Two days off in Salzburg seems to have allowed us to recover from the mysterious fatigue (what can have caused it?) and we can justify our idleness by the fact that it has been raining heavily and there are reports of snow up the mountains. We have both bought another layer of clothing.
I have been mildly disappointed by Salzburg which is a lovely place but maybe loses a little in direct comparison with Dresden, Prague and Čésky Krumlov. It must be nearly time to recalibrate my aesthetic appreciation by returning to Tiverton. Just before Čésky Krumlov we passed through Čésky Budjovice which we had imagined to be a rather dull large industrial town. Maybe it was but we nipped in to the old square and were impressed:
The Czech Republic was the only country that I had never visited before this trip and it often seemed the most “foreign” and unfamiliar not only because we had no idea of the language beyond “dobry den” (good day). We started with the rather scruffy sights and towns of the Northern part by the Elbe.
It was quite a contrast with the tidiness of Germany but as we travelled South it became smarter and presumably more wealthy. Prague is almost like another country again; throughout the city for instance the pavements are topped by an attractive and labour intensive mosaic of black and white stone.
The people we met were pleasant and helpful particularly in the more rural areas. We stayed a night in a Pension in Hluboká nad Vltavou, Restaurant Pension L-club, which was unironically a tribute to the 1970s, the decor was completed by a whirlpool bath and in-room music system with Elvis Presley and compilations of 1970s love songs. It was great though and inexpensive and included a private sauna (very relaxing) which led us to wonder if we could install one at home. Anyone for a sauna? Maybe not.
One day we stopped for a mid morning break at Kostelec nad Vlatavou and were serenaded by brass band practice in the church grounds:
There were consistent minor cultural differences. It took a few days before we realised that there are few clues from the outside as to whether a shop or bar is open. Well we thought it was cultural differences but maybe word of our travels had preceded us and everyone closed the doors and hid.
It was the only country where we have had to get out our passports, not to enter the country or to leave but to register for a hotel or pension room. It is a lengthy bureaucratic process both on paper and online and one which I had forgotten used to be common elsewhere twenty years ago.
Our final Czech korunas were spent in a lovely but empty cafe in Vyšší Brod on coffee and Apfelkuchen (with plums) served by a staggeringly rude and abrupt old man. Then we arrived in Austria and theblue Danube:
Don’t miss Andrea’s blog published yesterday.