Pounds, Euros, Korunas, Francs-Europe 2011 Trip

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RB

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Our 2011 holiday (depart home 2nd May) was going to see us experience 3 different J class flights & visit the UK briefly along with Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy & Switzerland. Thirty Seven days overseas & a few days in Sydney each way was promising to be a great break & avoid some of the shorter Aussie days. We are a mid-50’s couple who enjoy making our own way rather than joining a set tour. We also rarely drive on overseas holidays, preferring to use train & bus.

First flight of the 2011 adventure was DJ1192 PQQ to Syd. A full flight after the previous days triathlon. Andrew Stoner the deputy premier is in the front row & determined to stretch the overhead locker to fit his large carry-on:). Baggage was a little slower to hit the Syd carousel than what QF usually is.

Syd-HKG- our first experience of VS. Used Amex points to book a 40,000 point each Upper Class ticket. Online checkin was smooth, the upper class line at the airport was empty and fast track soon had us in the NZ lounge. Beer choice was OK although Mrs RB was not fussed by the sparkling & an adequate quiche was the highlight of limited hot food available. We had selected 5 & 6A in the herringbone setup & these were fine. No real difference with others facing you (quite a few vacant on this flight) and well spaced away from the toilet & the bar at the back. Pushback was on time & the pre-flight champers was enjoyed. We had a very smooth flight that also landed on time. Mrs RB enjoyed the seat more than the QF J (no sliding) while at 6’ 3” and around 105 kg I found things a little narrow. PJ’s provided that are heavier & warmer than the QF version (but are of no use to me given the large would be the fit for a max size 12 lady) & the amenities are in a basic black bag. The main criticism was the poor provision of storage around the seat. Food was excellent & drinks were free flowing. (Carlsberg, Heineken, Champers & Scotch for me). The entertainment system included very good headphones although I found the music system lacking compared to my experiences on NZ, QF & VA.

After a very quick retrieval of bags at HKG we also enjoyed an equally quick free shuttle to the Marriott Sky City. The fast check-in meant our Hotel Club booking was fine & the room 748 was excellent- a very comfortable bed & shower, prompt wakeup call, quick checkout & precision timed free shuttle had us back at the airport all too soon after our late night arrival.
Yes there will be plenty of photos in the later postings!:)
 
M

Misha

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looking fwd to the rest and to some pics....

should give some great perspective travelling 3 different classes...
 

RB

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QF HKG-LHR
Online check-in prior to leaving Syd was a initially a failure & required a phone call. As with NZ in 2010 the Jo-Anne spelling of Mrs RB’s Christian name was too much for the system & had to be manipulated by QF to enable us the check-in online. Our 5.30am arrival at the check-in counters again meant no waiting at the J counter although the staff did manage to indicate the security gates nearby did not open until 6am & failed to tell us about the 24 hr gates at the other end that we made our way to.:)
Our paper boarding passes from online check-in caused a short pause ( I had read we would have them replaced by airport issued passes but this did not happen) but we were soon through & wandering to the QF lounge (not well signed for irregular users). We were only looking for a quiet spot continue our wake up so all was OK. The Apple computers allowed me to clean up emails before the call for our flight was made.

An AFF inspired search had seen us book a JASA flight on the 747 & we were soon settled into 18 J & K by the senior upper deck staff who maintained an excellent service standard throughout our flight. There was certainly more storage available than on VS although some rubbish had obviously escaped the clean up of the previous flight. We enjoyed the pre-flight Charles Heidsieck and settled in to a quiet but full cabin with only 1 baby who was up the front. Our row only occurs on some layouts & I had struggled to read reviews about the particular seats. The easy access to the rear toilets was fine & there was also no issue with the rear service area. Meals were served last and some choices were limited but we received what we thought was very good food. Most people dozed & there seemed to be very little booze consumed! PJ’s were provided & the amenities are in a small, striped, soft clutch style bag.
Pushback was spot on time for a generally smooth flight where the view of Tibet & Afghanistan were highlights. After a general meander over the English countryside we landed on time into LHR. The flight was met by 10 wheelchairs which would have helped older passengers make the long haul to immigration. We used fast track (a 1 passenger wait) but were left to keep the passes. Our bags with the purple business tags were among the first 30 to hit the carousel.I thought the QF staff (older Aussie male & female) on this flight were fantastic
Out of LHR-With the Royal wedding just gone we decided to avoid the high London hotel prices for a no plan 1 night stay so we were headed for Colchester in preparation for our following overnight ferry trip to Amsterdam. A tube ride with 1 swap saw us at Liverpool St station. Our 14kg bags + small daypack each meant the tube was no challenge. With 10 minutes to spare we were soon on a National Rail Ride of 1hr 12min to Britain’ oldest settlement.
I have posted a review of Greenview House B & B Colchester http://www.australianfrequentflyer....ews/greenview-house-b-b-colchester-30410.html
 

