May 28, 2003 GMT
Better Luck Second Time Around

I finally left Frankfurt on May 19th heading for the Czech Republic. I found the accommodation and general arrangements to be perfect with a great value for money ratio. Cities are very scenic for instance Marianske Lazne, Karlovy Vary and Prague. I also had an interesting encounter with the police (they are strict when it comes to parking offences) and pickpockets (although I did luck out, as I did with the police).

From Prague I went on to Vienna while making a little side trip to Telc, a very nice 18th century town that is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Vienna meant a civilized weekend with friends, filled with wine tasting in the Wachau region and some time in the same dungeon that had already been occupied by Richard Lionheart.

I have since entered Slovakia and am exploring the mountains in the northern part of the country from a “base camp” near the city of Martin. I’ll probably stay here for a couple of days.

Well - seems that I made it. For the time being the gods seem to be with me. Tiberius Ederlyi of TIBIZA repairs in Offenbach did a superb job of fixing the fork and telelever within two days. I even had a chance of testing the bike on a 300km outing with friends - just to make sure that everything was okay for the trip.


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Back on the road again…..testing


So…Monday, May 19th came and I started for the second time. I am happy to report that nothing happened on the way to the Frankfurt city limits. - The experiment had really begun.

For the first day I had intended to ride close to the German/Czech border but to stay on the German side. As it happened, I was not received to warmly at Waldsassen a small border town. I had asked for a room at a small boarding house, but I was given the once over by the owner (probably has some funny ideas about motorcycles and the riders in his mind) and told that there was not vacancy.

I took this as sign to move on and I decided to try my luck in the Czech Republic. I hoped to find some accommodation on the way to Marianske Lazne (“Marienbad”). It was getting late and some dark rain clouds were chasing me.

While I was passing through a small village (“Drmoul”), I saw a sign for a small restaurant/hostel. Despite my rugged appearance I was given a room and the owners even opened up the restaurant kitchen (I was the only guest). They also cleared the family garage for the BMW. - I was then that I decided to stay for three days.

I spent the next couple of days to check out the area in and around Marienbad /Carlsbad (“Karlovy Vary”) - both to well-known spas with great late 19th/early 20th century architecture. Very orderly and “clean”. Well, but this has a flipside: parking is allowed only in dedicated areas (for a price) and there are no exceptions for motorcycles. I had hardly put down the sidestand (on a very wide sidewalk, where even the large BMW would not have been a bother to anybody) when a police patrol care stopped and sent me on…..


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Great architecture in Marienbad



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.....and Carlsbad police´s favorite activity


On the cultural side: Following the recommendation of my friends Inge and Reiner, I spent some time at the Tepla monastry. It roots back to 1200 and its changing history included being used as military quarters during Czech socialist history in the more recent past.


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Tepla monastery survived use as military quarters


And for those friends in Frankfurt who like motorcycle touring: there are great one-lane roads, not very smooth paved surface - ideal for those of us who like GS. Not quite “off-road” but just enough of “rough” surface to feel the enduro character of the bike without an overdue risk of being stranded in the countryside with a 260kg beast of a motorcycle.


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Great country lanes for relaxed GS touring


After three days in the area, I used the motorway to get to Prague. The city offers a great scenery (plus may tourists). Special thanks go to the lady at the tourist information. I had made a reservation at small hostel outside of the city centre. The tourist information showed me the hostel’s location on the city map and, using my trusty GPS for guidance, I arrived at the place in no time.

I spent two days in Prague, joining the international tourist crowds for visits to the old castle and cathedral. A great place - a must for all Prague visitors. However, beware of pickpockets. Only by luck and/or intuition avoided being robbed of small bag that I left beside my on a bench on Wenzel’s square. Normally this bag would have contained only minor things like a small tripod for the camera. But this time I had the GPS system in there. Well… I guess the gods must be with me again, after my initial mishap in Frankfurt.

At this point I would like to say thank you to my former colleague Jochen Schlachter for recommending (even “insisting”) to go to the Czech Republic. The people very very friendly, the facilities were perfect and the value for money you get is fantastic. And that does not even include bonus points for the excellent Czech beer…

On Saturday, May 24th I went on to Vienna, Austria. On the way there I left the main road to visit the small town of Telc. It has a very nicely renovated centre and is the perfect example of some 18th century architecture. This has been recognized when in 1992, when Telc was in cluded in the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.


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Picturesque Telc market place


Originally, I did not included Vienna (also, I am told, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List) in may travel plans. But when some friends heard about my little tour, they almost insisted that I spent some time with them (thanks again, Katharina and Robert). So I had a very “civilized” weekend in Vienna and the Wachau wine region. This included a wine tasting at a traditional “Heurigen” wine place and an ascent to the Duernstein castle (or what’s left of it). Here, they say, Richard Lionheart what kept hostage on his way back from the crusades. Pictured below is the “original cell” he stayd in (just joking):


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Richard Lionheart had been here


On Monday, May 26th I packed my belongings onto the BMW, left civilized Vienna and proceeded on to Slovakia, where I am currently staying (near the town of “Martin” in the mountainous northern part of the country). First impressions were somewhat overshadowed by an empty countryside that was only matched by an even more “empty” facial expression of the landlord of a small hotel……

More to follow soon.

Posted by Heiko Neumann at May 28, 2003 01:54 PM GMT
 


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