Food and cycling are among the highest pleasures you can aspire to, with your clothes on, as an adult. If you combine both, that’s as close to paradise as you will probably get any time soon. This is, in a nutshell, the idea behind the “Bike and Dine” series of WeLoveCycling’s George Pacurar. An avid cyclist, bike collector, foodie and traveller, he will share some of his favourite routes of pleasure in Europe. Follow his suggestions and you will burn as much energy pedalling for your palate as you take in with your meals. Fun beats fat, memories stay.
On fast bikes for slow food
Roast duck, beef or pork stews, dumplings, soups and kompots: Czech food is not exactly what you would call a light diet, just as its relatives in Austria and Bavaria. However, thanks to providence, it comes along with the pretty much hilliest terrains you can have in Central Europe. So if a cyclist seeks a nice energy-neutral lunch or dinner, he or her will always find some elevation to burn calories. Just as the less ambitioned among us would find easier itineraries. Either way, you will have fun and do more for your health than taking a cab.
If Prague is getting a better destination for gourmets with every new farmer’s market, micro brewery and Guide Michelin award, there are still good reasons for foodies to leave the city for the countryside. Within 30 to 40 kilometres from the city centre, there are various wonderful and absolutely unique restaurants and inns to be discovered. Travelling by bike, you will not only make sure you deserve the meals you are to taste, but find unexpected beauty in landscapes, architecture and nature. The bike will take you through places not even all locals know.
A good starter, so to speak, would be a trip to Líšnice. Situated at the edge of the Brdy massif, high above between the valleys of the Vltava (Moldau) and Berounka rivers, this is a village typical for Central Bohemia with its little duck pond in the centre and a nice renaissance church, where nobody goes.
It’s so unspectacular, it took a simple restaurant to make it famous – at least in the fast growing Czech slow food community. Slowpec, a Czenglish wordplay (slow, péct = to cook/bake, sloupec/k evokes “column”), is a small restaurant with the shortest menu you can find in Europe north of the Alps: a couple of starters and soups, three or four main dishes, salads and desert. The main menu changes every season, four times a year, with regular updates every week, and weekend specials. Try their sous-vide (specially, slowly poached), for example. The owners also produce cider and juices from their orchards nearby.
There are various routes to bike from Prague to Líšnice, more or less demanding, but most of us could do a round trip in less than a day without being too exhausted. The more ambitioned can take the way along the Vltava and Berounka rivers to Černošice and climb the steep hill between Všenory and Řitka (40 km one way). The easier way, but not less beautiful, is following the Vltava river up to Vranné nad Vlt., then take the local train for about 20 minutes to Klínec or Bojanovice, and than cycle another 4-5 km to the restaurant. This will get you across the dam, which you can’t do by bike or on foot, and through a beautiful landscape of forests, creeks and waterfalls.
To plan your trip, use your favourite search engine or try Mapy.cz – Czech online map with a very good cycling tool.