Europe Roadie Part 2 – Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, More Germany and Switzerland

Sooo following on from where Nick left off, we are now on our way to the Czech Republic…our first time with NO Sat Nav to help us out!!  It was a long drive and we got lost a couple of times but somehow found our way to Prague, and accidently came across the campsite we wanted to go to out of sheer luck! Was a really nice little campsite, only 16euros a night and beer was only 1euro for 750ml bottle…A-mazing! Had a pitch next to a really nice elderly german couple who spoke no english and even though we couldnt verbally say a word to eachother we managed to communicate a bit! It was really easy into the city from there and after trying out the local beers we headed into the city and had dinner, tried the local cuisine and had yummy beef goulash and dumplings with a pint of beer in a glass that was so big and heavy i struggled to lift it! Interesting fact – the Czech Republic consumes the most beer per person in the world and we could see why!! Prague is an amazing city, the buildings were incredible and the views on the riverfront were so nice, its an awesome city to just wander around and get lost.

We spent a few days in Prague taking in all the sites, we went over the charles bridge and up to the castle (saw the changing of the guard which was pretty cool), went up a huge hill with views of Prague, walked round the old square and ate the most amazing smoked ham which you paid for by weight and you just get a big plate of meat with some bread! I had my birthday in Prague which was really cool, got some lovely cards, presents and messages (thanks again to everyone), Nick spoiled me with a nice breakfast, some treats and then a horse and carriage ride around the city which i have always wanted to do! We did our own mini bar crawl round town and sampled a lot of the beers and local spirits which tasted like paint stripper, had heaps of fun! When we left the campsite in the morning the lovely german couple next door stopped us and gave me a teddy as they realised it had been my birthday which we now have in the van! So sweet!

As we are only in Europe for 3months unfortunately Prague was our only stopover in Czech Republic, we got the chance to drive through a lot of small towns and through the countryside which was nice. Definitely would like to go back and see more!

But back on the road we were to Poland this time….

Poland

Had a long drive to Poland with no sat nav again! It ended up taking about 9hours so as you can imagine we were pretty exhausted when we finally made it to Krakow.  Found the campsite which would have been amazing 50years ago, it had a water park next door that was all overgrown, a barbwire fence around it and the toilets looked like abandoned buildings…very spooky place. BUT it was 15euro a night and close to the tram station, almost justified the fact i kept having nightmares while we were there and waking Nick up saying someone was trying to get in the van!

We went into Krakow the next day, unfortunately it was a bit rainy but that didn’t stop us! Walked around the city for the day seeing all the main sights.  We found Poland very different to the other places we had been to, it was a bit more rough around the edges and the people there spoke no english at all, and all seemed a bit unhappy really. Krakow has some really cool places to see though, we went round lots of nice churches, wawel castle, the cathedral, schindlers factory and a few other bits – so after spending a whole day doing so we were pretty exhausted and headed back to our campsite.  As we walked down the little pathway to get to our campsite we came across a drunk girl passed out on the floor…it was POURING with rain and she was soaked through, she stank of vodka and spoke no english.  No one else stopped to help and we couldnt leave her there so ended up having to find someone who spoke english and got them to call an ambulance and stayed till they got there…very surreal experience.  However i can see why when we went to the supermarket and vodka was dirt cheap as was beer….we stocked the van up before moving on.

Before we left Poland, we went to see Auschwitz and Birkenau…theres not too much to say apart from i would recommend everyone to go there, it was mind-blowing what went on there.  We did the tour that took around 4hours with a guide, and left feeling very sombre but was definitely worth it.

Onwards we went still to i think what has been both of our favourite place so far – Austria!!

Austria

 Firstly going to Austria meant that our Sat Nav worked again…woooop!! First stop was Vienna, we found a nice campsite near to transport to the city but very expensive compared to Czech Republic and Poland. By this point we were getting a bit citied out but Vienna was a lovely city, we did our own little walking tour of the main sights including cathedrals, museums, town hall, theatres, parliament to name a few! We walked along the river and found a nice bar that was set up like a beach with deck chairs so of course we stopped and had a beer…seems to be a common occurance with us!!

