Loving Slovenia…. .

We. Are. Loving. Slovenia.  Despite being one of Europe’s smallest nations at less than 21000 square kilometres it sure is diverse.  Oh so green.  Oh so clean.  Oh so pretty.  Oh so hilly.  The Slovenians have it sussed.  We love it.  And that is despite the weather being grim for the first week we were here.  It’s on the list for a future visit to spend more time here.

We came in from the Hungarian border in the east skirting around the motorway keeping to the non toll roads.  After the relatively flat lands of the Czech Republic and Hungary it’s been wonderful to go up and down a bit.  It felt like being in rural Devon or Dorset with all the chocolate box hamlets but without the single track lanes and high hedges.

Stopping at an excellent aire attached to a Bioterme thermal water park in the little village of Mala Nedelja I had a quick blast out on the bike whilst Tim washed the van.  Oh how I wished I’d taken the camera.  Vineyards, forest, haybarns, fields of corn, pumpkins, artful wood stacks, wild flowers, beautiful houses both new and old, vegetable patches.  I have a thing about vegetable patches at the moment.  That and allotments.  I love seeing them, particularly ones which are filled with flowers.  It started back in Germany.  The Germans have the klein garten.  They are everywhere.  They aren’t just scraps of land where old men go to plant a few seeds and sit in a dilapidated shed chewing the bratwurst with the neighbour.  Oh no it’s more serious than that.  Aside from vegetables and flowers many have lawns, garden furniture, running water, a hut (some the size of a small bungalow) and outdoor kitchen.  More a weekend retreat then than allotment.  I think they are fab and I really like the concept.   But, I digress.  Suffice to say Slovenia is, I think, my favourite country so far.  Or maybe this season as Portugal is still up there.  And parts of Spain.

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The excellent aire at the Bioterme in Mala Nedelja.

Staying on the aire next to the Bioterme gave us a discount on the admission fee.  After 7pm we were able to luxuriate in the several 38 degree thermal mineral water pools complete with bubbles for just €3.10.  Absolute bargain.  Two hours of wallowing and we’d cleaned up a treat.

Moving on in murky weather we stopped in at Ptuj, the oldest and continuously settled site in Slovenia.  Not finding anywhere to park we pitched up in the Aldi (or Hofer as it is called in Slovenia) carpark, did some shopping and then walked the mile into the town from there.

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Looking down from the castle at Ptuj.
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The castle courtyard.

After a mooch round in greyness we set off up to the ski resort at Rogla hoping for the cloud to miraculously clear to reveal a stunning view of the mountains and a bit of alpine walking.  Alas it wasn’t to be with freezing fog and visibility at a few metres it was pointless venturing out.  After a night of rain we were still optimistic that it might clear.  By 4pm it was clear it wasn’t going to clear.

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Rogla ski resort.  Excellent aire.  Shame about the weather.

We called it quits the next morning after another night of rain and reluctantly drove back down the mountain where the weather was no better either.  Ho hum, never mind.  We at least had a couple of free nights at an aire behind a hostel in Slovenj Gradec complete with electric hook up and super fast free wifi.  We managed to get out in between showers for a couple of short walks, frequented the hostel cafe and did a bit of shopping.  Basically we were waiting for the weather to improve.

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A 50th birthday me thinks.

With the weather no better it was time for a city break.   Ljubljana, the capital city, was just a short distance away.  Everything is just a short distance away in Slovenia.  Ljubljana was awarded European Green City in 2016.  I think it deserved that award.

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Looking over Ljubljana from the castle.

A huge chunk of the city, either side of the river, is completely pedestrianised.  Absolutely flipping marvellous it is too.  It’s such a refreshing change to visit a city but feel as if you aren’t in a city.

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Looking towards the Triple Bridge.

Green spaces abound from the walk up the hill to the castle and its surroundings to a stroll across town to Tivoli park.

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Photographic exhibition celebrating the work of the architect Joze Plecnik in Tivoli Park.  Ljubljana is chock full of Plecnik ‘s iconic buildings and city features and it is what it is today largely due to his vision and influence.

