Breaking Out Of The Doldrums

Emma takes the lead.

I’d like to tell you about a lovely ride I took with the ladies the other day.

It was a beautiful day, and we were all feeling a bit lazy for some reason. So I suggested we hop on our bikes and take a ride down to Roztoky, get a beer and a bite to eat at Hospůdka Zvířátka, and cycle back.

Of course, like most bike rides in these parts, even simple rides have a way of accumulating a few adventures and interesting asides along the way.

The great thing about the route from our home village of Černý Vůl to Roztoky is that there are no cars for most of the route. It's a dirt and stone trail through the forest, and mostly flat, so it's a perfect path for a 9-year-old and a perfect path for the parents, who don't have to worry all the time about crazy Czech drivers.

Daisy and Emma climb on a favorite old tree along the route to Roztoky.

The path starts in Černý Vůl, and passes through Únětice, before emptying at the parking lot across from the late, great Koliba, our favorite cycling stopover, which burned to the ground earlier this year. (Read more about the tragedy here.)

We thought we might see some signs of rebuilding. But all we saw was a whole lot of nothing. There'd been no change since last we were there, except that maybe some of the trash and burned timbers had been taken away. The chimney still standing, and nothing else. The cute little carp pond out front was all covered in algae and scum.

How depressing.

The ferry arrives to take us across to Klecany.

Zvířátka is just down the street, and I thought we might stop there for some refreshment. But I had the sudden urge to continue on our way to the edge of Roztoky, and take the ferry across to Klecany, where we could also rehydrate. I thought Emma might enjoy the novelty of the little ferry boat filled with bikes, which leaves every half hour, more or less.

It cost all three of us 45 CZK (about $2.50) to cross, bikes included.

Once on the other side, we stopped at a kiosk for a few beers (20 CZK, or about $1.10, for a half liter of Gambrinus) and a snack.

I had the classic -- a fried sausage and a slice of brown bread on a paper plate with mustard and horseradish. It is what it is. No frills beer food. Although some are better than others, and this wasn't one of the best I've ever had.

Daisy opted for chicken nuggets and fries, thinking it was the healthier option in a place with not a lot of options. It took a long time to cook, and wasn't worth the wait, I don't think.

But the beer was good. So we had another, and sat in the sun and watched the river roll by and the cyclists come and go and the dogs barking and the kids playing on the riverside playground.

There are worse ways to spend a lazy afternoon.

We caught the ferry back across the river (where we noticed that Daisy had managed, in the rush to catch the ferry, to put her cycling helmet on backwards) and backtracked to Hospůdka Zvířátka.

I'd noticed on the way down that they had a sign out for burčák. Burčák is, well, young wine. Very young wine. Burčák is to wine as cake batter is to a Sacher torte. It looks like a watered down glass of Bailey's -- brown and watery and cloudy. And it's very sweet and fizzy and very easy to drink.

But it packs a surprising punch. (Read more about burčák in a previous post here.)

Burčák is a Czech tradition, signaling the start of wine season, and starts appearing in early September around these parts. It's usually poured from giant plastic jugs into smaller plastic soda bottles.

I ordered one liter-and-a-half bottle, for 98 crowns (about $5.50), and we sat at Hospůdka Zvířátka and had a few glasses before we set off on our merry (very merry) way again.

Just when you think Prague can't surprise you...

While I was pedaling through Únětice, I heard someone playing a harmonica. It turned out it was a young girl, maybe 9 or 10, standing in the street, with a black-and-white spotted cow piggybank in front of her.

I rode past and smiled to myself. Then though how charming that little scene was, and turned around, fished 10 crowns out of my pocket, and dropped it in her piggybank.

She was thrilled.

It's important to support your local musicians.

We got back home feeling that we'd done some things we don't normally do, seen some things we don't normally see, and dipped our toes a wee bit further into Prague country life. (We've lived out here for exactly two years now.)

We miss living in the city sometimes, so it's always a good thing to be reminded of why it's nice to live out in the boonies.

Length of ride: 16.5 kilometers
Average speed: 11.5 kph
Maximum speed: 26.1 kph
Pivo Index: 2, with burcak
Time on the bike: 1.25.06
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 490.5 kilometers

One of the cool things in Klecany is marveling at this municipal building. Yes, it's kinda cool looking. But more importantly, it features markers showing the water levels of historic Prague floods. Incredibly, the little white marker to the left of the left top window above shows the water level in the monster flood of August 2002. The markers below show piddling little floods closer to the road itself.

The empty space where the late, great Koliba once sated the cycling thirsty with cold half-liters of Budvar and the hungry with plates of barbecued chicken and fish.

We came across this old hollow tree near the Roztoky ferry crossing. Funny that there's a gate protecting the tree. Perhaps the empty bottles of cheap vodka neatly lined up in the grass at the base of the tree (below) explains the need for the gate?


Anonymous said…
Hey Grant, I live in Cerny Vul and did the same lazy bike ride this past Sunday with my husband and 2 kids. It's a favorite of ours, although we didn't stop for the refreshments. I liked your pictures - we noted many of the same things - the gated tree in particular. Thanks for the post. Emily
Sport Time said…
Dei uma passadinha por aqui.
Legal a matéria.
Passa la no meu blog e deixe um comentário tambem!!!

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