Many of the French highway rest areas are clean, scenic and peaceful. They are good places to cook, eat and even finish drying the laundry. The next morning we filled up with diesel before the border, and then crossed Germany on one tank of fuel. I think that driving slowly, and a tail wind helped. On the way we had lunch in Germany at a highway rest area with a McDonald's, and then a snack at one of the many picnic areas right on the autobahn.
We crossed into the Czech Republic late that night. It was the first time that there was no border control. We stopped for the night at the first highway rest area after the border. Later I found out that it's obligatory, since it is now the first possible place to buy highway toll stickers. The new highway rest areas in the Czech Republic are usually clean and safe. They have gas stations that are open 24 hours a day, including the service station shops which still have very reasonable prices compared to other countries in Europe. The next day we drove to Prague. We found the least expensive RV parking area at Kotlarka without much trouble. We were settled in before lunch. We called Babicka, but she said she was feeling too tired for a visit (we suspect that she wanted time to do her hair).
We put off our plans to visit her till the following day and decided to go into town on foot. It was a good 2 km walk to the center, but the girls were motivated by the promise of showing them one of the nicest malls in the city. We had lunch at the mall â€“ the kids at KFC, and the parents at a typical Czech restaurant. On the way by we went through a wonderful park with nice views and a great playground.
On the way home we got our second big taste of rain on the trip. We got hit by a huge downpour, and were soaked to the bone by the time we got back.
The next day we finally visited Babicka. She looked great, but she needed visits that didn't last much more than half an hour. Roman had fun clowning around with some great gifts from Grandma. Teresa remembered the exact location of the extremely inexpensive restaurant we had visited two years previously. Even though area around it had undergone some important renovation, the meals continued to be a great bargain.
That evening we parked next to a beautiful new park in an afluent neighborhood. We were right next to the best inline skate park in the city. It has playgrounds, restaurants, a skate and bike rental shop, but best of all it's lit up all night. We were also quite close to the Brevnov Monastery.
The next day we stopped in a campground for the first time during this year's trip. The nice man at the reception office at Kemp Dzban remembered us from previous years and gave us a big discount. It turned out to be only slightly more expensive than the newly discovered RV parking at Kotlarka, but it was so nice to be able to ust lie in the grass and let the kids run wild that we decided it was well worth the money. The kids can skate around, while Mom and Dad have real Budweiser on tap on the restaurant terrace with a great view of the campground and surrounding countryside.
The next day we saw Babicka. We decided to visit her every other day so that she wouldn't get so tired. Since we now had two days time we decide to head to Melnik. Before we leaving the city we visited newly renovated restaurant the we found on internet. It was close to Babicka, and so nice that we ended up coming back two more times. We got to Melnik at dinnertime. The girls were tired so only Roman and Daddy took a short walk around.
After dinner we drove off to a small village surrounded by a forest. It is supposed to be fun place for hiking with kids. Unfortunately, it's so small that we couldn't find a good place to park the RV for the night. In a desperate last minute measure we drove into the campsite. It was very inexpensive and really nice, but it was so small the we couldn't get the RV down the entrance road. We ended up having to drive backwards down a narrow, dark road with sharp corners. After the disappointing experience, we decided to spend the next day at Kutna Hora, one of the most popular tourist destinations outside of Prague. But it was a long drive, so we parked behind a highway gas station for the night. The next morning it was raining, and we hit a lot of traffic. On reaching Kutna Hora, we promptly got lost TWICE! But it was well worth the trouble. Not only was it very beautiful and inexpensive, but there were very few tourists in spite of the fact that the sun came out around lunchtime.