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This IS me (by schwitters)Default

The Czech List: Saturday 23rd August

Our route towards the Czech border took us through factory towns and pretty villages, past tall chimneys, churches on hills, and an old man on a bench just hanging out with his cat. The one thing we didn't see was a cafe, but as we were passing an industrial estate I spotted a sign promising food, parking, bikers welcome, and so we pulled in to Woody's.

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.

Miles: 279.1

Woody's bratwurst Giant furniture at Woody's

Iron Curtain memorial

Cameroon goats in Loket Howard rides across the bridge in Loket

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Given how much I enjoy reading others' accounts, I really must get myself to eastern Europe.
I was surprised by how much I loved the Czech Republic, having felt a bit out of my depth in Croatia last year. Also, spoiler alert, we rode down to Bratislava and that was lovely to.
I'm just loving that photo of you both in the wooden seating. *giggle*

Our hotel, reached in the dusk, was also a pizzeria (I may have planned this deliberately)

Oh now how ever did that happen my isn't this a really good cappriciosa here? ^_^

Ooh, nice to hear the costs are still quite moderate, versus UK prices.. I'm hoping to get away for a bit of a city break or suchlike, and .cz is definitely somewhere I'd like to see, not having really been around that neck of the woods in pretty much forever. (Last time, indeed, we waved goodbye to Slovenia, and a few weeks later, the walls started to crumble =:)
I do wish I'd been behind the Iron Curtain while it existed, but it's fascinating to see how open all these countries are now.