Prague at night was a completely different city. Although I did not spend enough time exploring as much as I wanted, the few hours I walked around were amazing. The city comes alive. Dark doesn’t come until around 10:00 PM, but you wouldn’t know it. After dark, there are far more people about in the squares and on the boulevard than during the day. The locals are now out mingling with the tourists. Prague comes alive.
I spent five hours walking the old town area and took 100’s of images. It will take a few days to edit to junk and clean them up. Here are some I just threw up so I have record of actually being in Prague. Many more to come.
Leaving Prague I rode along a back road to Berlin where in stopped and encountered my first real fans.
…..even a possible traveling companion. 🙂
Being in the Czech Republic was surreal. Prague is a beautiful city and purely by accident, I found a back road out of Karlovy Vary that took me into Germany on a tight windy road no wider than ten feet and up in the mountains. I’ve been trying to load some videos but speed is a problem here so they will have to wait until I return home….sorry.
With little fanfare I crossed the border into the Czech Republic today. Stopped a took a photo. I’ll load that later. The once overbearing border crossing was abandoned. Remember, this used to be under the control of communist Russia. No longer. Apparently capitalism is thriving. As I cross the border I immediately saw casinos and brothels everywhere. Tonight I’m lounging in a four star hotel right next door to the Czech parliament, in the old section of Prague. But that’s not what my blog is tonight. Czech food! Interesting? Yes. Tasty? Some of it. For lunch I stopped by a medieval tavern that had been in the same location since the 1400’s and in the same general area under the same name for 700 years. Not bad I’m thinking. They’re still in business under after all this time so the food must be good. It was! I had a sausage and some dark beer said to be the recipe from King Arthur that made everyone who drank it amorous. It didn’t, but my wife wasn’t here anyway. So I had another just in case. It still didn’t work. So much for that legend.
Feeling lucky later in the evening I decided to try some more local fare and spotted a crowded tavern that had a 700 year old cellar. I’m thinking that was cool so I sat down and ordered an appetizer of local cheese platter, another pint of the famous “amorous” ale, ( hey you never know. Three could be the charm), and a dinner plate of pork tenderloin stuffed with plum, and potato…”e” if you’re Dan Quail, dumplings. All sounds good right? The pork was great, so was the dumplings with the plum sauce on it, at least the table next to me said so. Oh! While waiting I had a shot of ice cold vodka, just to fit in. The waitress sat the shot glass down and I picked it up to take a sip and put it back on the table and immediately spilled the glass. Not to worry my waitress was quick to offer my an alternative free or charge. Becherovka; a local drink that makes Jaegermeister taste like cool aide, made will over 100 herbs. Some secret recipe. I just put it down a let it sit. Mom never made me drink medicine that tasted that bad.
So the cheese plate arrives and I notice a distinct smell of familiar cheese, and something else I wasn’t too sure about. Hey I’m in Prague, I’ll just give everything a try. As you read this, if you take a real good sniff, you’d smell it all the way in America. It’s not Limburger either. So I take a bite. The smell is so strong now I’m thinking I need to wash my clothes to remove the smell and my mouth to get that awful taste out………hey! Becherovka. I think it means medicine to kill elephants. Down the hatch, after swishing it around to wash the taste and smell of whatever stinky cheese from that ….now I’m beginning to understand….seven hundred year old cellar. I promise pictures, really, did they find something in the depths of that cellar and decide to sell it to unwary tourists? My God, it was terrible, and now I have a taste of one hundred herbs I haven’t a clue of which, in my mouth. Prague isn’t going as well as I had expected.
So…the pork arrives along with potato dumplings and another King Arthur amorous beer, (you never know, four could be the ticket), but I have absolutely no idea how the food tasted since my taste buds and most likely nose hairs have been singed off by whatever ingredients they put into that concoction. I ate in silence without a single complaint to the waitress.
