Rest for a Weary Traveler- Bike Journey Day 4Woke up in a ditch on the side of a farm road outside of Straznice at four AM. I pick my head up out of the dirt, brush off some side-of-road-brambles from my green military surplus fatigues, stretched my arms up into the brisk morning sky, and [...]
Rest for a Weary Traveler- Bike Journey Day 4
Woke up in a ditch on the side of a farm road outside of Straznice at four AM. I pick my head up out of the dirt, brush off some side-of-road-brambles from my green military surplus fatigues, stretched my arms up into the brisk morning sky, and looked on to another fine day of travel. I slept four hours the night before and was a little cold throughout, but I raise my face up into a little smile at my focus-less expectation of what could become of this day that was just breaking over the cornfields of Moravia.
A traveler, a bicycle, and a world. There was nothing more that I could have needed. I had a little bread, some orange juice, and a pouch of Captain Black’s pipe tobacco. The world was looking real beautiful through my shaky four AM perception. I stumbled out onto the Road with my bicycle and began riding off into the day.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Hodonin, Moravia, Czech Republic- Late June 2008
Travelogue — Travel Photos
I had to retrace my route from the night before, as I had to retreat from Straznice in a moonlit haste (read more here), and I again rode into the city that frustrated me so much a few hours previously. But I was armed with a good bicycle map that I picked up from a tourist info shop, and I pieced together my way out of the city. The bicycle routes of the Czech Republic are, on the whole, well marked, but on occasion there are a few perilous slip-ups or oversights that can send a weary traveler out into the wrong direction.
I have gone in many wrong directions during the first three days of this bicycle journey to nowhere. Going the wrong way is seems to be something that I am very fond of.
But this time, I checked both map and compass, found the big church, and took the proper left. Well, the proper left according to my map. In actuality my map was severely out of date, and I was sent on a single bike tire sized trail through bramble, cattails, and high weeds along the side of a canal. The morning dew soon covered me and I became soaked through with wetness. Five AM is not a good time for a travelers clothes to be soaked through, but I cared little, as I knew that the sun would still be coming up full blast in but an hour or two and I would be dry again. I paused for a moment and watched the morning mist rise off the canal and the fields that encircled me. I was all alone. The morning was beautiful.
I kept on along another canal side trail that soon petered out into weeds. I pushed my bicycle through with a gentle rain sprinkling down from the tops of the cattails. I had a feeling that this was no longer the usual 47 bike route, but I provenience my location on the map and had no worries. I also found an early morning fisherman walking over a bridge and I ran up to greet him. It was a lucky encounter, as there was not another squeak of a human for miles. I pulled out my now damp bike map, and was assured that I was in fact where I thought I was and well on my way to another temporary destination on my journey south.
The trail then lightened up and the sun began breaking through the morning mist and my clothes were now only comfortable wet. I found the bridge that I was suppose to find and met up with the 47 bike route on the other side of the canal. Yes, my map was outdated and I essentially re-blazed the old bike path on the canal side. I then followed the little yellow bike route signs through waking morning forest and along old railway grades right down to the Slovak border. I was now about to exit the Czech Republic, but the gross expenditure of energy from the night before and the lack of sleep quickly caught up with me. I rolled into a city called Hodonin, and got the idea that I would speed up my journey a little and hop on a train to Bratislava, where I could find a dorm bed and an internet connection.
I found the Hodonin train station with little difficulty and wheeled my bicycle right up inside to the ticket window. I asked for a ticket to Bratislava and got one to Breclav.
“No, Bratislava, I want to go to Bratislava,” I spoke to the non-English speaking woman behind the ticket window.
“Yes, Breclav,” she said. Oddly, the way she said Breclav was remarkably similar to how I said Bratislava. I could not get anywhere in this linguistic merry-go-round, so I was directed to another ticket window where there was a women who could speak English.
I told her that I wanted a ticket to Bratislava and to take my bicycle on board with me. She said ok and printed out a ticket.
“You have to take three trains to get there,” she began, “and your bicycle will be 25 CZK per train.” This was a little more than I wanted to pay to haul my bike, but I was weary and agreed to pay it.
She printed up my ticket and then matter of factly told me that I could not bring my bicycle on the first train but could on the second and third ones. My logic quickly told me that if I could not have my bike on the first train then I would be without it on the second and third ones.
“What!?!” I say a touch exasperated my this fleet of logic. “I need to have my bicycle on all three trains in order to arrive with it at my destination.”
“Ok,” the ticket lady said, “You want ticket?”
“Can I bring my bicycle on all of the trains?”
I ended the conversation there and stooped out of the train station. I was again weary, and did not look upon the hot sun of day with exuberance. I figured that I would stay the night in Hodonin to rest and then figure out my exit strategy in the morning.
I went to the tourist information office and told that receptionist about the train fiasco. I tried to persuade her to call them and get me permission to bring on my bicycle.
The receptionist just looked at me puzzled. “You have bicycle?,” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Why don’t you just ride bicycle to Bratislava?”
The tourist office lady then gave me a print out list of the accommodation options of Hodonin. There were prices on this list, so I took it happily and went off to find a room for a single nights rest, with the plan of setting off by bicycle to Bratislava the next day.
A week later I am still in Hodonin, with a smile permanently plastered to my countenance.
I chased down a couple hostels on the list but could not find them or they were “kaput”- no more. I rode all over Hodonin like a fool asking everyone I could for directions to this or that hostel. It is sometimes difficult to flag down a direction giver in the Czech Republic, and I found that I had to virtually jump in front of people in the street, wave my arms, while shouting “Doubry dan! Hello! Ahoy!” with a map in hand and a lost look on my face. In this way I was lead off all through the streets of Hodonin chasing wild gooses.
I finally vowed that I would try to find one more hostel on the list, and, if it proved faux, to ride my bicycle out of town and push peddles towards Bratislava with no regard for rest or sense. This final attempt at finding a bed in Hondonin sent me over to the Museum Hostel on the other side of the train station. I rode into the museum grounds and found neither sign that it was hostel nor that it was a place that I could sleep. I rode my bike in a circle for a moment but could not find anything that resembled a hostel. Thinking that I was again spoofed by the accommodation list from the tourism office, I set out to leave the museum yard. I then saw a boy sweeping just inside of the open front door of a building, and I resolved make one last attempt at finding a bed.
I rode up to him and pointed to the place on my list that said “Muzeum Youth Hostel” and then made a sleeping motion by bringing my joined together hands up to my cheek.
“Yes,” the boy said, “this is the hostel. Wait a moment.” He seemed nice.
I stood outside the museum for around five minutes kicking at a snub of grass sticking up out of the pavement and thinking about how badly I must smell and look. If I appeared to be half as retched as I felt, then I do not think that any hostel in this world would have offered me a bed for fear that I would spread my dirt all over it. Sleeping with your head in the dirt does not make for a very cleanly traveler the next day. I really wanted to wash then sleep.
The boy then returned and showed me to a room. It was perfect in all ways. It had a big open window on one side, a wash basin, mirror, and, best of all, an electrical outlet so I could plug in my laptop.
I rejoiced as I laid down upon the bed and found myself dreaming restful dreams the day through.
Links to previous travelogue entries:
Asus Eee PC Popular with Travelers
Tarp Tent Search Ends with a Smile
Second Contribution to Vagabond Journey
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About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York
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