Monday, 22 August 2016

Tardis 2 Tour 2 Day 48 - 53 Czech Republic and Austria

Day 48
Wednesday 17th August 2016 - A warm sunny day

Today all our bikes were loaded onto Paul’s car, then we all piled in and off we went for a ride in the forest beside The Schwarzenberg Timber floating Canal. We headed for Stozec where we knew multiple cycle tracks were available, but for our ride we mostly peddled up gently rising slopes or on flat tracks that followed the canal bed for a good part of the way.  Work started on it in 1735 but it’s total  52 kilometre length wasn’t completed until 1804 as sections kept being added, one of the most interesting being the ‘Horni Portal’ - a 419 metre tunnel that that goes through the Plesivec Hill!    

The canal is quite dainty, being only 2.5 metres wide and 1 metre deep but an amazing 8 million cubic metres of timber were transported by this route to various destinations including Vienna during a hundred year period. And even after that, although the hey-day had passed, it’s use continued to a lesser extent until as recently as 1962.   Sadly, it is now quite derelict but for us it  still proved  a lovely tranquil riding place that was far from the madding crowds, thus enabling us to ride side  by side and natter as we went.  

And of course, we were probably only about half way through our 25 mile ride when we all decided we were hungry, so a sharp lookout was kept for a picnic spot.  Our first option was a pile of logs at the side of the trail, but faces were pulled when we noted numerous crawly things that resided there - so I looked in my ‘crystal ball’ and reassured everyone that there would be a better place a little further on (there nearly always is)!  So we carried on a little further, and low and behold, my perfect place materialised - however, maybe Sharon didn’t agree cos she has quite an aversion to butterflies of which there were plenty!

Once fed and watered we continued on our way, but only to be interrupted by an untimely puncture, where while it was being fixed the insects managed their own picnic, so once we were back on our bikes it was full steam ahead to outrun them.

Day 49
Thursday 18th August 2016

Today our destination was Cesky Krumlov - another UNESCO World Heritage site that is only about 15 miles form our base. Specifically, we wanted to see it’s historical centre and explore it’s shopping opportunities, as well as hopefully spotting the brown bears, generations of which have lived in the castle moat since 1707.  

Once parked we toddled up to the castle which was started in the 14th century and added to many times over the next 3.  It and it’s beautiful tower sit high up on a narrow rocky promontory above the River Vltava, but of the many castles we’ve seen on our travels, this one at first seemed quite strange!  

The outer walls of all the buildings and the tower are painted with Fresco's - but even the bricks were painted on giving them  a 3 dimensional effect.  

Another Cheddar Man 
I'm not sure how you pour your tea from this!

We walked up though it’s 5 court yards, pausing in one to visit the cellars where we found some bizarre sculptures - I think the Artist was trying to demonstrate  the effects that Czech repression during the war had on him - but it was all quite deep even though the explanatory plaques were in English!

We continued our journey through the castle grounds and it eventually topped out in a very well manicured 11 acre garden which was complete with water features and a special wooden platform.   One of the guides explained that it had been installed especially for Asian people to stand on to take their photos - he said it was because they were to small to see properly without it’s aid!

Later we walked though the old cobbled streets of the town where we found numerous touristy shops selling all manner of goods and goodies in the effort to get visitors to part with their money.  However, the medieval character was well preserved within  the winding labyrinth of cobbled streets, and once you entered the buildings many of them were like dark cellars with their goods displayed on little ledges.

After our browsing we finished off our visit with a very pleasant drink down by the river, and then it was time for a quick trip to Lidl and Tesco to replenish our fodder for the rest of the holiday.  Eventually we managed to acquire a trolley full of goodies but deciphering some of the labels was quite a challenge - it’s a good job we’d got Google Translate on our side!

Day 50
Friday 19th August 2016 - A bit cloudy at times but with plenty of sunny intervals.

Today Sharon, Paul and Ben have gone out on their own so they will have to tell us about their adventure when they get back, but John and I have  stopped at home to have a ‘rest day’!  We’ve scrubbed and polished T4rdis2, we’ve caught up with our washing and John has serviced our bikes - hopefully stopping mine from making a horrible clicking noise!

So really, I’ve got nothing much to add, but it’s nice to be lazy sometimes!

