Part 8 - Czech Rep, Austria, Budapest and the Alps
Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
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Day 158 -Friday 20th July 2006 - Kutna Hora to Telc
This morning we woke up and drove the 66km east to Kutna Hora (did we mention that the roads here are really bad, so bad that they have massive groove marks in them tracks that make it really hard to driver) which is the second largest town in Bohemia after Prague. Well it was an interesting drive as the signs in Czech suck as they are basically non-existent and we made a few wrong turns ... we have decided that they really need to make GPS for Eastern Europe! After squeezing Misty through some very small streets we found a parking spot and went to see the sights... of which was most impressive was the massive St Barbera's Cathedral which is a massive Gothic monument on the hill side and dates from the 14th century
Day 159 -Saturday 21st July 2006 - Telc to Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov
Today we explored Telc after managing to find a parking space in a vacant block of land next to the town entrance ... we had to pay and thought it would be really expensive like most tourist spots but the girl said it was 5 Kr ... which is 30 cents so we just laughed and said we should have parked there last night instead of paying for facilities we did not really need!! Telc has a beautiful main square full of renaissance buildings built in 1589 and apparently things really have not changed since then! We tried to get some lunch at a restaurant but could not get the waiter to place an order for us and we heard other people complaining about the long wait on their food so we paid for our drinks and went next door and ordered a great take away pizza for under 4 euro and sat and ate our lunch in the garden in the middle of the main square. We then took off to find Cesky Krumlov (all the time trying not to get killed by crazy drivers) but on the way we stopped at Ceske Budejovice as we need to get some more Water & Pepsi Max as it is so hot we have just been drinking heaps
Day 160 -Sunday 22nd July 2006 - Chesky Krumlov
Today we woke up early and headed into town by 9am as we wanted to find the place to do white water rafting and because we could not sleep because of the heat
Day 161 -Monday 24th July 2006 - Chesky Krumlov to Austria
Oh my god another early morning... we had to get up at 6.00am so that we could ring New Zealand to book in some weeks away using our timeshare and we had to be at the rafting place at 7.45am. Yeh! We know where we are spending Christmas... in the Marriot Beach Resort at Malaga, Spain... 2 weeks of 5 star accommodation for Chrissy and New Years! We think we will need it and will appreciate the space after living in a motor home for so long. Well this morning the guy at the rafting company dropped us off at our starting point and we got to experience some crazy Czech driving from inside the car this time. He piled us into what he said was the new company car and we were pissing our selves laughing as the thing was a rust bucket that rattled all the way and then he drove like an Indy driver all the way and didn't even slow down to go around corners...my nails were driving into Wayne's leg and I was trying not to look. When he contemplated passing 3 massive trucks on a blind corner on a cliff edge I nearly screamed and told him off, lucky he did not do it and pulled in before a bus hit us... Wayne then got him talking so he could not try again. Well we arrived for the rafting and had a great time going down the river and the rapids
Day 162 -Tuesday 25th July 2006 - Through Austria to Vienna
Woke up and it was stinking hot again at 36 to 37 degrees!! Gem had no sleep as she itched all night...and was not sure why!! Half way through the day she worked out that it was probably from the stems of the sunflowers as they are covered in white prickly things!! Bugger we have two massive sunflowers sitting in the sink so the prickly stuff is probably all over Misty!!! We dropped into Linz this morning and had a look around but it was not a very interesting place so we took off again and took the back road (highway 3) to Vienna. Well we are glad we did as this was the most beautiful and scenic ride along the River Danue through the most gorgeous and picturesque towns like Perg, Grein, Melk etc. All the time it was stinking hot so we kept stopping at swimming spots along the way so we could cool off. The water here is so cool and refreshing, not like home where it is like swimming in a warm bath!! In one spot we were swimming in the river with about 50 other people and we had two massive swans swimming with us! Did we also mention the castles along this route... oh my God they are everywhere and amazing. We stopped at one that was built into the rock in the river but could not go inside as it was now a private residence..
