Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mor. Budejovice - Czech Republic

--Há uma versão em português logo abaixo--

When I left Berlin, Dresden was my goal, and it took me three days to get there, I camped two days, in Baruth and Lauchhammer. In Lauchhammer during the night I received a visit from some deer, that were walking around my tent, I wanted to see them, but they went away as soon as they heard me moving. In Dresden I stayed with a host from CouchSurfing, who was also a great guide, showing me the city by bike. The city is really beautiful, with a lot of nice places to visit.

During the second world war, Dresden was severely bombed by the allies, when more than 25.000 people died and most of the city was destroyed or damaged. Today it’s difficult to find a building that doesn't show marks from those dark days.

Dresden was my last stop in Germany, and after sleeping two days there I headed to Ústí nad Labem, my first place in the Czech Republic.

It was not a big distance, but what made it hard was the rain and the hilly terrain of the border area. I got as high as 700 meters, which by bike is really tough, and the fog and cold didn't make it any better.

Holland is completely flat, Germany, at least the area I rode through, was also fine, and when I had to go up a steep slope I would just get off the bike and walk up it. But here I couldn't do it, otherwise I would have been walking with my bike the whole afternoon.

By 17:15 I was crossing the border and around 18:00 I was in Ústí. To get to Ústí I had to descend hundreds of meters, which would seem to be a good deal, but it’s not when you are carrying so much weight and with wet road, due to which, at the end of the day, my brakes were wearing out.

In Ústí, I was going to sleep only one night, but my CouchSurfing hosts were such nice people that I stayed for two.

 Ústí nad Labem
The day after I got to Melnik, where something really ironic happened. On a CouchSurfing profile you write about personal preferences, things you like doing, the kind of people you enjoy meeting etc. I can’t remember why I wrote it, maybe to be funny or really practical, but I wrote that amongst the things I don’t like, are snakes, in fact I hate them.

Well, either life is full of irony or my CouchSurfing host didn't read my profile when he accepted my request, because I had to share my guest room with a snake (yes, a snake) even though it was not a poisonous one and was behind glass, it was still a snake.

My two options were: face the snake or find a place to camp. I decided for the hot shower and nice bed. And even though I couldn't forget that there was a snake in the room, I had a good night and left Melnik without a fight with my room mate.

40 km further I was in wonderful Prague, where I slept 5 nights. Sun is definitely a word I can’t associate with the time I spent in Prague; the weather was awful, raining every day. It ended up becoming a state of emergency, with many parts of the city under meters of water, and there was a lot of tension because there could have been a repeat of what happened in 2002, when the river Vltava overflowed, the metro was completely underwater, and the city was in chaos. This time it was not as bad, and they were better prepared, but even so, three people died.

At no time was I in danger, I was in a safe area in Prague far from the river, in a very nice place. All this bad stuff I only saw on TV and in pictures on the internet. Despite the rain I was able to visit the most important places in the city.

Prague, of course, even when wet is amazing, with its historical buildings, castles, churches, towers and bridges. But what I’ll remember most about Prague (besides the rain) are the nice people I met there; first my host, (it’s not because I know she’s going to read this, haha..) but she was, I must say, a great host and a wonderful person. She’s French but has lived in Prague for more than 20 years, as she said: “it was love at first sight”. Actually, she seems to be more Brazilian than French. She had another Brazilian guest two years ago, and one interesting coincidence is that the girl was also from Porto Alegre, my city in the south of Brazil.

The second nice meeting was with Jenny, who was my English teacher in Amsterdam. She’s from the UK and since last year has lived in Prague. We had dinner together and had a great time chatting while drinking a Czech beer (my first beer in centuries, since I only drink wine).

I left Prague the same way I arrived: in the rain. And because the bad weather wasn't only in Prague, with floods in many parts of Czech Republic, I was a bit scared. I didn't know what I would face on my way, especially because I couldn't manage to find a host from CouchSurfing in Benesov, and I would have to camp there. Fortunately I found a camping site with facilities nearby and was able to camp safely.

The day after I rode to Pelhrimov. It was only 62 km, but I was half dead at the end of the day, due to the very hilly area. I didn't have a place to stay, but thanks to the Catholic church of the city I slept in a nice bed.

Yesterday I was able to ride 80 km. It was also hilly, but not so bad. Got to Moravske Budejovice, my last stop in Czech Republic, and also without a place to sleep (I’m getting used to it, haha..)

This time I was more blessed. Besides the bed I had a wonderful dinner and nice people to talk to. The priest of the parish spoke only Czech, but there was one very nice, young nun who was my translator and in the kitchen, a very kind lady, who rapidly heated up my dinner; a delicious soup, a Czech dish, and a cake as dessert.

I ate alone, with two ladies waiting for me to finish (they were ready to go home) and the young nun sat with me, translating my stories. She even gave me some contacts where I can stay in Rome.

That’s why I like simple people: when the lady heard that I was going to Rome, she told me not to forget them when I am in the "holy land". I immediately stopped eating and left the room, came back with my bag, and said: of course I won’t forget you. I gave them my Brazilian flag to sign (my friends in Holland and everyone I meet on my way are signing this flag). They signed the flag and we had our picture taken together.

More than a bed or free food, it’s the small things that really touch me.

Today (06/06) I say good bye to Czech Republic and at the end of the day I’ll already be in Austria. Where the roads will take me doesn't really matter, since everything will just be part of this wonderful dream, that thank God I’m able to be living.

So, let’s keep going..