Bohemian Rhapsody On Two Wheels

Bohemian Rhapsody On Two Wheels

Pedaling at a leisurely pace, I followed a gravel road along the edge of a vineyard, where the sun made the leaves seem to shimmer like light green. In addition to grapes, the trail leads through a forest of thin trees, with marshes, which were particularly muddy after a week of rain.

After half an hour through the woods, I came to a clear and unexpected sight: a portrait Chapel Gothic towers and pointed arches. There was much more than a facade, surmounted by a cross that seemed to float in the sky.

I went to several riders who came from the opposite direction. "What is this place?" I asked.

"This is madness," one man replied.

"Why is he here?"

"Just for fun," he said. "That's why it's called insanity."

Bicycle tours that wind through the picturesque villages and vineyard land, the past of ancient castles and mansions are common in Europe. But this trip was not through France, England or Italy, the trip took place in the south of the Czech Republic, a network of trails that are marked for less than a decade and also ran the along the seam of the former Iron Curtain.

He was not crazy: It 'a lot of charm to be in this often overlooked part of Europe, not to mention a fairly reasonable price.

Visitors can explore medieval castles, taste the wine in South Moravia and Bohemia beer. Among the storybook villages are the main fields of barley, wild fields dotted with poppies, forests, fields of sunflowers frame. Fake church near the town of Valtice offered a glimpse into the prehistory of the 15 st century czech Republic, the pleasure gardens of the nobility and the time, but try also met more disappointing than the 20 th century tragedies of war, the Nazi invasion, and four decades of communism.

We have prepared a route Greenways Travel Club in Skype, a local organization that works closely with the Friends of Czech Greenways, the organization of eight years, working to mark the 24,000 miles of trails and roads are rarely used by vehicles. It is a global network of similar efforts, including the United States, seeks to preserve the natural and rural heritage.

We wanted to see the highlights of the region 600 years of Jewish history, a physical remnant of the Iron Curtain and a number of villages in the UNESCO World Heritage designated. He was ambitious, but doable in five days, if willing to cut a little below the 250 km journey between Prague and Vienna, the most popular cycling route.

Our trip began on a train from Vienna to Mikulov, a small Czech town, about 60 miles from where the division Topbicycle cycling, Greenways, has an office. We stayed in a hotel that was once a temple, and spent time exploring the Jewish cemetery, dating back to the early 17th century.

We biked along the Czech border with Austria, and led the way for villages like Slavonice and Telc, the buildings are well-known graffito decoration; Čížová for a slice of the Iron Curtain and the Jindrichuv Hradec, the third largest castle in the country 's origin. Our bikes have been collected from the historic Cesky Krumlov, and we ended up with the bus to Prague. Every morning, collected the luggage at the hotel by taxi, to transport them to the next stop.

The third morning, under a thick layer of clouds, which rode west of Mikulov and reached the small village of Cízová. Juddered my tires on a main road that seemed to have not been opened since the Communists were in charge.

It is filled with white, one-story houses. People here and there, turning his steps, which is useful when you need directions. In the center of town was a tavern, where a group of cyclists wearing spandex-bu happy pilsner or around a long picnic table. Since only 9 am, I opted for a coffee before going into the saddle the Cízová main attraction, a tower and a section of the barbed wire fence are the Czech Republic last article of the Iron Curtain tangible.

For most of five centuries, German lived in an area that was part of what the Nazis called the Sudetenland when they are connected to it in 1938. After the Second World War, the Czechs expelled 3500000 "Germans", who accused him of Nazi sympathizers and collaborators. He wants to settle and develop the area, the Czech government gave incentives for the Czechs, then in other regions to move in.

After 1945, the Soviet bloc Čížová the border town, a militarized zone, which was designed to observe the Austrian border, and to keep their people to flee on it. That a physical barrier, which is divided into eastern and central Europe from the west, became known as the Iron Curtain after the Churchill popularized the term in his speech in 1946.

I drove the dirt path. The other side of the wind combed the amber fields of grain. On the other hand was a fence, which lasted for several hundreds of meters of black tower squats. Before the trip, I had spoken of a blacksmith named Vaclav Barina, which in 1980 had clawed the way under the fence in Western Europe, and now lives in upstate New York. Without the guards and drivers moving over the fence seemed less a barrier of fear and forbidden as a piece of public art.

A young couple ran away, he saw his bike and pulled out a camera. The man climbed the metal stairs to the watchtower and the woman told him to go down. They put their cheeks together and had his camera to record the moment. I offered to take a picture and asked if the place had a special meaning for him.

"It was a terrible time," he said. "God thank you, it's over."

He was a child during the Cold War, but his father had spent two years in the army, patrolling the borders of Germany.

"When he took off his uniform because it was too hot, and walked under his arm like this and the other soldiers began to shoot," said the cyclist. "They thought he tried to escape."

His father had visited the area two years ago, he said. He came, looked at the fence and left.


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