A loping cycle along the Czech-Austrian border took me through Znojmo, and couchsurfing host Marek, who's humility and sharp intelligence was incongruous in an otherwise drab border town.

The twin castles of Valtice and Lednice form the pick of this period of pedaling. Held in the Liechenstein family for more than 800 years, they are a diverse pair of brothers. I stayed inside the palace at Valtice on my first cycling tour a few years ago with friends Will and Hamish, the palace is a classic renaissance chateau with a burgeoning and beautiful wine cellar. Whilst on this tour, I 'forked out' to at Lednice castle, for a splendid stay with Asli in the pavilion wing.

The Lednice brother has been through all the major adolescent phases (Gothic, Rennaissance, Baroque) before finalising in it's current neo-Gothic form, which served as a sumptuous Summer party house for much of the Viennese court in the 19th and 20th century. Of course the party abruptly ended in the Nazi's the Sudetenland grab, and, as with all the other Eastern European residential marvels seen en-route, there was no chance of the following communist regime handing these treasures back to the aristocratic families.