Day 163 -Wednesday 26th July 2006 - Vienna
Today was spent sightseeing and trying not to sweat to death in the 37 degree heat. We jumped on a sightseeing bus and took in all the amazing and beautiful sights of Vienna. We found a fantastic spot for lunch called Figlmừller which is a renowned Viennese Restaurant for serving giant Schnitzel! Well they truly are giant and they hung over the sides of the plate, we also had an amazing potato salad that was just delicious (even better than Wayne's)
Day 164 -Thursday 27th July 2006 - Vienna
Another hot day at 37 degrees, everyone here is freaking out as Europe is having a heat wave and they just aren't really prepared for it as nothing is air conditioned!
We finally got back to the camp site at 6.00pm and took off only to get stuck on the highway because of an accident. We decided to head out towards a big lake which was on the way and we found our way to an absolutely gorgeous little town called Rust. We found a motor home spot next to the lake with about 5 others (the German book didn't know about this one) and then headed off into town to find some dinner
As we were walking back to Misty we were attacked by a heap of mosquitoes and then as we got back to Misty it became even worse like a plague. I was talking to a lady who was next to us and nearly got carried away by them and had to stop talking as it was so bad. Well this was the start of a nightmare... as we got in the van all the mossies swarmed in before we could get the screens up and the next hour was spent trying to kill the hundreds of mosquitoes with poor Misty getting slatted with blood and bugs. The Austrian's next to us were laughing their heads off as every couple of second they just heard big bangs as we squatted them with Wayne's thongs as we had not mossie spray (did not think we would need it in Europe!). Did I mention that Wayne was that desperate he also tried to kill them by spraying them with Glen 20 disinfectant spray and shoe odor spray (they did not die and their feet did not stink !!) Wayne did not believe me that despite the screens being up on the windows they were somehow getting in..
Day 165 -Friday 28th July 2006 - Budapest
We woke up early again because of the stinking heat and made our way towards Budapest. We were kind of sad that we could not see more of the beautiful little towns on Lake Neusiedler See as we were told that there was great swimming and a heap of festivals on, but we just did not want to risk the mossies again !!
Day 166 -Saturday 29th July 2006 - Budapest
Great sleep last night as it was cooler and we are parked under a bunch of trees. We finally got into town and stumbled across a shopping centre and it was bit hard to leave as not only was it air conditioned but the prices were really reasonable compared to the rest of Europe.... And the shoes were unbelieveably cheap which is scary given that both of us have a shoe fetish !! We finally got out of the shopping centre and found our way to the Castle and spent a heap of time exploring it and admiring the view over the city. We then found our way to the Labyrinth which is a series of catacombs that extend 1200 meters under the Buda Castle, that where originally individual caves made by the thermal water and then eventually linked to form the catacombs. In WWII they were once used to hide 20000 Nazi troops. It was really cool in the caves, oh also wet, damp and eerie but cool.
We then headed back to the Buda castle and caught the cable car down and walked across the Chain Bridge to Pest. For 7 weeks in summer they close the bridge off to street traffic for the weekend and have all different kinds of music performers and markets. We decided to have a quick bite to eat at the markets and got charged 2000huf/ $12 for 2 skewers of roast turkey. This is almost the same amount we ate like kings for at the Italian restaurant. What do they take us for..... tourists!! Halfway through eating Wong saw rain coming, so we hightailed across the bridge but got stranded under one of the aches with about 30 other people as a massive thunder storm hit the city. We decided instead of getting wet we would wait it out in relative dryness
Day 167- Sunday 30 July 2006 Budapest Hungary
Well after a sleep in because it was so cool we managed too get going at 11am. We headed back to the shopping centre near Mozka interchange so Gem could exchange the dodgy crystal earring's for good ones. Checked the internet, read some fantastic house design books (while Gem went shoe shopping) and headed back to the Italian restaurant for lunch.... Well food at 3pm is still lunch isn't it?
