Day 10, April 28th: Dresden to Děčín, Czech Republic
The cycle route from Dresden, across the border and on to Děčín, is spectacular, but Deb’s favourite part by far was when she spotted a hedgehog by the side of the path.
There isn’t much of a border anymore, but they kindly left some markers for tourists’ photos. They say Czechoslovakia on them, a country which was dissolved in 1993.
Sadly, the price of scenic mountainous terrain was a long climb to our hotel at the end of the day. Plus, we were used to German cities and their wonderful bicycle infrastructure. In the Czech Republic cycling is popular – as a weekend recreational activity, not as a mode of transportation. While navigating the rather hazardous roads of Decin, I noted one other bicycle – ridden by a small child accompanied by a parent on a side street. I didn’t even see one parked anywhere. And we were only 65km from Dresden, which, despite a lot of cobbled streets, is full of bicycles.
When we finally reached the top of the “mountain”, we still couldn’t find the hotel, even with Google Maps. We knew we were close, but we had to ask a local who pointed out a dirt path through a woodsy green. The hotel U Kapel was once a monastery and it is directly across from the neo-gothic, Thun’s Chapel (1872).
After checking in and cleaning up we headed out. Just outside the hotel we saw a couple pushing their bikes up that same dirt path. They looked familiar. It was the couple we had dubbed the “Bonns” – the cycle tourists we’d met at breakfast in Dömitz! It was the last night of their trip, and they said they had wondered if they might run into us on the trail again, but doubted it. They went to check in (ending up in the room next to ours) and we all agreed to meet up later.
Deb and I tried to go to a highly rated brew pub, but it was the Friday of a holiday weekend and we had no reservations. We ended up climbing back up and eating in the hotel restaurant, which turned out great because our friends from Bonn showed up just as we were finishing. More beer was ordered, we finally exchanged names, and we spent the evening talking in the dining room. Mathias and Kirsten hadn’t realized that the kitchen closed at 8. Lucky for them we had hit a grocery store in town. We set them up with bread, cheese and apples. They invited us to stay at their place in Bonn, if we decided to head that way. I warned them not to make the offer lightly – we might just take them up on it.