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      May 2013 > The Road to Pavlov…

The Road to Pavlov…

Self-guided cycling holidays in Czech RepublicI was lucky enough to be sent to ‘road test’ one of our new cycling holidays last week – Wine Trails of South Moravia. This involved cycling all the routes, putting the finishing touches to our detailed customer notes, and – perhaps most enjoyably – tasting a few wines along the way…

I had been to the Czech Republic on a couple of previous occasions, but they were visits to Prague; and while the Czech capital is an endlessly fascinating and highly cultured city, it could scarcely feel more different to the deeply rural and still essentially agricultural region of South Moravia.

The cycling here is tremendously enjoyable: not just because of the beautiful rolling scenery, practically untouched by tourists, at least in the most remote areas; but also because of the pervading sense of history: from the home of mammoth-hunters from before the last Ice Age to the almost eerily quiet, but delightfully pastoral terrain that used to signify ‘no man’s land’ during the Communist era up until 1989.

Perhaps my favourite ride of the week came bang in the middle of the itinerary: a circuit from the exquisite and renowned wine-producing town of Mikulov around the Pálava Hills to the north.

Self-guided cycling holidays in Czech RepublicThis route had everything: lovely quiet roads (above), magnificent and far-reaching views, a bit of a challenge (there were a few small hills to negotiate) and excellent wine-tasting opportunities. My highlight was definitely the beautiful small town of Pavlov, famous for producing the best of the Pálava varieties, which are – in turn – some of the most highly regarded wines in the whole country.

In 1995, Pavlov's architectural features were declared a Czech ‘monument reserve’, and it’s not hard to see why once you get there. Not only does the town occupy a stunning lakeside location, but it contains, for such a small place, quite a remarkable wealth of attractions.

These include the town square with its rustic 18th-century farmhouses, characteristic of the Baroque style favoured by well-to-do rural folk who had made money from viticulture. There is also the Baroque cemetery, where the vibrant display of fresh flowers on the inhabitants’ gravestones was one of the most touching – and arresting – sights I have ever seen. Then there is the imposing church of St Barbora, and the wine press houses of Česká Street. These press houses, nineteen of which are historically protected, date from the 17th century and were used by the owners of smaller vineyards to process the harvest. On the ground floor is the entrance to the press room and the cellar, while the vintner and his family lived above. The houses’ segmented gable with a niche for the statue of a saint also exhibits elements of the Baroque style; this feature was again copied from the urban architecture of nearby Mikulov, its intricacy hinting at the wealth Pavlov then enjoyed.

Self-guided cycling holidays in Czech RepublicOnce I had admired Pavlov itself, there was time to park up my bike for a short while to take the well-waymarked walking trail up to the Děvičky Castle ruins. This short but energetic jaunt offers outstanding views over Pavlov and the entire surrounding area, and is well worth the effort – not just for the unique panorama that unfolds, but as a means of working up an appetite: the cafés and restaurants in the town seem even more inviting afterwards, and there is also a fabulous little vinotéka under the Town Hall, where you can try – and buy – as many of the local wines as you wish.

You certainly don’t have to like drinking wine to enjoy this cycling holiday, but I would say that it helps!

Our cycling holiday in the Czech Republic
This circuit from Mikulov via Pavlov forms Day 3 of our 6-night self-guided cycling holiday in the Czech Republic, Wine Trails of South Moravia.

Posted: 10/05/2013 16:52:16 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: cycling, Czech, gastronomy, lifestyle

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