RB

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Colchester
We were pretty surprised by how busy the city was. A University & Defence base provide a solid soul and there is plenty of activity and easy walking. The Castle Park is an extensive area that is well patronised by the locals and there is a bowling green & cricket oval right on the banks of the narrow River Colne. There is a constant stream of bus services & we are amazed by the huge number of baby strollers being pushed around- must be something in the water! A couple of cleansing ales supported a good counter lunch.


After collecting our bags it was on the train to Harwich for our ferry. After 2 changes we arrived at Harwich International station. Now I had read that there was nothing here & that was actually an understatement. So it was back onto the next train for the short ride to Harwich town to find a bar to kill time until the 8.30pm boarding for our boarding for a 11.15pm departure to The Netherlands

Phots are of Colchester

I have posted a review of the Hook Of Holland ferry trip here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....iences-and-reviews/hook-of-holland-30434.html
 

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RB

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Amsterdam-1 of 2 Major City stops
Any city with 600,000 pushbikes is going to be different to what we had experienced before and we found Amsterdam to a be a fantastic eating/drinking/people watching city. So flat that walking was the obvious choice, we didn’t end up using any of the extensive bus & tram services, rather we covered many km’s under our own steam. Fri lunchtime saw big crowds milling from Central station down towards Dam Square, but once a block or so off that main drag all was peaceful walking.

There were countless bars and cafes but only a small % of people were really shattered in the areas & times we were around. The Jordaan area seemed to be the pick of things for our choices and Westerstraat was a good link back towards the station area.

Amsterdam to Cochem
An easy walk to the station on a Sunday morning was followed by our 8.05 am train south with 2 short changes at Dusseldorf & Koblenz. We find 2nd class fine & had pre-purchased DB Bahn tickets online in Aust (printed ticket at home & had to show the credit card that was used to the conductor as a form of ID, no facility to show on Ipad etc). Two IC trains & a regional were reasonably busy but we had window seats all the way & actually a compartment to ourselves from Dusseldorf & Koblenz. We did have a first during this trip when the train was stopped and a female in the next compartment was dragged off by police after she apparently pushed the emergency stop a couple of times & her passport was dodgy. The ride from Bonn onwards was pretty special scenically.

Photos are hens party in Amsterdam, Amsterdam shopfront, Night shot of Amsterdam
 

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Grooba

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Nice report! Looking forward to the next installments and as always, the pics!

Suprised to see the Deputy Premier flying DJ - I always thought the polies flew QF?
 

RB

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Cochem
From some reports Cochem (6,000 residents) can be very touristy, however the timing of our visit & our preparedness get away from the main square saw us have a great time. Relying on walking we were able to use the very flat situation to explore big areas. With castles being a major attraction we took a walk up to Reichsburg Castle & took part in the compulsory tour-English speakers are given a written coverage & our particular guide was confident enough in her English to also add some comments in English at the end of her German spiel- a very good experience overall and we saw an armour for a 7’ warrior who certainly would have stood out in those times. We also caught a train & then trecked to Berg Eltz castle-restoration works meant photo opportunities were limited but well worth the effort just for the walk on the well constructed path through bushland. We also walked in both directions on the Cond side of the Mosel
As is our habit we found a few bars. Of particular interest was the Toff Toff bar that happened to be straight across the passage from our door. With no pretension of being anything other than a place to drink & enjoy yourself, we felt it was a good spot to mix with locals & a few other tourists that venture away from the main drag. Our hosts were music fanatics & had a great array of music (German drinking songs and English & US ranging from the 60’s) always belting out- we did download some Richard Clapton for them to enjoy! Tap beers varied from around 3 Euro for half pint to 5 euro a pint while good quality local dry white wine was very cheap at 2.5 euro for a big glass.
Food was good quality, ranging from big hunks of roast pork on crunchy buns (3 Euro), pizza (around 6-7 euro), plenty of schnitzel & chips from 5 euro & our best find Restaurant Costella where a pint of draught, quart of good white wine, spinach tortellini, and great seafood spaghetti and 2 lots of bread came to grand total of 21 Euro including tip.
There are plenty of touristy shops plus a lot of clothing stores and a good supermarket if we had wanted to use our kitchen. The Promenade made for fabulous people watching from our terrace & the river was a constant host to tour and cruise ships and working barges. Like Amsterdam, pushbikes abound & it was great to see older people also being able to get out enjoying life.
Cochem To St Goar A very easy transfer by rail with a change of trains at Koblenz. The wait at Koblenz was about 30 minutes but the train arrived at the platform about 20 minutes early so it was easy to get bags organised and a seat picked for the scenic sector to St Goar. There is heaps of action on the Rhine & plenty to see on both banks. We are met at St Goar by our host & guided the 200 odd metres to our apartment of the next 3 nights
Photos are Cochem Square & View from Reichsberg Castle
Review of Cochem Apartment is here http://www.australianfrequentflyer....reviews/moselhaus-apartment-cochem-30642.html
 

