Cycling The Elbe Day 4 – Dresden to Riesa

Zwinger GardensThe rain finally caught up with me and after yesterdays miserable looking folks it was good to see so many smiling Germans, they obviously enjoy been out in the wet.

I was in low energy mode after 7 days in the saddle, Strava reckons I’ve biked 367.8miles in 31h 34m and pedalled up 8,892feet in the past week (Just about what TdF riders in 1903 did in one day :-)

I didn’t make a start till after 11am without any breakfast so after an hour it was a brunch stop at the first open cafe. The path is good although it has a rather annoying habit of slipping into slippery cobble stones at random points. Also a couple of sections just stopped necessitating U turns. Most of the cafes were firmly closed too :-(

I made it to Riesa at 4pm. With internet enabled I could at last usebooking.com. I found the reasonably priced Saxonia Hotel for €38 including breakfast. It’s run by a family of Italians who apologised in advance for the birthday party tonight :-)

After my Pizza I went to explore, on foot, but some clown has built a dual carriageway cutting the hotel & station from the town. The bit I saw rather exudes a sense of hopelessness and according to Wikipedia  20.000 other folks agree  having left since 1989.

1-IMG_0116They have their own Angel of the North here, It’s  a 25 metre high 400 tonne sculpture of a tree with a shovel, fallen cross & ingots of steel (Angel of the North is 20m high and ‘only’ weighs 200 tonnes). These sculptures are obviously to remind folks of their industrial past. Although I think a better sculpture would be a pile of 400 cars :-)

Todays ride was 35.4 miles and 1,451 feet of climbing (Not so flat as I thought) the pictures are here

 

 

 

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Elbe biking day 3 – Usti to Dresden

1-IMG_3463The much vaunted rainy day turned out to be bright & sunny as I went down to a hearty omelette breakfast in the Pivobar Hotel restaurant. Several cups of coffee later and a Facetime call to Sally (since once again 3 kept me locked out of the cellular network) and off I went past the beautiful modern bridge in Usti (How do they make such beautiful curved supports?)

The bikeway was very smooth and now extended against the river in several places, especially now missing out Techlovice. I made a coffee stop in Decin outside the highly decorated wartime bunker, then started through the sandstone gorge to the German border. I spent my last 50 kroner (£1.42) on a large beer & HUGE bag of crisps which even defeated the labrador that helped me out.

Border post

Czech border post

The border post is literally just that, a stick in the ground! Thank goodness for the Schengen agreement, I still wonder if a lot of our so called immigration problems are down to the UK’s refusal to sign up to it in 1985.

In Germany the track is as smooth as anticipated and really busy. The track is entwined with the railway & river through the narrow Elbe gorge. In fact with the train frequency it occurred to me that you could probably rent a bike in Prague and just spend a long weekend biking the Czech part of the Elbe and then getting the train back from any of the numerous stations.

My first German beer in a beer garden cost €2.50 (£2.15) a tripling in price over a few miles. (A waiter who I spoke to said they do all their beer & fag shopping in Czech). Since I was so lucky with the weather,I kept hearing thunder storms and when I glanced behind it was very dark & gloomy, I decided to pedal onto Dresden, also no shops were open in the small towns (well it was Saturday afternoon :-) )

Since I had no internet because of 3, lack of phone shops to purchase a SIM and the dreaded locked down  WiFi. Interesting all of which are first world problems! The so called second/ third world has plenty of open WiFi & the ability to buy internet SIM’s from just about everywhere, any time, and low cost. This meant I was clueless as where to stay :-(  when I entered Dresden.

Bomber Harris had cleared the city of any cheap Gasthaus’s plus 20,000 inhabitants :-(. I spotted a hotel but it was way too expensive for such a crummy place. In the centre I spotted a Gasthaus but incredibly it was just a restaurant! The waiter pointed on my Gaia map (Thank goodness I had downloaded all the OSM for my route at home) to the Motel One which he said was reasonable.

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View from Room 281 Motel One, Dresden

I arrived at the uber modern Motel One with its fine view (Room 281) over the reconstructed & gilded Zwinger. Where the receptionist promptly chose to misconstrue as to what was included & whether I wanted to pay in Euro or Pounds needless to say all errors were in the hotels favour :-( so it ended up costing £74.95!