It’s not a city to go shopping, more a place to amble about, admire the architecture and enjoy the relaxed cafe atmosphere all in a calm traffic free setting.

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Cafes and restaurants line the streets.

P1090336.JPGA big tick for Ljubljana from us.

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Metelkova mesto, an Autonomous Cultural Centre that developed from a squat in a former army barracks.

Also a huge boost after our week of iffy weather was the discovery of Slovenian craft beers.  The very knowledgeable owner of a little shop dedicated to selling beer talked to us about his countries own beer and recommended a pub to go and try some.

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A few take away Slovenian beers to share with our friends Di and Chris when we next see them (if they last that long).  The beers that is, not Di and Chris!

We found the pub after a couple of laps around the town (just as well it is nice and compact) and spent a happy couple of hours finishing our day off sampling the Slovenian beers.

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Sampling the Slovenian beers in Sir William’s Pub.

What a revelation.

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Beer Menu.

Fourteen beers on tap mostly from Slovenia.  They were all excellent bar one, Reservoir Dogs – Cum Grano Salis.  I’m not sure if we offended the barman when we queried whether it was off.  We were reliably informed that it was a sour beer which are apparently very popular in Slovenia.  It tasted more like a cider.  A vinegary cider.

With the weather now restored to sunny, cloudless days we moved on to the Lake Bled area in the eastern Julian Alps.  We’ve based ourselves at a campsite at Bohinjska Bistrica in between Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj to explore by bike and foot.  Also we were in dire need of getting some washing done.  I was down to my Bridget Jones Big Pants which only get worn in emergencies as just one pair will take up the whole drum of a washing machine.

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Washing done at last.

It is a truly beautiful area with crystal clear waters and snowy capped mountain peaks.  A superb cycleway took us through pretty hamlets and farms to Lake Bohinj yesterday.

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Pretty hamlets on the ride to Lake Bohinj.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to walk around the whole of the lake but it is on the agenda for later in the week.

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Lake Bohinj.

Today, a bus trip to Lake Bled.  Much more touristy than Bohinj but still very attractive with the castle, gondolas, island, rowing boats and people.  Lots of people.

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Lake Bled.

After a walk around the lake we were ready to get the bus back to the campsite for a bit of peace and quiet.

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P1090383.JPGTomorrow we have a very exciting day coming up.  Cinderella is going to the ball.  The 60th Cow’s Ball in Bohinj that is.  It’s a festival celebrating the bringing back of the bovines to the valley of Bohinj from their summer mountain pastures.  The best looking cattle will be presented with a bouquet followed by local dancing, food and drink.  Super.

Zbogom!

Slovakia….then….Hungary…. .

Motorway tolls.  What a headache.  Generally speaking we avoid motorways with tolls as we are in no rush but sometimes they can make life so much easier depending on where we are going.  In such cases we don’t mind paying for the stretch of motorway we have used.  Equally, we are happy to cough up if we inadvertently end up on the motorway by mistake.  Simples.  But it’s not quite that simple.  Nothing ever is.

Going into the Czech Republic two weeks ago was the first headache.  Looking at the map and where we wanted to go we decided that using the motorways would be the wise choice, especially negotiating a city like Prague. You’d think you could just pay a human at a toll booth on the motorway but no.   It’s all much more high tec than that.  There are rules.  Different rules for different classes of vehicles.

If you are under 3.5 tonnes then it’s fairly straight forward – buy a sticker (or vignette as it is also known) at a petrol station or post office which covers the vehicle for the duration of ten days, a month or a year.  Stick the sticker to your windscreen.  Job done.  Nothing else to do.