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RB

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We find St Goar to be much quieter than Cochem and the bus tours don’t seem to be a factor here. The supermarket is very small but they stock beer & a variety of local sparkling wines as well as fresh fruit so our requirements were met. There is a fairly compact main street where there is a variety of bars, restaurants & cafes along with bakeries, pharmacies etc all with 5 minutes walk of our apartment.
We spend our first afternoon checking out St Goar & take a long walk along the Rhine past a huge caravan park & past the Loreley where the river is certainly running quickly & is narrow given the size of the barges & cruise ships. We have dinner at the Hotel Loreley that had received good reviews but it seemed our meat dishes were both overcooked. A drink at a bar on the way home saw us basically ignored by the 3 other people (including bar person) so we then settled for drinks in our apartment.
Our 2nd day in St Goar greeted us with more fine weather. There is very little early action and our 9.30 start up to Rheinfels Castle saw us amongst the earliest starters. The walk up is a steady rise via the road ( a toot toot train ride is available) and good views abound. The 4 euro entry sees us receive a good paper guide in English and we set our own pace around a fantastic site. There are no preserved rooms to be seen but you view courtyards, stables, salthouse, dungeon, slaughterhouse and the cellar via open walking & underground paths. We walk back down to town through the path that leads through some gardens.
We cross the Rhine as foot passengers on the car ferry to St Goarshausen and then catch a train to Kaub. It is then another short walk to the car ferry to again cross the Rhine. We then walk the 3km to Bacharach for a look around. We enjoy our first goulash of this trip & then catch the train to Oberwesel to have a look there (very quiet at this time of year) & then a train back to St Goar. We have a snack of excellent apple strudel (enjoyed throughout Germany leg of our trip). We enjoy a very good Chinese meal that night at Asia Kim.
Another fine day on our last day as we train to Bingen (very pleasant spot where the river is wider & public gardens are fantastic), walk to the car/walk on ferry & across the Rhine to Rudesheim for a look at a more bustling settlement. There are plenty of bars, cafes, restaurants (quite a few with live music for lunch), a chairlift and nice town square. There are plenty of wine shops & we have some free tastings & buy a local moselle (certainly not sweet but available if you like) for our hosts down the track. We make our way back to St Goar on a KD river ferry & this turned out to be an inspired choice with a beer & wine while seated out in the sun & the perfect views of all the castles & vineyards and the many other boats.
Our last night the local asparagus that is currently in season is fantastic & warrants the separate menu that lists it’s options. Next day (again fine) we start with a 8.20 am train trip with 2 changes.
Photos are Rheinfels Castle & Cruise from Rudesheim to St Goar
 

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samiam

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Great reading- thanks for the detail, photos and the positive way you've shared your experiences.
 

drron

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Lived on Spargel + schnitzel when we toured last May.It is fantastic.Enjoying the TR.
 

RB

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I have posted a review of our apartment in St Goar here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....nd-reviews/meyer-apartment-st-goar-30672.html

St Goar to Bamberg
The first 2 trains are on time & apart from young Germans on the booze early on their way to the football games or bucks parties, all is pretty quiet. On the regional trains we get a seat with baggage room no worries and on the ICE train our 2 booked seats score us a compartment of 6 with no one else. Lunch of a baguette from the food cart is good.

