Czech this out!
In the Olomouc region of Czech Republic we stumbled upon the fantastic Rychlebské stezky bike park. It offered great trails, a pump track and skills course, and a camping field next to the visitor centre where for £5 a night we had full access to the bar and cafe, hot showers, toilets and all the riding we could manage. We couldn’t believe our luck! There was a great atmosphere with plenty of people enjoying biking and camping, there were a couple of self converted vans, tents and some people just slept under tarps strung between two cars, we were in good company.
We spent a couple of days there enjoying the trails, most of the bike parks we’ve encountered in Europe are at ski resorts and use the ski lifts to get you and your bike to the start of the downhill trails which is great but the cost of the lift passes can really stack up. This place wasn’t located at a ski station and so the trails were 100% rideable, we tried out a few different routes which took us up steep climbs through rocky woodland and technical downhills that really pushed tested our bike skills. There’s no photos or video from our few days of fun, we were too busy enjoying ourselves!
From there we moved on towards Prague, we had a visitor to collect from the airport in a couple of days! We stayed on a quiet Aire next to a lake and spent some time tidying and organising the van. It was a nice quiet place for Chief and I to do a a bit of yoga to ease the aches from cycling.
Getting into Prague proved busy, we got stuck in traffic and the couple of Aires we tried in the city were full, things were getting tense! We had a guest arriving in a few hours and nowhere to spend the night! After spending 4 months travelling like this it didn’t bother us, we’re totally comfortable with van life now, we knew we’d find somewhere to stay and can be fully self sufficient for days at a time but knowing we were going to be accommodating a guest made us conscious that what is now our normal is very different for most people and we were keen to make it a good experience. We thought a flushing toilet and a daily shower might be considered essentials! Finally we found a nice campsite just outside the city that could accommodate us and had good facilities, relieved we headed off to pick up my sister from the airport where there were smiles all round and much to catch up on.
When we built the van we never considered we might have space to accommodate a guest, it certainly wasn’t part of the design but even in 8 square meters, 3 wasn’t a crowd! My sister slept comfortably on the sofa and the layout of our bed at the back behind the bathroom meant that we all felt we had our own space. We were impressed and my sister took to van life no problem. (Although the campsite plug sockets that enabling the use of hair straighteners probably helped to ease the transition!)
The following day we headed into Prague, using the public transport links to take us directly into the city. Prague is really beautiful and we had a wonderful day and evening exploring, everywhere we turned we were treated to wonderful architecture and history, the cathedral, the castle, the old town square, the famous Charles bridge, it was spectacular.