As i said we were a bit citied out so eager to get into the real Austrian countryside…and we were NOT disappointed! We drove from Vienna on the scenic road to a cute little town called Melk, walked around the huge Abbey they have there on the hill…had the yummiest hot choccie and cake before jumping back in the van and driving to Austria’s lake district which was SO beautiful.  We stopped in a few little towns along the way to take photos and have lunch and then headed to our campsite in Hallstatt.  I cannot recommend Hallstatt enough to everyone, it is the MOST beautiful place i have ever been to, between the snow capped mountain, crystal clear lake and typical Austrian style buildings it looks like a postcard.  We spent the night walking round and enjoying the scenery before it started pouring with rain, so of course we had to try an Austrian beer or two before getting soaked running back to the van!

From Hallstatt we drove to Salzburg via the scenic route and it delivered. Austria’s main road literally goes straight through a mountain range, and the views are incredible, i think its the first place we actually really enjoyed the drive! Found a nice little campsite, and headed into town.  Salzburg is a small city and has an amazing fortress on top of a hill that towers over the city, we walked all around and went up into the fortress which had really nice views all around. Went and saw the palace where the do-rei-mi scene from Sound of Music was filmed, and also went to see the nunnery where Julie Andrews lives at the start (more for my entertainment than Nicks).

Next stop in Austria was a place called Werfen, where we went to the worlds largest accessible ice cave called Eisriesenwelt…not really knowing what we were in for, we drove the van up to the car park – it turns out the road pretty much wound up a mountain and was stupidly steep, we were very proud of the van that it made it up there without too much trouble. I think it climbed to 1500metres above sea level in the space of 15mins!! Had to do a bit more trekking up the mountain on top of a gondola ride for some of it, and made it to 1700metres above sea level.  The views were incredible and the ice cave itself was pretty awesome.  There were no lights in the cave so we got given oil lamps to carry through, we walked 1km into the cave which was 700stairs in and 700stairs out…it was freeeeezing in the cave luckily we had put every single warm bit of clothes on we had but it was so worth it.  The guide would light up natural ice sculptures within the cave using a stick of magnesium which gave it an eery glow was pretty cool. We werent allowed to take photos inside, so i suggest googling it…was pretty cool! From here we continued on to Innsbruck, stopping at the Krimml falls and getting more amazing views.

Innsbruck was SO nice, the campsite we were at was surrounded by mountains, we loved it! Spent the day walking round the city and ended up at a really cool bar by the river that was done up like a beach, sand and all.  Sat on deckchairs with our feet in the sand and had a beer and a burger…pretty awesome.

SO that was Austria…literally one of the most beautiful places ever!

Back we went to see Southern Germany.

Germany

First stop was Fussen, where we went to see the castles but were disappointed to find that they were covered with construction works, so ended up not stopping and driving through.  Took the scenic route and drove through some really nice towns, Lindau, Friedrichshafen, Meersburg and ended up stopping at a lakeside holiday place in a town called Uberlingen where we had a sunbathe and a swim in Lake Constance – Nick was in his element finally getting to go for a swim!! Kept driving till we got to the black forest, where we stayed in a pretty little town called Schiltach in a campsite right on the river, where Nick went for another swim but it was FREEZING.

Next stop of this part of our trip was to Triburg, where we walked around ate black forest cake (in the black forest) went and saw the worlds biggest cuckoo clock, and waited to see the cuckoo pop out but of course i was too slow with the camera to get a photo. From here we went to Titisee where we spent the next couple of nights, it was super busy here as a holiday destination for lots of Germans.  Had a walk round town, got some amazing smoked ham that its apparently famous for. Went on the lake on a pedalo with a couple of beers and had a swim, pretty cool times.

Now where am i up to…..a quick stopover in Switzerland!!

Switzerland

So Switzerland, we were only there for one night really, we went to Zurich and did a little walking tour of the city which was really nice but SO expensive, it was more expensive to buy a doner kebab takeway in Switzerland than have a sit down dinner in Italy…crazy!! From Zurich we drove to a nice lakeside campsite in Sursee, where we went for a swim in the lake, chilled out and yes we had more beers!! Nicks collecting the labels of most of the beers we have drunk…its getting to be a good pile! The next day we did the drive to Italy, which was a nice drive as Switzerland is very pretty, drove through a 17km tunnel before getting stuck in another tunnel because of an accident. We were in the tunnel for about 2hours with no idea what was going on but i think only in Switzerland could no one be stressed out or aggro about this, instead someone got out a guitar and started a sing a long while other people were playing football…another surreal experience!!

We are now in Italy but i am afraid that is another blog update for another day as i am exhausted after doing that one. We are both doing well and so is the van.  Hope everyone is well and happy – we miss you all lots!

Halfway through the Europe Roadie now with just France, Spain and Portugal to go!!!

Nick and Nat.

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