Bamberg
A wonderful surprise- plenty of people watching, a busy main square hosting a daytime concert and an old town (easy walk from the hotel) that is dominated by the many churches high on the hill. We also locate a great flat walk (well used by the locals) along the River Regnitz that takes us 30 odd minutes out of town.
We enjoy the food with simple sandwiches, an Italian meal at Felini’s that is recomended on Trip Advisor (good food & fantastic service) and beers, wine & pig trotter & saeurkaut in the traditional hotel Heska. We also enjoyed home made freshly oven baked pasta dishes in the hotel restaurant. All food is very cheap, 7.5 euros for the pasta dishes that were big servings.
Photos are St Michaels X2, Little Venice, Start of Our Walk & Pub Heska
 

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RB

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Review of Bamberg Hotel is here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....iews/hotel-europa-bamberg-2-nights-30708.html

Bamberg to Freiberg
Another 41/2 hrs of train travel with 1 change from ICE to Regional at Nurnberg. Again goes without a hitch although the ICE was late & had to get into particular carriages on regional as it split later in the journey. Again it is beautiful countryside with a lot of grain farming. There certainly seems to be more use of home solar, solar farms & wind turbines to what we saw when previously in Germany.
Freiberg
A very, very distant relative of Mrs RB lives here (we had met in Berlin in 2005 & maintained email contact).As a mining engineer working throughout Europe & the Middle East, with 4 children & a wife who is a GP we were expecting a busy household for our 1 night stay and that is what we found. Football training is held at a fantastic facility, the pre-school seems to have a very relaxed regime with us being able to walk in with our host & mingle as children were picked up. We have a brief visit to a now disused silver mine that has a good display of old machinery, an animated mini-mine and it is possible to actually go down old shafts. Relaxed parenting sees no worries with the 2 tiny tots crawling all over old machinery.
Our only purchased meal is at a beer garden & we have a good schnitzel & plenty of vegies.
Absolute highlights of the town are the mineral museum-A MUST SEE-Terra Mineralia Museum where there is a massive collection from around the world ( over 3,500 pieces donated by Erica Pohl-Stroher and said to be the world’s best) & the church that boasts an amazing silver pipe organ that also apparently brings many tourists. The town apparently has received massive injections of cash in the last 5 or so years to reinvigorate the ex east German facilities on a 20-80% basis with the EU.
Photos are of redevelopment work, & mine display-( the mining gear was apparently easy to get because the East was still using a lot of very old gear by our standards) and wooden model of mining town that was activated by 1 Euro
 

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ellen10

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Really enjoying your trip report and photos.

We are flying in to Frankfurt in Sept and had hoped to stay a few nights in Cochem on the way to Strasbourg but alas it didn't fit in to plans. But next time!

Your trip report is very easy and enjoyable to read, you must have done some excellent planning as all connections and stays seem to be going very smoothly.

I will be looking forward to the next instalment. Thanks for taking the time to post.:)
 

RB

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Review of hotel in hrensko is here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....ces-and-reviews/hotel-labe-hrensko-30763.html

Freiberg to Hrensko
A short transfer by train through Dresden, to Schona and then a 2 minute ride by ferry across the river into Czech Republic and Hrensko.


Hrensko
There are no border controls. Hrensko on the highway, is busy with gas stations used by drivers before they hit Germany & also wine, beer, spirits, cigarettes etc are apparently much cheaper and can be purchased in bulk. We buy some Czech money at 1 of the 2 exchanges we saw (no ATM’s to be seen) and generally take in our new surrounds. It is like travelling back 20 years despite only being 42km by road to Dresden. The main street off the highway is flanked by hotels/bars but mostly by Asian style stores (managed by Asians) selling mainly drinks, belts, jocks, socks, shoes & clothes
We trek through a well marked track along the river & next to scrub & rocks to the peaceful waterfall. There seems to be a lot of repair work from the flooding of 2010.
We had drinks and food at Restaurant Lugano. The first Czech beer & wine were up with the German varieties we had enjoyed & 2.7 Euro (could pay Euro or Czk) for a pint & big wine is very cheap. The schnitzel is a country style big meal!


