Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Week 2 - France to Czech Republic:

Hello everyone,

A couple of days ago I wrote a good page or so worth of bloggage about our adventures in Nancy and since then through the Black Forest in Germany and up to Nuremberg. Unfortunately the computer caused me a hell of a lot of trouble and alas I lost the whole entry.

So this is going to be a long one please read on..... Here is the places that we have stopped at since we stayed in Nancy.

Wednesday 25th Feb - Nancy to Strasbourg to Dornstetton in the Black Forest, Germany.

Thursday 26th Feb - Dornstetton, Rottenburg and Besigheim, Germany.

Friday 27th Feb - Besigheim to Nuremburg, Bavaria, Germany.

Saturday 28th Feb - Nuremburg to Horšoský Týn, Czech Republic.

Sunday 01 March - Horšoský Týn to Plzen, Czech Republic.

Now we are well and truely on the road. During week one we lulled ourselves into a false sense of comfort by staying in a nice enough hostel in Paris and then pure luxury at Anis in Nancy. Since we have left France we have camped out in Carol the Landy every night despite the falling temperatures.

Since I last updated we left France, via Strasbourg. Strasbourg, which we stopped off at on Wednesday afternoon is a charming city. It is really quaint and cute. Unfortunately we were restricted by the parking meter and we had only 2 hours to explore the city. It really wasn´t enough and I would love to go back in the future.

From Strasbourg we crossed over in Germany. We had still not been asked for our passports, or any paperwork for that matter, despite 2 border crossings (be them in the EU) and passing French check points. We wondered how far we would be able to travel before we got asked to produce them!

Once in Germaný we were greeted by (slightly) higher fuel prices but much cheaper beer. (Horray!) As we travelled away from France we entered the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald. The Lonely Planet guide book to Western Europe (which, incidently is proving to be completly useless), didnt offer us too much of an insight into what to expect in the Black Forest so we pressed on not really sure where we were going or what to expect. Obviously we were aware that it is winter and we also anticipated some hills. However, the next thing we knew, poor Carol the Land Rover was forced to scale up over 3000ft into snow covered mountains and we were camped out in the middle of it all! It was dark by the time we stopped on Wednesday evening and it seemed a long time since we left the comfort of Ani´s appartment in Nancy.

We spent the next morning exploring the area around Dortstetten in Schwarzwald where we had ended up camping out the night before. We enjoyed a snowy and rather brisk walk in the cold and drank lots of coffee and tea. We pressed on to warmer pastures and ended up in a charming little town called Besigheim alongside the River Ez the next evening. Last night, we ventured into the town and enjoyed a couple of fantastic German beers. We tried to bond with the locals but alas although friendly they seemed a tad confused by our presence in their small town and a little stumped when we asked for advice on what to do in the local area. Still, I was really taken with Besigheim and dissapointed that we didnt have time to explore it further.

Friday we drove up to Nuremberg which was cold. It was just 5 degrees and I have lost one of my gloves in the Black Forest which upsets me. We didnt have too much time here but we managed to spend an evening ambling around the lovely old town which is separated from the hustle, bustle and heavy traffic of the rest of the city by the city walls. We stayed in a campsite, Yay showers at last! The following day we visited the Documentation Centre which is part of the old rally grounds used by the Nazi´s in the build up to World War 2. I am not a massive museumy person but we went to a brilliant exhibition called Fascination and Terror charting the Nazi use of Nuremberg for propaganda purposes. We set off from there towards the Czech Republic.

We are so fed up of Western European prices. We felt like we couldn´t afford to do or see anything hence our quick retreat across to eastern Europe!

I was surprised when we crossed the German/Czech border. Although again there were no border patrols and no need for us to produce any of our documents, once across the border, Czech was noticably different to Germany. There were Roma people selling fake named clothes, music and dvds and the roads were single track and quieter. Carol was pleased after the hard slog in mist and snow along the motorway that we had taken up to the border. The Czech, like the French are fond of Toll roads so we stuck to the single track roads all the way to a little town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere called Horšoský Týn. After 3 nights of camping in often snowy conditions and a campsite full of massive German motorhomes we decided to treat ourselves to a hotel. We found maybe the only hotel in Horšoský Týn and settled in.

We innocently decided to treat ourselves to dinner and a few drinks and the next thing we knew we were playing darts with some lovely but slightly crazy Czech people and being offered shots of rum from all angles. Everyone in the bar seem intrigued by us and wanted to talk to us. We communicated via some exaggerated hand gestures and a mixture of broken German and pointing at pharases in the guidebook!

Much of the conversation seemed to revolve around talk of football! I am not too hot on the subject and alas and much to his friends´ back at home annoyance neither is Alex. He did try his best though and spent much of the evening shouting ´Slavia!´ with one local and throwing in a little British football terminology such as ´Portsmouth FC´, ´Harry Redknapp good manager Ja?´ and ´David Beckham gut, Victoria Beckham nicht so gut´.

We eventually staggered home feeling a little worse for wear which ultimately has meant that today has not been as productive as we would have liked it to be.

We have spent hours driving round and round Plzen looking for a hostel that we can afford, has space or is just open! It seems that in Czech repulic like France everything shuts on a sunday! We have found a wicked little place now, called Hostel River tucked away not quite so close to the river as the name suggests but clean and tidy with kitchen area, free internet access -hence the long blog- and a really friendly and helpful owner called Viktor. We are paying for a dorm room but there is noone else here! Driving over here we managed to somehow get along a closed off road. We were quickly pulled over by the police who were rather unimpressed by our flouting of the rules! Finally someone wants to see our documents! We showed our vehicle docs and passport but they couldn´t understand them so they just handed them straight back to us. The police then became really helpful offering us a map and drawing us out directions to the hostel.

That is about uptodate now. Hopefully you made it to the end of the update! We are going to spend a day or to in Plzen, home of the famous Pilsner beer before setting off through the Czech Republic to Slovakia.

Lots of love, Katie


Blogger Pixie said...

Gah I'm so jealous of you guys! Czech Republic is a great place :)

I don't actually have anything to say really but I thought I'd comment to let you know that I do actually read this!

Good luck :D

2 March 2009 at 18:31  
Blogger Four Wheels Around said...

Thank you, please keep reading we will update it as much as we can. Oh and I am a massive fan on the Czech republic now!

2 March 2009 at 23:48  

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