We passed through the Czech, Austrian and Slovakian borders all within a few kilometres – 3 different countries, 3 different languages, 3 different cultures, 2 different currencies and 2 different Vignettes required for Ziggy
There was one border check where all vehicles were stopped – we had our Passports out but as soon as they saw the 2 old grey heads with GB registration and Aussie stickers we were waved straight through without having to stop – not so for all the other vehicles.
Decided as we were so close to Slovakia we would venture back because we did not see everything we wanted to see when we were here in mid May.
Our trip in Slovakia was cut short when we were called back to Poland to complete another step in getting my passport and citizenship finalised.
Camping place for Saturday & Sunday: Parking Danubio, Bratislava
Very impressed with NAVIE, our new Sat Nav. Her instructions are super and so easy to follow.
Bratislava has a population of around half a million, has been the capital of the Slovak Republic since 1993 and part of the European Union since 2004.
Bratislava is divided by the Danube river making the road system a maze of twists and turns around the bridges. A tourist drivers nightmare. I listened to NAVIE issue at least 10 minutes of instructions without drawing breath and wondered how my driver could follow them all.
All comments on our APPs rate this place highly and we were not disappointed. A free camping and parking area right on the Danube with views across the river to Old Town and the beautiful castle high on the hill. There are several motorhomes here so feels very very safe. Police on foot patrol at night.
Two restaurants on boats moored in the river – are only metres away. Obviously this is a city visited by the river boats – eg AAPT and from where we sit, there are 4 of these on the other side coming and going.
Night time is spectacular with the castle on the hill and two bridges fully lit as well as the buildings in Old Town.
Visited Old Town on Sunday morning – very quiet compared to Saturday. Not a huge amount to see compared to what we saw in Prague and easily walked though Old Town in a few hours.
Had a wonderful dinner on one of the restaurant boats (which had its own micro brewery on board) on the “not so blue” Danube. So pretty at night with all the sparkling lights across the river.
Left Slovakia for probably the last time ever on Monday morning and headed back across the border into Austria. We really loved this little country.
Our next stop Kutna Hora – a medieval city about 70 kms from Prague rich in silver ore. From a distance we saw three huge spires perched high on the hill overlooking the town. Expected it was near or at Old Town so took Ziggy up the hill and after venturing into Old Town, the roads narrowed and narrowed and soon we opted to find the best spot to turn around before we became sandwiched. One of the many times we have wished we could bring in the side mirrors.
Found a spot a short way away and set off looking for the three spires. The information board in Old Town was only in Czech – ugh !!! We meandered through Old Town into the main square – very quiet compared to Prague – but again witnessed the pride of this town with all old buildings restored and painted.
We saw a bus group heading up the hill so we followed them and at the end were rewarded with coming face to face with the three spires – St Barbara’s Cathedral – wow. It rivals St Vitus in Prague in size and elegance. Its soaring nave culminates in elegant six petalled ribbed vaults. The chapels include 15th century frescoes. This cathedral certainly is the most impressive externally.
There are several other places of interest here and the views across the valley are more than spectacular. A wine growing region also and local wines can be purchased here.
Time to move on and find a campsite for the night.
Campsite for tonight: Autokemp Vysocina Jihlava-Stoky
Not a lot of places to choose from and as Czech Republic does not allow wild camping we pulled into this one as it was getting late. Again misled by the pictures in our APP, this place is not one that is recommended. A parking area attached to a restaurant (which was not open) and accommodation place for workers (all male) with one WC and shower (with no door) for everyone to share – not good so again opted to use Ziggy for showers and toilet.
We have been experiencing and hearing a growing noise (thought to be wheel bearings) and though have had it checked out twice already, Rob is very concerned and eager to find someone who will take his concerns seriously.
Wednesday 6th September
Had a quiet night – not expected with the clientele staying here and left reasonably early.
Spoke to a mechanic in Jihlava about 20kms away who again didn’t want to help so headed for the next big town Brno.
Wednesday & Thursday nights 6th & 7th September
Camp for 2 nights – Motortec, Brno
Motortec is a Fiat/Alfa Romeo/Maserati sales and service operation and they bent over backwards to help us out.
They advised us not to drive any further and said they would check out the problem.
Looks like the really rough roads we had been driving over In Poland had finally caught us with us and we had done some damage in the front left wheel.
It would take a couple of days to get the parts from Italy but it would be ok to park at the front of their business overnight whilst they waited for parts.
They provided us with a courtesy Fiat car to drive around and see the sights of Brno.
The parts arrived, they fitted them and off we set.
Their service was excellent – fortunately their service manager spoke some English otherwise the task would have been very difficult.
Friday 8th September – Austria for one night only
Keen to leave Brno now, even though we did not visit the town. Decided to find a quiet country campsite for some R& R.
So relieved as we drove away from Motortec in Brno and soon hit the highway – no noise – Ziggy purred along – we were so relieved that someone took the time to listen to our concerns and more than that saved us from a potentially dangerous situation.
Spent our remaining Czech money at Lidl and soon after passed through the border gates into Austria. No checkpoint check again and travel through borders in the Schengen area has been seamless.
Campsite for tonight: Bernhardsthal – Austria
Just what the doctor ordered. 5 minutes outside this quaint little town, set on lush green grass, green trees everywhere and on a river, a free spot for motorhomes was provided. Two other motorhomes were already there enjoying the peace and tranquility and Ziggy happily nestled between them. We sat and bathed in the remaining day’s sunshine and talked and laughed about our adventures thus far.
Only 100 metres away, there was a small club house/restaurant where the locals came and went. Outside the clubhouse, there were two long cement rinks (similar to our bowling greens but cement) where a group of men were playing a game which I think is called tut put. They hurled flat bottom pucks about half meter diameter with handles on top, along the cement – the aim to get as close to the x marked in a square at the end of the rink. They played for hours into the night under flood lights. Have not seen this played before and will do some research on it when next in wifi zone. The clubhouse had external WC which they offered campers the use of.