Hrensko to Jicin
We moved across Czech via a 3 bus transfer-Hrensko/Decin/Liberec/Jicin. The actual travel was short & easy through rolling countryside but timetable links meant it took us over 41/2 hrs all up. We paid only $22 Aust for 2-very cheap travel indeed. The buses were spot on time (German train were generally a few minutes late), there were digital displays at the stations indicating all details including the bay number and the buses were clean & seemed mechanically sound. The bus stop in Jicin is very central & the walk to the square & our hotel is less than 10 minutes.


Jicin
Small town not that far from Prague but more a reflection of how the modern Czechs actually live their life. Bus stop is easy 5 minute walk up to town square. There are plenty of bars, ice cream shops, restaurants along with the usual things of a town. The older town is very compact & provides flat walking to have a look around. We catch a local bus to Prachovske Skaly for a walk through some incredible rock formations. We are not all that successful in following the walking plans but seem to catch most of the highlights-certainly a unique setting.

We stumbled on the Diva Bar on Husova 39 & it is a great setup. Cold Urquell pints, good white wine & excellent food. A new experience was to have my chicken wings that were an appetiser served with toast-the smoky tasting toast & hot plum sauce were a good mix. Noticed kegs of beer in the supermarket-not sure if they were for very organised home drinkers or the pubs actually purchased off the supermarket-didn’t see any deliveries while we were here.
Jicin is transformed on Saturday morning (when we left) with 100’s of market stalls selling household goods, clothes, food, handbags & of major importance plants-obviously locals are buying for their window flower pots.



Photos are view from walk in Hrensko, some of the rocks of Prachovske Skaly & Jicin from church tower
 

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Very absorbing TR. A great deal of planning must have been involved with all of the connections required.

Looking forward to further instalments.
 

RB

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Jicin accommodation review is here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....udova-apartment-hotel-ukrale-jicin-30792.html

As per some comments there was a lot of planning invovled (all enjoyable work though) & the reward is not being locked into a tour with a regimented itinerary. Up until a few years ago we used to just have our flights to & from Aust locked in but that is becoming more difficult now-seems with all the web info available to all, people are pre-booking, a quirky change of thinking.

Jicin to Litomysl
Another bus trip of about 21/2 hrs on a very clean, on time, comfortable bus. Fare is about $7.50 Aust each & includes access to wi-fi. Again beautiful, gently rolling countryside with plenty of cropping but no sign of livestock (heaps of canola being grown). Big expanses of solar panels to be seen from the road which is in excellent condition. We have a 40 minute stop at Hradec Kralove where the town of 90,000 is served by an amazing bus station-must be stimulus money from somewhere. This is state of the art, showers, massive sail areas, food sales & again free wi-fi. We depart here on time of course & arrive in Litomysl about a minute early.

Litomysl
We soon make a start to finding lunch (very nice raw beef, parmesan & mushroom with a baguette) & a couple of cold drinks at Maly Svet. We also had dinner here & then drinks at The Café Sun Bar (Slunce) where we had a great view of the passing foot & motor traffic (more motorbikes here)
The town is small & a map & brochures (in English) from the tourist office lead us around another amazingly different array of buildings. The city was apparently first mentioned in 981 as a hill fort. In parts the architecture reminds me of India and the Bohemian influence is there. Fires apparently also led to a change from wood to stone.

Photos are of Hradec Kralove bus station, Jicin from our hotel window, Old town buildings
 

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RB

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Litomysl To Olomouc
Another easy transfer. A bus, through small villages on a narrow country road that cut through rolling countryside again, took less than the advertised 30 minutes and again left spot on time. We transited at Ceska Trebova where the bus & train stations share a location. It was then a 40 minute wait for a regional train- platforms to be used clearly indicated & easily found. The train also was on time and we shared a 8 berth cabin with 2 others. The countryside changed with steeper hillsides (still not steep), poorer soils and a generally dryer appearance. Arrival also on time & then it was a 1 minute walk to catch one of the frequent trams (modern, clean, spacious & clearly marked) for a slow10 minute trip down to the old town. After a bit of lost time we located our apartment.