However, she did point out where the Vodafone shop was and that it was open, Vodafone wanted €45 for 250mb and made it plain they didn’t  really do PAYG any more (obviously to down market for them) but told me to go to Saturn Electronics. Amazingly I was told that it was now illegal to sell SIM’s to anyone without a valid German address (Surely anti EU competition laws?) One advantage, for me, of having an address book stuffed with names around the globe is I was able to get a SIM for €24.99 with 1GB of data on O2 for 28 days so I can use booking.com and make Facetime calls again :-)

Whilst in Saturn I treated myself to a Ultimate Ears Boom battery bluetooth speaker grossly overpackaged but a good sound :-) Amazingly they don’t take credit cards from Germans but the tourist plastic is OK. What a strange country this is. Hopefully it will stand the vibration in my saddle bag :-)

I pedalled 63 miles with 2322 feet of ascent. The morning Strava is here and afternoon here with the pictures here

 

 

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Elbe route Day 2 – Melnik to Usti via Terezin

Hotel Jaro Bedroom view at sunriseAfter a wonderful sunrise awakening it was down to a very cheesy breakfast. It was drizzling as I fixed the front wheel back on after it’s puncture repair but that soon cleared away as I zoomed down the hill back onto The Elbe.

It was staggering to see the height of the floods on 14th August 2002   marked about 30 feet above the current water level!  It will be interesting to see how much of the new super duper bike path survives the next flood.

Whilst having a coffee in Roudnice I met up with the two guys from Hamburg, they are doing one week of biking  with their old town bikes, actually one of them is on his wifes small wheeled electric bike! He was complaining that when he put on the brakes the motor surged into life wanting him to go faster! Highly dangerous – He didn’t take me up on the offer to cut the electric supply cable :-)

I then noticed that 3 had cut of my account with the cell display resolutely displaying “No Service” Even though I paid them another £5  this morning for another days Euro Internet Pass – that will teach me to even get a local SIM for 2 days of internet use. Hopefully, I will be in Germany tomorrow so I can get a local SIM & it will be goodbye to 3 until I get home.

1-IMG_3444After coffee I took the ferry to make a tour to Terezin where major atrocities took place in the second world war. There is a poignant memorial to the 22,000 Jews whose ashes were thrown into the river in 1944, although it’s now surrounded by a golf course. Interesting how time changes events especially after  my recent visits to memorials in Vukovar, Vietnam  and Cambodia. It still had a very creepy feel to it.

I then bumped into my Dutch acquaintance again who was telling me about his custom made SNEL bike from Utrecht, especially designed for easy welding & repair in remote places. Maybe for Africa….

Going up the 25% hill, yes I made it! at Cirkvice I scored another puncture, this time a thorn in the rear tyre, this had to have a inner tube change. Finally making it to Usti.

I managed to get in the rather deluxe Na Rychte Hotel cum brewery for 900 kroner (£26) including breakfast.

The paths are starting to get very busy with bikers, some of which are scary huge guys on mountain bikes with an evil look as they pound towards you! Give me an artic. any time..

The Strava for the day shows 50.6 miles biked and 855 feet of climbing. the pictures are here

 

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Day 1 – Prague to Melnik on The Elbe river trail.

I arrived in Prague at 9.30am on a gorgeous sunny morning. Fully refreshed after over 8 hours sleep on the train. Fitbit said I was restless for 32mins and awake for 4mins of that time :-) Biking is good for sleeping!

1-IMG_3356Prague was glorious although totally rammed with tourists, think Kings Parade. I really loved how the Central Station has been renovated with the old domed entrance fully restored with the huge modern concourse buried in the basement. Its a pity that it’s stranded behind a high speed dual carriageway :-( but eh ho I descended again and popped up further across in the square.

The route worked fine using the Gaia app on my iPhone and I soon left the city via the delightful Stromovka park, hitting my first diversion of the day outside the zoo. The path alongside the river is MAGNIFICENT filled with roller blading kids at summer camp & lots of cyclists of every description. Such a great use of EU infrastructure money

The bridge I should be crossingI stopped for lunch by a lock and treated myself to a beer and cheese sandwich, what a shock the total price was £1.63. I had to leave the riverside and do some climbing at Husinec finally hitting the river again just after  Maslovice after another diversion for sewer works. At Nelahozeves the railway bridge couldn’t be crossed :-( so with Open Street Map and some help from locals I worked out my own diversion to Veltrusy where in the woods I managed to get a thorn in the front tyre giving me a slow puncture.

At the ferry near Luzec I met up with two cyclist guys from Hamburg whilst chatting to Ren & Steve on Facetime. Great amusement ensued at the nearby pub with Ren chatting to the regulars in Czech :-)  After another pint of Pivo  (A whole 60p) I continued onto the delightful hilltop, fully restored, city of Melnik where I parked myself in the Hotel Jaro for 840 Koruna (£24) a night including breakfast, fastish internet and a bedroom with a whole 3 piece suite in it :-) A delight to fix the puncture in such comfort :-)

An excellent first day biking on The Elbe biketrail with 43 miles covered and 1,338 feet of ascent! The Strava is here and pictures here.

By the way more photographs can be found on geoffjones.net also you can sign up for these missives via email, see top right hand side at geoffjones.com 

 

 

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