Did the Grossglockner yesterday. Yep im jumping forward on my trip. Still have not loaded Vienna or some other stops but this section was by far the best time I’ve had so far on my solo trip. Did three passes in two days with the culmination of the Grossglockner. For those Americans who don’t know, it’s the Holy Grail of European Alps mountain motorcycle roads. Rivals the Dragon simply because of what you can’t do on the Dragon. Very few Rocky Mountain passes equal this road either, I’ve done them too. The only regret I had was I was on my GS Adventure instead of a more suitable bike..but I might not of been here to write this post if I was on a crotch rocket. It would have been fun 🙂 …..although I did meet a group of bikers riding 50cc motorcycles to the top. 50cc motorcycles with carburetors don’t do very well on hills let alone mountain passes with 23% grades. It was fun to see the struggle and then the triumph of the few who made it to the top. Not nearly as high as the Rockies, coming in at only 8,432 feet, but way more fun. Some of the Italians and Germans I met were running full road width even with oncoming traffic on exotic italian Ducati’s, BMW R1000 race bikes and the occasional Japanese crotch rocket. They cut corners directly in front of an oncoming bus with only an inch to spare. Everyone was weaving between oncoming traffic on a roadway only twenty feet wide. Do the math. car plus car plus motorcycle plus margin of error on the cliff side. It doesn’t work, but somehow they made it through. My testicles weren’t big enough to do what these guys were doing. ( Can I write that here?)
All in all, I rode 900 km of mountain passes and roads in two days. Weather perfect. Roads stellar, views awesome. Stayed in an Alpine village last night and tonight I’m in Vienna.
The soldier in WWI uniform is standing guard at a fort now museum about the conflict between Italy and Austria. The pass used to belong to Austria. They lost it. The conflict was a futile waste of time for a piece of rock. Since we don’t have WWI sites, this was quite cool. No pictures were allowed other than the guard and exterior.
Pics don’t do this justice.
I left Rome and my family yesterday for a 400 mile plus journey through northern Italy with a final destination of Venice. Actually Gigi and Lauren left me and headed home to Santa Clarita and back to work. I did not chose to join them. Hey, solo means solo and I’m barely into Europe and the adventures it has given me. I did however miss having them when I climbed aboard a water taxi to deliver me to my hotel in Venice. A world heritage site; Venice should be on anyone list of must sees. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring for anyone interested in art or architecture. The sites are amazing. 93 degrees and the humidity bordering 85%, it’s a hot one, but worth every minute
As I write….or edit this blog, for those of you who might have read this post earlier today, it is raining and the lightning is giving us a show. Figures….tomorrow morning I was planning to leave for Innsbruck. How great the day will be…rain, heat, and humidity. Oh the joys of motorcycle adventure travel.
The simple things we take for granted in the good ol’ U S of A are in itself an adventure while on a motorcycle adventure in Europe. Packing only enough clothing to fit the bike was essential for a “light ride”, well light as could be on a 550 pound BMW Adventure bike. I packed one side case with all the necessary tools, repair items, spares, and stuff everyone who’d ever done this told me I needed. The other side case, I packed camera equipment including a tripod, short and long lenses, A box of cigars, ( quality of life on the road was after all important for my enjoyment), map books, electronic gadgets, one iPad, and a laptop for editing, and a few extra essentials. I did find these were completely unnecessary. This left me with room on the back of the bike for one travel bag stuffed with hot and cold riding gear, and finally whatever clothes I could fit. No problem I had thought on the pack list. There would always be a place I could find to wash a few clothes during stops. Uh huh…. One thing I didn’t count on was the lack of an easy to find laundromat in every city. If I did find one, it wasn’t a “do it yourself” type. Most small towns had a laundry that someone actually washed the clothes…and not today.