If you are over 3.5 tonnes then it’s a different story.  Now, our van Ollie is over 3.5 tonnes.  He was under 3.5 tonnes when we bought him but long story short – several years ago we had air ride suspension put on and upgraded him, via DVLA, to 3850kg to increase his payload.  In other words we could cram him with more crap and still remain legal.  He was beefed up.  That was great whilst we toured about in the UK but the downside now is we have the headache of being in a different category regarding motorway tolls in this part of Europe.  In the Czech Republic that means paying a deposit for a ‘premid onboard unit’ which is basically a little box equipped with an onboard tolling unit.  You can get them from a ‘premid point distribution centre’ which are generally located at selected border crossings, along tolled roads or in their vicinity.  Then, the toll amount for each segment of highway is deducted when your vehicle passes under a toll gantry.  So far, so good.  But there’s a but.  But……..it’s not easy to find out information on how much you will be charged as the toll rates of any segment depend on roadway class, section length, day of the week, number of vehicle axles, vehicle emission category and which colour underpants the driver is wearing at the time.  Seriously it did our heads in trying to gather all the information together.  Even more annoyingly if you want your deposit back on the premid unit you have to find a ‘premid point distribution centre’ just before you exit the country.  That’s all very well if you are exiting from a motorway but not great if you are nowhere near one.

Once we knew where we were headed in the Czech Republic we tried to get the ‘premid unit’ but the first garage didn’t do them and the second one only had the stickers (vignettes).  So, we bought the sticker, stuck it to the windscreen and hoped for the best.

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Our sticker (or vignette) for 10 days travel on the motorways in CZ.  Not quite strictly legal for us but we did try. 

The headache isn’t over though as the countries we intend to visit (Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia) all have similar systems with equally confusing websites which have also done our heads in.  The up shot of it all is that after the Czech Republic we intended on avoiding the motorways.  However, avoiding the motorways is fine but sometimes, just sometimes, you can end up on them without meaning to, like when someone forgets to program the satnav to avoid toll roads, for instance. To make matters a little more stressful we discovered on entering the Czech Republic that our satnav didn’t have the maps loaded on it for any country east of Germany.  A slight over sight only discovered the day we crossed the border.  Not ones to make life easy for ourselves by just paying the £70 to upgrade our satnav with the maps we need we are currently using an app that Tim downloaded for free.  It being free I don’t, as yet, fully trust it but it seems to be holding its own and got us to the campsite in Prague and out again with no problems.   We’re sticking with it for now.

 

Heading towards Bratislava in Slovakia  on the motorway we stopped at the last service station a few kilometres before the border to ask if we would be alright taking the first exit off the motorway on the Slovakian side without paying a toll as from there we could easily pick up a minor road to get us to our destination.  The conversation with the man behind his glass window went something like this:

Me: Can we leave the motorway at Exit 5 without having to buy an OBU (onboard unit). Him: No, you have to turn around and go back to Breclav. Me: But we’ll be leaving at the first…..  Him: No, you have to turn around and go back to Breclav.  Me: So, we can’t just…..  Him: No, you have to turn around and go back to Breclav.   Me: Oh, Ok.  Thank you.  Him: Welcome to Slovakia.

Obviously he didn’t actually say that last bit I just imagined it in my head.  We really didn’t want to buy an OBU as we were only planning on visiting Bratislava which is right on the edge of Slovakia before going into Hungary.   So we did as instructed and turned around and went back to Breclav.  We breathed a sigh of relief arriving at a huge carpark on the banks of the Danube in Bratislava which was to be our free camp for the night.  From our parking spot we had a splendid view of the castle sitting on top of the hill above the river.

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Our free camp for the night on the banks of the Danube in Bratislava.

Despite being in the capital of Slovakia it was just a ten minute walk to the old town which had a very relaxed cafe culture feel to it.  After Prague it felt positively deserted.

 

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The castle gardens.
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The Slovac National Theatre.

Bratislava is just a stone’s throw from Budapest in Hungary but we couldn’t face another city and needed to get back to the countryside.  We settled then on driving to Lake Balaton, the largest lake in central Europe and popular holiday destination for the Hungarians in summer.

