Monday, 25 April 2011

Zvikov to Pisek and the pull of the E10

With an extra day to recover it was an ideal weekend to get back on the road and get a few more kilometres of the E10 under the belt. I am following this European long-distance path on its route through the Czech Republic from Varnsdorf on the northern border with former East Germany and Vyssi Brod on the southern border with Austria. Now about 100km south of Prague, Saturday's stage took me from near Zvikov to Pisek (pronounced pea-sek).
Most of the weekenders had got away on Friday so the bus trip into Prague and out to Zvikov was reasonably quiet. The path took me immediately into the forest along the River Otava and the sounds, sights, smells, taste and feel of the place on this sky-blue, sunny morning welcomed me with open arms.
As I walked my mind slipped back into the groove of this walk, time away from home and working life. The sight of the signpost had prompted thoughts of what has happened in my life since I have been following the E10 when I started on that first stage from Varnsdorf back in May 2004. I've dabbled in other work but drifted back to teaching; in my more negative moments I would say that is because I follow the old adage, "Those who can do and those who can't teach". Blogging has taught me to be more positive, there is a pull towards this work and I have something to offer if I choose to listen to feedback offered to me.
Since the last stage I have had some back trouble so I was keen to see how this has affected my performance. Physically it has slowed me down and I get tired quicker but mentally I am more determined than ever to finish it. I learnt on this stage that a plodding approach can be just as effective as running at what lies in front of us and is certainly more invincible when you are tiring. With this thought I found myself at  Krkavci Skala (Raven's Rock) overlooking a smaller river, the Lomnice, which the path follows upstream to cross.

After this I lost the path for a while and then when I finally came across the red stripe reassuring me I was back on track, I had to walk a little way in each direction before working out which way I should be heading. This area is renowned as resistance territory during WW2; according to the map I passed near to a monument to a group of partisans executed here in May 1945 but it proved as illusive as the trail in places.
The path made its way down to the river's edge and continued upstream to a recreation centre built during the communist era. Many organisations had these centres for their employees and families, a pity that most have been thrown out with the dirty bathwater of those years.
After cooling my feet in the water at the river crossing I set off for Nova Vraz in search of some lunch but was out of luck; the village formerly boasted 3 pubs but all have closed. So, I made do with the sandwiches I had and made my way around the large fishpond on the east end of the village and headed back towards the Otava river passing a stone quarry on the way.
The path followed the river for less than a mile before climbing steeply up between the trees again. Plodding now kept me going, slowly but surer than ever; I was going to get , not only to Pisek, but one day also to the Austrian border. I thought why I am doing this; not questioning whether I should be, there is no question whether I should, I belong there, I have to do it. I will return to this on later stages for sure; it may be just sheer unadulterated cussedness, possibly escapism but there is certainly self-realisation in there. What exactly I mean by that there will be plenty of time to ponder if I continue to plod at this speed.
Finally, after climbing to this view of the river near Koblya, I returned to the banks of the river and found a wonderful small pub at the weir, Plynova Lavka. To my surprise I wasn't hungry, my needs amply satisfied by a plate of garlic and potato soup and 2 glasses of (non-alchoholic) beer. The final 5km of the path into Pisek followed the left bank of the river with the right bank carrying a cycle track, well-used this sunny Easter Saturday afternoon.
Pisek is a wonderful old town with a stone bridge older than the Charles Bridge in Prague, visted by millions each year. There are buildings of every style, from gothic to present day. I will return to pay it the attention it deserves but on Saturday I headed for the bus station for the return journey.


  1. Superb, my friend. I did enjoy this. Glad to see you back on the trail. You will certainly reach the Austrian border one day - I'm convinced of it!

    Slow and fruitful pondering while plodding is so much better than one headlong rush.

  2. SW
    I knew you would understand.

    Oh my what a glorious journey of purpose and reflection and desire. I loved the impact and the challenge as I put myself at your side and felt the strain and the freedom. A true metaphor for life. And you will reach the Austrian border. I promise.
    Love to you always

    great pictures -

  4. Gail
    You obviously also clearly understand.
    You won't be surprised to know that I bought the next map this morning and have been pouring over it. Probably one more single stage and then three double stages (two days walk with a night out) and I should be there. It's just a question of when.
    I hope that Easter went well for you. Love and Peace to you and yours.

  5. Glad to know that you are back on your E10 quest, Tramp, and I agree that the slow, mindful approach to walking is usually more rewarding that a goal-oriented rush to the finish line. I look forward to the additional stages of the journey and your reports from the field.

    Do not resist your pull to teaching, Tramp, whether the teaching be done through your blog or elsewhere. You have much to offer the world!

  6. Great to hear from you George. Thank you for giving me so much to think over as I plod south and on life's journey.