Long time no viddy. We are here in the principal city of Bavaria, Munchen. It’s Friday afters and we’re in the middle of the greatest heatwave to visit Northern Europe for sometime. It’s redders. We’re taking the weekend off too. Our first proper rest in three weeks. We’re checking into a hostel. Whoop! We make a few enquiries with our very own ‘Trip Advisors’, Richard and David, for some last minute information regarding availability of hostels via text while we get our first ‘currywurst mit frites’ of the weekend. We head off to Senefelde Strasse to check out the recommendations – after two unsuccessful attempts at two of the better hostels we try our luck at the best one, the one with no vacancies… we luck out and check in to Wombats. Thanks Andy for making it possible.
You may notice from the last post that we had just arrived in Munich and that there was a thunderstorm. There was a thunderstorm apparently, I hadn’t noticed, I was in the bar and Adrian and I are overlapping our posts slightly, its a neat trick to keep you on your toes. As I write it’s actually Tuesday night, I find it easier to correspond a few days after events have taken place, gives me a chance to reflect. Today the heatwave has reached THIRTY NINE DEGREES. Some would say impressive, I might say oppressive. It’s a tough gig to cycle long distances in the such heat, for two reasons; 1) it’s very difficult to avoid cycling during midday and the hottest hours since it takes so long to get on the road. 2) There isn’t enough cold water in Bavaria to quench your thirst. Phew!
Anyhow, Munich. A fabulous metropolis of wonderment and coincidences. Friday night we made a beeline for the laundry room to get our lycra freshened up and then we hit the bar with our complimentary drinks vouchers. A tiny two centilitre, free drink later we’re knee deep in happy hour and buying proper beers for just a couple of Euro. When I say proper I’m talking of the stein, a half litre of Bavarian nectar. Soon we’re entertaining a decent crowd of fellow travellers and there’s talk of a trip into town. How could we refuse?
The next day we’re pretty hung over and the day is hot. I was offered the opportunity to go sightseeing with Caroline Haig, a fine young lady from Brighton en route to Austria, for some solitary hiking and a break from ‘fancytown’. Adrian was offered a hair cut in the Turkish Quarter and got on with the important business of blogging and odd jobs. Caroline and I set off for the Englischer Garten and the ‘Surfer Wave’. Munich by bike is full of surprises, including the hilariously named ‘Man Fat’ Chinese restaurant, many great monuments of historical figures and the Olympic Village. After a steep climb to the viewing point high above the village itself, we were quite expecting to see concrete and a thin grey tower, what we actually got was a a bustling metropolis of webbed architecture and an impressive monolithic structure, that is the Olympic Tower – a real treat. The Olympic Village is an amazing place that has been transformed into a psy-trance amusement park cum leisure village cum stadium. One of the more surreal aspects of our visit was the music that played on our radio as we approached the entrance down a steep hill. It was the music from ET. Thank you Classic Radio. Yes, we had the classical music to accompany our tour of Munich for the day. Try it. Thank you Caroline for a perfect day.
Caroline and I meet Adrian for pizza and we head back to the hostel for the last half hour of ‘happy hour’. We get a two litre pitcher each as the bell rings. We promise this will be enough and we’ll get an earlyish night. We chat with our new friends Caroline and Mel in the ‘chill out’ area, where most people are immersed in their devices and we finish our big beers. Two hours later we’re shirtless, barefoot and dancing to Bowie on the tables in the Wombar. ‘Have you felt my legs?’
We check out of the hostel at 11ish and spend the rest of the day in the English Garden, the sun is high in the sky, temperature is mid 30’s and all of Munich is enjoying the park. We dive into the powerful flow of the Isar, close to the ‘surfer wave’ and ride the current with locals for nearly a mile through the park, beneath bridges, plunge deep into rapids, eventually climbing out via a ladder out of the flow to the safety of terra firm. The most fun you can have on a Sunday afternoon in the park. Fact. We leave Munich after a luxurious Turkish feast and head 30 kilometres out of town to camp. We follow the Isar cycle path to a place where we can set up our tent in super quick time for deserved nights sleep. We soon realise that our chosen campingplatz has landed us directly beneath a flight path less than 2 kilometres from Munich Airport. Earplugs required. Sleepski.
