This year we head out for our first big trip. "Around South-East" is going to lead us through the Czech Republic, down through Slovakia and Hungary, around Romania, and back through Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. Roughly 5000 km in four weeks.

Our first station on this trip is Jaromer (point furthest to the east on the map below). Right now there's a music festival which we attend until we hit the road again on Sunday. To see how we got here, and how a small Czech village looks like when its population is ten-folded by Metalheads, read on below.

The first leg of this trip was 400km of motorway. "Get us out of bloody Germany" to misquote Ewan McGregor. Motorway riding is monotonous and mostly boring mile-eating. If it hadn't been for some lovely intercom conversation and scenic rock pocking through fields of green in the Bavarian Alps, this section would have been dreadful. Some six hours later and with empty fuel tanks we arrived at the Czech border. After we got ripped off at the first petrol station after the border (beginners mistake, I know), we set course for Plzen.

Just next to a lake and outside the city of Plzen is a nice little campsite. We pitched the tent surrounded by trees, the lake and a Honda Transalp in good nick. The latter belonged to a friendly fellow from Cologne, who shortly after our arrival chatted us up: his GPS had decided that it did not like traveling and subsequently denied its service. Darius (the Transalp owner) was on his way to the Balaton, trying to avoid Vienna - mainly for traffics sake. Together with our Satnav and a some fragments of paper map he had, we pieced together something akin to a route.

With the tent pitched, navigational issues sorted and the tarp in place, there were only two items left on the agenda: hammock and beer. The former we swiftly sorted by virtue of the two trees someone had placed next to our tent. For the latter we decided to try the campsite's restaurant, which was recommended by another German who stopped by to marvel at the heavy-laden bikes.

Our first night in the sleeping bags quickly showed that the cheap Mountain Warehouse bag is not suited for the continental summer (or any weather colder than 30 degrees centigrade). We thus had to organize a replacement to not turn ourselves into a Popsicle later in the Slovakian mountains. A quick stop in Plzen's beautiful city center left us empty-handed, so we went for the local Hannah branch. They had a summer sale on which made the decision to get one of their excellent products all the easier.

Riding out of Plzen had us go through the gorgeous Bohemian countryside. Golden fields of grain, hay and forests as far as the eye could see. Some lavish 180 km later we found a nice little hut next to the river Labe. It was right next to boats floating on the river, 500 meters away from a pretty post-communist viby village.

Our last leg before Jaromer had us ride a mere 60 km. Rain which had been looming on the horizon all along had finally caught up with us. Slightly wet we rode through Jaromer, a village recently invaded by about 12000 metalheads - for an impression see below.

Lastly, we learned an important lesson: if it's raining already and looks like it's going to rain more, don't try and pitch your tent. We did not wait, try it and got so thoroughly drenched that it took two days to dry our stuff. Don't try to outperform the rain, fool.


OAA