Day 334 to 338 – Božanov

This really is just a cursory visit to the Czech Republic. The place we really wanted to see was Prague, and springtime is, apparently, the best time of year to visit Prague. But we learned early on in our adventure, in Copenhagen, that cities do not work well for us. Traipsing about with a dog in a big city doesn’t work well, with exceptions: Oporto and Dubrovnik were two such exceptions; and the boys are not particularly interested in cities. So with Prague off our wish list, we have just dipped into Czechia.

Our campsite is just the Czech side of the Polish/Czech border, almost due south of Walbrzych in Poland where we spent a night in a hotel after a Polish driver rolled his van backwards into Amarillo last August. The campsite is run by a very friendly Dutch couple, and the site feels like a bit of The Netherlands dumped into Czechia, complete with flood defences.

One afternoon we had a violent thunderstorm. A wall of water gushed towards the campsite, was caught by the ditch to the north, transported west, then southward downhill, then east in another ditch just below our pitch. The ditches were highly effective at moving water around the campsite.

The area used to be populated by Germans, they were expelled after the Second World War, but their houses and statues of Jesus remain. There is one such statue on the campsite which provided the boys with entertainment when a crane came to remove it for restoration.

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Extended families live in the houses, grandparents, parents and grandchildren. It is the same with Clare’s friend Barbera in Unna. Her parents live on the ground floor, Barbera and her family on the first floor and Barbera’s sister and her family on the second floor. These are big houses. We saw a pair of such houses, one restored and the other with a new roof.

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But it seems to me that these long houses with windows at the front but none along the side above the first floor must be part barn.

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At the poolside we chatted to a Czech family. They told us that Czechia had nearly full employment; the unemployment rate is only 2.3%. I quipped that Czechia could take some of Italy’s unwanted migrants. Apparently there are more anti immigrant members of the republic’s parliament than migrants: the figures being 22 and 12 respectively. I checked this out: 12 Syrian refugees have been granted asylum in Czechia; there are 22 SPD MPs, the SPD being the far right anti immigrant party. Perhaps the Dutch campsite owners are not considered migrants.

We tried migrating – we got on our bikes and rode for Poland. And we made it.

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On Sunday the only shop in the village was shut, so we cycled to the nearest open supermarket which was in Poland. It was good that we did, Polish grocery prices are 62% of the EU average, the Czech Republic’s are 81%; the UK does well with prices just below average, but I expect that is because most food in the UK is VAT free. Food prices in Switzerland are close to being three times more expensive than Poland. See chart here.

Tomorrow we return to Poland, refuel before entering Germany, and camp somewhere outside of Dresden.

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