Okay so I know I said the other day that on those days that we can’t be online, you still know everything is fine as long as the car moves in the right direction. Then it hit me. I said to Brian ”I don’t think it says on the website that we were going to Czech Republic. Or Croatia.” Oops. Sorry. Everything is fine, okay?!
But going online has proven to be way more difficult than I thought and I’ve been stressing about it quite a lot. I guess I thought Europe would be covered. But this isn’t like travelling to the big cities of Europe and stay at fancy hotels where you most definitely have internet access 24/7. We drive all day, always get to the campsites a little later than we had hoped for and the last thing we feel like is trying to find another one at night because the one we arrived at doesn’t have wifi. And since we’ve had other things to do I haven’t had much time to hang around internet cafés all day either. So bear with me friends, I’m updating as often as I can!
Leaving Berlin the gps – which by now obviously is considered a person and can be both praised and yelled at – decided to play us a prank. As we started heading more and more south west instead of south east towards Prague we started questioning the chosen route but it was too late. We now had to climb every little hill of southern Germany to get back to where we were supposed to be. Brian looked more and more worried about the cruiser’s gearbox as it moaned its way up what felt like the 420th hill.
This meant we were getting a bit late and would only reach Prague after it got dark. But that meant getting a marvellous view of Prague, all lights in black surroundings spread out in front of us as we got closer – and a fun surprise. We had picked a campsite close to the river Vlata (?) that runs through the city. When we woke up in the morning we realised we were on an island in the river! We had not even noticed we drove over a small bridge as we were trying to find our way to the campsite in the dark.
The following day we did some much needed “household work” – airing out all sheets, duvets, pillows and mattresses after days of damp and cold weather. It was so nice finally getting some sun and heat. We then headed into Prague to explore the city. And what a city! I fell in love straight away, such gorgeous old buildings and historical atmosphere to it. We walked around being proper tourists, eating pizza, drinking beer, walking over the Charles bridge hand in hand. As it got dark we sat down for another beer with a view over the bridge and all of a sudden we got this spectacular lightning bolt show. Since I didn’t have my tripod it was tricky keeping the camera still long enough to get a sharp photo and hard to predict the next bolt of lightning so I gave up after about 10 shots. Brian instead took on the challenge and grabbed my camera. And he got a shot with a lightning bolt in it! Sharp and all. Crap. I’m really not a competitive person but that really triggered me. So now I can’t wait for the next thunder storm. I’m gonna be out there, tripod and all, to get a better photo.
The evening went on and just as we started looking at the watch wondering if anything else exciting would happen that evening, two guys walked into the bar and joined the table where we were sitting – one South African and one Finnish! They were really nice and we all had a good chat.
Having had hardly any time to do research on Czech Republic – or any of the other European countries for that matter – we had only planned to see Prague and then continue south. But a friend of ours, Lasse, advised us to go past a place called Kutna Hora east of Prague before leaving the country. There was apparently this chapel where the interior was human bones! We just had to see that. However, we packed up a little slow and just as we were heading for the gate we started talking to this Australian couple at the campsite. It turned out they were super nice and really interested in the cruiser so we ended up chatting for quite a while as well.
We made it to this little chapel in Kutna Hora a few minutes before their closing time and with a quick sneak peak we decided we had to stay overnight in the area and give it another chance in the morning. We stayed at a campsite on the other side of town and returned to the chapel. Coming in our jaws dropped and we just walked around there looking at all these skulls and bones. I didn’t know what to think of it. Was it repulsive or fascinating? Being quite interested both in anatomy and history I have to say it was the last for me. Lasse said it was a bizarre experience but worth seeing, and that’s a good way to sum it up. You can read more about the chapel here.
After the visit to Kutna Hora we headed south into Austria but were greeted by dark skies and heavy, heavy rains. We desperately looked for a campsite in the Graz area which was as far as we had the energy to drive that day. We must have looked pretty tired when we arrived because the camp managers, Jurgen and Karin, straight away offered us a little cabin for a few euros more instead of our tent. Thinking about spending another cold night in the tent now that it was raining as well we didn’t hesitate for long. It was late season and we were pretty much the only guests at this little countryside campsite and we ended up sitting talking to Jurgen and Karin for the rest of the evening. It turned out Jurgen was a former player for the Austrian rugby team so it didn’t take long before Brian and him talked sports, but there was also plenty to tell about our trip, as one local drink after the other came on the table. We were for example introduced to Uhudler, a drink best described as an Austrian version of moonshine (except it’s wine) which was banned from selling up until about 10 years ago.
Having told them about the big project ahead of us they said “Well, it will continue raining tomorrow so maybe you can take a day’s break. We were gonna take a day off and go to a local spa – you can come with if you want.” Having just spent our first 10 days on the road and just gotten used to 3 minute showers with expensive tokens and cold nights in the tent a spa sounded fabulous. So we headed off with Jurgen and Karin the next day and spent the day in saunas and a hot pool for so long that we almost started dissolving. It was a huge spa facility with naturally heated thermal pools. When they then said we didn’t have to pay anything for it, that this was their way of supporting our trip, we thought we were in heaven.
Feeling cleaner than ever we stopped at a local “farm shop” on our way home. These places work as the local pub and restaurant but they farm their own livestock and produce everything on site – anything from smoked ham to salami to bread. We sat down and out came this tray full of different delicacies from the farm’s production. And the evening continued with trying out all the Austrian specials that Jurgen and Karin thought we must try. Apart from all the delicious smoked hams and salamis on homemade bread, we tried sturm, “young wine”, the first wine that hasn’t been filtered or processed yet, a lemonade of a local fruit that had a similar flavour to litchi fruit, a schnapps made out of pine tree cones, black berry schnapps and of course the local beer Puntigamer.
Yesterday we packed up and said cheers to Jurgen and Karin, exchanging some Uhudler and pumpkin seed oil for some Mocambican rum. On the way through Austria we called the port agent for Grimaldi to find out when our ship departs from Italy next week. It is still scheduled for the 20th which gave us a few days extra. So instead of stopping in Italy we continued south and drove through four countries in one day. Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. We wanted to return to Croatia, where we bought the cruiser last year, to see a bit more of it and decided it would be a good basecamp these last few days before the boat ride across the Mediterranean.
So now we’re here, at this beautiful campsite parked a few metres away from the sea. The weather is much better again, just a little windy. Today we’ve done some more laundry and while I was sitting editing photos, Brian did some car work. We’re going to use these days now to get ready for the ship, have everything in order in the car for the Israeli security checks, all our international documents in order and what not. We were just informed yesterday that we will have no access to the car once it’s parked on board the ship. And we won’t be allowed to leave the ship during its stops along the way. And there probably won’t be any internet access on board. Sounds like a fun week! But we’ll keep you posted on what happens up until then.