Thursday, May 31, 2012

Salzburg to the Czech Republic

The day we left Salzburg started early for Michelle and me as we woke early for her to catch an 8:30 flight. The night before, while we waited for the laundry, Michelle booked a taxi for the trip to the airport. So the next morning we got up, she finished packing and had breakfast (which she bought from a supermarket the day before as the hostel breakfast didn't start early enough), woke André up to say goodbye, and we headed out the front to wait for the taxi that was due to arrive at 7.

A few minutes after 7 and the taxi hadn't turned up. But then Michelle got a call from the driver who had clearly gotten confused and, we think, went to the other hotel on the cliff where our hostel was located. A few minutes later he turned up though, and she got to the airport without any other dramas.

I decided to go back to bed then because breakfast wasn't served until 9 anyway. When we did get up, we had time to finish packing and have breakfast and didn't leave until a bit after 10. We had arranged to take a shuttle bus from Salzburg to our next destination, Cesky Krumlov. It was a last-minute arrangement, but the cost was cheaper than a train, especially as we got a discounted last-minute deal, and the trip was simpler. We had arranged to be picked up in front of another hostel in town as vehicles aren't allowed up in the park where our hostel was (unless they have a permit which taxis like Michelle's did).

We were a little surprised to be met by a driver with a spacious car rather than an actual shuttle bus and we were the only passengers. Our driver, Daniel, was very friendly though, and eager to tell us all about his hometown of Cesky Krumlov. For only the second time on our trip, we had the opportunity to see the countryside from the road rather than from a train. As we drove, Daniel told us about how the Czech Republic is still working to recover from communism, and how the community in Cesky Krumlov is excited that tourists have begun to notice them. He was also very critical of the EU's demands that the Czech Republic adopt the euro within six years, especially considering the current condition of the euro.

Even from the car, we could see how communism has left its mark on the country. We passed an unused border checkpoint, and Daniel slowed down for us to take a photo of the relatively new EU Czech Republic entry sign, not the old checkpoint ("that is just ugly grey building!"). Many things also just look run down and haven't been maintained as well as in other countries and the trains are visibly much older.

We got to Cesky Krumlov just before 3pm, and Daniel dropped us right to the hostel where we had to check in for our pension (guest house). Check-in was easy enough, and the lady took us down the road, across the river and up a small hill to the pension we were booked into. There were five rooms on the guesthouse, each with its own bathroom (we hadn't had a bathroom to ourselves since Tignes!) and a shared kitchen and dining room. Our room was spacious and looked out onto rooftops of houses down towards the river, and a large high-set church across the river. Shortly after we dropped our things off, we went for a walk to get some groceries and have lunch. We were reminded just how cheap things are in the Czech republic when we bought a loaf of bread, 4 apples, 2 oranges, 1L juice, 0.5L beer, three yoghurts, butter, chips, and two muesli bars for around $15.

We chose a restaurant right on the town square (The Old Inn) for lunch where André had a salmon pasta dish and beer while I had marinated chicken with a large side salad and huge garlic bread for about the equivalent of $20. The food was excellent as well. Very happy with bellies full of excellent food for a good price we headed back to our pension. It was such a late lunch and such a large meal that we didn't even bother having dinner!

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