Die Fledermaus Overture(Johann Strauss) - A Short Sojurn into the Czech Republic -11th June 2016

Published: June 15th 2016
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Trying to set fire to things while on a BBA is difficult for me not to achieve or so it seems.

On the BBA V2 we had the burning toast incident at Cumbernaud which resulted in the local fire brigade being called to the Travelodge we were staying in when I overlooked the damage one piece of bread in the toaster could do while I was on Skype with our eldest daughter.

It is not that we have burnt any hotel rooms as yet but today we or should I came close and I must take full responsibility for this morning’s close call.

Our apartment here in Lohberg is large with a separate kitchen/dining room to the lounge and the bedroom.

I had got the pan out of the cupboard and put some water in it to heat up for poached eggs for breakfast turning on the hot plate on the stove.

As the hot plates had taken some time to come up to cooking heat I thought I had enough time to do some packing for our departure after breakfast and so I went to the bedroom leaving the pan unattended.

When I returned a few minutes later there was a smell in the air in the kitchen and I was immediately drawn to the pan on the hot plate to discover laminated instructions on the care of the pan which must have been stuck to the bottom of the large pan un noticed when I had put it onto the hot plate to heat the water for the poached eggs.

Three quarters of the laminated page was ‘gone’ burnt on to the bottom of the pan and the hot plate. Thankfully flames had not happened and I quickly removed the pan before any more damage was done.

Thankfully also the plastic peeled off the pan while it was hot and it was relatively easy to remove it from the hot plate too returning the whole situation to as it was before this little story started!

The quarter of the laminated page that was left intact is coming home in our luggage.

The hosts at this apartment are lovely people and we didn’t want to upset them by telling them about the incident and in the end it was only a piece of laminated paper that was gone.

We are ultimately heading for Dresden as the furtherest point north we are travelling on this eastern side of Germany. But to get there we had either the option of driving north along the German/Czech border on the German side or crossing in to the Czech Republic for a night and then back into German closer to Dresden.

We have chosen the second option despite the fact that we don’t have any of the local Czech currency to pay for things such as accommodation, petrol or food and will rely upon our trusty credit card to work for us.

It has been a very pleasant stay with the Moser’s in Lohberg and we would vote this apartment our #1 so far on the BBA V3 for all the things we look for and need to make our stay comfortable.

The matter of the mobile phone being bought back to life had still not been resolved despite Gretchen’s valiant efforts and so we will take a short diversion to the town of Cham to visit a Euronics store to see what might be available in a new mobile phone.

We drove parallel to the Czech border to get to Cham noting the tall communication towers on the Bohemian mountains and wondered whether they had been built before the ‘Cold War’ ended when the Czech side was under the influence of the Soviet Union.

We passed through several small villages and as we got close to Cham we passed a guy using a hand held large scythe to cut the grass in his large front yard.

Gretchen had read that Germany is 1/3rd covered in forest and it seems like most of it is in Bavaria if what we have seen since we crossed into Germany is anything to go by.

Being Saturday and with Sunday being the day when all stores are closed, Cham was busy with people getting their weekend shopping done.

We found Euronics easily enough but they were no longer selling mobile phones and the woman who served us redirected us to another electronics store nearby.

This store was like our Harvey Norman back in New Zealand with salespeople easily accessible once you have found what you wanted to buy.

However although we found a phone that was close to our model Gretchen couldn’t get the salesperson to acknowledge that the phone wasn’t locked to a German mobile provider which would have been useless to us in the long run.

So we left buying another phone and will give it another try to get the updates through and the phone working again when we get to the Czech Republic later in the day as it might have been a problem because we were in Germany when Gretchen tried to the updates through with the phone crashing.

There are many road crossings into the Czech Republic from Germany and we chose the one on the B20 out of Cham.

Crossing into the Czech Republic was almost seamless with no customs or immigration to go through although the old border buildings at this point are still there even if they were looking a little derelict.

However one thing that was obvious was the price of petrol and you could pay in Euros rather than Korunas, the local currency.

With the price over 20 cents cheaper than in Germany needless to say we filled the tank up to the brim at the cheaper price and got on our way onto the D200 heading north towards our overnight stop in Marianske Lazne,a place we had never heard of before we found a good bargain priced apartment on booking.com.

Although the population in this part of the western side of the Czech Republic is fairly sparse and scattered there was still a number of small towns and villages to pass through before we arrived in ML.

