Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Easter cycling

The natal lunar chart for March promised lots of travelling, with filled 3rd (short journeys) and 9th (foreign land) houses:

I decided to use the Easter holiday for my long-cherished dream: to cycle along the Castle Road between Heidelberg and Prague (not because of Jerome. K. Jerome’s “Three Men on the Bummel” – those did it in Schwarzwald). The lunar 9th house of far travels was afflicted by retro Saturn and Ketu – a good description of cycling fun in winter. My plans were thus confirmed.

I got a flight ticket to Stuttgart on the day when the Moon already passed conjunction with Saturn and sextile with detrimented Mars in Cancer, but when I cast a horary chart for the coming trip, I didn’t like it at all:

My main worry was about the ruler of 2nd house of movable property, i.e., my bike. It was signified by that nasty detrimented Mars in 9th house: the bike seemed to be causing problems in the foreign land. But then, the ruler of the ascendent (me) was the exalted Venus in 5th house of fun and dining pleasures, in conjunction with ruler of 9th house Mercury. And 3rd house of journeys had (although afflicted) great benefic Jupiter. What was that, I wondered, how could I read such a combination? If the bike significator is so spoiled, how could I have fun and travel at all?

The answer came soon after landing in Germany: my bicycle was lost at Stansted. Instead of starting the tour, I got stuck in Stuttgart “until further notice” from Lufthansa (which might happen after the holiday, I thought).

The only thing I could do was to wander in the downtown – which I did until bumped into the musical museum in a side street. My trip delay was well paid off! Although it was all in German, the instruments talked for themselves: I was astonished to see schemes of mechanisms and dozens of various piano constructions. This is where craft and art couple!

Fortunately, the next morning my bike arrived. Many thanks to the nice lady in the Lufthansa office for her valuable help!

To cope with my plans, I started towards North-East, heading Schwabisch Hall

But the weather… Since I couldn’t change the dates of the holiday, I didn’t even look at charts for weather. What would be the point to ponder over unchangeable changeability? Yes, it started snowing:

On the way, I occasionally crossed Schwabisch Alps and arrived at frozen Schwabisch Hall

Then there was unremarkable road to Ansbach, where I took a train to another Alps, Bavarian

This was my first visit to Southern Bavaria with its Tirol style

The road was “hilly”

I saw a sign which, as far as I could understand the language I didn’t know, warned drivers about frogs blind of love!

I do not know whether at this sign one should stop or turn back at all? Or just wait for frog’s crossing? I wish I saw that.

I arrived at Benediktbeuern

and had an Easter dinner with unforgettable Kirschstrudel (ah, exalted Venus in 5th)

In the evening, walking in the snow-covered village I found a very interesting place: Bavarian cowshed

They put those cow medals on the gates to show how good the farm is. And the cows – they look really happy and well-groomed, what a nice living for them in Bavaria…

The morning was just perfect with perfect road (I suspect, they are made with some hydrophobic surfaces)

and I soon arrived at Munich

My next destination was Augsburg, where Leopold Mozart (father) was born

I also visited Schaezlerpalais

The family declined when the two heirs died in WWII

Although the younger brother was probably fighting in Russia, it was sad to see this memorial. Soldiers ever deserve respect.

The area between Augsburg and Nurnberg is just fields and farms, and I took a train to Nurnberg instead of cycling: the further road should be more interesting.

