Cycle touring is about living in the spaces in between places: Berlin to Prague, points on a map. There is not always a destination.
Cities are problematic for cyclists. We enter and exit by stealth, leapfrogging highways, skirting bridges, while dodging airports.
Tourists in our own right, we are separated from the coach and cruise set, by our mode of transport, clothing choice or accommodation. Camping in our tent on the edge town.
We rarely saw the sun in the Czech Republic. The weather has been brutal- cold, wet and windy. However, we did savour the flavour as the Elbe River in Germany became the Labe River in the Czech Republic, sampling local fig and poppyseed cakes in Pirna. In Decin, it was homemade sausage! At Litomerice we ate fresh peaches from the local street market.
Staying in Melnik, to seek shelter from the storm, we slept in an oversized wine barrel that had been converted to a sleepout!
All the while, we enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Czech people, who were friendly but reserved. I believe the Prague Spring and The Velvet Revolution has left its mark on the country.
In Prague I paid homage to Franz Kafka, my adolescent existential Huckleberry Finn. At the Kafka Museum, I ponder the commodification of Kafka. As his startled self loathing visage peers at me from coffee cups, tee shirts and assorted knick knacks, very Kafkaesque itself!
My favourite Kafka story was that of The
Fasting Showman. Set in less sophisticated times, it tells the tale of a sideshow carnival which employs a thin man to fast for the duration of the carnivals stay in town, in the belief that townsfolk will return to watch his gradual deterioration. Left in a cage and forgotten, then found at the point of death, the Showman is asked why he didn’t yell out to be saved. He explains: “It wasn’t that I wasn’t hungry, it’s just I couldn’t find anything i wanted to Eat!”