A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

2011 - Day 13

The Last Day

We were up early to escape the ashtray that was and is the Etap Düren West. The idea was to stop at the first services on the motorway and have coffee and maybe a croissant.

We happily sailed past the one at Aachen Ost as there was another signed at 14kms. Sadly we turned on to another autobahn and missed it.

Finally 75 minutes later and after crossing the Netherlands we arrived in Belgium, and after a false stop at a weekday only services (one with no petrol) we arrived at one where we could sit outside in the sun with the wasps and eat!!

As usual the monument to moronic driving and poor planning that is also known as Antwerp arrived in front of us. Solid traffic and lane swapping all make for tense driving.

I was glad of another calming stop before we got stuck again in a huge tailback. No reason to be seen and no information available, but traffic as far as the horizon. My detour via the cobbles of Gent and the N9 might not have saved time but is was certainly more scenic although probably as frustrating. At least we bought lunch and stopped at Jabbeke to eat it.

The last bit of the trip to the port went swimmingly well until we got into the traffic after turning off the A16. After almost an hour and we got to passport control and ticket check-in, only to then be told, after we sat in the burning sun, that Seafrance was running thirty minutes late. We'll see.

We are supposed to be off at 1745, revised to 1815......

Home at last. Our cat Hilly was pleased to see us. She is fed daily by our neighbour and we feed hers when she is away. She has a catflap to get out and do her business. As she is old she sleeps most of the day.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:08 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

2011 - Day 12

Creglingen to Düren

The YHA at Creglingen was relatively cheap for an en-suite twin room. Breakfast was the usual German youth hostel fare; rolls, cheese, ham and salami plus cereal and coffee. The coffee was some of the best all trip and I gorged three cups.

We had parked the car in the street a little way from the hostel and the walls were covered in lots of these yellow snails.

Creglingen Snails

Creglingen Snails

The plan was to spend all day to meander to the Etap at Düren. And we did. The first part was along a bit more of the Romantische Strasse.

Weikersheim

Weikersheim

Then across the 'green' routes on the Michelin map towards the Rhein. First stop was Rüdesheim am Rhein. We have been here before, but on a river boat trip not by road. We had lunch. Here I learned that rindwurst is beef. Once again we had sausage and for the first time (and last!) chips.

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Questsch Kommod, Drosselgasse, Rudesheim am Rhein

Questsch Kommod, Drosselgasse, Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

Rudesheim am Rhein

A walk round the tourist heart wasn't complete without another Käthe Wohlfahrt visit. In Rothenburg our beer was served in lidless steins and it kept it cooler longer, so I was on the lookout for one. In the end it was the aforementioned shop that had them, and more surprisingly they were cheaper than any I had seen. Photos to follow.

From Rüdesheim I pulled the "I'm a foreigner" trick and exited the car park via the admittedly wide entrance to avoid a one way street going the wrong way...

We made our way up the east bank of the river. Claire snapping away with the little Sony at the castles and stuff moving on the river. The Lorelei might have escaped as she was a bit far away and there is purposely no parking on that stretch!!

We stopped further up for a coffee at a riverside imbiß. A weak coffee but a chance to watch the boats go past.

Then the final leg up to Koblenz and the motorway to Düren.

As expected the Etap was no great shakes. It seems that no smoking is alien to the master race. Maybe we should have saved ourselves in WW2 and they would have all smoked themselves to death?

The bathroom stank heavy of cigarettes and lavender on the bedding took the smell away temporarily. Dinner was a Chinese buffet in Düren itself. The place was riddled with dead ends and road works that made it almost impossible to get out once you had mistakenly entered the centre.
The buffet was excellent and made up for the hassles getting there.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:59 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

2011 - Day 11

Prague to Creglingen

A largish breakfast to set us up for a day sightseeing in Bavaria. As previously mentioned this came about after the Romantische Strasse was featured on "Worlds Greatest Motorcycle Trips".

We escaped from Prague by a route I have never seen before but were soon on the D5 towards Plzen and the border. One stop for petrol as it is about the same price as home than more expensive Germany, and also to use up our coins to buy Kofola and lemon tea!!

After Nürnburg we stopped for a sausage! This time we both had a 30cm bratwürst and fried potatoes rather than chips.

I wanted to get off the motorway sooner rather than later for Dinkelsbühl and as luck would have it the A6 ground to a halt by a junction and we were off! By now we were back in TomTom's hands.

