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Published: November 10th 2010
Of course the bus went straight heading out through the countryside and not to Stribro where we wanted to go.
We had been on the train, going from Pilsen to Stribro, a small village that has changed little since medieval times. The word 'stribro' means Silver in Czech. Stribro was a frontier town, very near the German border and was a town where silver was mined. Yesterday on the train from Prague to Pilsen a man from Germany told us we should visit Stribro since it was a great example of ancient Czech/German life. After thinking it over we decided that was a good idea. It was only about a thirty minute train ride. So it would be an easy day trip ... or so we thought.
As the train approached a stop we showed our tickets to a lady across the aisle from and using hand motions ... remember the game charades ... asked if this was the stop that was coming up. She indicated it was and that she was going to get off the train there. Just to be sure I pointed to the name, Stribro," on the ticked, then I pointed at her and back
at the ticket. She nodded her head. To me this said, "Yes, I am going to Stribro."
She got off ahead of us and waited for us on the platform. Then leading us she walked to the station and up an incline. Suddenly she stopped, turned and pointed to an electronic sign. This was followed by a long sentence in Czech which, of course, meant absolutely nothing to this monolingual American. Then she walked back down the incline and indicated we should follow her up a set of steps. Just outside the station was a row of four or five buses waiting for passengers. Our friend got on one of the buses. and motioned for us to do the same. We had noticed a sign saying it was 2 kilometers to town. It seemed strange for the train company to provide a bus for a short 2K walk but 'What the heck", we decided for us to do as indicated. We got on the front of the bus ready to pay the fare downtown but no one seemed to be paying and the driver totally ignored us when we stopped to pay. So we sat down. In a few
minutes the bus set off, first down a hill and then up a hill on the other side of the valley. Soon we came to a traffic circle, a rotary. Nancy and I could see the village of Stribro off to our right. This is where Nancy said, "If the bus turns left instead of to the right where it says Centrum I'm going to start to worry."
As you know from my sentence above, the bus did not turn right, but headed off through the countryside. Where we were going we knew not. But we definitely knew it was not where we had planned to spend the day. I remembered seeing an electronic sign above the stairs at at the train station which said Cheb. I started to notice road signs saying Cheb 62K and then decreasing numbers. After about a twenty minute ride the bus stopped at a train station in another town. We tried to communicate with a woman in the seat behind us, but she spoke no English. Nancy stood up in the aisle and asked loudly, "Does anyone speak English. We are on the wrong bus." No one moved. As fate would have it,
no one on the bus, including the bus driver spoke English.
We showed our ticket to the woman behind us and to the driver. They understood our problem. We motioned to the driver asking if we should get off at this train station and catch a bus back to Stribro. He strongly indicated that "No, we were NOT to get off the bus." We had a sneaking suspicion that if we did get off another bus going back to Stribro would come along in a while and we could get back there. But there was NO getting off according to the driver.
We simply 'chilled out' and enjoyed the very lovely countryside. We decided we would never go to Cheb in the winter time after some of the steep curves that we had to travel down and up. They were so steep and so much like mountain switchbacks that to provide traction the roads were paved with cobblestones. It was hard going in the slight drizzle and we could imagine what it would be like in icy or snowy weather!
When the bus Finally arrived at Cheb about an hour and a half later, the bus driver
quickly pointed to another bus of the same color and company which was sitting at the front of a line of buses. He pointed and indicated we should RUN! A convoy of three green buses had come with him from Stribro and three green buses were at the head of the line. We ran and carefully read the signs on the front of the first green bus. NOT Stribro. The second one was Stribro. We jumped on, took the last two seats (right behind the driver) and the bus left in about 60 seconds. Three hours after arriving in Stribro via train we re-arrived via green bus. It had cost us no money but a considerable amount of concern and frustration.
We will NOT get on a bus in the future without carefully checking the sign on the front to be sure where we are going. What an adventure. How silly we felt.
By the way Stribro is worth a lot of trouble to see but it isn't necessary to suffer. A smart person can ride the train and get there very easily. Just be sure to WALK downtown not ride.
Another blog entry will follow soon with scenes from the town itself. Enjoy a few from the mystery bus ride.
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