I was reading the daily prompt tonight and it reminded me of a funny little episode one holiday several years ago ( that’s code for- my mind is going and I can’t remember when).
Anyway we’d spent a pretty good day nipping over the border from Germany into the Czech Republic and planned to stay the night in a wonderful little hotel in Cesky Krumlov that we’d come across 2 years earlier on another trip. Another thing I can’t remember is why we hadn’t actually booked it – The Writer is a very avid booker- so maybe it was just a spur of the moment decision to slip into the CR. I do remember it was a sublime holiday with no children ( sorry kids!) to consider so we did a bit of ad libbing along the way. You can obviously tell where this is going- we turned up around 5pm and the hotel was fully booked. The Writer did the rounds of the town but there was no room at the inn for us!
After a bit of grumpiness and pouting we consulted the map and found a border crossing fairly near in a bit of a hole and corner area with nothing else much around. Over the border was a very picturesque and desirable bit of Germany so we took a vote and headed south!
We’d cheered up quite a bit by the time we reached the “Border” which turned out to be a lake! Did we give up? Not on your life! Spurred on by the lack of comfy beds and the looming evening we dived into the nearby cafe to ask a few searching questions in our non existent Czech. Result! The cook happened to have a little side business in ferrying people and their cars across the lake to the actual border. We followed a German family in their 4WD onto the ferry. This helped to silence the tiny voice suggesting we where mugs and the cook’s ferry was just a scam – if the local Germans were using the ferry it must be a legit border crossing.
The ride across was beautiful, a calm lake in the early evening light with a few well disposed fishing boats and the ferry quietly chugging through the still waters. We were a bit subdued by the German’s asking us if this was the way to the border- we’d kind of been relying on them knowing it was the way.
We drove off the other side waving goodbye to the cook/ferry master and on down a bumpy dirt track past the rickety wooden sign with a mobile number for calling the ferry if you wanted to cross the other way. I reassured The Writer it was just for those wanting to cross from Germany to Czech but secretly I thought back to the cafe in the middle of nowhere and wondered if it might have been funded by duped tourists crossing and then having to pay to cross back again when no border was found.
Anyway , onward to the border! There were no signs pointing the way but there was only one road so we figured it should be easy to find the border. I hit the accelerator and powered after the dust trail of the 4WD as dusk descended. A hundred meters up the road there was a fork and no sign! Which way to go? We followed the Germans! Fifteen minutes later with the road narrowing we came upon the Germans backing out, so we too reversed. Well – it must be the other road – we all agreed ,and the Germans followed us this time.
It was getting a bit tense in the Whitton’s car at this point as we’d just taken an inventory of food supplies and realised we had half a bar of Lindt for dinner. If we didn’t make it out they’d surely find our corpses in the car clutching the silver foil wrapper. It was only 7pm and you might ask why we were bothered still plenty of time to find the border I hear you say. Ah, but this was a tiny rural crossing and the border closed at 8pm according to the cook. We weren’t the only ones worried , the German’s had made some telling comments about bratwurst and sauerkraut earlier.
Of course we came across another fork, made an arbitrary decision that Germany looked like it was “that way” on the map and barreled down another tiny laneway . Ten minutes on we came across some hikers who said it was just a dead-end . Go on- ask them where the border is – I hear you say. So we did and they didn’t ( know, that is). Blimey it must be tiny , or a long way off, or non-existent, we thought – but there was the map with an official border crossing marked.
Off we went again with the clock ticking and third time lucky! We could see the border boom gate just round the corner. We stopped , the Germans stopped and we all got out to examine the padlocked boomgate, the empty guard box and the battered sign informing as that this border was officially closed. The German male and The Writer formed a “let’s just jemmy the padlock and drive through” lobby group while me and the German female formed the”how do you know there isn’t a video feed and we’ll all be nabbed in no man’s land” opposition. The paranoid party won the day and we all piled into the cars and cursing in varied languages rally drove down winding woody lanes with 10 minutes left on the clock.
With his head in the map The Writer missed the deer leaping across the road and fortunately the deer just missed the car ! We turned left and right and left again , rounding the last corner on 2 wheels and with seconds to spare screamed to a halt beside the border crossing booth closely followed by the Germans. The border guard didn’t even glance up as he lazily waved us through.
I was perversely annoyed that he didn’t bother to come out of his booth and check my passport and the boot- what if I’d smuggled out that deer I nearly hit? I guess what I really wanted was some sort of acknowledgement for finding the border, for talking down the border ramming party and avoiding the ignonimity of having to use the return ferry crossing mobile number.
My chagrin didn’t last long as we rolled through the manicured German countryside and within an hour we were well fed on schnitzel and tucked up under a feather doona in an unassuming but cosy little gasthaus.
Sometimes I miss the old days before the EU when border crossings were always a bit of an adventure!