Our pandemic dog rescue story… part four

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I have mentioned before that I think Austria is an extremely beautiful country. We haven’t spent enough time there, which is a shame, because it’s a small country that has huge things to offer. I love the scenery there. There are enormous mountains, babbling brooks, Dirndl clad ladies and men in Lederhosen, and lots of great food. I like Austrian food more than German food. Yes, there is a difference.

It seems like Austrian food has a little dash of Italian to it… and it also seems like there’s more variety to it. It’s not just Schnitzel, sausages, Spatzle, potatoes and cabbage. And yes, I know I’m inviting criticism from my few German readers for writing this. But I also know that some of them are reading because they want to know what things look like from an American point of view. Well, I am American, and this is my point of view, even if it’s not entirely accurate. You know what they say about perspectives. I know Germany has a variety of different specialties throughout the land, but for some reason, Austrian food just seems slightly different to me. Not that we had much of a chance to eat it during this whirlwind trip.

I was expecting Bill to stop for lunch. He never did. I don’t know how he hasn’t learned in almost eighteen years of marriage that it’s good to take a break. On the other hand, there weren’t that many appealing stops on the way down to the Slovenian border. We did stop at one place so I could pee. It was pouring down rain, though. I also remember having to pay a toll of 12,50 euros before we could go through Katschburg Pass. Bill was freaking out because the toll was done by machine and it wouldn’t accept his Bar (cash). I told him he should just take his time. People would have to wait. It’s not like they don’t make us wait when they have business to attend to.

Anyway, as we approached the border, we ended up on a narrow mountain road behind some guy who didn’t seem to know which was was up. There were many wrong turn signals, a few weaves and bobs in the road, and slow speeds. The drive over the mountain was very beautiful. The leaves are turning, so the colors were dramatic against the stormy skies. There’s a bunker museum on the mountain road. We saw a lot of signs and had we not had Arran and it hadn’t been raining, it would have made for an interesting stop for Bill. It was built during the Cold War to make sure no one from former Yugoslavia would cross into Austria and raise a ruckus. Again… I would love to visit Kransjka Gora again, so maybe someday we’ll get a chance to visit.

Here are some photos from our drive down from Salzburg.

We rented an “apartment” for our night in Slovenia. I didn’t realize it was really more of a hotel apartment. We told the proprietor that we’d be there at 2:00pm, since they told us they needed an hour to get to Kranjska Gora. We actually arrived earlier than 2:00, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to message them through Booking.com. We just waited for a car. Well… first, Bill went to a tiny grocery store near the apartment and picked up a few essentials. Kranjska Gora is very close to both the Italian and Austrian borders. It must have been interesting to live there when Slovenia was still part of a closed society.

After we picked up a few items, we went back to the suite hotel and met the young lady who showed us our digs for the night. For about 86 euros, we got a little place with a bed, a sitting room, basic kitchen facilities, and a bathroom with a tiny shower. It was very clean and had what we needed, but it wasn’t quite as nice as our place in Salzburg. The floors were tile, which makes for easy cleaning, but chilly quarters. Still, it was just fine for a night and the price was right. Checking out was equally a breeze. All we had to do was dump the trash and leave the keys on the kitchen table. That was perfect for our purposes. The place we stayed was called G&F apartments on Booking.com, but it was in the Hotel Klass building, which is very close to the town center. I prepaid for the room and we had to pay four euros for the tourist tax. There wasn’t a pet fee and Arran was definitely not the only dog there.

Our original plan was to get Noizy at about 8:00pm, as that was when Meg was supposed to arrive with him and two other dogs who got new homes. Another American couple, based at Ramstein, I believe, were coming down to pick up a dog for themselves and transport another to a German family in Bavaria (I think). That other couple turned out to be a godsend. More on that in the next part.

Cheap thrills in the Czech Republic! Part three

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Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early.  Bill went hunting for a bakery and didn’t find one.  He did find a small mom and pop shop, though, where he found some rolls that kind of resembled hot dog buns (but tasted much better).  He had scored some ham, cheese, and eggs the night before at the neighborhood Coop, which is tiny, but has the basic stuff.  Our rental had one of those coffee pod machines, which my coffee purist husband hates.  He resolved to pick up a French press later.

After breakfast, we beagle proofed the house and set off for Plzen.  Bill took a couple of turns and we suddenly found ourselves confronted by a truly awesome sight…  Who would have thought that little Senec would have an Airpark?  We pulled up at the same time a young family with a little boy arrived.  The boy was obviously very excited to check out all of the old planes, helicopters, and tanks.  I was excited, too.  Some of the stuff they had there was flat out awesome.  The fact that we weren’t expecting to find this place made it even cooler.  I mean, where else but in a former communist country would you find huge airplanes on display on the side of the road?

The boy rang the bell and a tall, older woman came out.  She didn’t speak any language other than Czech and the signage was mostly in Czech.  I think I saw one or two English signs and a few more German signs.  The rest was all local lingo…  Fortunately, my husband was a tanker in the Army, so he knows about this stuff.  He especially took great pleasure in telling me about the tanks.

There are a couple of areas in the park that cost extra to visit.  There’s one area that requires a guide and has a plane you can pay extra to see the inside of.  Since the lady on duty didn’t speak our language, we decided to stick with the basic tour.  It was pretty frigid outside, anyway.  There were a couple of planes where you could climb up on ladders and look into the cockpits.

I should mention that the Czech Republic has kind of a special place in Bill’s heart.  At the beginning of his Army career, back in the mid to late 1980s, he was posted at both Ansbach and Vilseck.  Part of his job, in those days before the Berlin Wall fell, was to guard Germany’s border with the Czech Republic.  He said there were times in that era when he and his buddies were sure the Russians would invade and they’d be killed due to being outnumbered.  I remember so well what it was like for Bill the first time he crossed the Czech border in 2008.  He said it was very surreal, since he could easily remember a time when that was an unthinkable thing to do.  I must admit, having grown up during the Cold War era, it’s a little strange for me, too.

The entrance.  It even hearkens back to the days before communism fell.

Stalin is watching you!

Missiles!

For an extra fee, you and three friends can climb the steps and see inside this Soviet era plane.  Since I flew in one in 1995 on the way to Yerevan, Armenia, I didn’t need to see it.

Extra charge for this exhibit… maybe if it hadn’t been so cold outside… and our guide could communicate with us or vice versa.  But we were content to look at the planes over the gate.

Bill was explaining the finer points of missiles to me.

We spent about a half an hour here, I think… give or take a few minutes.  It was really cold out and I had to rely on my eyes to tell me a truncated story.  Still, I think this would be an awesome place to explore on a warmer day with your buddies who are fascinated by aircraft, tanks, missiles, war stuff… you know, stuff military folks dig.  It’s well worth a visit if you visit Plzen.  I think it was probably the highlight of our Saturday, which turned out to be a lazy day.  After we checked out the planes, we drove to the city with big plans of touring Pilsner Urquell’s brewery or a brewery museum or something.  But we got waylaid by lunch.  More on that in the next post, which I’ll probably write tomorrow.