The Hundredth Day

August 8, 2008 in Czech Republic, Europe, Travelogue

Family Travel Czech Republic

The hundredth day of our trip coincided with my birthday.

Double cause for celebration. I was awakened by children (as usual) eager to sing the birthday song and watch me open my presents. As we’d slept next to a train track all night with cargo trains at fifteen minute intervals I wasn’t at my usual shiny best. Nothing tea and presents won’t fix though… at least by my children’s estimation!

The tea: Earl Grey, of course… nice and black with lots of caffeine.

The presents: two travel sized tubs of creme: coconut and olive oil, a tea ball (the nifty little camping tea steeper we brought with us is for the birds) and a new pair of (really lovely) wrap around pants in raspberry red, for when we’re off the bikes. I know, wrap around pants sound a bit weird, but I assure you of two things: they don’t blow off in a strong wind and if they did, no one here would care.
Tony is famous for drawing out my birthday for as long as possible. We celebrate “birthday’s eve” and “post birthday” with almost as much fun as the actual day. We rolled along the Labe and added to my gifts with chocolate (bought by Gabe) special strange mint soda (bought by Ez) a travel candle, to light in the evenings, and a tiny little glass bottle, the bottom of a salt cellar, actually, which has been strapped to my bike as a flower holder… what every Mama on tour needs. Elisha has been diligently filling it with blue corn flowers, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace and batchelor buttons.

Instead of my usual raspberry pie (generally baked for me by my friend, Robin, since my Mom lives too far away!) I settled for chocolate cake and a couple of really lovely Australians to share it with. It could not have been a better day.

We went to sleep late in the campground on the banks of the Labe in Litomerice, CZ.

Litomerice is a cool little town on a hill above the river… completely paved in stones, which caused the first popped tire of the trip: Bumping down the big hill from the town center toward the campground, a van full of Czech men slows down beside me. The man in the passenger’s seat leans out the window and rattles off something entirely unintelligible to me and points at the back of my bike.

I smile and laugh and wave… assuming he’s giving me the usual message of passers by, “Hey! That kid on the back of your bike isn’t pedaling!” No kidding… he hasn’t been for two thousand kilometers. This is not news to me.

The driver slows further, the man leans out and looks at me more intently, repeating himself, pointing hard at the back of my bike. So, I stop, get off the bike and look. Ezra is still there, not pedaling. The bags are still there. Ez gets off, we look, and there it is, a perfectly flat tire. I pray to the cycling gods that we’ve only gone a few meters on it and not a few kilometers and we start walking.
The two days we spent in Litomerice were lovely, very warm, punctuated with impressive thunderstorms in the dark of night that rolled over us with thunder like ocean waves, washing clean and cooling the world. We wandered the town and met Canadians living in Prague who we hope to have for dinner one day next week while we’re there. And, we found the most fabulous math and cursive writing practice books to add to our school routine while we’re holed up in the city for three weeks. The kids are so excited to practice their writing and their (nonexistent) Czech at the same time. They’ll make neat additions to their portfolios when we return as well. Math is the same in any language!

As we packed up for the last two day leg into Prague we met a German man on tour with his son.

“Ahh, Prague!” He said, “It is like Disney Land! All of the buildings are painted and perfect… not like here with the peeling plaster and bullet holes left from the last war.”

We’ve heard a lot of favorable descriptions of Prague compared to the smaller towns, but this one won’t soon be forgotten!