Monday, August 30, 2004

"The Hell You Don't Know" Tour: Part V 

We left Nowy Sacz sometime around noon on Friday, August 13. The road out of town was a twisty 2-lane mountain road, and our progress was much slower than we had expected. We passed through the town of Limanowa and near the town of Zakopane, both of which looked worthy of closer exploration. We, however, weren't stopping for anything, not even to eat. Instead we snacked on what remained of our travel munchies.

We crossed over into Slovakia in mid-afternoon. I immediately pulled over so that Annabelle could get out and breathe that Slovakian air:

I was much more impressed than I had expected to be by what I saw of Slovakia. Several times we would just be tooling down the road, round a curve, and be confronted with an amazing sight. I managed to pull over to take a picture of the Orava castle where the original Dracula movie was filmed in 1931:

The Strecno castle was another suprising and equally impressive find. I wasn't able to pull off anywhere to get a picture, however, so I skeeched this one from somebody else's website:

We were zipping through Slovakia when my cell phone rang. My dad was on the phone to tell Mom about Hurricane Charley's approaching wrath. We had been in such a news blackout that we had heard nothing at all of it. Strange to be chatting with Florida from somewhere high in the Slovakian mountains! (For the record, Charley left my parents' house in DeLand unscathed, but an unnamed storm the following week took out one third of an enormous oak in their back yard. As I type this, my father is awaiting the crane that is due to arrive from Daytona for the removal of the entire tree.)

When we reached the town of Trencin, we had a decision to make: push on south toward Bratislava before hopping west toward Vienna or heading immediately west through the Czech Republic. The first option would get us back into German-speaking territory sooner, but it would make for a longer drive overall. We decided to go with the second option, figuring that we hadn't been able to speak the local language for most of the week anyway, so why start now?

We were on backroads all the way to Brno, where we finally picked up a divided highway. At around 10:00 p.m., we pulled into a truck stop just outside Brno where we watched some of the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, had a delicious supper, and tried to figure out a good place to stop for the night. A customer at the next table spoke English, and he suggested that we try a place some 20 kilometers on down the road. He wasn't sure if there was a hotel there or if it was merely a rest stop but he thought it was worth a try. If not there, he said, we would surely find plenty of hotels at the next exit. We thanked him and headed off.

Just over 20 kilometers later, we saw a sign for a hotel. Figuring this was the place he had in mind, we pulled into the parking lot of the Hotel Annahof. The kids had been begging for most of the day that we stop at a really nice hotel (our accomodations in Poland had been rather spartan, even the good ones), but I was so tired by this point that I would have gladly stayed in the Norman Bates Gasthaus.

Mom and I went into the reception area and left the kids in the locked car. While I was in the middle of getting us checked in, they panicked at the sight of the security guard and triggered the car alarm, sending me racing out to the parking lot. Mom watched the action on the security camera at the reception desk.

At first the desk clerk offered us either 2 double rooms or an apartment. I had seen an apartment at the hotel in Auschwitz and hadn't been impressed, so I opted for double rooms. Ultimately though she insisted on putting us into the apartment but only charging us the price of the doubles (approximately $100 total, with breakfast included). We wound up being so glad that she did!

Even though it was midnight by this time, our new luxurious digs renewed our energy. We sat up together in the living room watching BBC News on our satellite TV for news of the hurricane. The kids eagerly explored our 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Here they are with Mom in the larger bathroom:

The next morning after breakfast they went for a swim in the whirlpool tub:

We wished that we could have stayed there for a couple more nights, but we had to get back on the road for our last day of driving. Just after we pulled back onto the interstate, we passed a rest area that did indeed have a hotel. This must have been the place that the truck stop customer had recommended!

We stopped for lunch in a truck stop in Germany, where Annabelle found this adorable stuffed dachshund holding an enormous stuffed beer. She wanted to buy it for Fred (she said), but I didn't think Fred especially needed a $15 stuffed dog, even if said dog was drinking a stuffed beer. She settled on just getting her picture taken with it, so Fred--this Bud's for you:

We finally pulled into our driveway at around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 14. We waited until Sunday though to start unloading the pottery. And as we unwrapped box after box after box of the stuff, all Mom and I could say was, "We wanna go back!!!!"

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?