Caught the no 6 tram to Rozsa-ket island and into Andrassy avenue where we took a long stroll up the tree lined street that is famous for all its architecture. It has just been recently added to UNESCO's heritage list and there is a lot of repair work being done
Day 168 - Monday 31st July - 2006 Budapest To Austria
Wayne woke up early this morning to go shopping (he is looking for a pair of Diesel shoes that he wants as they are about half the price here... he is pissed at me because I got a pair yesterday that fit and he has not been able to find any in his size !). I packed up Misty and mapped out a suggested path for us to take. We have both decided that rather than head for Slovenia we should go to the Alps as it will be cooler as we are so sick of the heat and just can't enjoy ourselves as much as we want to as it is sooo oppressive. We headed towards Lake Balaton which is a massive lake that they call the Hungarian Sea. It was a really busy area where obviously a lot of people holiday but it was nothing special... you can really see the poverty in this area as things are really quite run down. We spent our last Hungarian HUF on a great lunch and stocking up on some more groceries and alcohol.... Got the Campari we have been looking for so we can make Vodka cocktails... yum !! We were sweating it out so we decided to stop at a spot on the lake where we saw everyone swimming so we jumped in our cozies and Gem was really excited (as she just loves swimming and is about 10 degrees hotter than everyone else !!) but as we got to the spot we found that you had to pay an entrance fee (to swim in the lake) and we had no Hungarian money left so we could not enter (Gem nearly cried). We jumped back in Misty and headed out of Hungary and got stopped at the border by an Austrian border guard who wanted to see our insurance papers for the car... we kept asking him what he meant and he just kept saying he wanted to see the green insurance papers !
Day 169- Tuesday 1st August - 2006 Austrian Alps
Great nights sleep as it was lovely and cool! We woke up surrounded by mountains and it was even cooler! yeh. We made our way to our first stop for the day a little town called BAD AUSSEE !! Jarred and Lisa had told us about this town and we all thought it was a hilarious name so Wayne and I stopped in front of the BAD AUSSEE sign and draped the Australian flag over the base of it and took pictures of us being BAD AUSSIES !! (When the traffic was not coming Wayne bared his bum and then we took some of us flipping the bird!!). People driving past were laughing their heads off!! We drove through the tiny tiny streets of this town (so tiny in fact that they have traffic lights to let only one stream of traffic through at a time), found a park and then got out and explored all the beautiful little streets and admired the picturesque buildings that are all built next to a fresh water stream.
Day 170- Wednesday 2nd August - 2006 - Hallstatt to Werfen
Today we drove to Hallstatt which is another gorgeous little town on a big lake and it also has UNSECO world heritage listing and everything is stunning... there are a-framed chateaus everywhere with their wooden decorative decks all lined with flower boxes full of gorgeous flowers that cascade over the buildings... in fact most of the houses in the Alps are like this... I keep telling Wayne we are getting some window boxes for our Sandgate house when we eventually move back there!! Today we got whooshed up the mountain side in a funicular and then walked half way up a mountain to get to the worlds biggest salt mines. You had to dress in special overalls as once you are inside you get to slide down two big big wooden slides (a bit like wet and wild but no water). The tour was great and interesting but not for the claustrophobic!! We finally got out of the mines by sitting on a long wooden train (some kind of little train as the German guide called it). We then hiked up another mountain to get to the restaurant where we had a great lunch whilst admiring the amazing view. Back to Misty and we drove onto Werfen which is the town with the biggest Ice caves in the world and one of the most impressive castles we have ever seen sitting on top of a massive hill (it also featured in the background of the Sound of Music and is famous for it's falconry shows). We arrived at about 6.30 so we were too late to for everything but we thought we would try go up to the ice caves and check out where we could park.... Well poor little Misty got a massive work out climbing up above 1000 meters above sea level up half the mountain on a tiny road.... All the time Gemeah was freaking out thinking that the road was going to slide away as there were some massive areas of rock slide on the way up.... Well we made it to the top of the car park and Wayne wanted to camp there for the night but Gem was too scared that we would roll off the mountain so we made our way back down (brakes smoking) and found a park. Spent the night checking out the little town (no where near as stunning as all the others) and finding wireless so Wayne could get his internet fix.