Dinkelsbühl is very nice. Lot's of old buildings and hotels too expensive for our budget. No doubt Henry Wassisname gets rooms paid for him for his programme.

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

Dinkelsbühl (Bavaria)

We dawdled about and then set off for Rothenburg ob der Tauber. A walled and pretty much undamaged by wars old town.

We parked and walked in. Eventually we found the centre of the town. A huge square surrounded by beautiful buildings. As I watched some pigeons contortionist tricks to drink from the spouts, Claire spotted the Kathe Wolhfahrt Christmas Bus parked outside the shop and she was off like a rocket, stick and all. It's a bit like a Christmas IKEA. In one door and then up and down over three floors chock full of decorations, baubles and god only knows what. Claire made several purchases!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria)

From there we went back to the car via a bierkeller for a refreshing light beer. When it's 1830h and still 29 degrees a light beer is more refreshing than some strong lager!

Once back on the road we rejoined the Romantische Strasse to Creglingen, just across the border and no longer in Bavaria.

The hostel is cool and reasonably quiet. We have a twin with private facilities. We ate in the town. It's pfifferling week, so we had them with Spätzle. Pfifferling are chantarelle mushrooms. All washed down with a beer! Excellent.

Early to bed and early to rise.

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:51 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

2011 - Day 10

Homeward Bound

After consuming so much wine the night before we had quite a late breakfast. Jarek and Tomas joined us to try and eat our way through a mountain of palačinky. Pancakes to us.

We'd packed and loaded the suitcases the day before and I had the Garmin sorted well in advance.

Firstly, after saying our goodbyes, a nostalgic trip to the Gymnázium in Zastávka and then across to where I used to live in Sportovní 481.

The plan was then to visit the Santini designed church at Zelená Hora and then to the Church of Bones. We were told by "experts" that neither was worth a stop. Wrong.

Both sights are well worth the detour.

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora

The Church of Bones in Kutna Hora is weird rather than frightening. Macabre might suit.

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

Church of Bones - Kutna Hora

The Garmin then took us right to Prague and the Hotel Extol Inn's front door. Once unpacked and showered we had a tram ride into the city. Had a walk around. Saw the clock on the old town hall actually chime the hour, and then unsuccessfully avoided being fleeced for some dinner at one of the stalls. The robbing bastards post the prices but it's not a portion price but weight!! The weight needs to be multiplied a few times to get a portion!!!

Prague

Prague

Prague

Prague

The hotel used to be a hostel in the city for those that worked in the water industry. It was a youth hostel at one time and we stayed there a few times in the 1990's until they privatised and it became a hotel.

Relatively early night to prepare for the longish Day 11..

Posted by InvictaMoto 13:44 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 9

Shopping and wine tasting

In the first part of the day we went into Brno, ostensibly to do some sightseeing of places I hadn't been for years and that Claire hadn't ever been.

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

Brno

We parked behind the International hotel and walked through to Svobody Nam to see the new clock. I thought it looked like a bullet but apparently is was supposed to commemorate the defeat of a Swedish Army and at 11am a ball drops and it sounds off.People hang about to catch the ball that comes out of one of the holes. See link ------>

Brno Clock

Brno Clock

(When I uploaded this picture to Flickr it was deleted as someone claimed it was pornographic!)

After a few sights were struck off the list of things to see, we ate a slice of Czech pizza before visiting a large shopping centre. I needed new trainers and bought a good pair of Puma in the sale. Result.

Once back at Lilka's we had a quick snack and then off to the wine tastings!! No spitting it out required although we could if necessary.

We drove down to Mikulov and then into the countryside to a vineyard that Jarek already knew about and had already bought wine from. Reisten in Pavlov.

Here we tasted several of their whites, gradually moving from the cheaper wines to a smooth Pinot Gris that recently won a silver medal at a wine festival in France. The last one we tried was a dessert wine. Very sweet that would go well with fruit. We bought a measly two bottles and Jarek loaded three half-cases (six in each) into his car. Their website is in the links -------->

From there we headed down in to the village centre and parked outside the town hall, or Obec. In the cellars is the local wine cellar (seller?). It's here all the local small producers can showcase their wines. Unlike Reisten, tasting isn't free, but wine is sold by the glass. You do not spit out 20kc a time wines. Wines are priced by the bottle and the glass price is simply a sixth. Most of the other clientele were cyclists and walkers, stopping in for a glass or two of wine on their travels. If you just wanted to taste, you could have one glass between four (or however many there are!) but we had a glass each of a few different ones to try. We ended up buying a few.