Swinging out of Bratislava the free satnav app tried to take us onto the motorway.  Nooooo.  Fortunately, being the control freak that I am, I always follow where we are going on the Maps.Me app for such occasions.  Disaster narrowly avoided we took a slip road which then took us over the border into Austria where we were greeted by the police waving us to a stop.  Satisfied that we weren’t harbouring any fugitives they let us go again.  At the next available garage we stopped, reprogrammed the satnav to avoid toll roads and headed back to Slovakia.

The 180km drive across Hungary was flat and pretty dull with the only highlight being stopped by the police, again.  Twice in one day.  Same thing, making sure we weren’t secreting any illegals.  One cursory glance through the window and we were on our way.  We must look like criminals.

After a quick pitstop at a cashpoint to pick up some Hungarian cash we arrived at Lake Balaton and we have been staying at Tomaj Camping, a very friendly little campsite right on the lakeside.

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We’re rich.  The Hungarian Forint – 335 forints to a pound.

We are in holiday mode.

 

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Camping Tomaj – 11 euros a night with the ACSI card.

Tim is currently in the sick bay as regards to cycling as he has an elbow injury still causing problems after all the fence post banging in he did at Alpaca HQ so we’ve been out walking instead.

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With no map it was difficult to choose.
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Kisfaludy Look out Tower at the top of Badacsony hill.
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A very hazy day – looking across Lake Balaton.

And swimming.

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The whole of Lake Balaton to myself.

The village has been celebrating the wine harvest this weekend.

 

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We are in the Badacsony wine region.

Winemakers, folk dancers and musicians paraded through the streets passing out free samples of wine.

 

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Free samples………

It was only 10.30am but we didn’t want to offend anyone by not accepting their kind offers.  It was a smaller, more rustic and interactive affair than the one we had experienced last month in Germany.  We followed the procession out of the village, along the main highway, to the next village on the lakeside where we ate out lunch watching the pleasure boats coming and going whilst people cooled down paddling their feet.

 

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Ah, gotta keep those feet cool.

Today, being a Monday, is Lidl day.  After the weeks shop we’ll head further along the lake to Tihany, a little peninsular on the northern side of the lake and said to be a pearl of not only the region or the country but of Europe.  Lets hope it lives up to it.

Viszontlátásra!


 

Prague…. .

You are spoilt for choice for campsites, within easy reach of the city, around Prague.  Arriving from the west we chose Prague Camping Džbán as it would be the easiest to navigate to off the motorway and the washing machine was €2.  A bargain.

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Approaching Prague it’s a bit disconcerting when the tram creeps up on your left hand side.

All settled in we ventured into Prague on the underground Metro, a ten minute walk from the site.  Another ‘contactless’ machine for the tickets.  Easy peasy.  24Kč (84p) for a thirty minute ticket.  I’m not really a fan of the contactless system as it seems to me that you can waft your card here and waft it there and before you know it you have just spent several hundreds of pounds which you conveniently forget about until your monthly statement comes in.  Or, more importantly, someone else spends several hundreds of pounds on your card.  But I can’t deny that it does make it very easy not having to fumble about with the correct change in an unfamiliar currency with a queue of locals breathing down your neck.

Day 1.

Not having done much research beforehand, which is the norm for us, we set about a walking tour of the city.  As a capital city it’s actually not too large and pretty easy to navigate.  We started with Prague castle.  The hillside west of the Vltava river is dominated by the castle, the largest castle complex in the world, no less.  It’s huge.  Palaces, three cathedrals, museums, galleries and gardens.  It still serves as the headquarters of the current Czech President.

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Looking up to the castle complex from Charles bridge.
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The back of St Vitus cathedral.
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Castle guard decked out in his summer rig.
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St Vitus cathedral from the front.

The grounds give a panoramic view of the city and river below.

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View over the city from the castle grounds.

Then over to the Petřin Lookout Tower, a sixty metre iron tower, erected in 1891 as a mini Eiffel Tower.  We’ve not been to the Eiffel Tower but I would hope that it’s more impressive.

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Petřin Lookout Tower

Down the hillside then to Charles Bridge, completed in 1492, and brimming with people, artists, tat sellers and the like but strangely quiet away from the noise of the traffic.

