Greetings all from the gorgeous town of ...
Trip Start Sep 20, 2002
10Trip End Nov 08, 2002
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Firstly, thanks so much to those of you who have dropped us a line. We really appreciate hearing news from home and do miss you guys.
Where to start with this travelogue? Last we had time to scribe we were in Santorini, so...
After the 9hr ferry trip :( back from Santorini to Athens we hopped straight onto a bus to Athens airport at about midnight. Our ferry trip for some reason was gladly slightly shorter than scheduled and we then had a little longer to wait at the airport for our 4:40am flight to Prague in the Czech Repub. Some attempts at sleep were made on the incredibly hard and seemingly padding-less airport benches, but Jared again was not feeling 100% from the ferry trip and good sleep was elusive. Jackie was OK until she decided to have one last frappe (iced coffee) in Greece at 3:30am!! The guy made it with 4 teaspoons of coffee and 3 tsp of sugar = bouncing off the walls for the next 6-8 hours! Won't be doing that again anytime soon and Jackie is now turned off coffee altogether no matter what the time of day.
The first day in Prague was, to be honest, a little bit disappointing. We were both not feeling great for various reasons as above and, in hindsight, the part of the city that we ended up venturing into was the more commercial and new section of the city. Add to this the fact that we spent the first hour or so virtually lost and we were not happy campers. N.B. to anyone visiting Prague - street names only remain the same for essentially 1 city block. At each intersection the street name changes - very confusinĘg.
We must make brief mention of our accomodation in Prague, a place called B and B U Oty. When we first arrived, bleary eyed at 8:30am, we were greeted by our host Ota - long straggly hair, 2-3 day stubble and thongs. As we made our first tentative steps into the house our ears were greeted by what initially sounded like hippy music and our room had very unqique green wallpaper that looked like seaweed. He then took us up to the kitchen (breakfast), where we were greeted by the sight of 10 strangers around a table. Little did we know how much we would enjoy our time there. Ota was a wonderful and helpful host. The place was odd looking, but very clean and once recovering from the initial shock very homely. Breakfast each morning was an occasion to look forward to - good food and meeting interesting new people each day and their adventures from the day before. eg. Met 4 brothers and sisters in their 50s-60s with their 4 spouses from the US travelling through Europe together in a single green VW van. The last week we have met heaps of interesting people and do not know a single oneĘs name.
The next two days in Prague were excellent. We discovered the older part of the "town" and had a great time wandering the streets, looking in all the wooden toy shops, climbing 100 vertical metres up the narrow winding staircase of a church steeple, attending a puppet show of the RAUNCHY opera Don Giovanni (if someone has a bit of spare time, could they please look up the storyline for us - it was in Italian and some of the puppets looked the same because we didnĘt have our glasses on), bargaining with vendors on the prices of items, having great CHEAP food (a restaurant was recommended to us that served traditional Czech food. Jackie had a beef goulash with Bohemian dumplings and Jared had a Draglicka Basta - roasted meat, smoked pork knee, 3 kinds of dumplings and 2 types of cabbage. We had a soft drink each, some french fries, a soup each and shared dessert. Total was 287 Kc = about 16.50AUD).
In the Old town near the river, we were able to see some of the results of the recent floods, that we were told reached heights of up to 27 feet in some places. There are water marks on many of the buildings and on a lot of the older ones the water damaged the facings of the buildings to the extent that the majority near the river are being re-rendered. The city has a metro sytem consisting of about 40 or so stations. Almost half of them are currently closed for up to six months due to flood damage - whole stations were underwater. All the electricals need to be replaced. They already had an extensive surface tram network, but there are currently special additional trams replacing those metro journeys between the closed stations. I haven't seen such packed public transport since the afternoon school buses to Ashfield station! We got used to catching these trams and their regularity made it an efficient way to get between certain places. Still did a lot of walking though and parts of Prague are nice and hilly.
We once again woke very early to catch a train to Ceske Krumlov. The train station was an interesting place, full of homeless people at 5:45am and also columns of police dressed in full riot gear! Quite an experience. We got on our train safely and were treated to some amazing Czech country scenery. We were surprised to see snow at times and saddened to see so much of the countryside still affected by the recent floods. One interesting thing was the Czech train attendants all assumed that because we were Asian in appearance we were heading for Ceske Krumlov - made the changeover of trains much easier (didn't have to ask anyone where to go, they just told us which train was the right one!).
We arrived in Ceske Krumlov, which is a much quieter and quaint and beautiful town, a nice change from the tourist infested, hussle and bussle of Prague. It is a little town curled around the river with an amazing castle jutting out of the rock face on the hill. We just came from a very enjoyable tour of the castle, guided by a Czech lady speaking very heavily accented English in very animated tones. :)
We have to run for now. Info centre is closing soon, and more importantly, time to go off and fill our stomachs once again with some traditional food. We are staying in a nice penzion (small hotel) in the middle of town. Bohemian dumplings, wierd pork dishes, goulashes and the like await us, so na sledahnaoo (for now).
Jared and Jackie.