Thursday, 30 April 2009

Driving to the Czech Republic

I apologize for not blogging recently. This is because I have been travelling. At long last I had decided to make the journey from Britain to my Czech home by car. Regular readers of this blog will know that I usually travel by plane and train. It always seemed an awful long way to come by car, especially on my own, and I never had the time to spend doing the journey in a leisurely fashion. But this time I decided to change that – there were four large boxes of books to bring over, pictures, embroideries and puppets, some clothes I had stockpiled in England and various foodstuffs impossible to get in the Czech Republic. I could hardly fit them all into the car.

I took the ferry to Dunkerque and from thence drove across Belgium to stop overnight in Aachen or Aix La Chapelle. This was a town I had visited as a teenager and then I had studied the architecture of its cathedral at university. I arrived in time to visit the Dom (shown here) – Charlemagne's great masterpiece, the first domed building north of the Alps and decorated by fabulous mosaics. In the morning I rose early and took to the streets before the town stirred. This enabled me to explore the town, medieval mingled with Art Deco and I found myself taking photographs of decorations that took my fancy on the shops, banks, the Rathaus, and even the railway station which looked like it had been decorated by someone who was stoned. I then returned to the hotel for breakfast and my departure.

I crossed Germany. This is a country which I know very little, but from the autobahn my appetite for it was whetted. I was passing through some wonderful landscapes - there was the hilly area along the Rhine with ruined castles perched on their peaks, the forests of Bavaria, twice I crossed the Donau (Danube), until I came to my second overnight's stop at Regensburg. Regensburg is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, a medieval and Renaissance city in near perfect condition. I had planned to spend a good half day there exploring, but realised there would not be enough time to do it justice and secondly that I wanted to do so in the company of my husband. So, as Regensburg is only 2.5 hrs from our Czech home I decided it would wait for either a long daytrip or an overnight stay.

In the morning I set off again – along the autobahn into the Bohmerwald National Park (the German part of the Sumava) and then turned off towards the Czech border. This last leg of my journey was the most beautiful of all. Many of the forest trees were in blossom, everything looked newly washed. The weather was warm, but in some of the dips winter snow still lay where the sun had not got to them. The landscape became familiar – I was nearing home, following the northern shore of Lake Lipno and then the few miles north to Horice. I pulled up at the gate – I was home. Would I do it again? Possibly, but with someone with whom to share the journey.

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