The Czech adventure came out of the cold a couple of days ago. From the white hills of Warmsteinach, I crossed the border near Cheb, up the Ohre river valley, to the famous 19th century spa town of Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary). The beautiful colonnades that span the city, are punctuated by warm spring water fountains. Locals drink from these each morning from little ceramic devices that are half Sherlock pipe and half California bong. Devoid of this cultured cup, I filled up one of my plastic water bottles with the 60*C water. I'm positive I ingested more plastic than life restoring minerals, but the taste lives long regardless.
A marathon day on the Czech hills, and dodgy logging tracks, was the next course down to the farmland south of the City of Plzen. One of my most stressful days so far, and 145km or so later, I flopped into the countryside cradle of Daniel and wife. Welcoming hosts as any on Warmshowers, but also witnesses and participants in the Prague revolution of 1989, part of the leading demographic of Prague university students. Hearing and interviewing these experiences was a real people highlight so far. Fortunately for myself and most of us, a collective and eventually triumphant popular uprising against an outwardly autocratic system is firstly alien and thus entrancing. But secondly, it can be viewed, at least externally, as one of those great moments of history that can give life meaning beyond the mostly mundane existence spewing forth from a vaguely functional free-market economy and political democracy.
Then it was into the arms of Asli in Ceske Budejovice, home of Budvar beer (aka: the beer before the Budweiser impostor), and a much deserved rest day in the UNESCO city of Ceske Krumlov.