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Vienna - Puchov (Slovakia), through the Moravian karst, caves

Home -> Europe -> Czech Republic -> Travelogue Czech Republic -> 14 & 15 July 2003

Monday 14 July, Vienna - Puchov (Slovakia), through the Moravian karst, caves

View on ViennaThe day starts warm and sunny after a very cold night, but we feel a bit... disoriented may be a good description.
It starts when we leave Vienna at the northwestern side. We drive through a very beautiful area and have some nice views over Vienna, but at some point we have driven about 100 kilometers when we see a sign: Vienna 39 km.
Fairytale world near the Czech border Fairytale world near the Czech borderNear the Czech border the Austrians have build a fairytale world with a medieval castle, knights and dragons. We just want to leave Austria now, so we don't stop. Elisabeth feels sorry that she doesn't get a stamp in her passport, while Teije does get one.
Cathedral at BrnoIn Brno, after Prague the largest city of the Czech Republic, we take a break. The cathedral of Peter and Paul dates back to the 11th century, but both towers were build in the 19th and 20th.
We had planned to spend most of the time today in the Moravian Karst, a hilly woodland, northeast of Brno. There are many caves which can be visited. We don't know whether it is our not too detalied map, the bad Czech signposting or just our feeling of desorientation, but we keep getting lost. It doesn't matter much, since it is a fantastic region to drive through, and certainly to do some hiking or cycling, but to visit the caves we are every time a bit too late. The last tours are at 3 o'clock or at half past 3. At the best of all caves, Punkevni, we are even only 3 minutes late. Somehow, nothing seems to go right today.
Castle near Dub nad MoravouSince we think it is still too early to look for a place to stay, we drive on to the east, and we decide to return here tomorrow or the day after. This house (a small sort of castle) we see near Dub nad Moravou.
We keep on driving around, and in fact we don't know exactly where we are going. Maybe it is a sort of holiday-tiredness that is troubling us. We have seen so much already the last few weeks and now we want to see the Czech Republic within a week. Maybe it is just too much. We would like to see all of the country, find a nice place and stay there for some time, but we don't have that much time anymore. So, tonight we have to set ourselves some goals and forget about the rest...
Meanwhile we have crossed another border and are now in Puchow in Slovakia. We still have a lot of Slovakian money, so we will spend it all today and tomorrow morning. But tomorrow we will be back in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday 15 July 2003, Puchov - Prague, visit to a Moravian cave

We have spent all our Slovakian money, but we are also out of gas. Just in time we reach the Czech Republic and a gas station. We feel much better than yesterday since we have chosen to stay most of our remaining time near Prague.
Stramberk StramberkThe first part of our trip goes through eastern Moravia, a mountainous woodland. Every few kilometers we see a village, hidden in the shadow of the beautiful nature. We have a short break at Stramberk, a village build around a hill where a tower dominates the view.
Stramberk is special because of its architecture: houses are build from unrefined trunks on a foundation of masonry. Most trunks are tarred to prevent them from rotting.
Plague pillar at Olomouc, Czech RepublicWe have a lunchbreak at Olomouc, a town with many churches and other monuments. Our first impression is that it is a very industrial and modern city, but the old town is very nice. There are many big squares, edged by baroque buildings and every square has one or more fountains. On the square near the townhall is a huge pestpillar.
Town hall of Olomouc Astronomical clockwork, OlomoucThe astronomical clockwork on the townhall was made in the 15th century but has been restored in the Soviet era and decorated with social realistic motives. Also on some houses and even on sewer pits we see symbols referring to this period.
Cathedral of Olomouc, Czech RepublicWhat strikes us a lot in the Czech Republic, especially in the larger towns and cities, is the quantity of advertisements. It seems as if they want to chase away the gloominess of the past with their garish colours and colossal letters. We think it is a bit overdone.

From a distance we see a big cathedral, but when we walk towards it we find out that it takes too much time to visit it, so we are satisfied with a picture from afar.
In a supermarket we buy a box with beer (24 pieces) for next week but we protest vehemently when the cashier tries to let us pay for 54 cans. She doesn't understand English, French or German and she only wants us to pay the amount. And we just try to make her clear that we are not going to pay. Finally, some other people interfere in the discussion and she tries it again. This time she takes all cans from the box and scans them one by one. We apologize to the people behind us: we can't help that this cashier cannot count. The cashier doesn't seem to be very happy with us, but, well, she shouldn't try to swindle us out of money.
Balcarka caves Balcarka cavesWe make another attempt to visit a cave in the Moravian Karst and we are just in time: 5 minutes before 3 o'clock we arrive at the Balcarka cave for the last guided tour of that day. It is not the finest cave in the area but the only one we have time left for. Another time we would like to spend a week or so in this region.
Balcarka caves Balcarka cavesThe cave has 3 floors and we have to climb quite a few stairs. The guide only speaks Czech, so we stay a bit behind and have a quiet look at all parts of the cave. This cave is known for its shades of colours, but we don't see much of that. But, like in most caves, there are wonderful places and halls with stalactites and stalagmites in shapes that come straight from fairytales. But we don't tip the guide, this time, we have learned nothing from him.
It is 4 when we leave the cave and we take the highway in the direction of Prague. At half past 6 we arrive at the campsite and see a big sign before it: full, occupied. But when we go to the reception to ask they still have one bungalow (well, just a simple shack) available. To put a tent here costs € 21 per night, a bungalow € 29 with running water and electricity. So, we take the bungalow and we think we will stay in it. We have also made the decision to stay here until sunday. If we want to see more than Prague alone, we can always take the car and drive away.


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