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Charles bridge, busy but thankfully pedestrianised.
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 Love locks on Charles bridge. 

We finished up our tour with a look at the Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock where wooden statues of the twelve apostles parade each hour.

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The Astronomical clock.
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Old Town Square.

We were too early, or was it too late, to see them and feeling tired called it a day on our explorations heading back to the campsite for a meal in the restaurant next door.

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Beef goulash with potato cakes.

Day 2.

For our second foray into Prague we decided to buy the 24 hour train/tram/bus/ferry ticket for 110Kč (about £3.74) as we wanted to experience some of the old trams and the funicular railway.  Tim offered to look after my ticket but I gave him one of my ‘I’m not a child’ stares much like I used to when he would politely suggest that using the strimmer whilst wearing flip flops or leaning on the rusty railings when there is a 100ft sheer drop the other side is not a good idea.  I do now, at the tender age of 49, heed his safety advice but it took many years to get to that point.  I felt, though, that I could be responsible enough to look after my own ticket.

We took the tram overland this time into the city getting off not far from the river.

P1090054.JPGWe spent most the day ambling up and down the river just soaking up the ambience whilst people and boat watching.

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An office block built in 2006 known as the ‘Fred and Ginger’ building owing to its shape.  The concrete bit is Fred and the glass bit is Ginger!
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The palace complex is enorm.
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The National Theatre.
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Penguins in Prague.

Looked at some interesting sculptures.

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A memorial to the victims of communism.
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Just managed to grab a quick photo of these before all the children swarmed over them again.

Up the funicular railway.  Coffee.  Down the funicular railway.

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The fenicular railway took us from the Lesser Town up to Petřin hill.

We ended our walk in the Jewish Quarter where, aside from tracking down the six synagogues, we spent some time window shopping commenting on the ridiculous prices.

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Prada trainers at a mere  €2679.00!

I felt much as Julia Roberts probably did in the film Pretty Woman when she goes shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  If you aren’t familiar with it you can see the clip here.  I saved myself that up and downer look by not venturing in to any of the shops.

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Or how about a pair of shoes for €1105.00 with the matching handbag for €2762.00.

Whilst wandering back towards the river we saw Gayl and John, a couple from New Zealand, who had parked up next to us in Český Krumlov.  Originally from the UK they emigrated to NZ twenty years ago. We’d spent the evening in Český Krumlov grilling them on all things NZ.  Small world.  Hopefully we’ll see them again to leech more information from them as New Zealand is on our list of possible places to visit in the future.

Having had enough of walking we decided it was time for a sit down.  One of the vintage trams would be the ideal place.  After rummaging around in all my pockets for several minutes, my ego was somewhat dented when I discovered my ticket was nowhere to be found.  I can only surmise that on one of the numerous occasions I pulled the street map of Prague out of my pocket, the ticket, unbeknown to me, fluttered to the ground.  You see, I never did settle on one dedicated pocket for the map and one for the ticket which would, on hindsight, have been wise.  Tim’s ticket was safely tucked inside his wallet.  No chance he was going to lose it from there as his wallet very rarely sees the light of day.  I had to fess up to my loss of course.  To his credit Tim didn’t say a word, just gave me a knowing, smug look.  Mmm, touché.

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One of the vintage trams we would have travelled on had I not lost my ticket.

As it was getting late anyway we decided to head back to the campsite.  So, contactless card wafted once again I purchased a second ticket.

As beautiful as Prague is, two days in a city is as much as we can manage in one stretch so we went off seeking pastures new.

Na shledanou!

A brewery tour in Plzeň…. .

A trip to the Czech Republic would not be complete without at least one visit to a brewery.  The Pilsner Urquell brewery, in Plzeň, is the largest brewery in the Czech Republic so we went on line and booked our tickets for an English speaking tour.  Basing ourselves at a campsite on a lakeside a few miles out of town we hopped on the train to take us into the centre of Plzeň.  Only it wasn’t taking us into the centre of Plzeň as we soon found out when the ticket conductor started chuckling whilst shaking his head and pointing in the other direction.  Ho hum.  Getting off at the first available stop we then realised we should be getting the tram into the centre not the train.  Easy mistake to make.  Tram……train………same thing to me.

