After a full-on week in Berlin-Leipzig-Colditz we really needed a few days downtime. We chose Meissen, as the stellplatz was part of a quiet rural hotel on the outskirts of town.
Travelling around in the van, we’ve been woken up in the morning by many different sounds: dogs barking; cockerels crowing; church bells ringing; emergency services driving past with sirens blaring; trains trundling past; aeroplanes taking off etc. Well in Meissen we were woken up on both mornings by the owner’s pet parrot doing wolf whistles, or imitating one of those old trim phones. I actually found it quite funny.
Having no plans whatsoever to move us forward, I needed to put a route together to get us through the Czech Republic and Austria, and into Slovenia. There are so many variables when planning a route, that it’s not as straightforward as it may seem: is the site still going to be open now that we’re approaching the close season? how many spaces are there? does it have the services we need? are there loads of bad reviews? is it next to a busy main road? is it in a safe area? and so on. Luckily there are loads of resources to help, but it still takes time. We now have a route taking us though to Austria.
It doesn’t help that the Czech Republic isn’t really geared up for motorhomes. They don’t have an equivalent of the French aires or German stellplätze, so you have to stay on a campsite, and whilst there may be lots of camp sites these tend to be in the middle of nowhere, so for this reason we will be crossing through the country rather quickly.
For some time now we’ve been looking to buy an outdoor table and chairs which will fold up neatly in the back of the van. We’ve stopped at loads of camping shops and either the chairs weren’t comfortable, it took up too much space or it was stupidly expensive. With a last throw of the dice before leaving Germany yesterday, we stopped at a camping shop just before the Czech border and we finally found a decent table along with chairs which were really comfy, folded very flat and weren’t too expensive. The chap in the shop collected foreign currency and was for some reason after a £5 note, so we sold him one for €5.50 and we all went away happy campers.
Crossing the border into the Czech Republic felt weird, like it was taking me outside of my comfort zone. So far on this trip I’ve not been fazed by anything as I’ve visited all of the countries previously, and know enough vocabulary to at least get by. Now, we’re in a country where I can’t speak a word, and even reading the written word is nigh on impossible with lots of consonants joined together and accents everywhere. They also don’t use the Euro, so we will have to learn our 28 times table. All part of the fun though, I’m sure we’ll pick things up as we go along.
We had trouble finding the campsite at Děčín, so I stopped at a bar to ask the way. Luckily for me the guy spoke some German, so we were soon parked up with our table and chairs out enjoying a little sunshine and some outdoor dining.
The al-fresco dining continued at breakfast time this morning, but no sooner had we finished eating that the day turned into a wet wash day – literally. We’d put a couple of loads in for a service wash, and had intended to hang it all up on the line to dry. Fortunately the nice lady was able to put it all in the tumble dryer for us, and she brought it back to the van all neatly folded with socks paired up – excellent service!
We did more planning today, with a route drawn up to take us through Austria and into Slovenia. The Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia each have a road toll scheme in place whereby because the van weighs in at over 3.5 tonnes, we we will have to rent a box and fit this in the cab of the van so that they can charge tolls electronically. Each country has its own scheme though, so we’ll have to do this three times over the next few weeks – oh joy! First thing tomorrow we’ll try and get ourselves kitted out with the Czech version on our way to Prague.