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Struggling with water

CZECH REPUBLIC | Thursday, 21 August 2014 | Views [798]

Wet feet

Wet feet

It has been a long time since the last published post on this blog, but I felt like writing. Not that as a technical writer, I don’t write. As a matter of fact, I do it every day. But technical writing is, uh well, very technical!

A lot has happened since December 2007. Back then, I was beginning a seven-month stint through South America with a girl I had met only six months earlier on a slow boat on the Mekong, and that has since become my wife. Nowadays, traveling comes pretty much down to vacations, especially with two young - and beautiful, need I mention it! - kids in tow. Don’t get me wrong! Except for the duration of the trip, I don’t mean this in a negative way. On the contrary, traveling this way is still very much of an adventure, believe me!

Anyways, our plans for this summer were to take us east. After traveling quite extensively around the world, we realized that we lived in a country surrounded by many lovely places well worth a visit. So we aimed for the southern part of the Czech Republic, stopping a few days in Munich on the way there and then just the same on the way back in Salzburg. We crammed our tent and camping gear in our not-so-big car and hit the road. By the way, it’s just incredible how much stuff four people can take: it felt almost like we were moving to the Czech Republic!

It’s a mere five hours and a half drive to get there, and the afternoon had barely begun that we already had pitched camp in Munich…. in the middle of a forest! At least that’s how it felt! It was actually hard to imagine we were in Germany’s third-largest city! With only a small road on one side and a large canal on the other, the Thalkirchen Campingplatz is literally drowned in greenery, surrounded by parks full of Bier Garten and a wonderful zoo to the north. So wonderful that we wandered its paths for the best part of the second day, going from giraffes to bats buzzing our ears for the delight of our younger ones.

The first showers hit us that night. Fortunately, we are well equipped, and I felt we made it easily through, even though I still thought there was very much humidity in the tent in the morning. But after all, four people breathing in a tent the whole night through is bound to create a bit of condensation, no? I didn’t give it much thought, especially since the sun was finally shining brightly in the Bavarian capital. We were at last to discover the city itself. A short metro ride took us into the heart of it, Marienplatz, and we began strolling the (mostly) pedestrian streets around it for some sightseeing and some shopping.
When on the road as a family, it is essential to keep everyone happy. Our way to do this is to split the day, meaning that everybody should be able to do something he/she enjoys at one time during that day. With our two young kids, four and two, it basically means trying to find a playground. And luckily for us, there’s no lack of these in Munich. And our clever German friends have also had the very good idea of attaching some of them to a Bier Garten! Did someone say win-win situation?

Visiting a city like Munich at such a pace could take years. We only had two days and made the most of it. We strolled through the beautiful Residenz - the royal palace - gardens and inner courtyards. At the foot of the Chinese tower in the famous Englischer Garten, we had a feast with typical Bavarian white sausages, the delicious Bayerischen Weisswursten. Our kids took a free shower through the sprinklers of Karlspaltz’s sprinkling fountain. They even had time to take a nap on the benches of the atmospheric Stadtcafe facing the modern cube of the new synagogue. In a word, we loved it in Munich!

Our last night in Munich was a very rainy one, and what a bad surprise I had when I got out of the chamber in the morning and stepped in 1 cm of water! The combination of a sloppy tent setup, microscopic holes in our tent’s bottom, and a tiny depression in the ground had made a pool of our living area. Needless to say that the humidity inside was terrible, and we packed our gear wet. But we made sure to stop at a Do-it-Yourself store on our way to the Czech Republic to buy some duct tape.

A beautiful sun welcomed us on the shores of Lipno Lake, allowing us to carefully choose our spot after thoroughly patching the bottom of our tent up. But the clouds were never really gone since rain was back that very evening. All this care was thus not in vain since our tent remained dry. However, the short week we spent in southern Bohemia was a bit too watered for our taste. To the point that we really asked ourselves if we shouldn’t directly go back home instead of heading to Salzburg.

Too much rain doesn’t mean that it rained all the time, far from that. There was even enough sun for me to get burned while building sandcastles on the beach with the kids! And more than good enough weather to visit the incredibly picturesque Český Krumlov. The laid-back atmosphere along the sinuous paved streets, dominated by a huge castle, drew us there twice. I think we paced all of the cobbled streets inside the Vltava river elbow at least once, often giving in to the children’s fantasies of looking for the narrowest alleys that would then become their secret passages. However, the rain has postponed our trip to České Budějovice to the last afternoon that we were to spend in the Czech Republic, and that is a pity. The few streets we have been wandering around the charming Ottokar II square only made us want to come again. But this is not the only reason we will return to this corner of Bohemia!

Unsurprisingly, it rained during our last night on the shore of Lipno Lake, and we packed our stuff wet. Again! This story was getting old very fast. Halfway to Salzburg, we stopped somewhere on the highway to seriously consider where to go next: home or Mozart’s birthplace? In the end, we pushed on and followed our original plans. I had booked a camping place in Hallein, a bit south of Salzburg, and when we showed up and said we had a tent, the receptionist gave us a glance and asked if it was a GOOD tent? And for good reasons: the ground was saturated after the (very) recent and abundant rains. Despite that, we managed to install ourselves relatively smoothly, and the sun eventually showed up to dry us up.

We headed at the end of the afternoon to Hallein for some grocery shopping and a bite, only to be surprised by.... you guessed it, rain. Well, not just another shower, but plain raining f.....g cats and dogs!! A wall of water so thick cars were stopping on the side of the road (still cannot figure out why, though!) while ours could probably have used a snorkel! And the state of the campground as we came back: laughable! Since I had not taken my rain boots, I just walked bare feet in a couple of centimeters of water around our tent. But let’s say that we were getting a bit too experienced to let that Deluge 2.0 affect us too much, and I was not that surprised to find the inside of our tent dry!

Over the next couple of days, the water eventually seeped in, and we managed to spend a very lovely last leg of our vacations in the Salzburg region. Actually, we only visited Salzburg and enjoyed it very much. Lots of walking around and the one and only museum of our vacations. Quite a feat for museum buffs like us, but if we ever intend to convert our kids, we must carefully select which one to visit. And boy was our choice good! Haus der Natur is thought for kids, and ours enjoyed it so much that we only managed to drag them out because the museum was closing! Although it seemed a bit fussy at times - going from dinosaurs to an exhibit on Tibet and then an aquarium - it was very interactive. Children can touch, can drag drawers, play with water. In a word, experiment!

Overall it was a good vacation, and we are happy that we stayed the course. Because like everyone knows after the rain comes the sun!

Tags: camping, children, czech republic, munich, rain, salzburg



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