Today was the first day of our voyage cycling around the Czech Republic. We started in Františkovy Lázně and went 30 kilometers to look see a castle, a volcano, and to Cheb. So we set up the wheels, put on some sunscreen and went to our first place.
We left Františkovy Lázně towards Seeberg Castle, which was 8.1 kilometers. Before we knew it, we arrived at our first stop: Seeberg Castle. Seeberg Castle, or as the Americans would say … SEE-berg Castle. This castle is very old, dating back from the turn of the 12th century and the 13th century. We walked for about 45 minutes. We looked at the exhibits, and we even learned that the whole region is famous for porcelain production, with some sets costing thousands of dollars. So we left the castle, jumped on our bikes, and went to the volcano, which was only 7.8 kilometers away.
It is funny, when people go there to see the volcano, they usually end up asking where the volcano is. So, it is a very small example of a volcano, but it is interesting that a lot of scientists came here sometimes in 18th century, because they could stud a volcano on a small scale, and it helped them to understand how such a volcano works on a large scale. George convinced us to pull the wheels up the volcano. Our bikes were pretty heavy with all the equipment.
There was no great view and for the most part it looked like a big hill with lots of trees. We saw no signs of volcanic activity, but we learned about influence this small volcano had on today’s theory of volcanic activity. An interesting thing about this volcano is that it is one of the two youngest volcanoes in this area in Central Europe. Sometimes you can even feel an earthquake, which is quite unusual inland. Then we drove down the hill towards the historic town of Cheb.
It was the shortest way of the day, just 5.5 kilometers, but on the way we saw the most beautiful landscape. We passed a huge field of yellow flowers and rode along the Skalka Reservoir. Shortly after we entered Cheb, we met a local guide that showed us the city. One of the most iconic parts of this city is a complex of buildings in the historic city center, in the Old Square (Jiřího z Poděbrad Square), called Spalicek. They are famous because they used to be merchants’ houses, some of the first homes throughout the city, and what’s really interesting are there two rows of houses and a tiny alley between them.
Then we stopped in the monastery garden, which was really beautiful, so we stayed there for a while and admired its beauty before we set out for the castle with the famous black tower. There was a small medieval festival and we tasted there for the first time traditional Czech pastry. You can taste it in a small town like Cheb, and it’s one of those traditional things that you should have when traveling in the Czech Republic. It’s good! We left the castle and we decided to take a break and have a late lunch, because we thought we couldn’t make dinner. I should have mentioned that I’m traveling with two other people on this trip.
Garrett is coming with me to help me shoot the whole trip, so he will be with me all the way. Jirka will be with us for three days, but we talked about him maybe staying a little longer. He’s from the Czech Republic and he helps me a lot. First, he knows the language and he also shares local cultural information with us – what to eat, where to go, what to say to the locals and so on. Oh, and what beer to drink, aka Czech water, or liquid bread. Jirka will help us order typical Czech food. Today we decided on a duck with dumplings and sauerkraut. It was excellent! But, alas, then it was time to finish the last part of the trip back to Františkovy Lázně. We were a little tired, but nobody wanted to show it, because it was the first day of the trip. From Cheb to Františkovy Lázně it was about 8.7 kilometers. We finally arrived and spent a while in the city to look around a little bit.
We drove 30 kilometers. I feel pretty good, it was a good first day, now it’s over. Tomorrow 61 kilometers awaits us. Do you think we can handle it? Well… we’ll find out soon enough.