A Very Short Introduction to

Bicycle Camping in Czechia/Cesko/ CZ

Grace Newhaven  2016 bikefishATiinet.net.au

2016/Dec 24

Before you go :

·         A tent that blends into the landscape is very useful !

·         Make a Google map of your proposed journey ( it’s Shareable via www) to plan & calculate distances. Consider a Google plan as well ( also to Share)

·         Download an “off line” e/map and experiment with it. Get a good translation app.

·         Get Google codes if you want to use other computers besides your own.

·         Source a useful adapter, with USB port(s).

Roads & Traffic : Rural backroads in CZ carry relatively little traffic and are generally well surfaced tho there may be subsidence at the edges, and only rarely is there a fog line and sealed shoulder. Czech motor traffic is courteous by Australian standards. In built-up and residential areas, towns and villages, the speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph) and otherwise 90 km/h (55 mph).On-road signage is OK, though not on a numerical system ( ie unlike the French), but usually easy to follow. There are a few independent, small but well stocked bike shops. There are a lot of local people riding utility and MTB bikes - even on Prague’s cobblestones (!)

Maps: Paper road maps are available, but I recommend “Pocket Earth” or similar off-line maps as well ( some are free). Some of these will show bicycle friendly roads and paths, and can calculate and display a specific bicycle route to your destinations, off-line. Tourist information offices are not common, but may provide some useful local maps. VeloRoutes 7 and 4 cross the country, but the suggested route may sometimes be inconsistent and surprisingly bicycle un-friendly, nothing more than signage. In particular, the Veloroute approaching Prague from the South East was quite difficult ( a muddy track), and similarly north towards Decin.

Water: There is safe, drinkable tap water everywhere in CZ. You can also buy bottled water everywhere, if you are prepared to waste the plastic bottles. Generally, it can be a problem trying to find a tap outside ( ie accessible) : parks and private gardens don’t usually have them. You can ask for water in a bar or café, and cemeteries are good too. It will be useful for overnight camping to have a wine cask bladder or similar bulk container. If you are lucky, you may see a working fountain, or locals will show you to a spring that they use themselves. However you go, be careful not to run out.   

Food : In villages, food is adequate if without the variety of Western Europe. Most medium towns have a small grocery store, and larger towns have modern supermarkets. Grocery stores  sell everything necessary, and are open long hours, but closed on Sundays, and even early on Saturdays, so be prepared. Bread shops may open on Sunday mornings. Petrol stations may be open for food – and even alcohol- on Sundays. Food is generally much cheaper than in Australia (despite a higher GST????? ) . There is a wide variety of delicious breads, as well as a huge assortment of processed meats and sausages – some very artificial looking !  Delicious plums  from roadside trees are common in late summer. Alcohol is very cheap and easy to find; there are deposits on glass beer bottle, but not on plastic bottles.  Bottles are returned at the point-of-sale. Even cheap beer is very good, and you can try the cheap wine. The Aussie stubby holder neoprene jackets are unknown in Europe, you may want to take one, as you will usually see cold beer for sale in shops. Muesli is common, Fuel alcohol (“denaturovaný líh”) may now restricted for security reasons, but was common and around 3 Euro /litre at hardware shops. Shop staff are usually friendly, and English is widely spoken,  but it will help to have a little Czech : “Nemluvím česky   [ I don’t speak Czech]  is useful. Market stalls and roadside vendors are also useful for small quantities of fruits and vegetables. The very cheapest restaurant meals would be ~ €7.00, with very cheap drinks prices,

Camping : In my experience there was plenty of accessible, green, public space in forests, reserves etc. With a small, discrete tent, you should have no problems. Washing clothes however may be difficult when “free” camping.

Trains : Express trains are not bicycle-friendly. However, local or “regional” trains are generally much easier with a bike, as well as cheaper. Ask for any “special” prices, particularly at week ends and “off peak”. While most carriages are readily accessible with a heavily loaded bike, some are not - a few carriages have high steps and narrow doorways- and you may need to ask a fellow passenger for help, especially if you have to make a tight connection, which can be common. Be careful however not to buy a ticket that crosses an international border, unless you want to spend too much!

Internet & WiFi : WiFi is useful, if and when it’s available, ( eg at MacDonald’s), but having connectivity in “real time”, especially from your “wild” campsite, is so useful it’s practically indispensable. I recommend having a local pre-paid SIM card, though Czech SIMs may not work for data outside CZ ( German Vodafone does, in my experience). My “International Travel SIM” from Australia was expensive and almost useless. To access your Google or Hotmail accounts on other people’s computers, you need to make arrangements before you leave home to carry printed “security codes” with you. Be aware too that CZ keyboards may be difficult for people not accustomed to their layout. FaceBook Messenger is quite useful, too. Internet cafes are no longer common, so your own device is almost indispensable.

Misc :

Websites :

Eurovelo Routes ( CZ) : ( not all “ realized” )

http://www.eurovelo.cz/EuroVelo/EuroVelo-v-CR.aspx

Distance calculator : www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm /

An encyclopedic,private site :www.cycletourer.co.uk/

 

Glossary

English

Czech

Slovak

Beer

Pivo

pivo

Bicycle

jízdní kolo

bicykel

Bread

Chléb

chlieb

Cheese

Sýr

syr

Fruit

Ovoce

ovocný

Map

Mapa

mapa

Meat

Maso

mäso

Milk

Mléko

mlieko

Vegetable

Zeleninový

zeleninový

Water

Voda

voda

Wine

Víno

víno