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Trip Report Elbe Bike Trip 2 with a nasty end

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For those Fodorites who have not read one of these bike tour reports before you need to know a few things. Every year Mrs Bilbo and I ride a river/canal bike route in Europe hopefully near a wine region. A few years back we did the Elbe Radweg from Hamburg to Magdeburg in 2 weeks so this was trying to finish off that tour. Trouble was the cheepo airlines no longer fly from my local airport to many German cities so this trip was going to fly into and out of Prague. Started early June 16.

Just to give you an idea of costs; ticket cost for person £60, ticket cost for bike £30 per leg of flight. Bikes packed in giant plastic bags means that once the plane lands we can be riding within 20 minutes of baggage reclaim. Prague is famously expensive in the tourist centre where beer can cost as much a £2 a pint. I promise you, we never hit above the 85p anywhere we went in Czech. Saxony German beer is closer to the £2 mark but normally lower. Pensions (B&B) are going to be E35 to E75. Basically everything in Saxony is double what it is in the Czech republic.

The Elbe does not flow through Prague (the Vlatava does) but those great marketing people from Elbe Radweg have tied the two rivers together. You can buy all kinds of great maps for the route (the Bikeline is the best) but we made do with the free book from TI and picked up local maps from TI as we went along. We booked Pensions for the first and last night via the internet before we left the UK and then booked that night's deal while eating breakfast by booking.com or at a coffee stop in Tourist Information.

What do we expect to see? The Elbe was the river where the Russian and USA armies met after the war. In Germany this means that they have been trying to recover from 55 years of occupation and 20 years of being joined to the West. For the Czech Republic a similar story but with a few more racist overtones and even more poverty as the NW European migration of the last 20 years has brought about some major changes. Both Bohemia and Saxony have small wine areas, famously average to poor quality. Beer, beef, pork garlic, potatoes and paprika is the basis for main courses. Dresden will be our biggest true visit city that most Europeans or Americans will have heard of. So a slightly polluted river a few failed factories and then lots of bird life and river countryside.

Tools that worked, Tourist Information were variable in both Germany and Czech. Generally younger people spoke more English and Mrs B's German was invaluable. Tripadvisor and Hotels.com were useless but Booking.com came into its own with lots of choice, though its Android APP is still neither use nor ornament. Booking often had a “cancel any time” deal going which is perfect for a bike ride when a 50km free day may become a 30km slog.

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