Melnik to Litomerice

If we thought that yesterday’s ride had everything then today had even more variety. Heading out of Melnik we retraced our path back through the centre of town and down to the Elbe River. The bike path initially followed the river bank closely and showed us just wat an impressive river the Elbe is. In the distance we could see the distinctive cooling tower of an ageing Russian nuclear power plant and, as we approached closer and closer, we wondered just how safe this area was.

A few km further on we met up with a school group of riders and stopped for a combined photo shoot and chat (although they spoke no English). After many smiles and waves we were on our way again. A short time later we stopped by a “DANZEty R” sign to get a closer look at the power plant. When the school group rode past they gave shouts and high fives. U nforunatey the last girl was not as well cordinated as the rest and lost control of her bikeand careered straight into Dave. I was worried that she might have seriously hurt herself but was soon back on the bike and riding again. Maybe that was why the DANZER sign was there.

The path then led away from the river and onto quiet rural roads. A loud roar overhead revealed a couple of air force fighter jets flying low overhead – obviously a special welcome flyover from the Czech air force to welcome the Ghostriders. After more deserted vilages we finally discovered where all the people had gone. They had all gone to Roudnice Nad Laben where a big party was obviously taking place. Hundreds of people, a great jazz band, a big display of vintage cars and motor bikes – and even a real bakery ! This town had it all. We spent a most enjoyable time just soaking up the atmosphere in this place. In fact we could have happily spent a couple of hours here but we had to keep pedalling.

Back on the bikes again we could start to witness a distinct change in the architecture of the buildings along the way. As we were moving further west again the houses were tending to become more Austrian in their appearances. On the oukskirts of Litomerice we stopped at a large concentration camp and ghetto. This again gave stark evidence of the unbeievable brutality of the Nazis. Hundeds of Jewish prisoners were jammed into tiny cells that should have only held a couple of dozen. It is impossible to even imagine how hellish their situation would have been. Under the camp is an extensive system of underground tunnels which date back to the original purpose of the huge building as a fort. We follwed on claustrophic tunnel for hundreds of metres before emerging back ito the daylight.

Litomerice is only a few km further on and we arrived to find a lively town square surrounded by some lovely old buildings. In the evening we went to a restaurant situated in a system of underground cellars. It was easily the best meal that I have had since ariving in Europe. I still don’t know what “bun farcing” is, but it certainly was delicious. Another wondeful day in every respect.