Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
Frühstuck with Stefan and Franck, out the door around 11am and I'm headed south. Good weather all day, Autobahn down to the Polish border then I cruise around in the woods near Görlitz and Cottbus. Not terribly interesting so I decide to head for the Czech Republic. The highway out of Dresden has signs for Prague, then at some point Prague is crossed off on the signs. The highway just ends and there are no directions on where to go. I get lost then settle on the road to Tetschen, it follows the Elbe into the Czech Republic (an awkward name, Czechoslovakia just rolled off the tongue). At the border they hold my passport for 15 minutes, when I get it back it has been stamped in 4 separate places. There's a highway sticker for this country but they tell me motorcycles are free.
Once past the border I can tell it is a former east-block country. The roads are bumpy as hell, potholes everywhere, and there are hookers on the road past the border trying to wave people in. The houses have that run-down look and Tetschen in particular feels pretty dodgy. I drive around awhile looking for a hotel then decide to head out of town because I'm not getting a good vibe. Lots of stares from some scary-looking people. In the country I try a couple of small hotels but everything is booked. Speaking German with the Czech people, I tried English a couple of times but they seem to speak more German. At the same time it doesn't go over particularly well; probably some resentment against Germans in these parts. Around 8:30pm I arrive in a town called Ústí nad Labem (Labem is Elbe, as in the river) and I'm beat so I take the easy way out and check into a Best Western. Receptionist only speaks German, get a shower and get something to eat, go searching for life. Can't really find any. Bizarre since it is a good sized city. At a bar I don't have any languages in common with the waitress so she writes down the price on a piece of paper. Czech money has about 25 units to the dollar.