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Friday Bench: Bear, what bear?

Find out more about the bear and why he’s blue here.

Neither here nor there

Following on from Friday’s Bench, I thought you might like to see the border between Gmund and Ceske Velenice I was talking about. There’s a thin strip of land which is neither Austria nor the Czech Republic, so it seemed appropriate to place my husband in ‘no man’s land’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004, so it seemed strange to me that the unmanned border crossings between the two countries are still very much in evidence. In contrast, we’ve enjoyed toll-free bridges across the River Severn into Wales since last December and I saw workmen dismantling the toll booths when I went to Fishguard in February.

Friday Bench: Ceske Velenice

We stayed in the pretty north Austrian town of Gmund on holiday, remarkable because was split in two between Austria and Czechoslovakia after WWII. The other part of the town (now part of the Czech Republic) is called Czeske Velenice and was a mere 5 minute walk away across a now unmanned yet still imposing looking border post.

A little further on was the town’s (both portions) main railway station. Ceske Velenice inherited it as part of its allotted portion. Gmund’s station is tiny by comparison.

To my eye the station itself looks little changed from the communist era, though I’m sure the residents could put me right on that.

Having seen some stark contrasts between some of the towns and villages either side of the border, my husband had an interesting chat with one of the train drivers.

‘Are you happy?’ he asked. ‘Yes, I am’, was the smiled reply, ‘I don’t have the latest phone or car, but me and my family have a comfortable life. We don’t need the latest things to be happy with our friends and family’.

You might think that sounds a bit forced or rote, but hubby said his reply was spontaneous and genuine – remember I’m reporting his report of the conversation. In our world of must-haves and keeping up with the Joneses, it was food for thought.

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