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Tram…….not train.

After finally locating the tram stop and waving my contactless card in front of the machine, which duly spat out two tickets, we made it into town.  We just had an hour to kill before our allotted tour time.  Mmm.  What to do.  Walk the town admiring the architecture?  Sit in the cathedral and contemplate the meaning of life?  Or……….go directly to the brewery to see if we can sample their wares before the tour.

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The tour started well……

Having killed an hour in the brewery bar/restaurant we duly lined up for our tour.  Now, maybe I’m being a bit harsh but our tour guide really wasn’t the best.  Lovely though she was she had a very thick accent and spoke in such a monotone, as if reading from a memorized script, that I lost the will to live within the first ten minutes.  No passion, no humour, nothing.

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….but soon deteriorated.

Our group of about fifty was herded onto a bus, which felt remarkably like being on an airport bus taxiing across the runway, which took us to the bottling plant and then on to another area to look at, I dunno, other stuff.  As I said, I’d switched off.

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The cellars……the only interesting bit.

The only interesting bit was going down to the underground cellars, which I don’t think are used anymore, to see where the beer barrels used to be stored.  It was there that the tour reached fever pitch as we were allowed to sample one glass of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell beer.

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Sorry, rubbish picture but we didn’t have time to stop as they wanted to get us all through quickly.

We had to drink up in double quick time though as the next tour group was coming through.  I was just glad to get out as it was freezing cold down in the cellar.  Disappointed.  Sooo disappointed.

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The beer glass made out of bits of wood was OK.

In contrast, our wine tour in France last year, with an engaging guide and small group, ended in the warm ambience of a welcoming bar where we were able to take our time sampling the four different wines that were made there.

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Sampling the wine of the Bouvet Ladubay cellars after our tour in France last year.  All in all, a much more civilised affair.

To cheer ourselves up we splashed out on the three course set menu at the campsite restaurant for 134Kč (about £4.74).  Potato soup, burger and chips followed by ice cream.  Living it large we are.

Next stop…………Prague.

Mĕj Se!

 

 

Onwards to the Czech Republic…. .

Passau, our last stop before leaving Germany, will forever be associated with punctures for us.  There are three stellplatz’ to choose from in Passau, one is €13, another €8 and the one 3km outside the town centre is €0.  Obviously we were liking the €0 option as a 3km bike ride was preferable to spending money which could be used for other things like beer for example.

Our ride didn’t start off well as the route into town was on a grotty cycleway adjacent to a busy dual carriageway and 1km in I had a puncture.  Not a problem though as we carry two spare tubes.   Long story short – both tubes had perished and Tim was dispatched off to the nearest bike shop to source some new ones.  That left me at the roadside twiddling my thumbs trying not to look like I was in dire straits.  I obviously didn’t succeed though as a total of four cars stopped to offer me assistance.   I thanked them all profusely in my recently acquired but limited German and tried to explain that my knight in shining armour (aka Tim) was just minutes away.  They all seemed to understand and went merrily on their way.  With the new tube eventually fitted we carried on our ride into Passau making a mental note to check the bike spares periodically in future.

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Looking at the Danube towards the old town.

Passau sits on the confluence of the rivers Inn, Ilz and Danube right on the Austrian border.  It’s compact and easy to navigate through the old town which is squeezed into a narrow pointy wedge of land between the Inn and the Danube.  Cruise ships line the quayside for onward trips along the Danube to Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.  After our none too picturesque cycle into town it grew on us.

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Outside Passau cathedral.

We were impressed with St. Steven’s cathedral which boasts the largest cathedral organ in the world.  We were hoping to catch an organ recital but it seems they were just once a week and we’d missed it by a day. Taking Photographs was forbidden, although we seemed to be the only ones adhering to this rule, so the photo below is from my friend google.