Lilka and Jarek wine tasting

Lilka and Jarek wine tasting

Vineyard @ Pavlov, Moravia

Vineyard @ Pavlov, Moravia

Luckily, Jarek was the designated driver and we could try as many as we wanted. He drank water.

Once back in Popuvky we had a sit down and chat about the wines and we then went to bed, ready for the drive home to commence.

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:39 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 8

Punkevni

The plan today was to visit one of the showcaves in the Moravian Karst. This is an area near the small town of Blansko to the north of Brno.

We found that to visit Punkevni that we should have booked three weeks ago! Jarek called a business contact at the caves administration and they sorted out tickets.

We drove up there, stopping for lunch at the hotel attached to the Cerna Hora brewery. Claire and I both had gulaš and Lilka a healthier salad! The brewery here was first built back in 13th century. They have become very proficient at brewing and as I wasn't driving I had to try one of my favourite beers in the world.

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

Cerna Hora

At the caves we took the cable car from the parking level to the entrance area. I have been here before but not into the cave. Lilka collected our tickets and we found they were free. The tour is about 800m of walking through galleries and caves with many stalactites and stalagmites in clusters. I took some photos (to be added later) and some came out okay in the low light.

There is then an electric boat ride through the Punkvy river caves to another single gallery, inaccessible any other way. It was generally too dark in the caves to get any decent pictures.

Punkevní Jeskyne

Punkevní Jeskyne

After a coffee by the entrance we set off for home, stopping in Vrtiny. Here we saw a magnificent church. We stopped to have a look and it is a pilgrimage church.

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

Křtiny

Křtiny

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

Křtiny Pilgrimage Church

The legend has it that the Virgin appeared to villagers in the 13th century and of course it became a site for Catholics to visit across time. The current church is by the architect Santini and was built in the mid 18th century. Santini has also responsible for another seven or eight similar edifices in Czech and surrounding countries. Tomorrow on the way home we will call into another one at Zdar.

In the evening there was a big shower but we still did the rounds of Lilka's relatives. Everyone is so friendly and greet you like friends. Lovely.

Posted by InvictaMoto 11:24 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 7

MotoGP!

The focus of the entire trip!

Up early to have breakfast and then walk a few hundred metres up the road to catch one of the free buses that run between the city centre and the circuit. There's room on the first one and ten minutes later we are following a huge crowd to the viewing area G.

We set up camp at the top of the bank about halfway up the hill that sucks the power from the small classes. We are in the braking area for the series of bends that lead into the start and finish complex.

Although I managed two laps here before the brakes on my Cavalcade overheated I can't remember any of it now! That was about 20 years before when the Masaryk circuit was brand new and had not been used other than local championships and testing.

We see Moto2 and MotoGP warm-up and then a couple of Ducati's do some warm-ups. These are the pillion ride bikes with Randy Mamola and another rider. All the commentary is in Czech and German so we have no real idea what is going on!

The 125 race is pretty close run all through as is the Moto2. But the MotoGP starts close. Lorenzo leads the three Repsol Hondas, then Pedrosa slips past and then Stoner. The next time round Lorenzo second but only two Repsols. Pedrosa has fallen whilst leading. Gradually Dovisioso and Simoncelli pass Lorenzo and we guess Spies in fifth won't pass his team mate and championship contender. Stoner made the break and was the full length of the hill ahead of the field by the last lap.

The crowd where we are seem quite subdued although there are large groups of fans from all across Europe wearing Rossi yellow or Ducati Rossi red shirts. Rossi pretty distant sixth.

I tried to get some pictures and although i took loads only a few came out either in focus or in the frame!

Brno MotoGP - Nicky Hayden

Brno MotoGP - Nicky Hayden

Brno MotoGP - Casey Stoner

Brno MotoGP - Casey Stoner

Brno MotoGP - Jorge Lorenzo

Brno MotoGP - Jorge Lorenzo

Brno MotoGP - Dani Pedrosa

Brno MotoGP - Dani Pedrosa

Brno MotoGP - Ben Spies

Brno MotoGP - Ben Spies

Halfway through the race the crowd started to leave. The path behind us packed as everyone headed for the exit to our left. We decided to sit it out until the Red Bull Rookies race but once we listened to the podium ceremony we packed up the chairs and joined them. A short wait for the bus and a few minutes later we were back at Lilka's. The family were round and we greeted everyone. Claire and Lilka swam in the pool and I watched the Rookies race on TV with Tomas and Jarek.

