Monday, August 02, 2010

Vacation report, part 2: The bike tour begins

I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this bike tour. I'd never done anything like it before. What if I was the youngest person there?  The oldest?  The only single person?  What if no one wanted to hang out with me?  I tried to relax and not worry about any of these things.  As it turned out I had no reason at all for any of my concerns. From the beginning of the trip, when we all met at the hotel and shuttled to a restaurant outside Prague for lunch and bike pickup, everyone on the trip was friendly and engaging.  Most of the people on the tour were older couples with grown children, though there were a few families with kids about to leave for college.  Once we all got out and rode, conversations flowed naturally, we all became friends, and I enjoyed some of the best days I've ever had on a bike.  

My trusty steed for the week
My trusty steed for the bike tour

The highlight of Sunday's ride was a stop at a slivovice distillery.  Slivovice is a Czech liqueur made from plums, though as we learned it can be made from pears and other fruits.  

Slivovice distillery tour
This is where the slivovice magic happens.

After the tour we sampled some of the distillery's product, about a thimble's worth per person. It was drinkable, if by "drinkable" you mean "an intense burning sensation the length of your esophagus."  It's the kind of drink that puts hair on your chest, which is a location where I don't need any help.  

We spent Sunday night at Hluboka nad Vltavou, a small town near the Vltava River.  There's a castle above the town that we didn't have time to tour, though I took some photos of the exterior.  The castle's onetime owners, the Schwarzenberg family, adored English Windsor architecture and rebuilt their chateau in the neo-Gothic style between 1841 and 1871.  As a result, the castle looks like a Disney movie set.  I'm not sure the following photo does the castle justice:


I liked the exterior of the church in the center of Hluboka nad Vltavou as well.  It's one of the few churches I saw on my vacation that I did not get to tour.

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