Sunday 11 August 2013

Chilling in CZ

I know I've said this before, but, being a geographer, I like borders that actually feel like borders. The Czech German border is one of those. While the old naughty strip between the two countries is growing over and the car parks around the old crossing point are weed strewn or taken over by schlock shops and gas stations, things do still change. The hyper neatness of Bavaria disappears, just like that. There's crap strewn along the road (though not to southeast England levels), the houses look a bit tired, suddenly there are very square apartment blocks and the here is a lot more variation in road quality (though still not as suckass as England). There are also people hanging out on street corners in Cheb, where I am, and some pretty mangy looking hookers wandering about. Anyway, I'm staying in a very cute pension in the centre of town. Nicest room so far, actually. I had a 400g steak for dinner. £16.55 with all the trimmings. Yay! I have to say I can't imagine doing these sorts of bike rides as a vegetarian. When I stop, I just want to eat the whole side of a cow. Moo! Today's ride was 86 miles of hills. Gorgeous farmland interspersed with miles of woodland. To be honest, I felt a little bit alone some of today. They were deep, dark, little red riding hood type woods. Didn't want to be alone in them after dark. I was very tired today, though I did actually sleep pretty well at the cloister. Some of today's ride blurs together a bit. I have to say, the nuns put on a good show. Sparkling clean rooms with Jesus hanging about on the cross over every bed. Nice breakfast this morning. Lots of very German looking types heaping their plates full of cold cuts. Mother Superior wandering about. Guten morgen and the like. Much as I'm no big Catholic, I enjoyed staying there. In fact, I just really enjoyed southern Germany. A lot. It's clean, beautiful, friendly, efficient and absolute heaven for cycling. The roads are smooth, the drivers courteous, there are separate bike roads, not just lanes, everywhere and cycling is just a totally unremarkable activity. If the Netherlands are bike first (sometimes annoyingly so, I think, even as a cyclist) and London is just a lot of shrill shouting about cycling, Germany is just, well, people bike, and that's fine, so we will make sensible provisions for it (with the notable exception of the ICE train). It will be interesting tomorrow to cross back into Germany, but into the former east (supposedly the most hillbilly part as well) to see how things are different. Anyway, one thing is clear, I need to learn German. I seem to end up in Germany quite frequently, I like it a lot, but my German fluency is about that of a 2 year old and not a very smart one either. Makes for some very unusual discussions. Right. Time to get ready for bed. More cycling fun tomorrow!

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