We have seen so much and experienced so much. Our history and geography lesson continues day by day.
Woke up Saturday morning – again a beautiful but windy day. This sleepy little town came alive – tractors, bicycles, cars all towing trailers full of branches, all heading in the same direction. Continued for hours, so expect this must have been the towns clean up day.
Ventured into town for a look around. Just a little quaint village in the back blocks of Austria – close to the Czech and Slovakian borders.
Thursday 31st August – Chabarovice, Czech Republic
We entered Czech via a secondary road and received a bit of a culture shock. The roads were horrific and in really bad condition. The first town we passed through was the worst we had seen. Buildings dilapidated, ugly grey coloured cement buildings – very depressing and with the rain coming down, it was dark and dismal which didn’t help our first impression of this country. We have experienced this a few times now when we have left one country into a poorer country, the towns and roads just across the border have been sadly neglected.
Our stop for the night was not far over the border and was beside a lake.
Campsite for tonight: Autokemp Chabarovice – 2 nights
Mostly accommodated tourists in cabins with about 5 spots for vans or campers or tents. Still raining when we arrived and didn’t let up for two days. Didn’t get to walk anywhere – first time we have had such bad weather for two days straight.
Internet was good so took advantage of our down time to do research on Prague.
Would not recommend this place as drinking water only available by the bucket – no grey water disposal area – chemical toilet disposal was dumping this into a toilet in the men’s block – not pleasant as other motorhomers would know. Showers were at an additional cost as was power – we have not got any Czech money yet – so not an option. Happily used Ziggy for showers as the campsite showers looked like they were extremely old and dirty and filled up the water tanks by bucket before we left.
Probably in better weather conditions, the lakeside would have made this place more attractive.
2nd – 5th September – Prague
The countryside and buildings and roads improved dramatically as we ventured closer to Prague – expected this and with the help of our new NAVIE, had no trouble finding our campsite for the next few days.
Campsite for 3 nights: Autocamp Dana Troja, Prague
Reviews for this place were excellent and though more expensive than some others, we can’t recommend this place highly enough. Only very small (maximum 12 motorhomes), it is set in a garden that once was an orchard. Apple trees still nestled between the sites, had a good crop of delicious red apples there for the picking, though this short person needed the services of my best friend to reach apples high up on the lower branches 😊
The service provided by the owners was the best by far of all the places we have stayed in and nothing was too much trouble. They even offered to put my washing on and hang on the line while we went touring. Tram tickets are organised at reception and they offer money exchange from euros at the best rate we saw anywhere. Trip into Old Town only takes 10-15 minutes by tram.
Most places in Prague take either euros or Czech koruna (CZK) which made life very easy. Even menus in restaurants show both prices and have English translations.
We had three fabulous days in Old Town (Stare Mesto) , Lesser Town (Mala Strana), New Town (Nova Mesto) and Castle District (Hradcany). This area is the largest of any of the cities we have visited to date. Only our pictures can show how magically different this city is – but again none do it justice.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities we have seen. It’s uniquely preserved historical centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site reflects eleven centuries of history. This culturally rich city is full of fabulous monuments and diverse architecture. Spires and domes, statues, buildings showcasing fabulous paintings, on the outside as well as inside, parks and gardens and boats filled with tourists travelling up and down the Vitava River – so much to see at every corner.
The main square in Old Town is filled with thousands and thousands of tourists all standing and looking in awe – in every direction – just too much to take in all at once. Buskers in every corner. Horses and carriages (for the romantically inclined), colourful restored antique cars (for the “look at me” tourists) and electric big wheel bikes were among some of the forms of transport offered.
It took a couple of days to stroll down most of the streets which included visits to the Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock where the 12 apostles appear on the hour; Cathedral of Our Lady before Tyn (another impressive Gothic Cathedral) and St Nicholas Church and too many more to mention. Thoroughly enjoyed the stroll across Charles Bridge from Old Town to the Castle District – for every tourist a must do to see the rich sculptural decorations and statues at ever few metres along this bridge.
Treated ourselves several times to pub and restaurant stops for a pint or two and the footlong bread rolls with kobasa sausage, sauerkraut and sauce and mustard – yummy!
Also just had to have the local treat here Trdelnik which can be eaten on its own or stuffed with ice cream and other sweet things. It tastes a bit like donuts but is a sweet rolled pastry encrusted with sugar and cooked on a rotisserie. Certainly a favourite with the local bees who swarm around anyone eating one of these – double yummy and- yes – the weight is getting harder to control.
Cathedral of St Vitus is one of the 10 top cathedrals in the world to visit. It stands high on the hill in the Prague Castle precinct. Just breathtaking, can’t find words to describe this Gothic cathedral that took over 600 years to build.
We toured through the Old Royal Palace and St George’s Basilica and then down Golden Lane which are a row of small houses built in the castle grounds to house workers and marksmen who defended the castle. Stayed long enough to see the pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guards at the palace.
The public transit system is really great – very fast and very punctual, however travelling on this type of system in another country where all the signage is in the home country language can be a challenge.
On our first trip into Prague Old Town we were not sure as to which tram stop to get off – we knew it was probably about the sixth stop – when it was about the fifth stop I asked my Navigator if she could see the sign announcing the name of the station – she replied it is Zákaz Kouření. I smiled and laughed and said no that means “No smoking”. The only reason I knew was because I had looked it up on Google Translate previously.
A fairytale city that could take one a week or more to truly see everything.
Sadly we left on Tuesday morning with a basket full of delicious apples and so many memories.