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.
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.
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.
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.
Across the Czech border we stopped at a campsite on Lake Lipno for a few days of relaxation, free wifi, washing and admin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s touristy, yes, but it wasn’t too overbearing.
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.
It was no good trying to take pictures of the narrow streets though as they were full of delivery vans restocking all the restaurants.
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.
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.