Day 171- Thursday 3rd August - 2006 - Werfen
Well it started to pour rain last night and the temperature dropped to about 10 degrees (Gem's in heaven) and it kept raining so we had to debate what we were going to do. We decided that we are only here once so stuff it we were going to face the rain and do the ice caves and the castle. Instead of taking Misty up the mountain in the rain we decided to catch the mini bus (we wanted to take out some bloody annoying Italian's who arrive last and then just push you over to get on the bus first!!). Well the bus drops you off at the top car park (1000 m above sea level) and then we had to do a massive hike up a very steep mountain, and then wait an hour in the pouring rain (with no umbrella just our drizabones) to catch the steepest and quickest cable car we have ever been on (lucky the windows were fogged up as you could not freak out how high you were) and then do another grueling hike up the mountain face to the cave entrance which is 1880 meters above sea level... by this time Gem is having trouble breathing as she normally only has 60% lung capacity as a result of damage from her asthma and then put her at this altitude where the air is thin and cold (it was below freezing) and she is struggling... needless to say she nearly punched out the German chick who lit up a cigarette next to her!! Anyway we made it inside and the 2 hour tour (where you had to climb over 1400 steps) was totally amazing... one of the most awesome experiences we have had... the ice formations inside were stunning and despite the fact hat you are not supposed to take pictures...we did as we had a really cool guide who let us. We made it back down the mountain very wet and freezing cold and it took about 5 hours all up... so we missed the castle. After getting some lunch/dinner we took of to Salzburg... got lost trying to find a camp site... eventually found one, got our washing done and then collapsed into a big heap as we were both exhausted.
Day 172- Friday 4th August - 2006 - Salzburg
It's still pouring rain... did we mention that we are parked next to Inspector Cleuso... there is a tour of French motor homes in the camp ground and our neighbor is this gorgeous old man next to us is out in his designer trench coat and his beret. We eventually left at lunch time to head into the city. Well Salzburg is famous for Mozart, it's massive castle on top of the hill and the Sound of Music. We wandered around the gorgeous streets with all the designed shopping.... Gemeah was drooling as the clothes were just so gorgeous. We were told by a couple of people (and lonely planet) not to miss the tour of the castle, so we paid 20 euro to go up the funicular and the view was great... but we got inside the castle and saw that the line to go into the rooms was over an hour... by this stage Wayne is over lining up so we both decide that we have just wasted our money and headed back down to the old town. Gem dropped Wayne off at an internet café and went exploring the shops... they have the most gorgeous Christmas shops here that go forever and have the most beautiful decorations I have ever seen. They also have decorations made from blown egg shells that are just simply stunning... I bought two as they are really quite expensive (about $10 to $35 AUD each) and refrained from buying anymore Christmas babbles as I think I will be lucky if I get the eggs home in one piece!! We then met up and continued shopping and checking out the sites... Wayne took me into a knife shop to show me all of this amazing knifes and I talked him into buying himself an expensive present which is a designer magnetic stainless steel knife thing a magig that will look awesome holding all his expensive knifes!! Well we totally blew the budget today and it started to pour even more so we headed back to the campsite for some hot chocolates !!
Day 173- Saturday 5tb August - 2006 Austrian Alps
OK the diary is becoming a bit long winded so we thought we would add in some drama that happened this morning. As it has been raining we had set up the bathroom as a mini drying room with our mini fan heater... it had been working really well until this morning Wayne decided to try and dry out his shoes and had the heater set up in the sink blowing hot air on them... next minute he smells smoke and goes rushing in to find smoke billowing out of the bathroom...he grabbed the heater that was still on fire and through it out the door while I jumped in to put the vent up to let all the smoke out...next minute Misty is full of smoke and we are trying to open everything up to get it all out. We were really lucky that nothing got burnt in Misty, just had to clean up all the black smoke off the mirror and air her out !! Then we packed up to leave and I was giving Wayne directions to reverse to fill up with water... well he says he could not see me giving him directions to turn and he revs up Misty and goes full speed backwards while I am yelling at him to stop as he is about to reverse into a massive tree that he did not see ... lucky a lady next to his window also started yelling stop otherwise he would have crashed Misty (no more driving for Mr Wongy one eye !!! Next stop today was Eagles Nest which was Hitler's T house for diplomatic reasons...it was 1800 meters above sea level and had a fantastic view over the state park. Spent the night in the clouds on top of a mountain in a ski lift car park next to the Sofitel hotel where Wong found wireless !!!
Day 174- Sunday 6st August - 2006 Austrian Alps
We were enjoying listening to the rain on the roof and being surrounded by cloud this morning, then the phone rang... Bad News... Gem's Pa had died of pneumonia overnight just before he was about to go in for an operation. He was 86 but a sprightly old dude! Now Nana can have her wish... to be sandwiched between her two husbands... she is buried on top of her first husband and Pa is to be cremated and sprinkled on top... Go Nana!! Can't write anymore... too sad.