Weesenstein Castle, Konigstein, Brozany nad Ohri, Prague, Cesky Krumlov
87 days away
250 miles / 402 km since last post
5,385 miles / 8,666 km total
On Friday we drove to Weesenstein Castle. We managed to park along the side of the main road and take a stroll around the castle and gardens. They had obviously experienced some flooding back in 2005 as there were pictures dotted about showing some of the damage caused. They had done very well to fix everything up as it now looked immaculate.
Next we drove to Konigstein Fortress, one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe sitting 240 metres above the town and the river Elbe below. Some of its buildings are over 400 years old, and have walls up to 42 metres high. For centuries this fortress was used as a state prison, and it is still intact. We walked up the steep hill in the baking sunshine to the fortress at the top. We walked all the way around the fortress, which appears to rise majestically out of the rock formations - an impressive sight. At one point the trees opened up and there was a fantastic, if scarily steep, view over the town below.
We were close to the border of the Czech Republic, so decided to head straight in. There is a requirement to purchase a vignette to drive in the country. We spotted a little desk near a travel shop soon after crossing the border, but they didn't accept Euros or take payment by card, so we had to continue further into the next town to find a cash point (easily done with our GPS app). We then purchased one from the nearest fuel station - with the woman behind the desk attempting to short-change Stu in the process! We were only planning to visit a couple of places in the Czech Republic so a ten day vignette for around £10 was all we needed.
We found a motorhome stop using our GPS app in the next town which was apparently part of a hotel complex, but it didn't look very inviting. So instead we drove on further to the next comfortable looking stop, which was quite come distance away in Brozany nad Ohri, eventually getting there around 7:30pm. This was located approximately halfway between the German border and Prague. The reception was shut by the time we arrived so we just found a good spot for the night. Thankfully this was a quiet campsite with plenty of space. The shower block looked like it needed a bit of a makeover, but we've seen worse. We have also found, so far, that campsites in the Czech Republic tend to include electric hook-up in the price of the site, which we also like.
On Saturday we decided on a lazy day, but Sunday we headed off to Prague, the Czech Republic's capital city. The drive was fine. We had read that the roads in the Czech Republic aren't very good, but we found the opposite to be the case. You get the odd dodgy road with some bad pot holes, but the main roads are pretty smooth. The standard of driving over here isn't too bad either - not many aggressive drivers.
We found a place to stay which was a few miles out of the centre of Prague, but the reception gave us plenty of helpful info about the public transport, and the city centre was very accessible from the site. They were also able to sell us tickets, so we purchased a couple of 24 hour tickets for 110 koruna (£3.50) each.
After some lunch we took the ten minute walk to the local train station and headed off into Prague. The train only took 13 minutes to get there, nice and easy. I have been to Prague before, a few years ago with some friends, but this was Stus' first time here. Thankfully, Prague is a fantastic city to visit so I was more than happy seeing all the sights again - the Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge being highlights. It was interesting to see the city in the summer, as my memory of Prague is of it being cold, with layers of ice and snow on the roads and paths. It looks different in the sunshine. It was certainly busier than on my last visit however - lots more tourists in the summer than winter. We did plenty of walking around the city, and headed back to the motorhome in time for dinner.
On Monday we headed into Prague once again. We made it into the city around lunchtime so headed to a Pizzeria for lunch. Thankfully, following a massive storm overnight, the weather had turned a bit cooler than yesterday, so walking around was a bit more pleasant. We took an easy stroll around other parts of the city we missed yesterday. This included a visit to the Lennon Wall, which since the 1980s has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics from Beatles songs. Whilst I appreciate it represents a symbol of the ideal of peace, it is a bit of a disappointment to see it now mainly consist of scribbles of 'so-and-so woz here', with the original Lennon portrait now lost under many layers of paint and doodles.
When we decided to head home we realised we needed to get another train ticket - our 24 hour ticket had expired. We were leaving Prague the next day so only needed a cheaper, short term ticket. We expected to be able to get one from the ticket office in the train station. Despite this being the logical move, the woman behind the desk could only sell us 24 hour tickets. We ended up instead buying our 90 minute tickets from a newsagent instead - very odd.
Tuesday morning we left our stop on the outskirts of Prague and headed south. We desperately needed to do some food shopping, and were very pleased to locate a Tesco using our GPS app - making a pleasant change from Lidl or other local shops. Inside it seemed very familiar, but the food ranges were catering to a different set of tastes. We managed to find some coconut milk, which we like to use in Thai curry, but it was located in their special, exotic section - and priced accordingly at nearly £2 a can! This exotic section, covering speciality foods from around the world, was a meagre 3ft long!
Whilst loading the shopping into the van I managed to knock a pot of double cream off the worktop onto the carpet - not my finest moment! We managed to scrub it all away, but in doing so also used up the entire double pack of kitchen roll we had just bought. Good job it was Tesco value.
Back on the road, our destination was Cesky Krumlov, in the deep south of the Czech Republic. We didn't really fancy doing the whole long drive in one day, so found a campsite along the way to stop for the night. The reception was shut when we arrived, so we just found a place and parked up. Unfortunately, the electric points were locked, as were the other facilities. On the plus side though, the next morning there was still nobody at reception, despite Stu wandering over a few times, so we ended up staying for free! If we had been using their facilities and electricity I think we would have felt happy to post some money through the door, but seeing as we were unable to use them we didn't feel too guilty about it.
Today (Wednesday) we left our 'free' stop and made our way to Cesky Krumlov. Stu had read this was a pretty town to visit. We managed to find somewhere to stay a few miles out of the town. It was a quiet site, loads of space and with nice enough facilities - including a washing machine that is free to use! Had the weather been better today I would have happily made the most of it, but without a drying machine I doubt the clothes would have dried as it was too cloudy and cool. The showers are similar to the last place we stayed, where you put a coin into the machine on the wall and then a light flashes to let you know which shower to use. Seeing as this site has electric and easy access to water I think we're better off using our 'on-board' shower instead or paying extra for the shower lottery game.
We've decided to stay at our campsite for the remainder of the day, and venture into the town tomorrow.
Je Suis Le Montage
Hendrix With KO
Mr Tamborine Man