This was a place built on one man's passion for making things out of wood, from furniture to crocodiles and mobile phones. We had coffee, bratwurst and rolls, then amused ourselves by sitting at the giant table on the giant chairs. We moved on with some reluctance, but we were now close to the frontier.
Crossing was an anticlimax, with nothing but a blue EU sign to tell us we were entering the Czech Republic. Maybe it was my imagination, but the landscape seemed to change immediately: the trees were darker, the roofs lower and more steeply angled. In the damp woods, people were hunting for mushrooms, which they sold from stalls beside the road. We paused at the sinister Iron Curtain Memorial, then made for the town of Loket.
Loket means 'elbow', named for the river bend in which it nestles, and is almost criminally pretty. There's a castle, ancient city walls, and a herd of Cameroon goats. I spent my first Czech money on a banana and chocolate ice cream, then we moved on to the nearby spa town of Karlovy Vary to look for the building used as the eponymous Casino Royale in the 2006 film before continuing to Beroun, our stop for the night.
The early evening light was golden as we rode along quiet back roads lined with rowans in bright red berry, or apple trees with whole families out picking the fruit. Our hotel, reached in the dusk, was also a pizzeria (I may have planned this deliberately). We enjoyed a pizza with salmon and olives, and one with bacon and blue cheese. This feast, plus a couple of beers and soft drinks, cost about a tenner.
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