I chatted to one of the Dutch campers who had a dog with her that looked like a cross between a border collie and a spaniel but was, in fact, some kind of Dutch pedigree. She explained that the owner of the campsite was Dutch – and his wife was Czech – hence the large number of Dutch campers – the site was well maintained and advertised widely amongst the Dutch camping fraternity. The fact that the wife was Czech meant that if anyone needed to, e.g., go to hospital, she would act as a go between and that made it all extra safe. The woman had a vase full of lily of the valley on a picnic table, which she said she’d picked in the woods.
I bid her farewell as it was high time to get going to Prague…
Have made a little discovery about ‘Komoot’ – the German cycling map site I’ve subscribed to. If one clicks anywhere on the route – it tells you what it’s like – whether it’s paved, asphalt, loose gravel or a track. Yesterday I should have been on a track. Because I thought I was supposed to be on a road, I’d ignored the track. No wonder I’d gone astray. Today, I was supposed to be on a track – and I was: proper, grass growing in the middle, never used by a car track. It was beautiful cycling - mixed deciduous/pine forests, fields of grass and rolling countryside. I got my first sight of Prague from the top of a hill – spread out before me (a little like seeing Exeter from Haldon Hill – or maybe not).
I went past a large pond (and went in search of a loo, too – and found one, in a sports complex/restaurant), with a tower next to it, surrounded by trees and a swan family sailing in the middle (I took yet another bad nature picture of them). The sun was low in the sky and reflecting in the water – irresistible – and yet another awful photograph results.
When I get into Prague proper – the grand buildings all along the river, with masses of people enjoying the evening sunshine on the River Vitava banks and several bridges spanning the water all in sight – it was majestic. It was also noisy with sirens, trams and cars rolling over tram tracks, and dusty and smelly and dirty. Prague is a vast city, a buzzing city with a sense of a seedy underground. There are lots of beautiful, young people around lending an energy to the night. The traffic doesn’t seem to diminish, even at midnight.
The youth hostel itself is a bit grotty, run down – a small dormitory with 6 other young girls (not old enough to be out of school, surely?!). One of them, Hayley is in bed when I get there and remains in bed when I leave – I hope she’s OK (though she sounds OK when I say hello). There is a kitchen where the rest of them are cooking (smells good), so I escape outside to a restaurant and have a beer. I am shocked that it seems standard to serve a heavy glass tankard with half a glass of froth on top of the beer – I look around and see that it is indeed the case – everyone is served their beer looking the same. By the time the head disappears it’s only half a glass – still, it’s cold and refreshing and more than enough. I do a little knitting and people watch before wending my way back to bed.