13th July - 16th July Prague, Czech Republic
Just across the border from Austria in the Czech Republic was a bizarre sight. A mini Los Vegas complete with themed casinos and show girl bars!!!! Presumably these are banned in Austria and the Czechs are taking advantage of that.
Another interesting thing we saw was amongst the various crops of barley, wheat, maize and rape were fields of opium poppies in full flower, not quite sure what market these were for!
The Czech Republic (CR), was Russian occupied when mum and dad were in Europe last, and a lot of the towns, buildings and large scale cooperative farms hark back to those days.
I have never seen cereal crops grown on such a scale, and extremely high quality.
As with all of Europe every available block of land is growing crop, and no sign of livestock outside anywhere.
After some interesting diversions around Prague, due to limited directions, we eventually pulled into our home for the next three nights, a small family camp, on a a farm.
Three generations of the Stanek family had owned this property, originally a large farm it was confiscated by the communists after the war, and the families were all sent to work in different factories around the district, and it was not until 1989, that the farm was eventually returned to them in a very run down state.
The next day we decided to take in some of the places of interest around the district, rather than travelling into the city.
The surrounding area consisted of beautiful bush clad hills and valleys, and we managed to visit the local glass factory in Nenacovice to see glassware being made. Then it was onto Krivoklat castle for the afternoon.
The CR is a real contrast, from run down rural villages , to state of the art shopping centres, roads and transport systems. There has obviously been a lot of money ploughed into this economy recently.
The food in shops was the cheapest in Europe, and especially the Beer.
The Czechs are the biggest Beer drinkers in the world, and make some of the finest Pilsener in the world. Plzen, the town where Pilsener originated is just 30km down the road.
In one Supermarket I counted 140 different types , mostly Czech or German, and the price was under 1euro per litre for good quality Pilsener, a beer drinkers heaven !!!
The next morning we woke to heavy rain, but it was our only chance to see Prague, so off we set on foot, through 2kms of Barley crops to the Metro station, and got Soaked!!
The weather cleared up quickly, and we spent our morning wandering the streets of the old town, before joining a FreeWalks.com tour of the amazing Prague castle in the afternoon.
Prague Castle is the largest in the world, and has been added to many times, to get there we crossed the famous Charles Bridge, and the highlight inside the castle was St Vitus Church which was very impressive.
In the old town we visited the church founded by the famous 15th century theologian “Jan Hus”, watched the amazing astronomical clock in the square strike 12.
Prague is a beautiful city, and we could have stayed much longer, but it also has a seedy side, in that it has become a favourite haunt for western ‘Stag Parties” and “Boys weekends”, and the town is full of Casinos, money changers, party bars and strip clubs.
Tomorrow we head north again to Berlin.