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Inside the cathedral (taken from google images).

After a wander around the old town we had a very relaxed hour sitting outside the town hall supping a local beer watching the cruise ships come and go along the river.

After our quick pitstop in Passau we were keen to get a new country under our belts having spent over three months in Germany.

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Slowly, slowly the map of Europe is getting more colourful.

Across the Czech border we stopped at a campsite on Lake Lipno for a few days of relaxation, free wifi, washing and admin.

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Autocamp Jenisov, lake Lipno, CZ.

We’d been told that the Czech Republic is cheap for food and drink so we walked into the little village to test the theory out.  Tim was a little over excited at seeing the beer prices at a pound a pint (well, 500ml).  The last time Tim paid a pound for a pint was at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth in 1991 when Stella was on special offer!  Needless to say he is liking the Czech Republic very much.

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Our first Czech pub.

Washing done and wifi hammered we moved on to Český Krumlov, a UNESCO world heritage site and said to be one of the most picturesque towns in Europe.  It had been recommended to us by Marianna and Sam, a Czech couple we met on our first Helpx last year, and also by Anna, a Czech helper who arrived a couple of days before we left Alpaca HQ.  Motorhomes can park overnight at the back of the coach carpark for 300Kč per day/night (just over £10).  It was surprisingly quiet there with a bit of grass, shade and was just a five minute walk into the centre.  Ideal.  But before we settled in we couldn’t resist a stop at the local Tesco.

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Lidl took a back seat for the day with Tesco being more exciting.

We were so excited darting here and there with eyes like saucers you’d think we’d just been released back into the community from a fifty year prison term.  Me running down the aisles shouting ‘branston pickle, have they got branston pickle?’.  ‘No, but look, baked beans’.  Yay.

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Baked beans.  Woop!

The euphoria soon evaporated though when I dropped my tablet on the floor, which I’d been using as a calculator, and shattered half the screen.  Boo.  It still works but it’s not pretty.  Finding tins of spaghetti hoops in Lidl cheered me up marginally but the excitement had just lost its edge by then!

Whilst at Lidl I spotted a hairdresser’s tucked away down a side street so braved going in to see if they could fit me in.  After four months without a hair cut I badly needed one.  (I’d had a tip from Hildegard, the neighbour at Alpaca HQ, to get a hair cut in the Czech Republic as it would only cost €10).  The hairdresser didn’t speak any English but did speak some German and said she could fit me in that day.  Excellent.  True to Hildegard’s word it cost me just over €10 for a wash, cut and blow dry.  It’s a tad short but what did I expect after trying to explain what I wanted by repeatedly pointing to my head saying ‘kurz, kurz’ (short, short)?

Nope, no picture.  Too soon!

So what did we think of Český Krumlov?  Oh, we loved it. A Castle, wiggly waggly river, old town square, churches, gardens, views, walks, bars, picnic areas, it has everything in such a compact area.

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View above Csesky Krumlov.

It’s touristy, yes, but it wasn’t too overbearing.

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A UNESCO world heritage site.

My cunning plan was to get up early and take some photos before all the coach parties arrived.  Sitting in bed supping a cup of tea at seven in the morning I saw a few coaches toing and froing about so thought I’d best get up and out.  I set off on my quest just before the first tourist bus spilled its contents out into the carpark.  I managed to get most of the town done before it got too busy.

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Our approach to the town from our parking place.
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Csesky Krumlov castle.
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Inside the castle courtyard.
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Part of the castle.

It was no good trying to take pictures of the narrow streets though as they were full of delivery vans restocking all the restaurants.

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Trips on the river were really popular.

It’s all so compact with a lovely feel about it that we spent a happy few hours wandering around in the morning and then went back in to soak up the atmosphere in the evening as well.

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It’s such a lovely place for a stroll.

Český Krumlov, yep, a big thumbs up from us.

Next we’re heading in the general direction of Prague but first we want to stop off in Plzeň for a tour of the largest brewery in the Czech Republic.

Ahoj!