To Brno - Krakow to Salzburg 1999 - CycleBlaze

August 27, 1999

To Brno

For a day of train travel, this proved quite wild.  We started, after searching around a bit, at a curious hotel restaurant across the street from the train station - it had an odd decor, seemingly inspired by California or Mediterranean beaches, with canvas chairs and beach umbrellas.  The breakfast was good though, and left us upbeat for our 9:30 train to  Vienna, due to arrive there about 4:30 in the afternoon.

The first long stretch of the ride was uneventful, carrying us to the Polish/Czech border east of Ostrava.  Disaster ensued at the border though when we were ordered off the train at the first stop because bikes were apparently not allowed on this train in the Czech Republic.  We had about a 15 minute standoff with our bikes cabled to the train while a lengthy debate ensued between three railway employees, ourselves, two other sympathetic bikers who were also being evicted, and sympathetic passengers.  I started feeling hopeful when the railway staff began arguing with each other; but in the end we lost and we’re left at the station only with the agent’s detailed instructions on other trains that were possible.

I’ve thought about this episode many times since then and have come to the conclusion that our assistant in Krakow probably understood that this would happen to us but wanted to preserve our business for the pension by getting us on the morning train.  In retrospect, I think he was evasive when I queried him on what would happen after we crossed the border.

While I was arguing, the other two bikers had purchased secondary tickets to Vienna on the next train due to arrive here at 4:30; but had not verified whether it would allow bicycles either.  I wheeled my bike over to the ticket agent as a visual prop to be sure there was no misunderstanding and confirmed that bikes were in fact not allowed on that train either.  Our only option, which was consistent with the information given us by the woman who threw us off the train, was to take a series of four or five local connections, the first of which left in just 10 minutes.  

With no real time to think and not enough information, Rachael and I argued over whether we should hop on that train or just start biking (even though we didn’t know for sure where we were).  At the last minute, without baggage tickets, we hopped on the train and were instructed (I think) to purchase them at the next stop 10 minutes away.  Departing again there, we lined up to get baggage tickets, only to discover that the next train was just leaving - so once more we hopped on without baggage tickets and rode ten minutes more - to the main station in Ostrava.  There, with plenty of time to sit and think, we changed our plans again and caught the train to Brno rather than face arriving in Vienna late in the evening with no room reservation.

We arrived in Brno at about 7 Friday night and were relieved to quickly find a hotel, the Slavia, in the old city center.  It was a great relief to be secure in our lodgings and to have our travel plans under out own control again.  Brno is only a two day ride from Melk, Austria.

After settling in to our room we wandered through old Brno, a very pretty and colorful city, and enjoyed dinner and our first palachinkas in years.  On the balance, we came out of a chaotic situation remarkably well.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 2
Comment on this entry Comment 0