After a McDonalds’ breakfast, we loaded the suitcases and headed out of Dresden. Once out of the city, we veered off the main highway and ambled through the countryside. The terrain was different than yesterday, more forested and hilly, quite picturesque.
We stopped in the town of Pirna at a supermarket where we picked up some snacks. A ways down the road, we crossed into the Czech Republic. We noted the former border crossing buildings but of course with the EU, we just sailed right along.
Shortly after the border, we came across a small village basically built in a crevasse. It looked interesting so we stopped. After some confusion with the elderly gent who was manning the parking lot, we wandered off to see the sights. Very shortly, we were back at the car after quickly perusing the stalls with substandard goods for sale. Deb – “I think these are leftover from the communist days”. We then had a bit of a picnic lunch in the car and continued on our way.
In Decin, CZ, we stopped to get some Czech currency. Deb & I tried the ATMs at 4 different banks and were denied at each. Scotiabank – didn’t you tell me any ATM with the PLUS sign would work?!?! We chatted with a teller at one bank who although being a very friendly young lady with great English, had no clue what the problem could be. After the 4th unsuccessful attempt, I spoke to a great young man working in the bank. He watched Deb try the machine to ensure we were using it correctly (which we were) and then led us through the bank, upstairs to another equally helpful young man. After discussing the situation, he telephoned the transaction centre who said that the system didn’t recognize Scotiabank and therefore, couldn’t access our data. Hmm… Next step, we were back at the ATM, with our first helper in tow as he was curious and worried for us. We then tried withdrawals on our Visa cards – with success. Yay!! I will be speaking to the bank about this on our return.
A funny aside – the bank dispensed a 1000 kc note to Deb. Seeing the size of it and in our confusion of the whole event, she went into the bank to have it broken into smaller notes. Only when we were back in the car and on our way, did we realize the value of that bill was actually about $50. They probably were laughing at us in the bank….
We hurried on to Prague and encountered quite heavy traffic. Harv did a fabulous job of driving through the narrow streets and Petula (as we have named the GPS in the car) brought us right to the location of the VRBO apartment that we had booked. It is just past the American Embassy and we had to stop while the Policie ran a mirror under the car and looked under both the hood and rear hatch. We found the alley to our apartment, but nowhere to be found was Mr Diblik, who was to greet us. Luckily, the very nice doorman at the Grand Alchemist Hotel & Spa allowed us to park in front of the hotel and led Deb to the desk, where they assisted her in phoning Mr Diblik. He was distraught that he had forgotten about us and came right out. Harv manoeuvred up the narrow alley, we unloaded and then we took the car to the church lot nearby (where we will be making a hefty donation for the privilege of parking there). All was well, the two bedroom, 1 1/2 bathroom apartment is good and again we will be getting our exercise climbing up many steps!
After a glass of wine to relax, we headed out to find dinner. We had hoped to go to the restaurant/pub right across our narrow lane (where Mr Diblik is the manager), but unfortunately they were full. We stopped at the base of our street but after entering the restaurant, we promptly left as it was stereotypically touristy. We headed away from the touristy area and stopped at the Luka Lu. What a great find! On our arrival, the wonderful waiter put us in area all to ourselves (what looked to be a courtyard that has been covered in to become a room) and was very informative and friendly. The restaurant is a Balkan restaurant, with staff & food from Croatia, Serbia & Bosnia. Deb & Larry each had the Hunters Stew, a delightful concoction of meat and vegetables, and shared a mixed salad. Harvey had the stew as well, while I enjoyed a skewer of beef, lamb, bacon, peppers & potatoes and we shared a tomato & green onion salad. All of this with incredible bread, fresh from the oven. The food was so good, we forgot about pictures. At the end of our meal, the waiter brought us all complementary cake, again right from the oven. The restaurant was beginning to fill as we left. It was a wonderful experience.
To wear off some of the great dinner, we went for a long walk – across the river, along the east bank and then joined the throngs of people on the Charles Bridge. It was great to see the Castle and other buildings lit up.
We stopped at the grocery store where we spent $150 – oh wait, that was 150 Kc, about $7.50.