'Poppies. Poppies. Now They'll Sleep.' Or Perhaps Have A Few Beers
A vast field of poppies near Roztoky.
Been so busy riding and traveling (see my "gusto" blog entry on a recent trip to Dublin) that I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and write.
I met up with Stewart early Sunday morning. We were both enjoying a bit of the grape -- separately -- the night before when I sent him a text message to see if he was up for a ride. He agreed, and despite our hangovers, we left our homes around 8 a.m. and rendezvoused at an intersection between Unetice and Roztoky, near what Stewart calls the Giant's Walking Stick, some sort of gas vent or something that looks like, well, you get the idea.
Turns out there was a vast field of flowers near our meeting point that, on closer inspection, were poppies in full bloom. Opium poppies, bulbs and all. You would have forgiven for thinking you were in Afghanistan.
From what I can determine, doing a little Google research, these poppies are identical to the poppies grown in Afghanistan for heroin production. Each seed pod can contain something like 10,000 seeds for use in food (the Czechs love their poppy-filled pastries and cakes), while the seed pods are harvested and turned into morphine and codeine.
According to an article in The Mail Online, it's so difficult and expensive to extract the opium that farmers are confident that their fields won't be hijacked by drug dealers.
Amazing. But perhaps I'm wrong. If anyone knows anything more about the poppy crop in the Czech Republic, send me a note or post a comment, please.
We headed through some farmer's fields to Uholicky, past some very cool, restored Cooper Minis, and then up the big hill out of Uholicky, past Garbage Mountain, to Tursko.
A country house in Turkso, which looks to me very much like something that Maxfield Parrish would have painted.
In Tursko, Stewart wanted to show me some roads and trails I hadn't been down before, so instead of heading toward Holubice, we went east, toward Libcice nad Vltavou.
We discovered some lovely country roads, with nary a car on them.
We passed a stable, where we got to pet a beautiful gray gelding or stallion (I forgot to look), saw a lone deer running in a field quite close as we passed on our bikes, and then headed down a beautiful downhill run on a quiet road into Libcice itself.
Sure, it may have only been 9:30 a.m., but we really needed a beer, and we happened to find a great little pub on the main street, which was, oddly, open on a Sunday morning.
We sat outside on the sidewalk and drank a couple of 19 CZK half-liters of Gambrinus, even though the inside of the friendly pub was pretty cool, decorated with framed prints of Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra album covers.
A few Sunday morning beers.
What comes down must go up, and we faced a tough uphill as we left Libcice.
Along the way, we passed a little window selling what I thought were 13 CZK half-liters of Gambrinus, which would have been a record for Cheapest Beer In Prague. I ordered one, but it turns out it was in a bottle. I should have asked.
So I was forced to ride up the hill with one hand on the handlebars and the other clutching my cold beer, sipping all the while. And I made it to the top, to boot. You can accomplish a lot when you're well hydrated.
Stewart and I parted ways on this day a few kilometers later. We both had to get home and shower, because both of our families were meeting up in the early afternoon to attend a screening of "Prince Caspian," the new "Narnia" movie, in which Stewart has a role as one of the lords.
The ride was great, and the movie was too. And what a treat to see Stewart on the big screen.
Length of ride: 29 kilometers
Average speed: 15.2 kph
Maximum speed: 55.1 kph
Pivo Index: 3
Time on the bike: 1.51.54
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 830 kilometers
A lone poppy in a field of barley near Uholicky.
A barn door in Tursko.