Although Germany is known as a bicycle-friendly country, I can tell that after England it does not look friendly at all. One is charged for taking a bike on train 4.5 euro (in England it is free), and bikes are not allowed on intercity trains (imagine if in England you would not be allowed to take your bike between London and Colchester – nonsense!) Moreover, frequently blamed expensive English tickets must be compared with German: for a 1.5-hour journey between Augsburg and Nurnberg in a regional (slow) train I paid 25 euro! About cycle road friendliness – here is an example:

Since those cycle routes “exist” (they may be offroad, or covered by snow, or stop in the middle of nowhere), the auto roads are forbidden for cycling (even minor ones, I am not talking about autobahns). Therefore, the owners of some older cars often shout at a poor winter cyclist on the road side – this is the friendliness. Another problem of well-regulated relationship between drivers and cyclists is that the city edges have very complicated road junctions, where a normal (not autobahn) road suddenly joins an autobahn to become normal again later – but that’s it, it is closed for a cyclist in that area. Closed and boarded, and alternative cycling routes are signposted with names of unknown villages (leading who knows where), and compass does not help, because they change the direction for 90 degrees now and then. Each morning leaving a city and finding the right road took 2-3 hours for 10-15 kilometres!

Those nice big yellow road signposts in Germany declare distances to the nearest villages – but never to a major city, which would be more relevant for a visitor. I had quite a good map with resolution 1cm:10km, but certainly not all the inhabited places were there, and those road signposts puzzled me a lot: there was something which I did not need, and what I needed was not there. This never happened to me on English roads! Overregulation is not good, dear Germans.

Thanks to the Casio compass, I arrived at Nurnberg

and then to picturesque Bamberg

This is the area of so-called Saxon Switzerland, which I realised quite soon:

I saw famous Hartmann brewery in a small village

and peculiar houses

I approached the border between Germany and Czech Republic

and only then I realised that Germany was good for cycling… Yes, in Germany several roads could merge changing status, but in Czechia the same road can here be minor and there – autobahn, without any particular reason! Not to mention the road surface in Prague, without border ramps and sometimes with medieval stones… Oh no…

I was cycling looking around and found some modern signs in the forest

Though Hrad Loket looks like in an old European fairytale

and Prague with ancient Hradcany is wonderful

The famous astrological clock has surprisingly high tone (not as serious as Big Ben)

One can see that I visited the place at the end of March: the hand in the internal circle points at the beginning of Aries.

This guy probably symbolises Golem

After 17 years since my first impression and much travelling, I confirm that St Vitus is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world!

It was the last day of the tour, and the weather had finally improved

The Easter festival was finishing that day, and I was lucky to get several pieces of traditional “trdlo” (sweet pastry cooked on hot cylinders with cinnamon and nuts) – ah, exalted Venus in 5th house…

In the late evening I climbed to Hradcany again – to see dear St Vitus and, at last, the Golden Street without tourists. Here is the house where Kafka lived

Sitting in a room where one can touch the ceiling by hand, indeed, can cause psychological problems (and the guy had Mars on Algol in broad conjunction with Saturn).

Next morning, I was leaving Prague. Again, finding the way was not easy. I found the airport only because a new supermarket in the same area posted its announcements along the road – some luck at last. The Czech signposts do not expect people not to speak Czech. If you are in Czechia, you certainly should speak something better than English! And since in my flight ticket there was only word “Prague”, when I found the airport I couldn’t imagine it was a wrong terminal, just 3 km around the corner. At least they didn’t loose the bike – just crooked the back Shimano system by some suitcase.

On the back way from Luton… Well, it was old good England… Nothing like Alps or snowing…

I should say these 810km, mainly in mountains, have trained me a lot. Now Norfolk does not look hilly at all!

13 comments:

CarO said...

Wow! What stunning pictures Valerie, and what a wonderful description of your tour! Thanks so much for taking me with you :0)

love
CarO

Valerie Livina said...

Thank you Caro :)

V.

Trojan said...

Bravo, Valerie!
You`re now well prepared for Tour de France.
The end of March is not the best choice for travelling through the Middle Europe.
Thank you for great pictures!

Trojan

Valerie Livina said...

Thank you Trojan :) I am a rather slow biker, not for Tour de France - just persistent...

V.

Anonymous said...

Hi, that's Diana. An amazing journey, I would say! May I post a link to this posting in Livejournal?

Valerie Livina said...

Sure, you can :)

V.

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