What’s Good for the Economy

Brno to Těšetice [Part 2]: Tuesday 11 July 2017

14:30. Second break in Syrovice. Not many k on the clock – 25.1 – for just over two hours of riding, but it was a bit of a puzzle to piece together getting out of Brno, not only because of the streets that change names but don’t change, not only because it’s sometimes difficult to know which street you’re on due to a lack of signs, not only because, when you do find a sign, you discover that each street has two names – why is that? – and not only because it’s a city; but a combination of those factors does tend to hinder you a tad 🙃

We exited Brno to the South, taking us through the quirky town of Modřice, with its eclectic mix of modern architecture and uniformly low buildings – is there a reason for that? We then passed by, through and next to a network of soulless business parks and logistics hubs, strategically situated alongside some major motorways, looking to serve the insatiable needs consumer culture identifies for us.

The employees sit outside sucking on their fags, exchanging gossip from their other virtual lives, seemingly devoid of any sparks that indicate a soul alive. They’re sad empty gazes that feel instantly recognisable to me from my time as component number 101 in a factory conveyor-belt machine. It is also here that we encounter in quite rapid succession two impatient drivers betraying signs of frustrated masculinity; and some of the other driving indicates an impatience of humans ruled more by machines than by the emotions that unite flesh to flesh. In this highly commercial area you get a very real sense of where people lose the connect with their humanity, as their life-force is claimed to serve the money machine.

It’s nice to be through that brief encounter, sitting in this serviceably sweet centre of Syrovice.

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Thank You, Czechia

Brno to Těšetice [Part 1]: Tuesday 11 July 2017

0639. In a kitchen listening to and smelling the cleansing scent of a Summer downpour. Think it’s been at it for most of the night. Every time I recall waking, it was to the sound of rain and the distant echo of thunder. If it continues like this for much of the day, which it certainly appears like doing at the moment, it’ll add another dimension to the day’s ride, but nothing too dramatic: the temperatures are still high, so just the same riding gear as usual, with the poncho, the clear lenses in my shades, and sandals instead of my riding boots. Sounds a bit minimal, but one thing I learnt from last Friday’s downpour-day is that it wasn’t so much the getting wet that was the problem, but the staying wet while accumulating more water.

As we speak, it seems like there is a brief let up,
but, as I said,
that doesn’t really change anything in terms of getting off today.

That’s what we’re doing.

The next stage of our journey will hopefully see us in and around Vienna late Thursday afternoon, where we hope to be able to find someone to host us for a couple of nights, to put our feet up for a little longer and be able to enjoy some of this historic city. Have contacted five Warmshowers potentials so far, but, as of yet, have only received two negatives to our enquiries; which is cool, as it’s totally their prerogative which stranger they graciously invite into their homes, isn’t it; and it’s nice they have responded so promptly, so we can already tick them off the list.

It is July though, and Vienna’s not the most anonymous of cities, so one would imagine there are a fair few visitors more than usual.

Still, fingers crossed.

Something will turn up, and we’re going that way, anyway, so one way or another it will get experienced.

So, we approach the time when we’ll be saying a fond farewell to Czechia. This will be our ninth day here – and what a positive experience it’s been! From the beautifully lush, sweeping terrain of Moravia, to the slightly more scorched, Northern Mediterranean feel of the lower lying central regions, it has been an absolute joy, pleasure and privilege to be able to enjoy and be a part of the natural treasures that, to be honest, I wasn’t aware existed on such a Czech-wide scale as they do.

For that reason alone, I’d recommend anyone who has the opportunity, time or inclination taking as prolonged a visit as possible to this part of the world – preferably by bike or on foot, as I’m pretty sure that’s the best way to allow a place to touch all your senses 😉

And the people, too:

  • from the woman on the first night who allowed us space to camp in her lovely garden, and kept offering us extra things as afternoon progressed into evening;
  • to our fantastic Warmshowers’ hosts, Michal and Zuza, who invited us to join them on that wonderful ride through Beskidy;
  • which was then the ride that took us to the community in the mountain forests, who keep them clear by traditional means from their predation by various grasses, to allow the wild orchids that are native there to flourish. Great people, with whom it would have been nice to be able to spend a little more time and support them in what they’re doing. Unfortunately, time and circumstance didn’t allow it to be so at this time;
  • to the guy in the petrol station who acted as an informal Bureau de Change to allow a pair of tired looking cyclists the possibility to be able to get a coffee from a cash-only coffee machine;
  • to Ondrej and Jaroslava , who, despite being in the middle of moving home, with two young children, a son of one and a half – the cheeky Jakub, with the sweet grin that’ll see him get away with murder one day – and a daughter of three months, found time to offer us accommodation in the flat which they’re leaving – all to ourselves!!! – while they slowly settle into the impressive house they now call home; and who also found time to invite us round to said new home for a chill evening of good food, pleasant chat, good beer and a tasty Slivovitz, homemade by Ondrej’s dad 😃

Yes, Czechia, you’ve done yourself proud, and we’ve really enjoyed our time here. As a clearly keen cycling nation – and quite an active nation in general, I feel – the pleasure has also been heightened by the possibility to enjoy our environs on roads, routes, and trails that don’t pose the ominous threats roads and routes in other areas often do.

Of course, we’ve still got the prospect of another day and a half here, so time for something to take the shine off yet, but so far, Czechia – you’re looking good!!!

Today’s goal is Vitonice, some 60km to the South-East of Brno, and about 20km from the border with Austria. The plan is to stop and camp somewhere there overnight, before setting off tomorrow and making our way into our second country via Znojmo. We’ll then continue in a similar South-Westerly direction to Retz, before swinging South-East again to Hollabrunn, where we’ll make camp for another night. From there, it’ll be on towards Vienna on Thursday, and, yes, hopefully a two-night stop-over to enjoy a little of what the city has to offer.

Who knows – after just three days riding rather than the seven that brought us from Bielsko-Biała to Brno, we may even find the energy to go and see that new Spiderman movie this time? 😁

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Discarded Items #1

Kyjov to Brno: Sunday 09 July 2017

At almost 9am we pack and prepare to make our way to Brno, and the promise of two nights’ stay in a three-bedroomed flat all to ourselves; thanks Ondrej, who, with his wife and children, is in the process of moving flat.

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Is it wrong that quite prominent in my mind is the thought of being able to see the new Spiderman movie?

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Items Discarded Thus Far

    • Covers to protect food whilst camping.
    • Spare ruler. ‘Spare ruler?’ What?!
    • Running jacket with removable sleeves. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
    • Recorder. Yes, the instrument.
    • Kettle. Unnecessary when you have a pan. And the cloudy water is suspicious.
    • Rain shoe covers. Agnieszka’s, though I think mine will soon follow.

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