The countryside looked similar to Germany but the standard of housing is way below that was evident in Germany. The country looks a lot poorer than its rich neighbour and this is probably down to the years under Communist rule when private enterprise was out of the question putting life into a holding pattern that the country seems to struggling to come out from.

The Czech Republic only joined the EU in 2004 and as yet has not adopted the Euro as its currency which may be leaving it behind in its development within Europe as a whole.

We arrived in ML by mid afternoon and after some difficulty in finding the building where our apartment for the night was located we eventually did spot the small sign on the front of an apartment block which announced Hostel Foster.

We parked just along the road from the building but before we could get out of the car a local man came across to us wagging his finger and jabbering away in the local language indicating that we couldn’t park where we had presumably because it was set aside for locals although there was no obvious signs saying so that we could understand.

We moved the car to a side street a short distance away and went inside the building and up to the second floor and rang a bell which had a small Hostel Foster sign above it. After a minute or so a woman appeared from a closed door and took us into another adjacent room and we went through the processing of getting booked in and making payment using the trusty credit card with a limited understanding of what she was saying.

We checked with her, as she showed us the very tidy small studio apartment a couple of floors up, as to where we could park the car and she replied ‘anywhere around the building’. So we thought the car should be OK in the side street we had moved it to.

It appears that Hostel Foster is a collection of rooms and small apartments within the building on different floors that the owner of the Hostel had bought or leased and then marketed them to the travelling public via booking.com and wherever else they are listed.

Gretchen was still keen to check out a replacement mobile phone so we went down to a shopping arcade near the apartment to see what was on offer. However, it seemed like it was still best to try and get what we had working rather than try and explain to a salesperson that we needed an unlocked phone.

As we walked back to the apartment we passed Peggy in the side street and were surprised to find a traffic notice sitting in a plastic cover under the windscreen wiper.

As it was written in Czech we took it upstairs to the apartment and Gretchen spent 10 minutes translating it using her tablet only to find out that it wasn’t a fine but a request for ‘the driver ‘to visit the police station and explain why we were parked where we were and where we shouldn’t have been!

Gretchen went down to the lady who had checked us in and she waved it aside saying ‘not to worry about it and ignore it’, or that is what she seemed to say!

After some thought we decided to move the car across the main street through the town from us where we could pay a couple of Euros and put a parking ticket on the dashboard to say we had paid to park. And to heck with going to the police station to explain why we were parked where we previously had.

We had some time to fill in before pre dinner drinks would be served so we took a stroll up the main street where a lot of upgrading of the art deco buildings had been completed making the centre of the town look quite smart. This was even more so the further up the hill we went where the buildings, many of which were hotels, became a lot grander.

It was here, as we walked through a delightful large park that we discovered the singing fountain which performs every three hours to different music.

We were too early for the next performance, given it was getting on towards pre dinner drinks time, so we decided to return to the apartment and then come back for the performance after the next one due.

On the way back to the apartment we checked out the menus of prospective restaurants for us to have dinner at after the singing fountain performance.

After pre dinner drinks we set off for the singing fountain again and got a good position to watch the performance of a piece of music by Strauss. The tune was familiar but neither of us being classical music buffs we couldn’t think of the name of it. There was a good sized crowd gathered to watch the jets of water in the fountain dance to the rise and fall of the music.

In no time at all the performance was over and we headed back down the hill to the area where the restaurants were and chose a place that was serving local dishes.

Sitting outside we weren’t sure if we were too early at 7.30pm for dinner or too late as there were few other people around. It was only after dinner when I went to pay the account inside the restaurant because the waiter seemed to forget we had a bill to pay, that I discovered the restaurant inside was virtually full and it was probably only silly foreigners like us dining outdoors when the air temperature was struggling to make 20C.

We checked that Peggy was where we had left her across the road from the apartment building and now just have to hope that she will still be there with all 4 wheels attached in the morning.

Before we called it a night Gretchen had another go at getting the phone to work while I watched England drop their game and ended up with a 1-1 draw with Russia scoring in the 92 minute, when they really should have won.

It had been a busy day and with everything that had happened from the near fire in Lohberg to the crossing of the border into Czech Republic to the ticket on the car windscreen we will be looking for a quieter day tomorrow when we head back to Germany and make for Dresden.

PS turn the volume up of this Strauss piece of music which you can find on YouTube and imagine the singing fountain doing its thing in time to the beat.


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