After spending a relaxing evening in Znojmo with my hosts and their super friendly pets, I set off on day 2 of biking. Most of my ride was spent in or near the Podyji (poh-dee-yee) National Park, the smallest park in the Czech Republic. The park covers the Czech side of the Dyji river and so most of the day involved lots of descents and climbs as I danced in and out of the river valley. I loved being in the park though because the forests remind me of the Smokies a bit.
I skirted the ridge of the park for 20 or so kilometers before venturing in towards the ruins of an old castle.
Unfortunately you could only visit by paying for a guided tour and the next one was scheduled 30 minutes after my arrival. After biking for another 10-15 kilometers I again dove down into the park, but not before passing a sight where remnants of the iron curtain still stand.
I was surprised to read that while 600+ Czechs died during the soviet occupation, trying to escape, over 2000 guards died due to suicide, fighting, or electrocution (apparently the fence was pumped with over 10,000 volts of electricity). After passing the fence I coasted down a very long descent to…
Austria!! I’d been seeing how close I was to it on the map the whole first day and since I’ve never actually been there, I was eager to cross over. As soon as I did I realized that I speak even less German than Czech. Luckily everyone I passed was speaking Czech anyways.
I ventured up to the castle and after learning it cost a prohibitive 8 euros to get in (everyone does say Austria is expensive) I snapped a few photos and retreated back to the more backpacker friendly (read: cheap) side of the river.
On the way out of the park I passed an awesome viewpoint with incredible views down onto the Austrian side.
AND I went to a restaurant where I finally had a chance to try the halušky bryndza I’ve been hearing about since northern Slovakia.
It’s kind of like the central European version of gnocchi, topped with sheep’s cheese and sour cream. Finally after 15 more kilometers I reached my destination of the day, Vranov nad Dyji.
It’s a beautiful town on a bend of the river known for the castle that sits perched above it. It was a pretty breathtaking sight to come upon.
Tonight I’m staying in a cabin in a campsite on a lake near Vranov where I can swim, do laundry, and watch a volleyball tournament (?). Huzzah!