The Route: 36km
- Cycle Route 12
- mostly bike path along the river into Ceske Budejovice
- from Ceske Budejovice, continues along river-side bike path for a while
- then through back roads and farm roads
- don’t forget a pit stop in Zlata Koruna
- just before heading into Cesky Krumlov, the Cycle Route 12 turns off onto dirt paths– if your tires dont’ allow this, then head to the main (but busy) Road#39 into town
Slow riding, but quick sightseeing
This is our ‘rest’ day—taking it easy with a short ride into Česky Krumlov. While we may not have ridden far, it certainly took us a while to get there because we made several interesting stops along the way.
The first stop was into Česke Budejovice, which has a lovely town square. And on our way into the square we discovered what we had been longing for—a fresh vegetable market. It was a small, but quaint market. Unfortunately, travelling by bike does not allow us to ‘stock up’ on the fresh fruits and veggies in the quantities we’d like, but at least we could get a day’s worth. We started with some lovely peaches to eat then and there, and took with us some garlic, freshly picked wild mushrooms and apples. We passed on a liter of home-made mead in a glass bottle. Trying to carry it on our bike’s didn’t seem like a good idea, even if it was homemade by the charming old man selling it.
While sitting on the square waiting for me, Tyler made friends with another local cyclist. She must be a handful for her mother. She was gregarious and wouldn’t stop talking, and she couldn’t have even had her third birthday yet. Apparently, she was trying to claim my helmet for her own (T could understand that much in Czech). When I came upon them it was the perfect picture opportunity. And while I was trying to capture the candid moment, this little ham of toddler knew exactly how to pose and smile for the camera. Eventually, mom called back little Gabbi, who scooted off to return the little bike to its rightful owner, a sad-faced looking boy wearing his blue helmet. Somehow, Gabbi, that move did not surprise me.
A ride made for romanticizing
After the first pit stop, we continued cycling south, still along the flat river valley for a ways. Then we were soon back to the more familiar terrain—hills. They weren’t as bad as previous sections, but more hills. And while these weren’t bad, we knew we were in for more as the surrounding scenery was becoming more dramatic. Day 2 and 3 were relatively easy sections- flatter countryside—now we are headed back to the mountains.
At the top of one of our climbs stopping for a water break, a pair of Canadians (yes, they were actually wearing Canadian flag jerseys) passed us to descend. We caught up with them later—a mother and daughter team on their road bikes with three weeks through Europe. They had toured through Holland, Belgium and now in Czech. One bike was their pack bike, and still pretty light, as they were doing the hostel-to-hostel route. T looked at their light baggage longingly, but I reminded him how much we love to roll in the dirt, er, I mean sleep in the open air.
We played cat and mouse for a bit, but eventually they overtook us as we stopped to snap some pictures. We figured we would catch up with them again, but apparently they didn’t stop until the goal. On the other hand, we tend to take our time, moving slowly on the bikes, but also stopping to take things in.
One of our favorite places of the day was a little village in the middle of nowhere called Stekre. If Europeans come to the US to romanticize about the wild, open land, then Americans come to Europe to romanticize about small, hillside villages that have been continuously inhabited for centuries and dream of a life that once was. And its not too hard to dream that when the surroundings and the buildings fulfill the imagination space for you. If you come this way, and need a bed for the night, Pension Diana is in this village and caters to bike tourists. Looks like a lovely place to rest your head.
Zlata Koruna…did someone say ‘Monk Wine’?
Our next favorite spot for the day was a village perched on a ledge above the river– Zlata Koruna. Again, coming into town, there were several campgrounds along the river before the village, which also doubles as the launch spot for floating down the river in rafts and kayaks.
The highlight of Zlata Koruna is the monastery. And the highlight of the monastery is a small antique shop, mostly with books, housed in an old cellar. And the highlight of the old cellar is something the monks are famous for—wine! While it would take us a lifetime to finish the honey liquor, I was quite sure we could handle a bottle of wine. The women poured it from the tap and into a 2-litre plastic bottle—obviously made for bike tourists like us.
We were only a short distance from Cesky Krumlov and dreaming of lunch. Climbing for about 6-8k from Zlata Koruna to the dirt road turn off to Cecky Krumlov was made immeasurably better by our new grape based cargo. Although drinking and cycling are two things we would never mix simultaneously, just knowing that we had this divine locally produced goodness on board made cycling up the steep roads out of Zlata Koruna all that more bearable.
The last 5-6 k leading into Cesky Krumlov on Cycle route 12 was along a dirt forest road and the first few hundred meters had been washed out and deeply rutted by spring rains. We chose to dismount our bikes and walk these sections until the road leveled off a bit. After that it was a quick and smooth descent down to the outer ring of Cesky Krumlov. We had almost all the fixins’ for a gourmet spread. A quick stop at the local market in town and we headed to our hostel for the night, where we enjoyed the high life with local, smoked cheese, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, apples, seeded, whole grain rolls and monk wine. Monk wine would be our mantra for the next several days—or however long it lasted.
NOTE: Entering the old city from Cycle route 12 can be a bit confusing. Our preferred entry is to turn back left at the intersection of Cycle route 12 and Highway #39 and travel about 200m east, turn right on Latran and over the bridge. This will deposit you right at the front door of Hostel 99.
We spent some time exploring the medieval town the sits around a bend in the river. A nice place for cafe relaxing, even though there are hoards of tourists, especially in the summer. The crowds ending up being a bit much for us, and so we left in less than 24 hours, but plenty of time to soak in some atmosphere. Accommodations in this small town are at a premium, so book ahead.