“Hello! Well, once again it’s been a long time since we wrote. Last time I wrote we were in Munich in Germany, and now we are in Germany again, in Berlin. But much has happened since then. >From Munich we caught the bus to Salzburg in Austria. Salzburg is where >the Sound of Music story happened and where the movie was filmed. Because it is Autumn the trees were beautiful and were turning all colours making the surrounding hills stunning. Unfortunately though I was hit with a lurgy (probably just a cold) but felt pretty drained so in the 2 days we were there we didn’t get to see that much. Although I did drag myself out of bed for a trip to the town’s palace and fort which we did a tour of and it was all pretty interesting. We saw the lush living chambers of the royal family that ruled the castle. The castle also had other necessities such as a dungeon and torture implements. In the museum there we got to see a REAL chastity belt, which didn’t look all that comfortable! We also saw the cemetary which was in the Sound of Music movie, but resisted the Sound of Music tour which is run by American tour guides. We went and found ourselves a little local pub where Jon experienced a real Austrian ghoulash and again some local beer. We also checked out some of the famous Vienna coffee which lives up to iots reputation. Next day we were back where our holiday began in Vienna. It was a bit like deja-vous too because we were even given the same room in the hostel as before. We found out that it’s actually the best room the the whole hostel because it’s the disabled room it’s heaps bigger than the others and it also is the only room to have a bath! We only stayed one night before we were back on the bus. The first day in our new destination we checked into our accommodation (which was a pretty good hostel), went to the pub for a few of the local brewskies, went out for Indian and stuffed ourselves, had some cocktails, went to an opera recital (how cultured!) and went back to the pub. We only spent $100 all day. How is this so? We were in a small town called Ceske Krumlov the Czech Republic! The Czech republic is great for a few main reasons. They have a terrible exchange rate which means that a pint of beer is only $1 and a 3 course restaurant meal is about $10. Bewdy! Also the Czech Republic is pretty cool because it has a different story from most other European countries. It was a Communist state until 1989 so the people and places have a different feel. Anyway we spent the first 2 days in this small town. It of course has a fort and castle, but this one is a bit different, because instead of building it with big colums and expensive marble, they just painted it on! You can’t notice from a distance, but up close you can see the trickery. We went on a tour again where they give you a little digital radio which has an explaination of anything of interest that you can play at your own speed. Local legends are rife and they all tell tales of terrible murders and hauntings. The second night we were unable to get the same hostel room because it was already booked, so we set out to find alternative accommodation. We found a little pension (B&B). The place was really small (it only had 3 rooms) but we got to experience the best place we’ve stayed so far. The woman who ran the place was really sweet and made a great breakfast for us in the morning. All this for $40 per night for the two of us! After 2 nights we caught the bus to the capital, Prague. We arrived at our hostel which we’d booked a double room which was about twice as expensive as the Pension in Cesky Krumlov. It, putting it mildly, was crap. At about 10pm we were ready for bed but a waterfall started in our cupboard, caused by some dodgy plumbing upstairs. It finally subsided about 2 hours later. This seems to be a common occurence, becuase the owner was not concerned about it in the least. So spurred on by our new-found fear of drowning, we checked out of that hostel and set out for a small town an hour out of Prague to see some macabre stuff that we’d heard about. On the way we saw a steam train which was pretty cool. When we got there we walked the 2km from the station of course with our packs on and of course the hostel that we had booked didn’t see to be open when we got there. (We later found out that a cab from the station only costs about $3). So we found another small hotel which was excellent (hey, we deserved it after the previous night!). We caught a cab (no more walking!) to the main attraction, a building called the Ossuarie (sp?) which displays the remains of 40,000 victims of the Plague and a war that was happening at the time. But the bones aren’t just stacked up in some dark room, they are stacked neatly in 4 piles in the corners about 5m square all the way up to the ceiling. But the highlight (sorry about the pun) is a chandalier which is made from bones. There are also a few other things like coats of arms, also made entirely from bones, and some skull candleabras. Pretty cool eh? (photos should be on the site eventually). The town, Kutna Hora, was foundered centuries ago and became rich from silver mines in the area. A few years ago they found some of the original 13th Century mines which they now do tours in for the tourists. After donning a miners hat and coat and collecting your lamp, they take you down to the damp mines. In some parts the mines were only 120cm high and 30cm wide! There are also other galleries off the main mine which go for hundreds of metres and some have no oxygen and others are filled with arsonic-laden water. We also checked out the massive St Barbara’s catherdral (no doubt named after my wonderful mother-in-law!) and saw a plague column commemorating the end of the plague (all towns seem to have these) and an ancient well. Believe it or not we headed back to the same hotel that leaked because we were being picked up by the bus there early in the morning. We also changed to a dorm room because they are actually better than the double rooms. We went into the city of Prague and did the tour of the palace, walked up the bell tower (280 steps), saw the grave of “”Good King Wencelesses””. It was all very nice and the church was beautiful. We also went to a toy museum which was pretty cool. (Derek: there were lots of toy trains there! Photos will be up soon along with the ones of the steam train.) We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to stay longer in Prague, and would have stayed longer but our visas were only valid for 7 days. So, we got back on the bus and are now in Berlin. Berlin is really cool. Anything goes here, you could wear undies on your head and nobody would care. The city was voted the daggiest in Europe, which pretty much suits me! Berlin, of course also has an amazing history. We went on a walking tour which went for about 5 hours but was excellent and very informative. We’ve seen bits of the wall that are still standing, been to the Checkpoint Charlie museum, and will also check out a few more museums over the next few days. We spent the whole day at the zoo yesterday which was really amazing. One chimp decided that it was us that were on display and came up close to the glass to stare at us! We’re actually staying here longer than we had planned because we didn’t book the bus back to London in time and it was booked out. We’ve booked a flight from here on 31st which was only about $100! So next week, I guess we get a job. (Although I intend to procrastinate for as long as possible, but Jon can’t wait to get back in front of the computer!) So that’s about it. Hope everyone is doing well. Will catch up with you again from London. Jane and Jon”
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