Sunday 21 September 2008

Day 3: Melnik to Litoměřice

We started our second day of cycling with a pathetic breakfast at the hotel. Several people complained that they hadn't been able to sleep well - there were trucks driving along the road all night. A few victims had their first mosquito bites. The hotel was too far from the centre of town. Conclusion: Explore should definitely find a new hotel in Melnik!

As usual, we were all keen to get back on our bikes. For all my worries, my bum was not the least bit sore - thank goodness for padded shorts and a nice Royal Gel seat. The bruise on my right inner thigh had been complemented overnight by one on my left inner thigh. Gradually it became apparent that I was banging into the water bottle cage every time I got off to stop. I was much more careful after that.


We rode into central Melnik and had some time to explore after stocking up on water and snacks.


Melnik town square



We even had a mid-morning wine tasting at the castle.


The Vltava River meets the Elbe (or Labe, depending on your language). From this point, we rode along the Elbe.

We left Melnik and rode for a few hours to Roudnice for lunch.



And onward, to Terezin Fortress.


The tour notes say that it is the "site of the so-called Small Fortress of Terezin, once part of a neo-classical defensive complex constructed by Joseph II. The fortress received notoriety during the reign of the Habsburgs as a political prison, a notoriety that went on to reach new heights under the Nazis, who turned the town into a Jewish ghetto and the fortress into an internment centre. Today the fortress remains a memorial to those atrocities, with a symbolic cemetery in front of the main entrance." It was moving, awful, depressing, stark.

Apologies in advance for the disturbing photos.




While it was mainly used as a work camp, thousands of people died at Terezin from malnutrition and poor hygiene - and many more were sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps to be gassed instead. It still makes me feel ill just to think about it. I recently finished reading Persepolis, and I am now re-reading Maus. When will people learn not to hurt each other?

On that somber note, we rode the remaining 5km or so to Litoměřice. S and I took a stroll through the main plaza and were amused to find this flashing, interactive map:


Click to watch the movie on youtube!

We had a nice dinner - Czech goulash - and went to sleep.


Day 3 Stats:
Distance: 41km
Roadkill: 1 bird, 1 fox, 1 snake (or maybe it was just some rope)
Weather: perfect, sunny
Fields passed: apples, pears, corn
Power plants passed: 1
Concentration camps: 1
Bruises: 2 more
Mosquito bites: 2 on elbow, 1 on back of leg, 1 on ankle

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