Quick - when you think of the Czech Republic, what comes to mind?
Before this week, I would have said it was a poor country slowly recovering from the breakup of the Soviet Union. Now I know that is partly true, but also it is a country filled with gorgeous landscapes, friendly people, cool castles and old buildings, and a very difficult-to-decipher language.
The first two days of biking were through the Czech Republic before we crossed into Germany on Day 3 (and by the way, the border crossing was a total non-event. No gate, no guards, no passport check, not even a Welcome to Germany sign). Aside from some very crummy and scary paths on Day 1, the paths were mostly pretty good, and the views were beautiful.
Here is Caroline's dad crossing a bridge with Lars, one of the Danes in our group. We have 10 people total, 5 Americans and 5 from Denmark. Lars and Marianne (both Danish) are the leaders of the trip. We are super grateful to them for organizing this whole adventure. Check out the beautiful bridge below.
We are biking alongside the river Elbe, which goes through Prague and continues into Germany (though it doesn't go all the way to Berlin, our destination). As we cross back and forth over the river we have beautiful views like the one below. The cities here are so picturesque in the summer sun. Unfortunately, the river recently flooded terribly. I think the water level was 3m above what you see in the picture below. In this particular town, it looks like they could withstand a 3m rise, but in other places we saw very wide, flat plains along the river with a lot of visible flood damage.
This was the view from our hotel room after Day 1 of biking. Just another lovely Czech village with gardens, flowers, hills and quaint buildings with sloped rooftops. Nice.
I'm including the picture below specially for Caroline's mom, who is a very faithful reader of our blog, and deserves some comic relief :)
As we biked along the Elbe River, we saw tons of views like this one. It seemed like the Czech countryside was filled with vacationers.
This is from a small town where we ate lunch one day. Nearly every town that we passed through had the same architectural style: white houses with sloping tiled roofs, a church tower in the town square, and some very elaborate homes for the one-time lords or princes of the region.
Here's our gang at the top of a hill, resting a little bit before we continue onward. Some of the days were hard work on the bike, but it helps that every day was filled with so much beautiful scenery and we had a great team of companions.