Monday morning and we’re up early to get to the next town, 5 kilometres away for breakfast. Quick shop and feed at the store and we’re ready for the day ahead. Feeling confident in our early morning glory we anticipate a big day, aiming for 100k’s to arrive at Deggendorf where we would join the famous Danube cycle path. The Germans had other ideas. Around 20k’s from Freising we ask a couple of local cyclists, a grandfather and grandson on a day ride, for directions towards Moosberg via the Isarradweg. We point, they nod, we go. For the next 15km’s we are riding a cross country trail with fallen trees blocking our path. This track, and it was a track, clearly has not been ‘ridden’, rode or driven over for sometime. Despairing of the old man, the boy and their poor knowledge of local cycling we press on, cursing their idiocy, desperate to make the next bridge to crossover to the proper cycle path on the other side of the river. A sneaking suspicion enters ours minds, that the pair have deliberately allowed us to take the wrong side of the river for for their own amusement. This is not the first time we have been given a bum steer and we sense that we may see these jokers again. We make the next bridge, tired and a touch cross, and who should be rolling our way? Yes, you guessed it. Our friends with the sense of humour. We stop. They stop. I burst out laughing. Adrian gets the camera out. I explain in perfect German that the directions that they have given to us were incorrect and that we were unimpressed. The pair are sporting faces cracked with stupid grins, offering insincere apologies, having themselves just cycled the path that we had asked for. We don’t mention the war. We cycle on.
As if by some comic, cruel twist of fate our camp that night is also the home of all the mosquitoes in Germany. We are next to Mosselandlsee, where we have swum and bathed, and our decision to eat at dusk proved to be our undoing. We begin to make our dinner of pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta cheese – a supper which we were very much looking forward to – and the attack begins. As quickly as we kill our near invisible enemy more are already feasting on our flesh. We suffer a heavy defeat and retreat to the bar. We make camp after a few beers and watch the most amazing lightening storm around fifty miles away.
For the rest of our week we have our sight on our tenth country, the Czech Republic. A bonus country. We hadn’t planned to visit the Czech’s however we were very close and fancied a decent pint. Making our way to the border, which was of limited choice since there are only a fraction of the number of roads that exist in Germany for example, we had a night in Bayerischer Wald, the Bavarian Forest, around 10k’s from the border. There is a stream, it’s ice cold and fast flowing, we make like Gollum and jump in. Totally exhilarating. I lay down on the icy stones, allowing the crisp refreshing flow to immerse my whole body. Insane. I get out, unable to take the cold any longer, begin to dry off. I get back in. Twice. It’s Addictive. The rest of the evening is relaxed and supremely comfortable after the unbearable heat of the day. Amazing.
We arrive for one night in the Czech Republic after a morning dip in our new favourite bathing spot and immediately our lack of understanding of the Czech language becomes apparent. Strazny, a dusk till dawn kind of motorway border town is our first impression of the country. It’s totally surreal, the usual vices are available from 15:00 til 04:00, the market stalls selling replica football shirts somehow trivialise the casual attitude towards the gambling and prostitution. Currency is our other challenge. We’re rolling deep with the Euro dollar, expecting everywhere to accept them. For our first day this is fine, local businesses add a slight premium to the prices and take the cash. Coop, the main store we find is not so accommodating. We miss our morning pastries and snacks. Lunch with our Austrian friend Ralph was a delight, thank you for the beers and espressos. And so to Linz, Austria. Birthplace of Hitler and home to a massive Electronic Arts festival.
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For the Route see MAP 4