|Czechia (Czech Republic)- April 2023|
Prague had long been on my bucket list and when one of Wendy's relations invited us to a family get together over Easter there, we jumped at the opportunity to include the meeting as part of a 6 week tour. Prior to departure we only made a site booking for Easter and we only had vague plans where we would go after visiting Prague. We took 4 days to travel through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to the Czechia border all largely on toll free motorways with night stops in Bruges, Soest and Colditz. The 690 mile journey could be done in 3 days, but we stayed two nights at Colditz to visit the town and castle. At the border we took toll route 8 to Prague stopping at the first garage to buy an electonic "MyTo" toll tag for my over 3.5 ton motorhome. A refundable deposit of 100 euro was required for the tag which had to be preloaded with credit to pay tolls. Any unused credit is refunded along with the deposit on returning the tag. I loaded the tag with 1000Kn (Koruna), about 40 GB pounds, to cover our anticipated toll use. You can find out more information about tolls in Czechia on the "MyTo" web site here. Traffic was very heavy on entering Prague and thanks to our sat nav we had no problems finding Camping Sokol. From Prague we drove to Terezin spending one night there and then travelling on to Karlovy Vary for a couple of nights. Our last visit for one night was to Cesky Krumlov.
Prague Prior to leaving the UK, I had researched Camping Sokol and had also been in touch with them via email. On their advice I booked a pitch because of the Easter holidays. We spent 6 nights at this site which lived up to expectations for the helpfulness of the English speaking owner and staff who supplied information on how to travel into the centre of Prague and also provided a mini bus service to the local railway station. The site is located in a quiet pleasant area of Dolni Pornerice oposite parkland and is made up of mobile homes and touring pitches, the latter being located in the centre of the site. Pitches are quite small and close together and can be muddy when wet, but the facilities were modern and clean. We found the easiest way to travel to the centre with a wheelchair passenger was to take a 5 minute walk to the bus stop to catch the 208 bus to the Hostivar Depo. Here you could either use the metro or the number 16 tram to the centre. The fastest we did the journey was about 35 mins, by train it is only 13 minutes between stations but the added avantage was bus, tram, and metro travel for "seniors" was free and less walking was involved. We did try the train once for the journey back to site. The one way senior fare was about 1.45 GB pounds for both of us and it was a 20 minute walk back to the campsite.
We travelled into Prague on three of the 6 days we were there, once to check out travel arrangements and get our bearings, once to meet family and lastly for a look at the sites and an evening meal. We also went on a coach tour to visit the places Wendys' ancestors lived. Over Easter the weather remained fine and Prague was very busy especially on the Easter Monday when we spent the day wandering around. This included visiting the markets and the major sights of the astronomical clock and Charles Bridge. We had very few problems getting around with a wheelchair and where these were encountered, a way around them was usually available. The weather being fine we spent most of our touring time in the open air and could not be bothered to join some of the queues or the crowds.
Terezin After leaving Prague we headed about 40 miles north to this fortress town. We intend to stay at a nearby campsite in Litomerice, but found it closed when we arrived in the late afternoon. The site was in parkland alongside the river Elbe and there was a small car park just outside the site which we decided to overnight in and visit Terezin on the following day. We had a peaceful night even though there was a busy railway line in close proximity. In the morning we drove the short distance to Terezin and we had no problems finding space to park to visit the Ghetto Museum. At the start of WW2, Terezin had about seven thousand inhabitants. These were all evicted by the Nazis and the town turned into a concentration camp for the collection of Jews while the Nazis built their extermination camps. The town eventually held 68,000 Jews in appalling conditions and many died here, both in the town and in the small fort prison, before they could be moved on to the extermination camps. We spent about two hours in the Ghetto Museum soaking up the information about the history of the town before walking about a mile through the town and fort to vsit the small fort used as the prison for those who fell foul of the Nazi regime. In contrast to the grandeur of Prague, the buildings in the town were drab and stark and combined with its terrible past, this was a sobering visit.
Karlovy Vary Leaving Terezin after lunch we drove the 80 miles east to this town staying two nights on the Stellplatz Hipodrom which was about 1.5 miles from the centre. This excellent motorhome parking facility, which was located on a racecouse, charged 30 euro a night. It had well spaced parking bays all with inclusive electric, 8 on one side of the grandstands close to the toilet and shower facilities and 8 the other side but further away from facilites. Across the road from the racecourse was a shopping mall which included a supermarket and there was a traffic free cycleway alongside the nearby riverside which I used to cycle into town for a look around. On approach, the town does not look very inviting and you wonder why it is on the tourist trail but follow the pedestrian zone deeper into this spa town and into, and along a steeply sided valley on which elegent buildings cling, and through which a river flows, and you start to see the attraction.
Cesky Krumlov 150 miles south and a days drive away was our final stop for a night in Czechia before crossing into Austria. On our way to this town we stopped off at a "MyTo" location at a garage on the outskirts of Ceske Budejovice to refuel and to return the toll tag for the refund of the deposit and any unused credit. On arriving in Cesky Krumlov, we used the motorhome parking facilities provided in car park number 7 for the cost of 360Kn (about 15 GB pounds) for 24 hours. Electricity was not available but there were toilets but these were closed. By the time we arrived it was a bit late for a walk into the town but I did go a short walk to get my bearings. The town was within easy walking distance and a good view point could be reached by walking up the hillside road opposite where we were parked. This was the route we took in the morning which also gave access to the castle and through its courtyards into town. It was very steep in places and care was needed with the wheelchair. It was worth the trip to Czechia just to see this place, it was fabulous. At every corner there was a photographic opportunity. We only spent the morning here which was just enough time to have a coffee and to get around this small town before we moved on into Austria.
While this page gives some information about our visit to the Czech Republic, we did record all of our trip, with photographs on Polarsteps and this can be viewed here.