Eastern Europe, 4 Countries

This was an REI Bike Trip and it was over the top.  It offered a well-rounded blend of European culture from worldly capitals cities with Moravian and Baroque origin.  We rode past and visited many enchanting castles, medieval villages and also visited and stayed in UNESCO sites.  Prague and Budapest were the ideal bookends to our route – first and last towns wow over the top.

This was a bike trip through four countries of Central Europe:  Prague to Budapest.  We were traveling for about 14 days in total with about 7 days of riding.  We had twelve people in our group – all Americans- and our three guides that were really friends at the end.  We rode about 30 to 40 miles per day through rolling countryside – through the heartland of Eastern Europe.  This story will focus on the biking while each country section (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungry and Austria) will focus more on the towns. Prague below

So we started from Prague above.  What a great town.  (See country section for more detail)  with plenty of arts, music, theater, fine foods and friendly atmosphere. We saw a puppet show and violin concert below

Prague is the capital city and largest city of the Czech Republic. This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes was almost undamaged by WWII, Prague’s medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her. Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveler’s thirst for adventure. In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Photo Prague above

 

On our first day we met our guides and van below

 

up to take us out of Prague where we rode for about 40 miles ending in Telc.

 

The riding was fantastic through the country Side Wow over the top. Imagine, Frost or Stevenson ” the path less traveled” drifting down spindly country lanes that snake their way over rolling hills, dales and brook.

 

 

The golden sun above washes the landscapes in hues of golds and yellows while voluminous white clouds silently drift by overhead with the wind to the horizon. The soft wind caresses your face like a lovers hand and she also brings sweet melodies from the crickets and birds that live in the farm fields that surround us.

 

The wheat is amber and about to be harvested and the dark green corn is reaching for the heavens while hawks silently drift overhead in arcing paths in search of their next kill This is the heartland of farms and field.

 

Flowers, shrub and scented pines line the narrow lanes we pass through and at times we pass through ancient forests whose old growth forest hold memories from times forgotten.

 

We are staying in very ancient villages with castles and motes in which times has passed it by. We dine on fine foods from the small farms and fine Wines in terraced porches overlooking the castles

 

 

We ended at Telc a UNESCO site know for its architecture and spent two nights here at. Telcčis a town in southern Moravia, in the Czech Republic. The town was founded in 13th century as a royal water fort on the crossroads of busy merchant routes between Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.

Besides the monumental 17th century Renaissance chateau with an English-style park the most significant sight is the town square, a unique complex of long urban plaza with well-conserved Renaissance and Baroque houses with high gables and arcades; since 1992 all of this has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The food was spectacular and the town square was beautiful and the town had a castle of great magnitude.

 TElC shots above

The next day we rode around Telc’s countryside and saw some great farms and churches

 

We rode through fields and fields of poppy sommervarium giagantium below!  Some people consider Ta-yen a demon that destroys the soul and they wonder how one will pay the rent?!! I on the other hand think Ta-yen has the sweet disposition of Kuan Yin.  Kuan Yin  is like a mystic, that merely clarifies the mind and provides a world of vision and she is the compassionate one!!!

 

Passing fields of poppies above – is Tayen a demon or is She like Kuan-Yin the compassionate one  that helps to clarify the mind or is she simply a lover ?  Opium poppies Gigantium Sommervarium a demon or is she compassionate?

 

On the 4th day we rode through the wine country of Moravia below

and passed and visited many castles Lednice and Valtice   The grounds, castle and ambiance were spectacular.

Nice royal couple above our home being renovated for a party TBD and our summer home below

 

Lednice  is a village in South Moravia in the Czech Republic. In 1996 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List (together with the twin manor of Valtice) as “an exceptional example of the designed landscape that evolved in the Enlightenment and afterwards under the care of a single family.” It contains a palace and the largest park in the country, which covers 200 km².

The surrounding park is laid out in an English garden style and contains a range of Romantic follies by Joseph Hardtmuth, including the artificial ruins of a medieval castle on the bank of the Thaya/Dyje River (1801) and a solitary sixty-meter minaret, reputedly the tallest outside the Muslim world at the time of its construction

From here we ended in the village of Hlohovec and stayed in the castle below

Hlohavec Castle above and visited a small wine cellar and had way to much fun below

On day 5 we rode along the Moravia river in Slovakia and the trail took us to Devin Castle

Devin is a castle in Devin, which is a borough of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Owing to its strategic position, the cliff (altitude of 212 meters) at the confluence of the Danube and Moravia rivers was an ideal place for a fort. Its owner could control the important trade route along the Danube as well as one branch of the Amber Road.

The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria. Prior to 1989, the Iron Curtain between the Eastern Bloc and the West ran just in front of the castle. Although the castle was open to the public, the area surrounding it constituted a restricted military zone, and was heavily fortified with watchtowers and barbed wire. After the Velvet Revolution the area was demilitarized.

ON day 6 we again rode the rolling countryside around Sopron riding on the Austrian side of the border.  There are many mediaeval churches and we overnighter in Sopron.

 

Day 7 took us to a rather large town of Gyor and we had an incredible dinner.

 

 

Day 8 we were now fully inside Hungry.  We visited the UNESCO town of Pannonhalma, which is home to the most famous Benedictine abbey.  It was built in the 13th century.  We took a tour of the abbey and its size blew mw away. The Benedictine Pannonhalma Arch abbey) is the most notable landmark in Pannonhalma and one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary, founded in 996. It is located near the town, on top of a hill . Saint Martin of Tours is believed to have been born at the foot of this hill.

This is the second largest abbey in the world, after the one in Monte Casino. Its notable sights include the Basilica with the Crypt (built in the 13th century), the Cloisters, the monumental Library with 360,000 volumes, the Baroque Refectory (with several examples of trompe l’oeil) and the Arch abbey Collection (the second biggest in the country). Today there are about 50 monks living in the monastery. The abbey is supplemented by the Benedictine High School, a boys’ boarding school.

After the tour we vanned it into Budapest.

Budapest: is the capital and the largest city of Hungary and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre.

Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world. Other highlights include a total of 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.3 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world (and the 6th in Europe)

There ended the adventure Sad Sad Sad and we ended it with fine dinning in a great resturante below