Czech mate!

Trip Start May 07, 2012
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7
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Trip End Jun 06, 2012


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Moravia,
Thursday, May 17, 2012

A three-train journey today; Krakow to Katowice, then Katowice across the border to Ostrava (Czech Republic) then a third train on to Brno. All connections went well although we ended up having to get a rail replacement bus service for the last hour of the journey to Brno due to engineering works (just like being back in the UK!). No incidents en route but encountered some interesting pets on the way. Oh and we also had a beery breathed beggar dive into our compartment just before the train departed Krakow – he was sent packing sharply.
A general point is that all the trains so far have been very good (quality and time-keeping) and most of the time first-class is quiet so plenty of room to stretch out. Only problem is getting our two heavy cases on and off as the platform is normally a yard below the train door and several feet away from the platform. Tricky when you’ve sometimes got 2 minutes to make the manoeuvre before the train leaves.
So a good triple journey of just over 2 hours per leg plus an hour transit time and we arrive in Brno the 2nd largest City in the Czech Republic which is the university and legal centre of the country. Settled into the Grand Hotel (surprisingly it was grand by name and nature; the best so far) and out for a Laotian meal in the evening (i.e. food from Laos) – makes a change from East European meat and dumplings.
Up Wednesday morning to do our tourist bit. Not too much to cover in Brno so a rare quiet’ish day and an opportunity to slow down a bit. Castle was good, as were the several squares around the City but most of the churches and cathedrals were locked up. Not wishing to disappoint those blog followers who look forward to mentions of beer swilling, we had a superb dark lager (yes, only one!) in the Pegas Brewpub pre-dinner. Evening meal at Hansen was very good although the wine ordering was interesting. Having asked the waiter for the wine list he handed it over rather gingerly, mentioning that those marked with a blue cross were unavailable. Impressed that there were around 80 different wines on the list we then noticed that only 4 of them didn’t have a blue cross against them. Apparently the boss is changing the list and stocks were low so we accepted the apology and enjoyed a very drinkable 8.80 Moravian (Czech) red.
Bruno is a nice City but two nights/one day is sufficient and we’re looking forward to travelling to Bratislava tomorrow. One thing that ha become apparent on the trip is that ‘Corporate High Street’ is now totally pan-European. OK you expect McDonalds and KFC but every place we have been to has M & S, Zara, H & M, Accesorize etc etc etc. Guess it is progress for Eastern Europe but it loses points of difference for visitors - that’s for sure.
Something else we’ve seen in every place we’ve been to – trams. They are absolutely everywhere. They are a fantastic way to get around, good for pedestrians and very easy on the eye. Why everywhere in mainland Europe but not in the UK (except Manchester and Croydon)?
Cost of living in Czech Republic very impressive too. A meal for two with wine in one of the best restaurants is around 40 and beer is 80 pence a pint. Can’t see anywhere on our trip beating that. No wonder the Czechs seem to be such bright, happy and optimistic people!
By the way the weather has been grey and pretty chilly for three days now. Well below temperature expectations but dry. Hoping for an improvement as the balance of our packed luggage relies on better weather.
A big thanks to all blog responders – great to hear from you and love the feedback.

Next step is acress the border to Bratislava in Slovakia.........
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Comments

Jon Dyer on

I am back from NY! No blogs from me! Nottingham also has a tram system!

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