Our Last Day in the Czech Republic


My friends and sisters would be shocked. I’m on my SECOND beer! No, not my second beer today–my second beer in three days–but still. Plus, I’m drinking alone, although in my mind, I am with YOU, my blogging buddies. That counts, right?

What’s next? Smoking cigarettes?

Drinking beer again?
Drinking beer again?

Our group is meeting our guide in an hour for a tour of the Cesky Krumlov castle, so I decided this is the perfect time to hang in an outdoor cafe. It’s relatively near our meeting spot and equipped with wifi. Who could ask for anything more?

Unlike the good ol USA, in the Czech Republic, cafés don’t rush you and the servers don’t circle around,trying to get you to spend more money. I’m the only one here who is not speaking Czech, so I suspect I had the good fortune to stumble into a place that only the locals patronize. Sometimes having a lousy sense of direction turns out to be a good thing.

But I am indeed on a bike trip, and ride we did this morning.  Here’s proof.  The two Karens and Susan are doing their Czech imitation, while I am flashing my “American smile”. That actually is a term here in the Czech Republic. Hana, our guide, explains that the Czech don’t smile much, so to them, we Americans appear always to be grinning broadly. And why not? When THEY see us, we are on vacation, enjoying their beautiful country.


The Czech countryside is lovely, with lots of rolling hills, farmland and woods. One of those rolling hills today was a KILLER. I made it halfway and walked the rest of the way to the top, as did many in our group. But at least we tried.


This cow was just BEGGING to have her photo taken.
This cow was just BEGGING to have her photo taken.

We had a wonderful lunch at a home in the little town of Plav.

Tom, one of the four men in our group (out of twenty participants) took a little spin on the tractor, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to back it into the “garage”. A wise decision on his part.


About half of us decided to get back to Cesky Krumlov via 4 wheels instead of 2,  so we’d have time to explore (or blog and drink beer).

I don’t know anything yet about the castle that dominates the skyline, other than that a bear lives in what I imagine was once the moat.

Bet you thought I was kidding about the bear.
Bet you thought I was kidding about the bear.

Tomorrow morning, we will take a train to Passau, Germany and will spend the rest of the day riding there. At some point there WILL be a quiz and the usual historical stuff, but for now, I’m just experiencing the culture of the country, where Pilsner was invented, and Budweiser got its start.

A tale of two cities –Maglione and Capalbio

If you are thinking that I’d be tired of Italian hilltop towns by now, you’d be dead wrong.  I love them! I love the walls, the winding streets, the little outdoor cafes, the cobblestones.

The prior post contains photos of the walls of Magliano, way in the distance, as seen from our Fattoria.   Some of the more intrepid bikers actually rode into town during the heat of day, when all wise Italians were eating or snoozin’ and this American was cooling her easy–not moderate–biker body in the pool.  They discovered there was not much to do in medieval Italian towns between 2 PM and 4 PM, other than sweat profusely and drink copious amounts of water.

My Best Biking Buddy Beth, and the rest of us wimps didn’t miss out though, because one night, we rode the van into Magliano for dinner.

A spectacular view of the countryside from one of the city gates

If a city has a wall, and said wall can be climbed, you’d best be believin’ I’m on it!  My timing was perfect. I hustled to the top of the wall in time to capture the gorgeous sunset.

View from the city wall
The defender’s view

While peering through the slit, I found it easy to conjure up a brave knight of yesteryear.  Can’t you just envision him on the wall, looking out into the countryside, ready to defend God, king and castle, while he rosined up his bow (or was that what the fiddler did)?  Or maybe the Maglianese warriors dumped boiling oil on any invaders that attempted to storm the castle.  If so, I sure hope it wasn’t the extra virgin stuff.  Especially not after it had been cold pressed.  (Hey, we learned all about that stuff on our tour of the olive farm).

Also while on the wall, girl scout songs kept running through my head, “the golden sun sinks in the west—something, something– calling girl scouts to rest…  Day is done, gone the sun, from the east, from the west, from the sky.  All is well…”.  And it WAS.

Between the songs and my visions of manly knighthood, it’s a wonder I had the time or the energy to take photos, but I dug deep and managed to fire off a few shots for the folks back home.

I couldn’t decide which sunset photo I liked better, so I’m posting both.  You get to be the judge.

For those of you that have had enough of the sunsets, amber waves of hay, old castle walls, here’s a change of pace.  They DO hang colorful laundry out their windows, now don’t they?

On to the next subject.  Talk about luck… We managed to be in town for the Soccer semi-finals, a very festive and exciting occasion.  Big Screen TVs were strategically located in outdoor bars throughout the town, and it sure felt like the entire population gathered to root for the home team.

watching the soccer semifinals

Despite being the underdog, Italy trounced Germany.  Unfortunately, a few days later they lost to Spain, but at least for that one glorious night, victory was oh, so sweet.  Especially for sweet Angelo, our guide.  Viva Italia!!

On our last biking day, we rode to Capalbio, another beautiful hilltop town with the requisite wall, castle and church.  But this town had something that the others didn’t…a statue of Beth.

Beth, demonstrating how she modeled for the statue.

I can’t resist posting one last walled Italian city shot, so here it is.  I’ll spare you the ones of the countryside taken from the wall.  They look a lot like the other countryside photos.  Beloved by me, but most likely boring to others.


And now it is time to end the bike trip saga.  What better way, than to show the lengths to which I will go to get just the right shot. Here’s what I was photographing:

The grounds of Fattoria di Magliano
If I were good at panoramic shots, this would be on the right side of the photo above

And here’s what I had to do to make sure those wires didn’t appear in the photos.   Thanks, Diane, for capturing my “good” side. See, Mike–I DO have one…

Although the bike trip has ended–Sally, Diane, Karen and I headed off for two more glorious weeks, sharing a villa in Italy, with yet another cast of characters.