On Saturday, we drove up to Czech and soon crossed the border (no border control, obviously Germany is the only silly country to those anymore…). Czech is a country which has a surprisingly varied countryside. It is also a country with beautiful, colourful forests, both conifer and deciduous. There is a plethora of colours dotting the green pine trees aligning the borders of the roads and what roads these are! Winding through the forests with clusters of little houses (both beautiful and ugly) in between. First the landscape was hilly with roads softly winding up and down. After driving through valleys usually lined with trees, you reached green mounds of expanding fields, one or the other multi-coloured tree perfecting the picture. We loved this kind of landscape particularly and preferred it to the landscape which came later on and was rather flat and almost steppe-like in some parts.
We didn’t really interact with the community, mainly because in the rural parts there was nobody there and in Prague there were only Germans and Austrians as far as you could guess.
As to the fairy tales I alluded to in the title, Czech and especially Prague really look like a place fairy tales could take place in. The dense forests, the soft hills cascading up and down and, of course, Prague. A city so old and beautiful it is definitely a must to visit. At first it has a very Viennese touch to it but becomes even more romantic than the Austrian capital the longer you stay in. It is dotted with market places ensconced by marvellous houses, towers and sculptures. Street musicians busking, their music emanating through the air, adding to the magical atmosphere.
We ate a Trdelnik, which is a Prague pastry and quite popular apparently as all the stalls selling them sported mighty queues. Still, we got one and it is sort of a dough roll but rather hard, the surface caramelised, and filled with either chocolate or ice cream. We had one with chocolate and it tasted truly delicious.
We had dinner at one of the big market places and it was fantastic! Everyone was sitting outside despite the temperatures being rather low and we enjoyed Fish and Chips and Spaghetti Carbonara, observing people and taking in the Prague air.
We spent the night next to a field, which was a huge improvement to the motorway parking the night before. It was pretty quiet and the only backdrop was that it rained again all night, which made getting up pretty hard. We immediately set off and against our own plans, headed toward Germany instead of Poland because we want to reach Scandinavia before winter has taken over completely.
We didn’t take the motorway once in Czech, as you need to buy a vignette and the lowest amount of days you can get is ten and as we only were there for one night, we decided to take the country roads instead. Generally, driving on country roads takes up more time, but will give you a better overview of the country and its people, housing and landscape. We saw great things, among them also the reason why I added horror stories to the title. You will pass sombre valleys with huge grey and empty factories which look like a loony house right out of a horror movie. Also, among the nice houses, you will pass villages with dark, dull houses, dirty and run down facades as well as the old, grumpy Czech woman walking down the street, throwing you mean glances. But, hey, every fairy tale world needs the dark, sinister places to coexist, right?
We headed toward Dresden and as soon as we crossed the border, the houses changed. The places were less sinister, brightened up and there were cosy gingerbread houses lining the street and gardens with an abundance of trees and flowers, it was really great.
We didn’t go to Dresden as we wanted to go up North and headed to Berlin and sunny weather instead. As we arrived there in the evening, we visited the Liquidrom, a thermal bath in Berlin which I can only highly recommend. We needed to take a shower but after the permanent rain in Czech, we wanted some relaxation and warmth, too.
The Liquidrom comprises a huge dome-shaped sole pool which has underwater music and is the ultimate place to relax. We floated in the water (well, I did, as it turns out my man cannot float – I guess he’s simply too thin), hugged and kissed and then went to the sauna, warming up entirely. There was also a second pool which was outside and it was really odd because people went in there naked even though we had been told at reception swimwear had to be worn in any kind of water. Still, as peer pressure persists, we unclothed as well before going in, but, and I neither intend to be rude or stereotypical, it just made be smile, there were three Americans which were clearly so prude they couldn’t digest the thought that everyone was running around naked. The two guys and one girl eyed everyone up suspiciously before giggling childishly and going into the pool dressed (which was fine, too, as some people did). Honestly, they were at least thirty and still giggled upon seeing naked people – Americans grow up!
Completely relaxed and warmed up, we returned to the car, facing the difficult decision where we would spend the night. In the end, we drove to Charlottenburg, a posh district of Berlin which is probably the safest you can get in Berlin. There we parked and had a pretty good night and morning (despite that I needed the toilet ALL the time, it is really jinxed with my bladder…as if it could sense that there is no toilet near…).
At the moment, I am sitting in the only McDonald’s without Wifi, writing these lines and about to explore Berlin, so I can tell you all about it!