Olomouc
With 100,000 residents Olomouc is much larger than most of our destinations. The main historical attractions are however in a very compact area & we manage to cover the suggested (very good local tourist information) 27 major sights and more in a 5 hour meander. It is a place more of buildings than museums and the Astronomical Clock performs ala Prague. The tower of St Maurice’s church was a highlight despite the almost 400 stairs to get to the rooftop-fantastic 360 degree views
We rented pushbikes (new 6 speed) from the Tourist Info centre (about $10 Aust each for the day) & rode towards Vykleky. Apart from a harmless spill for Mrs RB it was a good day & we saw the fishing & swimming spot where the locals hung out-also well served by a bar.
While in Olomouc I started a post on AFF re a Tupolev 104
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....nyone-else-seen-olomouc-30299.html?highlight=

Food-generally very good again. Standout lunch was my fresh trout & chips & the Arigone Hotel Restaurant generally did great food, cold beer & good white wine.
Tram was a 5 minute walk away & then we caught a 60c Aust ride to the bus station to get to Mikulov

Photos are of the Astronomical clock, Tupolev Bar, City from the bell tower of St Maurices church & part of the main square

Litomysl accom is here http://www.australianfrequentflyer....l-zlata-hvezda-litomysl-30818.html?highlight=

Olomouc Pension review is here http://www.australianfrequentflyer....ension-na-hrade-olomouc-30858.html?highlight=
 

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RB

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Olomouc to Mikulov
2 buses with a transit of 40 odd minutes in Brno-again the buses leave spot on time. With petrol at about $1.90 Aust litre & diesel 5% or so cheaper, fares seem ridiculously cheap-about $9 each today, although distances are not great
From Olommouc to Brno it was more rolling farmland & townships seem to be a little closer together, more traffic on good roads (4 lane divided in most parts). Well into our 4[SUP]th[/SUP] week the sun is still shining!
Arriving into Brno it is obvious that all cars are driven during the day with headlights on. Also a new look is the way that 1 line is formed wating for a bus to arrive-generally has been a bit of a scrum
Brno to Mikulov is a very slow ride but in a comfortable bus with plenty of room. The route meanders down country lanes in the middle of crop farming paddocks & seems to serve every small village on the way. The grape vines appear not far out of Mikulov.



Mikulov
A relatively small settlement of about 7,000, the town has a very appealing character. There are plenty of eating & drinking spots and wonderful outlooks. The chateau dominates the old town. The walks to the Goat Tower & Holy Hill are pretty comfortable hauls & the outlook is magnificent. Vienna is only 75km away.
Food- we eat at the nearby Hotel Templ and particularly enjoy the mushroom soup. Virtually straight across the road from our apartment is the small bar & restaurant Hospudka Pod Zamken at Husova 49- excellent fresh tap beer and very nice white wine. We lunch here with the daily specials-2X500ml beers, 2Xlarge white wines, 2X broccoli soup and 2X home made lasagne are had for the very modest cost of $13.40 Aust for very nice food. Dinner later on also proves to be excellent
Our last full day in Mikulov sees a cloudy day & eventually a couple of mm of rain. We catch the local bus to Lednice. From here we visit the Chateau & also the massive garden areas. We walk to the Minaret that marks a centre line of the park. Then it is a cross country walk from Lednice to Valtice, somewhere around 12-15km. Despite some very beautiful sections of grapevines & sections along the lake, it is more of a slog then memorable-perhaps we picked the less spectacular routes, there are several options. Valtice boasts some large buildings but not a lot of activity. We catch the bus back to Mikulov for a late lunch. Friday night is much busier than our other nights had been.

Photos illustrate how the Chateau dominates
 

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RB

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Messages
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Reviews for Mikulov & Telc apartments are here

http://www.australianfrequentflyer....d-reviews/pension-baltazar-mikulov-30886.html

http://www.australianfrequentflyer....ws/apartment-chornitzer-house-telc-30887.html

Mikulov to Telc
Being a Saturday there are less options available for the transfer. We catch 2 buses with a 2hr stop in Brno. Today is also our 1[SUP]st[/SUP] day of rain so we use the transfer time to walk the overpass from the station to a modern shopping centre that would not be out of place in Sydney- fashion, shoes, mobile phones, food court etc. We wander back to the left luggage (80c a bag) and line up for another spotless, well-tuned bus that leaves & arrives spot on time. The vast fenceless cropping continues but it is now a more hilly area. The bus station is a 5-10 minute wander to our apartment that is right in the town square.

