Azure Coast

Azure Coast

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Along the coast I went towards Marseille. Much of Marseille left me with a dirty and dubious impression. This started already in the surroundings on arrival, where, in addition to other waste, I was passing burned cars and scooters thrown down the gorges, probably stolen. The area of the port in the city center is worth seeing though. My impression was much improved to the southeast of Marseille, where the jagged cliffs with subtropical vegetation and beautiful sea views in the natural reserve of Calanques look exactly as one would imagine a romantic Mediterranean landscape. I also passed through Toulon, where there is little left to see from the historic center, but there is a large naval and submarine base. Further on the inconspicuous town of Bormes-les-Mimosas offers…
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France to the sea
Grand Est & Burgundy-Franche-Comté From Luxembourg I headed straight south. I used the roads and cycle paths along the banks of the rivers Moselle, le Coney, the Vosges canal and further around the Saône, passing the riverboats of German and Dutch pensioner-tourists sailing the canals in the opposite direction. I went straight south until I reached Besançon, with a massive fortress above the bend of the river Doubs. There I hesitated whether to continue through the tip of Switzerland or through the river valleys to the southwest. The weather forecast predicted a week of constant rain over the Swiss Jura, so the southwest won. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes & Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Through a countryside full of ponds I got to the confluence of Saône and Rhône, to Lyon. In Lyon there is both…
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Northern France and Luxembourg
Hauts de France & Grand Est Across the Belgium border appeared much more open landscapes, fields, pastures and forests. The landscape also got slightly hilly – but so far the hills have remained low. Exposed brick houses, which were typical around the coast, were in more remote villages increasingly being replaced by houses built of stone, as if cut from typical pictures of the French countryside. The river Meuse swirls through the landscape, at the moment it was full to the brim in most places, and along the river I continued to the southeast, in parallel with the border of Belgium. Due to proximity of this particuar border I was gradually more often spottig concrete bunkers in the fields. And then I got to the massive fortress from the Prussian-French…
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Belgium

Belgium

Officially I wasn’t supposed to get to Belgium from the Netherlands because of a last minute Covid rules update – but since the border for example in the small town of Putte runs through the middle of the square, it was enough to mix among the pedestrians who were casually crossing the border for example to go home from shopping. Belgium proved to be far less picture-perfect than the Netherlands. Even in Brussels itself, only the central square is decorated and gilded, while all around are much less fashionable suburbs and large industrial zones. Instead of windmills I came across two power plants straight in the Brussels suburbs. And, for example, in Casteu I rode around a giant base of NATO’s European supreme headquarters, but there I rather did not…
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Netherlands

Netherlands

This time I thought that after more than a year of Covid, symbolically ended by a tornado in Moravia, there was enough excitement already and it would be wise to choose as the holiday starting point a place generally considered non-exciting, even boring. Belgium, for instance. Into which I would get boringly via Germany by train. This nice resolution failed immediately at the start: the west of Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg were hit by one in a century floods.
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Velká Deštná
The weather forecast for the extended summer weekend was uncertain, with the possibility of rain, but nevertheless I chose the destination of Velká Deštná (meaning “the Big Rainy Mountain”). And it paid off – except for a foggy view from Deštná itself, the weather stayed exemplary all three days. Route: from Hradec Králové following a pleasant, tree-shaded cycle path around the river Labe, to the Rozkoš dam, via Náchod, Dobrošov and Olešnice, from there over the ridge of the Orlické Mountains with a stop at the lookout tower on Velká Deštná, and then down from the mountains towards Žamberk, following rivers Orlice and Loučná to Pardubice, then around the river Cidlina to Poděbrady and following the river Labe back to Prague.
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Back from Trieste
Italy Just beyond the Slovenian-Italian border is the hill Tabor by Repen, with a church and a meteorological observatory – from there one can see on one side to the Alps, but on the other side I could already see the coast. All I had to do was to descend across Opčina to Trieste. However, Trieste’s streets, with heavy traffic of cars and scooters, are not very bike-friendly even on the way down – the only way down to the city is a one-way street which alternates the traffic direction up and down upon a switch of a traffic light, the descent is 24% and thus to make matters worse is the street paved with bricks… But unlike me, local girls on scooters deal with the slope effortlessly. In Trieste,…
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To Trieste

To Trieste

Where to go on holiday during a pandemic, while any border can be closed at any time? The proper Czech holidaymaker shall supposedly head for the Adriatic. So how about across the Alps to Trieste? It’s all the way within the Schengen area, and moreover, if anyone asks, I can say that I did not cross any borders – at least if considering the borders as they were during the former Austrian-Hungarian empire.
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Roháče mountain ridge
It would be a shame not to take full advantage of an extended weekend with a beautiful weather. So I bought a ticket for the night train to Liptovský Mikuláš. The start was not quite hard-core outdoor – last-minute purchase of the ticket meant that only a “de luxe” compartment was available, so I traveled with my own shower and breakfast into the bed – and in the morning I got off the train in Mikuláš and set off from the town to the mountains on the north. On the first day the hike led through Žiarská dolina valley, across the Jalovecké sedlo pass, over the peaks of Príslop and Baníkov (2178 m) to the lakes Roháčská plesa, the second day around Ťatliakovo lake through the pass of Zábrať, over…
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Orlické hory
I have already been on a bike trip this year, travelling abroad is still prohibited, so where to go for a few days of July holidays, so that it is a trip to the nature and at the same time again something new? How about to Orlické hory, or Eagle Mountains, but cowboy-style on horseback? The route led for the first two days through forests and meadows from the ranch in Hrádek near Ústí nad Orlicí, around the river Tichá Orlice, through Brandýs to the Potštejn castle, from there around the river Divoká Orlice through Litice castle and Žamberk to pastures above the dam of Pastviny. And another two days back, through a bit different path but roughly the same route around the river. Based on this trip, I can…
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