical Czech beer, a nice ending for my stop.
The next morning, I started looking for the EuroVelo Sun Route, which leads from Prague to Linz… so at least on the corresponding map.
In reality, the route started for me in the city centre of Prague, where of course many other road users were on the way. Along the Vltava river, the bicycle path was very well developed in both directions and led past recreation areas and nice beach bars. But then, a bit outside Prague, the path suddenly came to an abrupt end. The well-developed cycle path became a gravel road and later got lost completely. At some point I stood with my fully loaded bike in a village behind Prague in front of railway tracks and was encouraged by a resident to just walk across. I had no other choice.
What followed was a beautiful but also very exhausting stretch along the Vltava river. Since it was already clear that I would not arrive in Budweis on the same day, I looked for a nice place for the night directly at the Vltava river. Most of the campsites were still closed, but I found a horse ranch that also offers guest rooms.
Statek Malcany is situated on a peninsula in the Moldau. It is accordingly quiet and idyllic there. The horses on extensive meadows between small forests and behind the trees the river flows.
The owners were very nice and open-minded. They had even prepared a welcome letter with all important information in German and English. I was also allowed to use the washing machine and dryer to get my sweaty bike clothes clean.
But they didn’t stay that way for long. After it had rained through the night, I was glad when it stopped in the morning. Full of anticipation for another day in this great region, I made my way to the ferry to cross over to the other side of the river. It is the only connection between the two parts of the village of Zivohost. As I had to learn then, the ferry is currently not running because of the Corona restrictions. So I had to search for the next bridge. Meanwhile it started raining again. Nevertheless the view from the Moldau bridge in Cholin was worth the trouble.
The path, which led up and down again and again, the increasing rain and the soaked paths made the route more and more strenuous for me. After much consideration and several route changes, I wanted to make it to Pisek and take the train to Budweis. After I found an open supermarket in the small beautiful village Krasna Hora nad Vltavou and a lot of helpfulness, I was confident that I would make it. I had taken a lunch break, had eaten something, refilled my water bottle and was even allowed to charge my bicycle battery next to the refrigerators. The only thing that still bothered me was the constant rain.
A few more mountains up and down, I was not so confident anymore – but I was lucky. On a country road a lady and her friend passed by in a van with trailer. Without further ado they loaded the bike and took me to the next town. From there, I took the train across the Vltava to Pisek and from there to Budweis. Once there, I was so exhausted that I didn’t even want to drink a local beer. What an adventurous day!
Because I needed a break and the weather on the track should not get any better, I spontaneously decided to stay a second night in Budweis and use the won day for a small city tour. In addition to a beautifully restored historic city centre, there are many great cycle paths, lots of nature, parks and art in the public areas.
After this great and relaxed last day in the Czech Republic, my bike and me took the first train to Linz the next morning. I would have loved to stay longer in the Czech Republic. Maybe I’ll come back again, bring more time with me and pay a bit more attention to the weather forecast. For passionate bikers with good physical condition, I can definitely recommend the Moldau region. And also for older or less fit bikers, Budweis or other cities of the region are very interesting.
Also at the station in Budweis I noticed for the first time that there are a lot of bikepackers on the way. Also on the train, I got into conversation with one of them. Uwe is a passionate cyclist and actually wanted to offer bike tours. But then came Corona.
We talked about cycle paths, altitude profiles and my still much too heavy luggage. All in all, I think it’s great how much cycling connects people. Also on the routes you always somehow get into conversation. It’s true that not many people are currently on the road – especially when it rains. But everyone I have met so far has been very friendly. Together we help each other to find the right route. And if you can’t find a common language, it’s easy to make a hand signal.
Arrived in Linz, I noticed the first damage on the bike. Considering the distances it has already been on and how often it has fallen over with luggage or been transported to and from a train compartment, I am surprised that it took so long. In any case, the mounting of the front lamp is broken. For the time being I have solved the problem with Ducktape. Now I’m thinking about whether I should just glue the holder myself, or whether it’s worth buying a new lamp. The mounting seems to be a weak point. At least by my standards. 😉
Even though it had started raining again (it haunts me), I absolutely wanted to have a look at Linz before I would drive on. Linz also offers a lot of space for cyclists in addition to historical buildings. Even one-way streets or pedestrian zones are officially permitted for bicycles. This makes it relatively easy to get through the city and to the river.
After my experiences in the Vltava region, it was clear to me that in case of continuous rain I would not make it to Vienna in one day. Even when the Donau Bike Trail has a much lower route profile, there are still nearly 200km between both cities. So I double checked the route, had a look at near train stations and decided to cycle at least from Linz to St. Valentin.
The Donau Bike Trail combines interesting views on industry areas with a lot of pure nature and the river always by your side. The cycle path is very well prepared and signed. Around 15km behind Linz, I crossed the river over a watergate bridge.
Although, I was very happy when reaching the St. Valentin train station… wet to the bones. My last adventure for the day was getting my bike into the train. In Vienna, I only had to find my hotel, put my bike in the basement and take a long warm shower.