Telc
I had read a description of the façade of the square of Telc as being like a packet of chalk & indeed the buildings are stunning in their appearance. The main block has a covered footpath in the style of Bologna (portico).
Fine weather greets us again as we set out walking on the Sunday morning and there are more people around. With only 6,000 people the town is compact & the viewing highlights are in a small and serene area. It is flat walking everywhere & we do a general wander that covers all the sights on the travel brochures in fairly short time.
We found the food and service at Hotel U Hrabenky restaurant to be very good (salmon dish a highlight) and again not too heavy

Telc to Prague
Another bus transfer with 1 change of 3 minutes (if missed another bus is about 40 minutes later). The 1[SUP]st[/SUP] bus leaves on time. The countryside is a bit hilly with our 1[SUP]st[/SUP] sighting of farm animals-approx 20 dairy cows. The connection at Jihlava is made without complication and we are on an express service to Prague, originally through hilly farms & forests & then for the last 100km on the main freeway-busy but good road. There is a massive road building exercise around 30km out of the city & new huge industrial parks are plentiful.
As has always happened our bus arrives on time. We buy metro tickets for ourselves & our luggage at the machines at the bus station & then a short walk takes us to the elevator down to the metro. Two stops & we change at Museum station onto the green line & then 3 stations to Malostranska, sees us complete a an extremely smooth transfer.

Photos are of Telc & surrounds-lake reflections are good for wasting photos :p
 

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RB

Established Member
Joined
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Messages
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Points
995
Prague
We visited Prague previously in 2000 so we have no great urgency to see the major sites. We rely on walking and make good progress despite the big crowds-something we had avoided since Amsterdam. The city has certainly been modernised but is still enjoyable. Our 8am start on the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] day lets us see the castle without many people around.
Depending where you choose, you may pay more for food & drinks in Prague compared to the smaller towns & cities. However away from the squares good food & drinks can be still had for bargain prices-around $1.50 Aust a pint, wine is around $3 Aust and pizzas can be had for $4.50 Aust in some restaurants. Prague is the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] spot we have visited in Czech Republic where tipping is actively pursued in some spots.


Prague to Mendrisio
The airport is an easy transfer. There is a 10 minute walk to the metro, 2 stops on the metro, upstairs to a bus & then about 25 minutes to the airport-just over $2 Aust each with luggage. We have a flight with easyJet from Prague to Malpensa. The flight is booked online in Aust but because we have bags we have to check-in at the airport. The desks open at the 2hr mark & we are sequence 3 & 4. Cabin luggage is checked for size & going through security our watches have to be removed. In 15 minutes we are sitting at the gate waiting to be part of the main boarding group 2- we did not pay for speedy boarding. For some reason people in front of us had different seat preferences & I got to sit in 1c (1B vacant) & Mrs RB in 2D. About 10 minutes late for pushback but the airbus arrived into Malpensa on time. The plane is parked out in the open & we are bused to the terminal. Bags are reasonably quick & we make our connection for the bus to Chiaso where we are picked up by our friend of 20yrs. The next few days are spent in Mendrisio (her Swiss home) & Pigra (beaut Italian village above Lake Como that is her family roots).
In Mendrisio we continue to enjoy excellent food with a feast of rabbit, venison & osso bucco at Grotto Hermitage of Saint Nicolao high above Mendrisio being a highlight. All the bars compete with snacks-chips, bread, salami, pizza etc provided along with the ordered drinks
Pigra-this is around our 7[SUP]th [/SUP]visit & the charm continues. Despite very limited Italian we are able to communicate via our host & have met many of the locals. Pizza & on tap prosecco at the “pub” are again special. The weather is not kind so the various walks doen’t happen this time.
Fox Town is a 10 minute drive from our hosts home in Mendrisio but I find I am not a fashion person & Mrs RB buys a couple of items but seems to remember seeing more bargains when she was there in 2003-maybe it is the timing of the seasons this time?

Mendrisio to Stresa
We are dropped at Chiaso for the train. A change at Milan Giovanni & we are on our way to Stresa-1[SUP]st[/SUP] train is late but we make the connection. Trains are quiet so plenty of seats to pick from. The walk from Stresa station to our apartment is a 10 minute downhill wander.

Reviews for Prague & Stresa apartments are here
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....s-bridge-residence-apartments-room-30944.html
http://www.australianfrequentflyer....eviews/stresa-residence-apartments-30946.html

Photos are 2X Prague, View of mendrisio from restaurant and view of Lake Como from Pigra
 

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