Cycling Europe Day 40: Rolling Hills, Genetics, and Hash

Rolling hills. Those are the worst. You know where you stand with mountains. You might have a 20km climb. It might even be steep. But you put your head down and pedal for the distance you know you will climb and up to the altitude you know you will reach and you’re done. Then you either coast down the other side and cycle through a valley or you stay up top for awhile. With rolling hills, it’s just up, down, up, down, like a yo-yo. You feel like you might as well not even count the descents; they are too short to make any difference.

Today I had 130km of rolling hills. In scorching heat. And 19mph winds, partly at my

The Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas in Brno

The Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas in Brno

back and partly pushing me to the side. When I crossed the border between Austria and the Czech Republic, I struggled to understand what types of roads I could use. As far as I can guess, it looks like they have two degrees of motorway that I can’t use. I used the lesser degree twice today for a brief period of time because I couldn’t see where else to go. At least no one tried to kill me or to scare me to death by giving me angry honks. I was scared anyways. It’s never fun cycling on a busy highway. I really hope I figure out the roads tomorrow.

I loved cycling in Austria. I’d recommend it to anyone. The roads are really good for cyclists. The scenery is amazing. The people seem to be nice. I left Austria with an impression about their women in particular: the ones I interacted with seemed genuine, kind, warm, strong, independent, and very hard working. If I go back to Austria one day I’d like to get to know more about Austrian women.

I’ve never been to the Czech Republic before. It’s the third country on this trip so far that I’m visiting for the first time after Portugal and Slovenia. I’m in Brno today, the Czech Republic’s second largest city. You know what I discovered about Brno only after I arrived? It’s the town where Gregor Johan Mendel put together Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance and thus founded modern genetics! I found that so exciting that I spent the entire evening looking for the Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas where Mendel was Abbot. Mendel conducted his experiments on pea plants in the monastery garden.

Brno feels like a tired city to me. Its people looked tired as well. I wonder how much of



that is simply a reflection of my own exhaustion today; it must affect how I see things. I’ll tell you one thing though: I get the impression that getting stoned here is a thing the way it is in Amsterdam. I saw several people publicly smoking hash. I also saw several others who looked like they were on stuff other than hash. I wonder what the Czech drug culture is like? It seems common and open but that is merely an impression from one evening out.

The currency in the Czech Republic is not the Euro. I only have Euros on me. So I’m going to have to get some Korunas tomorrow.

Today, a friend of mine told me her 12-year-old son, Ziyad, in Cairo, Egypt, follows my blog posts about this trip regularly and wants to do something similar one day. I want to give Ziyad a huge shout-out because that is probably the best thing I could hear. Ziyad, know that you can do whatever you put your mind to. That’s something I relearned on this trip. I just can’t wait to follow YOUR adventures!


  1. Hey Nadia! you are such an inspiration… and I think big part is because you are so raw communicating through your writings. And by raw I mean direct; it looks like you write what you are thinking right now, without filter 🙂 And that’s so beautiful.

    I decided to write you because I’m thinking on traveling by bike too in few months and I may start alone. I wasn’t quite sure about starting alone, but it looks like this is the only way I’ll be able to do it whenever works best for me. The thing is that I won’t have a lot of money at this point (between university and job moment) and I would like to know how much are you spending around Europe? Since I’m from Spain my other idea was el Camino de Santiago; but I feel so much attraction for Italy (I’ve been there only once, in Torino) and Morocco (what do you think about a woman going alone there?).

    Anyhow, any opinion from you will be considered in my final choice.

    Best wishes
    y muchos abrazos (moltes abraçades, in catalan),


    1. Hi Bruna!

      You would love cycling in Italy. The motorists there are great with cyclists. So are other cyclists. I felt safest while I was in Italy. I’ve travelled alone to Morocco many times. But always the normal kind of travel and never out of the cities on my own. I have an advantage of being Egyptian so I know their language and culture. I am not afraid to,put hagglers there in their place. It’s the same as in Egypt. It would be different for a western woman. Even though I’m comfortable travelling normally to Morocco, I doubt I would ever consider cycling alone there. Way too risky for a woman. I would consider it unsafe. As for expenditures, food is the biggest cost. You need lots of good food for the energy. Accommodation costs can be kept down by camping and staying in hostels. Do your research ahead of time though so you know where you can stay. Good luck! Tell us what you decide to do!

  2. Just a quick comment/clarification, people in Czech mostly smoke marijuana, which they also can grow (3 plants per person) – both is legal. But of course it could be hash or something harder as well. The point is if the drug you carry on you, not the hard one, is for your personal use only, you are fine and won’t get fine;-)

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