Near Dresden, Germany. 31st July 2007

Sorry about the blank test email It wasn't actually meant to be sent. It was just a means for me to me to get my circulation list on to a file so that I could check who was and who was not getting my mails. The list of course is in my contacts folder under a group name. The contacts folder shows the individual names but you can't save them to a file. You can print the list, but my printer needs a printer port, and my new computer needs a USB port printer. The simplest solution seemed to be to put the list on an email. But the list doesn't show in full until I hit send. It didn't work so I did it again. I copied the list to a file and deleted the mail. But it seems the first one worked and I didn't notice so it got sent! These things are sent to try us! Sorry. Do you sometimes get mad with your computer too?

Near Dresden, Germany. 1st August 2007

Photos. You want photos. This is the view from the tower at Ceske Budejovice. One of the largest town squares in Europe. Pretty too.

The German name for this town is Budweis. The beer from this town is called Budweiser. Now years ago the founders of Anheuser-Busch were looking for a name for their beer and chose the name Budweiser because it was synonymous with good beer. Of course they immediately trademarked the name in the US long before the original Czech brewery thought of doing so. The copyright battle has been raging for 100 years.

The result is that if you want to try the original, the real, the absolutely excellent Czech Budweiser beer, you have to look for the name under which it is sold in the USA. Czechvar. Remember, if you want the original and best Budweiser buy Czechvar. Czechvar is the name.

I took a tour of the brewery. These are 3 of the 8 heating vats.

This is the bottling line. Washing, filling, stopping, pasturisation, labelling, cartoning.

Lots of bottles, all moving.

They produce just over 31 million gallons of beer each year.

I headed off to a wood for the night. At a small cross roads deep in the wood there were about 4 or 5 youths, and a girl, just standing, near a car and a couple of bikes. They looked surprised when I passed. I have no idea what they were doing.

I went deeper into the forest, drove down a lane about a mile long, until at the end, there was a small junction. One way it finished up flooded, the other way it went about 50 yards then became totally overgrown. I parked at the end, near the overgrown section.

During the night, 4 am, in the pitch dark, I was awoken with a car. It parked at the junction, someone got out, and walked past my van, then down into the forest. Even in the dark I could see he was wearing a camouflage jacket, I guessed he was a hunter.

At 5 am, getting near dawn, I was woken again, the car was leaving. Strange things happen in this forest.

On the way to the next town I was passed by small groups of motorcyclists, then in the town there were about 100 motorbikes lined up. They must be having a rally.

Pretty little town with a nice fireman's museum. I particularly liked this 1770 fire pump.

Another event in the town today was a scooter race. Don't laugh. These are high technique racers, with large wheels and proper (inflatable) tyres and brakes, some of the touring models I have seen before are fitted with carry bags etc, just like touring bikes. There were even a few tandem scooters about.

This is a view of the town.

At the next town I again climbed the tower. Yep, my van is there in the picture.

 

They had underground passages, 14 km in total, we walked around 500 metres. I cracked my head badly on a low part, I won't show you any bloodied photos...........

There was also a nice museum about the Hussites. You've never heard of the them? Nor had I. Try Google.

I eventually reached Lucie and Lukas's house near Prague, after checking out a couple more castles. I met them in Mexico 3 years ago here's the link,  then M56 and M59. Since our meeting they have got married and have a 9 month old son Matĕj. Don't write off Czech Republic just because they give their children names we are not used to. Lukas for example is a high tech independent currency trader, he sits in front of his computer and concentrates. For me, that's a wow! in any language.

I went to Prague for the day. I left the van at the Park and Ride, in the centre I immediately jumped on a bus for a city tour.

This is the Wenceslas Square. (Remember the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas? He was Czech)

This is the castle, and St Vitus's cathedral, from St Charles Bridge. Someone please tell that guy to get out of the picture.

I walked around. It's an interesting city to look around. I enjoyed my visit. But packed, really packed, with tourists.

I'd suggested that I took Lucie and Lukas out for dinner. It was pouring with rain, we ate outside (under cover!) with a superb meal. I managed to snaffle the bill, so that I could pay it, but when it came to pay they didn't take credit cards and while I was counting out old fashioned notes Lukas sneaked it back and paid! Thanks Lukas, and thanks to both for looking after me, and helping with all the information to get into Prague etc. Thanks Lucie for letting me run 3 washer loads of washing.

Next morning I took off to the north, to Bohemian Switzerland. Pretty, certainly, but I myself wouldn't call it Switzerland. It's more like a cross between Switzerland and the Gers, where I live. I actually had a night stop on the way, drove around some pretty towns, both before the stop and after, but didn't take any worthwhile photos.

This is part of Bohemian Switzerland.

After touring round a bit, even at one point retracing my tracks for several miles, so that I could see the view from the other direction, I used up all my remaining Czech crowns on beer and petrol and crossed to Germany where I again managed to hide in a wood for the night.

Best regards

David Barker

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