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Linda on BMW: Start of the Trip in Castellar

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Report Czech Republic

And here ist the Photo-Gallery for this report.

As I was waiting for my carnet to arrive and information on the Iran Visa I decided to go to Czech republic for a BMW rally so I took a scenic route to the border, visiting a Druid cave along a pretty river valley and finally crossing the border into CZ on the road from Deggendorf. The German customs man asked for my bike papers as he wanted to make sure this English speaking woman with German number plates hadn't stolen the bike!

It was a lovely day and a great ride in the mountains past Gnome selling stalls. I had to stop for a group gnome photo (to make Holme, the troll on my mudguard happy) and a coffee to celebrate being in a new country. Three years ago the WIMA rally was held in the small bohemian village of Rozmital so I went back there and had a drink. Very quiet without the other 300 bikes that were there on that last visit, but the beer was still good.

Following the instructions on how to get to Tomas' place on the outskirts of Prague I managed to get lost but a helpful petrol station attendent made a call on his mobile and Tomas redirected me.

His house/office for his graphics company is in a smart southern suburb and the bike was soon safely garaged while we went off to try traditional Czech food and wine.

The next day, after Tomas kindly helped with my photos on the website, I rode out to the rally site which was in an area north of Praque where there are impressive sandstone formations amongst the forests. At the rally there were many flashy looking big BMs and riders and my Suzy looked quite small and dainty amongst them.

On the community ride out, which was unfortunately in the rain, we took small country roads and stopped for lunch at the venue of a motorcycle club which is in a cave. You can actually ride and park inside and there is room for about 100 bikes. The caves were used during the war by the Germans to store munitions and undertake weapon research.

In the evening there were many presentations and I was called up and given the award for oldest rider! Tomas made some long explanation of who I was and what I was doing in Czech and I found out later that his stories were somewhat exagerated, though kindly meant.

Apart from a loud rock band, the evening entertainment included a strip show which was more explicit than any I have seen before and I think might even be illegal in Spain! However I was told it was normal at a Czech bike rally. ........No comment.

Nothing was planned for the rest of the weekend so I took the opportunity to explore the area  by foot in company with Tomas' wife, Hanna and, after she went home I spent the next two days doing the same, meeting on one camp site a school group who used me to practise their English while we walked together to a local castle.

After 3 days of walking in the rain I got a bit fed up with being wet and cold and rode to Melnik where Oli, from WIMA CZ, lives. During the next few days I learnt how to use a scythe when we tidied up her garden for a bonfire party and went to her Horticultural college where she teaches English and German and helped her with some of the English classes. That was great fun as I involved the students in one of my Oz songs with the lagerphone. I must say I have never taught a class at 7.45am or been offered the choice of red or white wine in the staff room at 9am! But then this is an agricultural college that makes it own wine. (any excuse)

Oli is another musician and we had a good time singing and playing together and my song collection has increased plus my folk stories.

Unfortuantely the ignition switch for the Suzy was playing up so I ordered a new one and while waiting for it went with Oli and her friend to see Dvoracks birthplace. His father was a publican and butcher and he was destined for the same trade until his talent as a musician was discovered and he was sent off to study music. The pretty church opposite his house was where he learnt to play the organ and his father taught him the fiddle.

In the same village of Nelahozeves is one of the castles of the Lobkowicz family who owned several around Czechoslovakia in the middle ages and this one is now used to display valuable paintings of artists from many countries, including Valasques from Spain.

Cultural tour over I took the Suzi back to Prague for her new switch and also had some new tyres fitted to start the big trip. Though recommended for their hard wearing properties the Czech tyres are not as comfotable to ride with as the softer Metzelers and I feel like I´m riding an electic road hammer. Maybe it is good for weight loss on my bottom but I hope it is not bad for the Suzi.

Frank in Kirchheim had advised me that my carnet had arrived so it was time to go back to pick it up and get ready for the final move away from my 'safe house' in Germany. On re-crossing the border back to that country the German customs man welcomed me back 'home'. I still took another 2 days to get back as I had to say goodbye to Tom in Dingolfing and also Gerd and Ellen in Herbrechtingen. Ellen runs a company which makes Feng Shui clothing and I helped her translate her latest publicity brochure into English. We also went out on the Brecht river in their canoe for an 8km paddle which made me sleep well that night! What a beautiful valley and a lovely warm, calm evening to be out on the water amongst the ducks.

Apparantly there are many beavers in this stretch of the river and the national park rangers have a problem as the beavers kill the trees when chewing them to make their dams but are a protected species. One solution is to put wire fencing around the base of the trees but already many are dead.

Well, now I am back in Kirchheim but need to repack my bike for the next part of the trip. The Suzy is with Ralf getting its crash bars fitted and I have to make sure all my papers are in order. It's a bit scary knowing I am finally on my way but I just have to think positively.

Thanks again to all the people that helped on this part of the trip. Great to meet or re-meet you and I will stay in touch.

Photos will be on the site when I can arrange it.

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