Monday, 29 July 2013

Part of Brno circle path 5005

One sunny Sunday morning I set off for a solitary bicycle trip, about 30 kilometers in 2 hours. It was a quick ride around Brno with a water break in Velka Klajdovka.

This is just  another alternative way I found to get to Bilovice nad Svitavou as well as to Velka Klajdovka. It may be more challenging, because of the up hills, but it’s definitely worth trying.
I followed the ”Brno circle” path number 5005, which has around 70 kilometers in total. I was selective this time and didn’t follow it from the beginning to end. Originally it starts in south part of Brno, but I started in Reckovice. Just the way I rode to Lelekovice(you can follow Banskobystrycka street, turn to Vazneho street then through Palackeho namesti and Hapalova street, under the bridge, next turn right to Jandaskova). Next instead of turning  left to Lelekovice , keep straight and follow the path 5005, it will direct you to Brno Sobesice. Path is nice and pleasant, despite the fact that it’s 3 kilometers uphill. Trees and delicate blow cool a bit. First and foremost, it’s not exposed to sunbeams, which in current temperatures is a blessing. At the crossroads, go straight again to Brno Sobesice and follow again the path 5005. It goes through the city, and all the way down. Beware of cycle signs, because as you gather speed, you’ll have to turn left fo Bilovice nad Svitavou. You’ll ride beside stable and vast green areas. Narrow path will lead you straight to Bilovice. Here I chose the way to Kopaniny, turn left next to Sokolovna restaurant. It’s another few kilometers uphill, but surface’s gradient allows to survive it. Once you reach Kopaniny turn right to Velka Klajdovka,  1km long green path will lead you there. You’ll find yourself just in front of the parking space. I rode to this inspirational place and sunbathe for some time.
Unfortunately no cycle path directs to Brno centre or any other part of Brno. But  because I already knew the way I confidently turn right in direction to Brno Obrany. At the crossroad down the street turn right and then turn left, underneath you there is Svitava river (signs to Svitavy and Kralovo Pole). I don’t recommend going further on the street, because it’s really busy. Before the Husovicky tunel drive on pavement and follow Kohoutova street. You need to go across the Merhautova street, go straight Sladkova street. In front of you should be tennis courts, turn left. Next thing you know, you’re at the Kralovo Pole TESCO (nakupni zona). I think you probably know the way back….

Unfortunately most of the photos from this trip were lost, but I’ll go there again and take them for you. If you have any questions, please let me know. 

Some zoomed photos from the way back:

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Kralicky Sneznik, Dolni Morava, Paprsek and surroundings

 This time I took advantage of prolonged weekend due to another superb bank holiday in  the Czech Republic and went for 3 days to Czech mountains Orlicke. Kralicky Sneznik was on my mind for quite a long time. The first time I was really thrilled about it, was when I watched downhill from 1 424 meters high hill on youtube. I thought, I must experience it first-hand and it happened.

We stayed in a little village called Stribrnice. Although there’re only two restaurants and one of them was grocery shop at the same time I found this location beyond reproach. There were more guest houses than guests itself, but I think locals make a living mainly during winter season, when ski lifts are open. The people we stayed at were really nice and friendly, they navigated us and showed the best ways for hiking and biking. They shared tips we couldn’t have found on the Internet. I was really pleasantly surprised.

The journey from Brno to Stribrnice took us about 2 hours. We chose the way through Svitavy, I was told this route is a bit dangerous, but we reached our destination safely. The cities we drove through were Letovice, Svitavy, Lanskroun, Stity, Cervena Voda, Kraliky and Stare Mesto. Beware of speeding, you need to limit your speed to 50 km per hour in the city. The other possibility is to take highway to Olomouc and then go through Mohelnice, Zabreh, Hanusovice and Stare Mesto, it's 20 kilometers further, but may be faster.

After arriving to Stribnice we decided to look around a bit, took off bikes from carrier and got ready for a short drive. From Stribrnice it was about 2-3 kilometers on a blue path to Stare Mesto, where I recommend a confectionery  in front of the gas station, they serve delicious snacks and sweets. Because there is  not much to do besides gorging ourselves, we decided to go to Dolni Morava. A place where the longest in the Czech Republic bobsleigh is situated , attractions for kids are provided and it seems as if it was some kind of a ski resort comparing to surrounding villages. There was disk golf, so popular in The Czech Republic, climbing wall and other attractions for people who seek them. In addition leaflets with maps are available at cash-desks. Dolni Morava was also a good option as a starting point, there’re many hiking and cycling paths to nearby summits. Unfortunately I wasn't overjoyed with service at restaurant U Slona, we waited for over an hour for food that has never arrived, because they actually run out of burger meat. We were given the money back and we left with empty stomachs. 