After dinner we went for a walk around the nearby lake before bed!

Tomorrow we are hoping to go to the caves at Macocha.

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:13 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 6

Local in Brno Okres A quieter day beckoned but still

A quieter day beckoned but still we crammed some visits into the day. Before lunch a trip out to Bystrc so Lilka could show Claire some garden centres. For me they could be at home except for the pond with large turtles basking in the sun.

Next stop Lidl for more provisions and us to get lunch etc for race day.

After lunch we had a short run to Ostrovacice to visit, Jiri, a former student of Lilka who is into bikes. He has a small collection of CZ and Jawa motorcycles he is restoring plus a modern and modified Suzuki SV650. We eat and drink.

Then it was off into Brno to meet old friend Ivan Benda. A couple of hours drinking more beer and visiting the bar where the local SOC meet - the Black Diamond. Heavy metal pub. Only us not in black T-shirts and with no tattoos.

Jarek and Lilka picked us up and we had another BBQ in the garden. More beer and a fruit based cocktail for the ladies.

Then to bed ready for an early start for the free buses to the circuit.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:11 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 5

Moravia!

Today we were hoping to have a lie in after a thousand miles in the road, but instead we were up at a reasonable hour for breakfast and then out with Lilka in her Corsa to Lednice Castle. Tomas followed on his CBR 125.

The castle is undergoing major renovation work and this includes painting it like a blancmange in a yellow colour. We had the tour for 150kč and opted to save the 50kč it would have cost for the English speaking tour. The printed explanation in the binder is quite sufficient.

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

Lednice Castle - Castle facade

We then took a horse and cart ride around the park to the minaret. A kind of folly built by the owners in the 1850's.

Lednice Castle - Minaret

Lednice Castle - Minaret

The walk back was okay as long as the sun stayed behind the clouds.

Lunch was in a nearby town Vlatice at a Czech restaurant. Luckily Lilka was there as my Czech might not have got us much more than "dva piva".

From there we headed to Mikulov to check out the wine shop. Moravian wine comes in all shapes and sizes and we chose a reisling and a couple of chardonnay's to bring home.

We had a walk around the town and although I have been past on route 52 I have never actually stopped off. The town has some majestic buildings and a large castle. The latter visible for miles around.

Mikulov - St. Sebastian Chapel on the Holy Hill

Mikulov - St. Sebastian Chapel on the Holy Hill

Mikulov - Dietrichstein Tomb

Mikulov - Dietrichstein Tomb

Mikulov

Mikulov

Mikulov Castle

Mikulov Castle

Mikulov

Mikulov

Mikulov

Mikulov

Once back at Lilka's we could relax a little and plan Saturday's timetable.

Dinner and then bed!!

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:03 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

2011 - Day 4

Colditz to Brno

This one turned out to be a very long day. After breakfast and then cleaning our room in the Castle we eventually set off about 0915. It is a youth hostel tradition at home (UK!) to do a chore but this seems to have become less enforced nowadays.

Using the Garmin we navigated to the border in good time and bought our motorway vignette. After just a few miles the road ends and there is a big gap to the final section to Prague.

The traffic was heavy with trucks in both directions nose to tail. We stopped for petrol soon after Teplice and found the price was even higher than at home. A litre of unleaded was 35.50kč or £1.54! And we complain!

The Garmin took us into Prague and then out on the D11 towards Hradec Kralové. Here a former student of mine lives and I wanted to call in and see him. Rosta Kriz (there are loads of accents on his name that this keyboard can't replicate!) was there and we saw the lovely house and garden where he lives with his wife and children with her parents.

We stopped for lunch at a Motorest that shared its site with a Hummer dealers!!

The ordinary road (silnice) 37 to the D1 took nearly two hours, passing through every town and village where everyone religiously slowed to 50kph.

The final part of the day was the bone shaking run down the D1 to Brno. The junction we needed was closed so we went past to Brno-Bohunice and back along the 602 to Popuvky.

Once we arrived outside the door we were met by Lilka and son Tomas. Shown to our room and then we sat to chat before BBQ dinner.

It was after midnight when we finally went to bed, BBQ and two bottles of wine later...

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:57 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)