January 19, 2009

Cesky Krumlov, a police encounter and the beginning of the end

NOTE: Catch-up post.

If I had to describe the town of Cesky Krumlov in three words, I'd probably go for quaint, charming and picturesque (thanks thesaurus.com!). Cesky is the ideal pit-stop for the travel-weary backpacker, a place where they can simply stop, relax and take their time exploring the cobblestone streets of this pretty little town.

But for us, Cesky will forever be tainted with the title of The Place We
Decided To Ditch The Van – or something to that effect...

Completely exhausted from our Oktoberfest adventures, we packed up our tent, said goodbye to The Tent and journeyed into the third country of our van tour, the Czech Republic.

Grey skies, dodgy roads and a high percentage of people who looked like serial killers – our first impressions of the country were pretty crap to say the least. Driving down the narrow country lanes, we both played hypotheticals – 'What the hell would we do if we broke down here?', 'What if a ball joint broke now?', 'What if those people standing there with rifles see our Great Britain number plates and want to kill us?'... sure beats number-plate bingo!

There's nothing like a policeman coming up to your vehicle's window in a foreign country to put you at ease. Since the main area of Cesky is a vehicle-free zone, we drove as far as we could and I jumped out to go find us some suitable accommodation for the night – since we were both really sick from four freezing nights in a tent, we decided to treat ourselves to a decent night's sleep in a hotel. While I was running madly about the town, some police saw Craig illegally parked and decided to pay a visit. Luckily, they were very nice about the whole situation (and spoke English to boot) and directed Craig to a nearby carpark. Unable to find anything in our price range (cheap), I stumbled upon a van-less Craig searching for me.

Over it, we decided to head into the nearest hotel and, luckily for us, the prices were somewhat bearable. A warm room with real beds, our own en suite and a TV that had 471 channels in every language but English was exactly what the doctor ordered. After lying around and showering, 
we decided to loosen our purse strings that extra bit further and treat ourselves to pizza for dinner – justifying it by telling ourselves that we were kitchen-less and had no other choice.

'You don't want to go back to the van now, do you?' joked Craig the next morning after after sleeping in an actual room in an actual bed.

'No!' I started crying, the thought of ever having to drive anywhere or sleep in that horrid van ever again filled me with dread.

A serious conversation about how much we hated the van and were struggling to enjoy ourselves because of the constant worry about our safety ensued. I just knew that if something Bellebrune-esque were to happen again, I just couldn't cope. We saved up for two years and gave up our jobs so that we could have the time of our lives, not to watch our bank accounts plummet while we eagerly counted down the days before the trip was over.

The decision was made, a 'for sale' ad was promptly put on gumtree.com
and a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders. We were gonna head back to the UK the following day, sell the van and postpone our travels until summer, after a stint of living in London – and all this was decided over the free hotel breakfast, we Couchsitters don't mess around, y'know.

So, sorry Cesky, we did think you were beautiful, but we couldn't really take it all in – we kinda had more important things on our minds.