When “the” day has arrived, we were prepared. From Stribrnice it was approximately 8 kilometers to Kralicky Sneznik , which didn’t seem much, but locals  warned us that this is a whole day trip. And now I believe it completely. It took us more than 4 hours of constant pedaling uphill, if you add breaks for food, beer and whatever it will definitely end up in the evening.
How to get there...After sign “Stribrnice” go straight on, a sign with direction will appear after several hundred meters. You should follow yellow trail. There’re two possibilities however: the yellow path turning a bit left is shorter and directs through picturesque forest, it is steep though. The second option is more suitable for cyclists, it’s longer but go on pavement. Both will lead you to Navrsi chalet. At the top of the mountain is restaurant and you can buy something to drink or eat. Then we followed yellow path again, after few kilometers it changed to a red one at Nad Adelirym prm, which we followed until the very summit. There’s a part of the path that is forbidden to cyclists, but none of them seemed to take care of it. They cycled as if they didn’t notice the sign, jumped over  the rocks and disappeared really fast. The last two kilometres were not accessible on a bike, unless you are a professional rider.  There were few daredevils, who were able to ride on rocks swiftly and deftly passing by tourist. I was amazed ….

The weather that day wasn’t so bad, but I felt like the temperature went down every 100 meters we were higher. From short sleeves at the bottom of the mountain we changed to several layers on top of it. It was cold and misty, the view… I couldn’t tell because I didn’t see on my own eyes, but it was astonishing from the pictures I saw on the Internet. We didn’t stay long on the top of the mountain. Because it was freezing cold, we moved further. It was recommended to us to go back through Poland, because the way for cyclists is much better, therefore on a summit we moved left as the sign "Schronisko Chata" showed, hoping that we'll find further directions on the Polish side of the mountain.  We're not mistaken, from“Chata” we followed the yellow path directing to Stronie Śląskie. Hiking yellow path links with bicycle blue path, so you can follow the blue one, but pay attention to yellow one as well:) unfortunately we discovered it after a while, because it was not marked there.
Cycle paths in Poland are marked way worse than the Czech's one, there’re places the roads are not marked at all and places there’re several different paths and you don’t know which number to follow. Sometimes it’s better to look around for road signs directing to cities.
You might have also noticed that Poles write the time it should take to cover the distance, but we actually do not write the number of km. So you know you’ll hike for an hour and 15 minutes or so but if you don’t have a map with you, you won’t know how much kilometers it was. Funny, isn’t it? I wonder who was the pioneer who calculated the times :)

But getting back on track...we didn’t go exactly to Stronie Śląskie as it seemed too far away, but we went all way down to Kletno then Stara Morawa, Bolesławów and Nowa Morawa. Cycle paths 5257 and 5256. From that place it was only about 3 kilometers to Czech borders called Kladske Sedlo, and that’s the last distance uphill.
I was surprised by the fact that there's a restaurant and place to sleep, we had a short break before getting back home. From Kladske Sedlo we just moved down the street and cycle path 6114 back to Stribrnice. The road is new and renowated, so it was easy to get high speed. We finished after 40 kilometers completely exhausted and hungry.

On the 3rd day we planned to go to Paprsek, unfortunately my boyfriend's bike refused to cooperate. When we woke up on Sunday morning it turned out he had flat tire. It changed our plans a bit as we forgot to take the pump (Tip: Always take a bike pump specially when you have sport valve like presta ;) ). Since we didn't have the whole day for hiking, we decided to drive the car as close as possible and then hike. Paprsek chalet is entirely accessible by car, but we parked at Medvedi bouda (Bear shack) and walk the red path for 2,5 kilometers. The way to Paprek chalet goes from Kuncice city. From Stribrnice you need to go in direction to the Stare Mesto, but turn left to Kuncice, when appropriate sign appears. There's also a billboard advertising  and directing to Paprsek ski centre. By the way, food in a restaurant on top looked and smelled delicious. It's a pity we were after breakfast. 

When returning home, just to diversify the way we went to an observation tower Val in Kraliky-Dolni Hedec. It was a bit complicated to get there due to roadworks,but we managed. You should follow the road no. 43 as if you were directing Kraliky and Cervena Voda, just behind the big crossroad in Kraliky there should be signs directing to Dolni Hedec and monastery. I personally think it was a nice way to say goodbye to mountains, as once again we could admire the view. Tower is 34,5 meters high, but the balcony is situated at 22 meters. The entrance was free and it is open all year round. When stepping the stairs you feel how the construction trembles with the wind. I didn't feel fully safe there, so my visit ended quickly. 

 There's also one bigger observation tower, maybe even more interesting that the one described, in Cervena Voda called Krizova Hora. Signs directing are visible from the main road number 521. Unfortunately it was too late for us to go there, during summer it's open only until 5 o'clock. The entrance free is 20kc. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Lednice-Valtice Complex

Lednice–Valtice Cultural Landscape

Is it sunny or is it rainy? You never know. Weather in the Czech Republic is unpredictable. Your plans can be ruined any minute. The weather during whole week can be beautiful, but when it is getting closer to weekend the weather changes dramatically. But enough with complaining, let's get to the crux of the matter.

