10th-11th.September 2010 IT'S NOT CALLED CZECHOSLOVAKIA ANY MORE
Having been re-powered, we looked at the map and discovered that PRAGUE was less than a hundred miles away so it seemed silly not to go and have a look. However, a bit more research than 15 mins on the Web would have been a good idea......as my mentor Von Clauswitz pointed out "time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted" and this,once more proved so true. I knew that they were not in the €zone but would accept €'s and that there were roughly 30 of their thingies to the £ and 24 to a € and thought that I would have time to figure out the best currency to deal in before I had to shell out any hard cash. Wrong. Hadn't read the section in the European Drivers Handbook on Czech roads otherwise I would have known that you have to buy a sticker for the windscreen at the border in order to use the motorway which appeared to be the only way in to the country. I took too long puzzling over the signs to actually pull over at the border into the customs area where you buy the stickers and pulled into the next service area to read the book and discover I was now liable for a very large fine which they apply with glee.....and I had parked next to a police van that was stopping lorries and testing emissions or something with a large piece of equipment in the back. Fortunately I spied a kiosk which sold the stickers so quickly proceeded to obtain one. They wanted a mere 250 thingies..or crowns ....which in £s equates to £8.33 (I realised later) or 14€ which equates to £11.62 and but was the only currency I had. Even later, the actual exchange rate that the bank charged me for withdrawing cash the next day was 33 crowns to the £ which put the sticker at £7.57 or €6.28 not €14. And this was at a government office. Welcome to the Czech Republic. So then the satnav took us through the centre of Prague to the campsite on the opposite side instead of using the ringroad as its IQ routes thought the ringroad would be too busy on a Friday.......after crawling for an hour I was not amused and dodging trams was not funny. Anyway, found the campsite which was quite pleasant. Spent the next day in PRAHA which is top city but top tourist destination and the crowds are unbelievable by early afternoon...so much so that we gave up on some places as not worth the crush. Very walkable city, which is half the problem as there are no 'hop-on-hop-off' buses,most of the centre being a proper pedestrian zone. WE walked from one side of the river to the other via the Charles Bridge and back over another bridge, finishing in Wenceslas Square (which I found very emotional for the symbolism) and even had time for an afternoon concert in a church listening to a Norwegian ladies choir singing in English. The language problem is the same as eing in Japan in that everything is unintelligble, but the people are nice and speak english....even learnt how to order a beer (and they serve very nice large glasses of Budvar) and a glass of wine for the memsahib....Tesco is big in the Czech Republic and we spent the remainder of our 1000 crowns (after 2 beers 2 coffees,a glass of wine,a map,a concert and a days transport)on beer at the one near the campsite and I still have 100 left...£33. Decided that weekend crowds being too much we will move on but come back this way again for another look at a very grand city.
I might be back ...
10 months ago