I Don't Pay The Ferryman

The ferryman takes me and my bike across the Vltava.

Believe it or not, it is possible for me to go for a bike ride without drinking a beer.

I was hung over on Sunday (June 10), and I had to get up at 6 a.m. for a 7 a.m. shift at work, so by the end of my (weekend) workday, I was pretty tired. But I hadn't exercised in a week, and I was feeling bad about it.

I came home, vegged out in front of the TV for three hours to watch the men's singles final of the French Open, and somehow mustered up the energy to head out for an early evening ride, despite the fact that Stewart was also not feeling well, and couldn't be there to motivate me further.

Of course, in the end, I was really glad I did. It was a gorgeous evening.

I decided to take a different route, to make things a bit more interesting.

I rode down to Podbaba, and took one of the tiny ferries across the Vltava River. These ferries are very popular with cyclists and are a part of Prague Integrated Transport (Pražská integrovaná doprava).

My metro/tram pass is accepted on the ferries, which never ceases to please me for some reason. If you don't have a pass, a one-way ticket is 20 CZK, I believe.

The ferry landing in Podbaba.

The ferry takes a load of passengers back across to Podbaba after dropping me off on the other side.

The ferries are piloted by cute guys in striped sailor-type shirts who seem only too glad to help you get your bike on board. One of the ferrymen even toots a little red horn every time he sets off.

They're not on any timetable or anything. If they see you across the river, waiting, they'll just come over and get you. It's very cool.

It's nice enough to be on your bike along the river in Prague. It's even nicer somehow to be on a little boat with your bike, looking out at the river and the sunset. It makes me smile.

There's a second small ferry in Sedlec, past the Riverside School, and a third, larger ferry further downriver in the village of Klecany.

And Klecany is where I decided to head.

On the Troja/Prague Zoo side of the river, there's a nice bike path/road that heads down to Klecany.

It's a very pleasant ride of an evening. Nothing strenuous at all, really, but picturesque.

And I'm liable to make a return journey, because I discovered two cozy pubs that deserve a tryout. One of them (U Vokacu) even features a half-liter of Gambrinus for 18 CZK, or about 85 U.S. cents. That rivals the Cerna Hora place in Roztoky, Hospůdka Zvířátka, for the cheapest half-liter I've come across in my travels.

If you know of a cheaper beer anywhere in Prague, I'd like to know about it.

I even ran over a snake on the trail to Klecany. I looked down, and there he was, basking in the warm dirt on the trail. It was too late to avoid him, and I ended up running over his tail. I hit the brakes and turned around, and found him slithering into the grass, so I'm sure he was OK.

I turned around in Klecany and took the Sedlec ferry back across the river and headed for home.

A golden sunset, two ferry rides, post-hangover exercise, an encounter with a snake, and some cool cloud formations (see below). What more can you ask for in a ride?

OK, maybe one or two of those 18 CZK beers.

Next time.

Distance ridden: 22 kilometers
Average speed: 17.6 kph
Maximum speed: 39 kph
Time on the bike: 1.14.27
Distance ridden so far in 2007: 875.5 kilometers

Part of the path/road heading from Podbaba toward Klecany. There's only an occasional car to muck things up.

Part of the cycling path to Klecany resembles the remains of an ancient Roman road. I was glad to be on a mountain bike, not my road bike, and to have front shocks.

This bike-friendly pub in Klecany offers a half-liter of beer for 18 CZK, or about 85 U.S. cents. I'll be back.

I see a barking poodle in this cloud formation above Troja.

I just thought this was a pretty picture as I headed back into Prague, near Sarka park, along a narrower part of the river.

It's fairly easy to know when you've reached Klecany, even if you don't have a map. This unusual structure sits atop a dam and houses some waterworks.

This is the other pub in Klecany, a sort of tiki-bar-cum-shabby-riverside-beer-joint kind of place. It has its charms, though (including a half-liter for 19 CZK), and is located right next to the ferry landing. The Klecany ferry is a bit bigger and seems to operate on a timetable, so you might find yourself sipping a beer waiting for the next crossing.


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