I was lucky not to listen to weather forecast on Saturday. It was supposed to rain all day long, but eventually it started to rain at 8 o'clock p.m. Against everything I set off for a bike trip to south Moravia, a region of great wine, flat terrains and marvelous architecture. We started in Valtice city located really close to Austrian borders - a small town with a nice main square. A train connection from Brno enables easy access to the city within an hour. The bike path we rode is called Lichtenstein way. Right from the city, to be exact from the city square starts cycle path number 5045 in direction to Lednice. It’s rather impossible to get lost there, because many cyclists follow exactly the same path. Just stick to someone who looks as if he or she knows where to go.
Cycle path 5045 goes through some extremely important architectural places connected with Lichtenstein family starting with Rendez-vous through Three Graces and Apollo’s Temple to Januv castle and Lednice chateaux.

Rendez-vous, our first stop on the road, also called the Temple of Diana, was a hunting lodge built in honor of General Johann I Josef of Lichtenstein who participated in Napoleonic wars. It recalls Roman arches. Why the name: Temple of Diana? Mainly because of the reliefs with hunting motives that were inspired by legends of the virgin Diana. It’s possible to enter the four-floored lodge every day except Mondays from May to September and in April and October only during weekends. The entrance fee in 50 kc for an adult and 120 kc for a family. It’s quite interesting that monument can be rented for a social and commercial events.
Then we stopped for a moment to take few photos of Saint Hubert chapel. Even though the chapel looks a bit negligent it is the “youngest” among all monuments within Valtice-Lednice Complex. It was built in 1855.

In order to see the Three Graces it’s necessary to follow red trail, cycle path 5045 goes directly to New Farm (Novy Dvur), which used to be a place for breeding sheep, then after reconstruction a place for breeding horses and cows.
The Three Graces monuments presents ancient goddesses Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite, behind them there’s a semi-circle classical building designed by John Charles Engel, where cyclists can taste wine sold by an old lady.

At the New Farm just follow the concrete route(red cycle path) in front of you. Some signs directing to an Apollo’s Temple can be found on the post. In case you choose to turn left you’ll get directly to Lednice city, but you’ll miss Apollo’s Temple and Januv castle. Because I didn’t want to miss any of those beautiful monuments I followed the red trail for a few kilometers and took a short break at the Apollo’s Temple, which was a nice building at the bank of the pond with a view of the surrounding area. Interiors are not available for sightseeing but for 25 kc you can get to balcony and take amazing photos from upstairs. If you have enough time you can take a longer break at the pond and even swim a bit in it. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford it, therefore I moved quickly further to see what awaits me next. I rode along the pond for several hundred meters and turn right to a city route, then I followed the cycle path signed with Lichtenstein crown.
Another building on the cycle path that belonged to the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO Word Heritage was Januv Castle. For me the most ravishing from all of hitherto seen, maybe because of the location, maybe because of the building itself. I allowed myself to supplement lost minerals with a glass of delicious beer and handful of nuts. I recommend this spot for a longer break not only because it’s on a half way but also because of the welcome and pleasant atmosphere. There’s a place to make bonfire with friends or to have a picnic with a whole family. There's is also a little harbor, where you can take a boat and get to Breclav city along the Dyji river.

It was time to get up and continue the trip; behind the castle turn left and follow cycle path number 5066, remember don’t go back to the other side of the bridge. At the beginning it will lead through cottage lanes and you will have the river on your left. Finally you’ll have to turn left on the concrete road. Follow it for about 2-3 kilometers, as soon as you reach gate of the Lednice chateaux garden, turn left. The garden is really worth seeing, every  tree, every bush and flower has its own place not by accident. Little islands among ponds are connected with bridges, hiking path and cycle path. Diversity in flora and fauna amazes, it’s not rare to see different waterfowl or pines and oaks, just beautiful. But as it is often at the lakes, there’re mosquitoes, so take something against them.

One of the adornment of the garden is Minaret created by architect Josef Hardtmuth, who was also an author of Chinese Pavilion, the Temple of the Sun and a Gothic house. Minaret is decorated with a copula based on Turkish style and surmounted by a golden half-moon, it’s almost 60 meters tall. During holiday season it’s open till 4.

From Minaret monument it’s at point-blank range to Lednice chateaux. Unfortunately cycling nearby the chateaux and English garden is forbidden, so get off the bike as soon as you reach the sign.

Last but not least on my must see list in Lednice-Valtice Area was Border Home(Hranicni zamecek). I lost my way and didn’t go exactly the way I should have, but finally I hit the target. Instead of taking the cycle path 5043, which goes right behind the garden I followed the path marked with Lichtenstein crown directing to  Lednice’s pond. I moved west to Border Home and then again followed the Lichtenstein cycle path back to Valtice.

To sum up, it was around 40 kilometers full of fun and cultural experience.