Update from Kutna Hora…

I was riding up a steep, cobblestone street trying to find the turn my GPS was asking me to take only to find that it didn’t exist. The street I was on looked like it was going to end in gravel. I was tired, sore, hungry and thirsty and just wanted to find a place to rest. Asking for directions was out of the question seeing as my Czech was almost as non-existent as most people’s English out there. And then the GPS froze. In my despair I wondered why on earth was I there and what had possessed me into coming here and thinking I could do this.

Fast forward to a few hours later, after a good meal and rest, and flying through one of the many little backroads leading up north from the Czech border and I knew exactly why.

It’s unfortunate that riding isn’t consistently a euphoric experience where everything is always right, the sun is always warm, but not too warm, it never rains, there is no traffic or construction on the roads you happened to pick, little children on the street smile and wave and blow kisses at you and your Garmin Zumo never freezes. Anyone who has been doing this for a while knows that reality has its way of crawling into your dream motorcycling vacation and turning it into your worst nightmare in the flash of a second. The highs and lows that come with it are not unlike being in a turbulent relationship. At the end of the day, whether you think it was worth it is what determines how much longer you’re going to be in it.

So it was with today. I got out of Vienna as planned. I appear to need very little sleep these days and wake up at 6:30 like clockwork even if I go to bed after midnight. The good Christoph guided me to a couple of spots where I could see some good views of Vienna. Unfortunately there was a hazy fog hanging over the city, and I wished I had taken him up on his offer of seeing it last night instead.

He rode with me to Klosterneuburg where I stopped to get a full tank of gas and then we said goodbye. Words cannot express how grateful I am for everything he helped me with, in spite of being a complete stranger. Of course, I could have made it this far on my own, but to have someone get me through that first intimidating day of riding in a foreign country, putting me up at his place for three nights, taking me out with his friends, helping me fix and troubleshoot stuff with the bike, helping me plan out routes and generally do a hundred little things makes me feel like there still are good people in the world who look out for each other. It took a lot of the pressure off and helped me ease into the ride.

Riding to the border of Austria and Czech Republic was slow and boring. I passed through endless little towns all of which looked so deserted and unnerving that they reminded me of The Village of the Damned. It was really windy too and I always get a little psychotic when it’s windy out. My helmet gets super noisy, I constantly feel like I’m going to get blown off the bike, I have the death grip of doom on the handlebars, and I feel like I’m going to crash and die any minute. I’m not sure if this is some sort of disorder that only manifests in my head, because most other riders appear to be immune to it. :|

P1000205   P1000208

P1000211   P1050869

The aforementioned getting lost and tired and frustrated happened in the early afternoon. That’s when I took a deep breath, stopped at a restaurant and decided to go get a good meal, even though my original intention was to just grab something quick from a gas station to save on time.

My heart sank when I saw that the menu was entirely in Czech, but with the help of the super-nice waitress, I managed to order a roasted fish and a salad. I wasn’t expecting much but the fish was probably the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten – it had to have been doused with its own weight in butter to taste that good, but I tried not to think about that. I was surprised to find that it was really cheap too. Apparently the exchange rate is about 24 Czech koruna per euro, so my meal cost less than 5 euros total. It would probably have been a good $30 meal in Seattle. There was a bit of muddle when it came time to pay and I produced a 50 euro note, and the waitress had only 20 euros. Apparently they prefer to use their local currency to the euro. I asked her to give me my change back in koruna, killing two birds with one stone. It saved me a trip to the ATM to get local money, and she didn’t have to deal with paying me back in euros.

P1050871   P1000213

After my meal, I was considerably tranformed. I had gotten off the main highway and was taking the smaller roads now. They were super narrow which made me a bit nervous, but I got used to it soon. The landscape until then had been very flat, like the American midwest, but there were pleasant little copses of trees and small towns to break up the monotony. The roads also had a lot of elevation changes. The temperture was perfect too. About the only aggravating thing was a couple of times when I got turned around by construction and the Zumo’s detour function didn’t work that well. I wasted a good hour going back and worth between a set of roads around this one town that I thought I’d never leave.

P1000215   P1000219


Leave it I did though because come 5:30 I was fed up, enabled highways/interstates on the GPS and took the fastest route up to Kunta Hora. It wasn’t all that bad either, and that worked out well. I got into town around 7, found a 40 euro room in the downtown area and checked in. The room is clean and comfortable and my bike got gated parking.I

I got dinner and wandered around the deserted town  little bit before returning back to my room.

P1050884   P1050873  

P1050876   P1050877

P1050883   P1050879


Tomorrow I plan to wake up early and go see the Sedlec Ossuary (Church of Bones) before heading west to Praha.

All in all, a good day of riding! So I guess this partcuolar relationship continues.