Seven days into riding I thought after trying to find a place to do my own laundry to no avail, I’d just have the hotel where I was staying send my laundry out for a quick wash and fold. €220.00 later I got back four tee shirts, two button shirts, three pair of socks and one pair of pants. In dollars, that’s $294.80 to do a small load of washing. Honestly I looked through every pocket to find that small piece of gold or precious stone that they put in to justify the cost. Holy smokes! I didn’t think about this when I was planning the cost factor for my trip. I could throw everything away and buy new weekly for that price…
Searching high and low in Rome while with Gigi and Lauren for the week, I found a laundromat. Thank you Jesus….we have been saved….and today, Saturday like most Romans, was wash day. A Chinese laundromat to boot. €20.00 euros later and we were done. Well at least my clothes are now clean and we did meet some very interesting tourist like ourselves seeking the same solution.
Before I leave Rome on Tuesday to continue my solo adventure, ( Gigi and Lauren are heading home), I will search out the patron saint of laundry and leave an offering in hope he, she, will favor me with other locations throughout my travels to do laundry with a better price than I found at my last hotel. The only question ill have is; do I leave an offering with St. Amana or St. Whirlpool? I never remember which one works better.
These are from Calais, the day I entered France.
My travels so far have put me through Calais, Paris, Lyon, St. Maxime ( St Tropez), Monaco, Genoa, and currently I am in Rome for ten days spending time with my wife and daughter. I could spend three months exploring Rome and not have enough time to see everything Rome has to offer. I also still have found the nicest people I have met on my trip have been at the hotel in St. Maxime. They would be successful any place in the world they set up shop. Everywhere else I have been met with some hostility to me being American. I’m sorry I did not learn your language. Please do not fault my ignorance, I will still spend money with your establishment. They do not care. I am only ” the stupid American tourist” I will have to post information about the hotel in St. Maxime. It is right in town own the other side of the bay to St. Tropez, but being in the center of a small village makes up for the lack of the black view, and the proprietors more than make up for any discrepancy missing due to the lack of a sunset view. I will travel there again.
Rome…to be standing in a city with this history is spiritual. The center of Christianity. We toured the Vatican yesterday and St. Peter’s Basilica today. On every corner I found beauty, even in the chaos of the hectic traffic with 100’s of scooters jockeying for the pole position. It is the most crowded city I have ever been in where I felt completely safe walking even the darkest alleys. Gigi and Lauren even felt completely at ease. We can’t even do this in the town we come from let alone anyplace in America.
More pics an Tuesday next week, back on the road to Venice via the coast route. Until then. Ciao.
Saint Maxime, the other side of the bay from St-Tropez; on the Mediterranean Sea, in the summer. Now this is beginning to look more like a vacation! Imagine Cancun mixed with Beverly Hills, mixed with Santa Barbara. That’s what Ste-Maxime is. Across the bay are the cruise liners anchored in St-Tropez. Gourmet restaurants everywhere, shopping for everything and the beach covered with lotioned bodies of every shape and size. Sorry folks, the commercials lied. Not everyone is tanned and beautiful in St-Tropez, but they do have good tans. “For that St-Tropez look”….
The weather has finally turned my way and I’m enjoying back roads and scenery with wineries, old monasteries, small villages, and not so nice people. Seems the French really don’t like us, or rather they don’t like that we don’t speak their language. Quite often I have asked for assistance and I ask, “do you speak English” the reply is yes and they understand my question but when it comes time to answer, they speak only in French. It takes a few times to get the person to answer in English so I can understand. Most also look at me like I’m an idiot. I may be, but a civil answer would be appreciated. Still it’s a beautiful country to explore. The farther south the better, it’s more to us “Americans” liking. Wineries mixed with shopping and the beach. What more could most of you ask for. And some great back roads to explore on a motorcycle.
There have been a few friendly exceptions; I met a family from Norway on the ride down today. Great people. Very nice and wonderful to talk to. They spoke enough English to allow us to have good conversation. They are on the way to Cannes to also escape the rain. Another exception was the hotel clerk where I’m staying tonight; Hotellerie De La Poste. The most friendly and helpful young girl I’ve met in France. She and the hotel have gone out of their way to accommodate me-dumb American and all. I suppose there are many others just as nice. I hope I find more like this place.
Tomorrow off to Cannes and south to Italy…..or maybe I’ll stay and work on my tan.