Day 51
Saturday 20th August 2016 - Hot and Sunny

The Watch Tower on a High Hill

Today we packed our picnic, saddled up our bikes and headed for the ferry to take us across the lake to Frydava.  

From there we picked up another quiet cycle route that took us, first along by the lake side, and then up, up, up and evermore up to a watchtower  high on a hill called Zricenina Vitkuv Hradek!

It was only an old ruin but there was a gentleman wandering around in authentic costume telling us something in Czech, music playing from deep in the bowels of the ancient building and a very nice little cafe from where cool drinks could be purchased.  
So all in all, it was a lovely place to pause for lunch - poor Ben even got crucified!

Then the payback for all the up hill was a very long Woooooosh down to within a few yards of the Austrian border, but a visit there wasn’t on the cards today, instead we turned back towards the lake and Predni Vyton where we came across another part of the Lipno sports facility.  

Here people could try out various sports equipments, so while we supped a cool cider Ben played on a Segway.  Then, having spent our ferry fare on booze we were forced to remount and peddle the last few miles home - about 30 in total.

Day 52
Sunday 21st August 2016 - Rain - and lots of it overnight then cloudy and a bit showery in the day.

Because of the weather it was really not a day for cycling, so we decided to do a bit of cultural sight seeing instead.  We all jumped in Paul’s car and headed for the city of Linz - a place found on a bend of the Danube just over the Austrian border.   However, what we hadn’t bargained on was all the shops being closed (it was Sunday), maybe a good thing cos  window shopping is much cheaper!   

So as we walked along one of the main streets, drooling over what we were being deprived off, and we hadn’t really got any plan as to what we were going to do, but our problem was solved when we entered one of the many churches.  

It just happened to be The Church of the Ursuline Sister’s - a place where over 400 angels are displayed, and a 360 degree light system is available to illuminate them individually along with an explanation of their origin.
Another Cheddar Man

It was here that a person of great knowledge explained that there was a roof top exhibition called ‘Hohen Rausch’ that was all about Angels.  She said it would take us about an hour and half to explore (a vast under estimation), and she provided a map in English that gave us a bit more information.  We all agreed that, as we couldn’t spend our money any other way, this would be a good way to pass our time and see much more of the city form a birds eye view!

So, with map in hand off we set, in and out, and up and down numerous roof top pathways and buildings to explore the 30 odd exhibits.  They provided various artists’ interpretations on the theme of angels displaying such things as grand pianos with wings that could be flapped by pulling on a rope (much like ringing a bell); a ‘back to the future’ where photos of the same individual had been take with a 20 year gap; a ‘flying fox’ where you could be hoisted up on a wire and ‘fly’ over the streets on a slow zip wire;  an area of musical instruments call ‘The Arched Harp’ where you could make noises but not music!; and that’s to name but a very few!  

We also found a tower ‘Orf Musikprotokoll im Steirischen Herbst’ which we climbed and that was supposed to represent ‘a stairway to heaven’.  

We didn’t quite find that, but as we stood on it’s swaying top we did have magnificent 360 degree views in every direction of the city of Linz which is very well endowed with numerous churches - one of the most magnificent being it’s Cathedral.  

In all the display took us about 4 hours to explore, so by the time we reached ground level again we were a bit foot sore and in need of rejuvenation so coffee was a prerequisite while we rested our weary legs in a little park area.  However, John thought the ones we  picked up a McDonalds were the worst he has ever tasted, so lesson learnt, and we’ll stick to our flask in future!   

Then we set off back to the car, crossing over the Danube as we went and discussing our dinner options.

In the end we landed in a roadside fish restaurant were we consumed delicious barbecued mackerel and enjoyed another black beer before continuing on our way home.  

Day 53
Monday 22nd August 2016 - a bit cloudy and overcast but with good sunny periods.

John and I have opted for another day off today - we’re going to potter around doing odd jobs, and then later we’ll go for a little walk down to the lake and maybe enjoy Pizza for lunch.  

Sharon, Paul and Ben have gone off out on their bikes with the possible plan of going tobogganing!

I’m sure we’ll all meet up later for another evening of good food and maybe a game or two of cards, and the time will fly by because we’re sharing it  with our very dear friends.

So once again, bye for now and take care x