Columbus famously mistook the West Indies for America. Nürnberg (or Nurenberg) – home of Hitler’s pre-war rallies and post-war trials should similarly not be confused with Nürburg, home of the famous Nürburgring.
After arriving at Nürnberg on Friday we decided it might be nice to pop to Nürburgring on Saturday morning before heading off to Brno in the Czech Republic. A nice idea except it turned out it’s 193 miles back in the direction that we had come from. Columbus can be forgiven – he didn’t have a GPS. We did. “Merner – gonna : Nürburgring – gonna”.
And so we abandoned the euro for the Czech Koruna and headed over the border. The Greek’s must be thinking “if only life were that simple”.
I have always admired the Czechs. They established their state in 1989 with the velvet revolution, led by the poet Václav Havel, and seemingly managed this without killing anyone. All very civilised and dignified. The Czech Republic reputedly has the greatest per capita consumption of beer in the world. And they don’t drink any old rubbish – almost all Czech beer is good, and indeed cheap. It’s hard not to feel a warmth towards them.
Sunday was MotoGP race day. Hot and dry – the circuit, although only a few kilometres from Brno, is nestled in undulating and pretty countryside. We were stopped briefly by the police on the way in – checking for stolen bikes. Unable to produce a log book or passport they contented themselves with a licence plate check. Great to see the police actually trying to stop crime rather than nicking hapless motorists for travelling at 33 in a 30 limit. But I digress. That rant can wait for another day.
The Czech’s like their MotoGP, although a significant section of the crowd seemed to be German. A great battle in the 125cc and Moto2 races, but Dani Pedrosa’s early crash in the main race gave way to an exhibition of dominance from Stoner. A significant improvement by Ducati and signor Rossi gave hope for the future of the lad from Tavulia to has adoring fans – generally the entire crowd.
The rain came on Monday, and with a vengeance. We set off at daybreak – 10.30’ish local time but daybreak somewhere. By lunchtime we were tiptoeing around the slippery Prague cobbles, finding shelter in a ‘touristy’ cafe by the river which serves the dearest coffee in Prague – only the stupid can find it. On the way out of the city the real deluge started. We headed towards the German border – essentially riding upstream in a river that was formerly a motorway. After an hour or so it relented enabling us to blow dry by the time we reached Dresden.
Dresden though was worth it. It is both elegant and clean, with beautiful buildings and impressive architecture. If it was all truly flattened by bomber Harris et al in the war it can’t be original, but this doesn’t detract from its magnificence.
Tuesday morning and the GPS was set due West for Edersee. I’ve finally persuaded my GPS to avoid motorways – ‘shortest distance’ rather than the ‘shortest time’ setting seems to do the trick with Garmin. Plenty of twisty roads and beautiful, well kept villages en route.
There is also no shortage of bikers –the left hand (with the arm attached) dangled against the airflow is the passing acknowledgment as two bikes pass. Teutonic and practical. The Italians and French generally go for the leg kicked in the air – combining flamboyance with nonchalance. It has to be said the Italians are better at it, quite capable of achieving this fully cranked over in a corner on a mountain road, with a precipice visible beneath the rider’s designer shades. The Welsh usually reserve the acknowledgement for when the vehicles are stationery – a brief nod and the words “all right butt” is the traditional salutation.
Our Europeans neighbours have a lot to learn.