Over the past 3 weeks I have been blessed with the amazing experience of life in the Czech Republic. The time I spent living in the castle in Elbanice was really laid back, the work not overly taxing and the time off, very rewarding. I went to that medieval fair, where I saw pageantry sword fighting, chatted with an old timey builder and blacksmiths, drank refreshing ale, and dodged unruly wenches.
Living in the countryside was, as I said before, a really nice change, though it wasn’t without excitement…
On my second trip into the town, as I was hoping to leave the padlock on my bike broke as I was trying to unlock it with the key. That was a laugh for the locals, as I tried to explain to them that yes it was in fact my bike and could I borrow some bolt cutters to cut the chain, mostly in actions… I even tried asking the local police after I made an inquiry at their station nearby, but after he came and inspected the situation told me it was not their policy to lend out bolt cutters for that purpose. Luckily, Marcel had a buddy who was around and had some bolt cutters in the back of his car, so that was easy and I reckon it looked pretty legit. But if not, I managed to make a speedy getaway, but I also assured the police fella, that if they get any reports of a bike thief in action, it’s just me.
I got to spend two nights alone in the old castle over two stormy nights. It’s funny really as I remember as a youngster, I’d scare myself half silly when I was home alone. To an extent where instead of being inside alone with my imagination, I’d just hang out on the driveway, or make moves to grandma’s place. The crazy thing is the castle place could totally pull off a horror movie type setting, or even a good old fashioned haunting. It’s a good 5 km to the nearest town, with the only one set of neighbours across the road, and the guy is a lumberjack. There are wheat fields behind the place with dark hefty forests behind that and to the right of the estate, through which the drive makes its way. There was also, I was told, an old Jewish graveyard somewhere nearby too. The castle was full or random artsy items, portraits, animal skulls, antique furniture and cupboards, and old fireplaces. There were cobwebs galore, long hallways, creaky stairs; did I mention it was stormy outside? Either way. Nothing, no urges to run outside. It was just nice to have the place to myself, to work and then relax, naturally.
Marcel was a great person to be staying with, he’d often have visitors stopping by to check out the place or stay the night, so there was always new banter to be had with interesting people’s. Plus we went on a couple day trips out, one to the very beautiful old city of Tabor for my first Indian curry in a while, that was nice. Then another time to Prague. Where I had about 2 hours to walk the streets and marvel at the place and masses of people. It’s a very popular spot! There was one square I came to where there was just crowds and crowds of folk looking up at a building. I thought ‘oh no there’s a jumper… don’t jump mate’. But nope, it was just a clock. An old fancy clock that told the time, and a couple of other things. But to be fair I didn’t understand the fascination. I saw a cool clock in Tabor that had a 24hour clock face. I think the one in Prague was astrological as well. Which is why I was surprised by the fascination. I just thought was fairly superfluous to contemporary life.
Still it was a rather large and impressive square, with much and many other cool things to look at.
I had to remind myself though, that I would be back, this was just a taster.
Back to the countryside, where my ability to calmly pick up large spiders and put them outside was outstanding. I shared the shower with two of them which was always a good chat. They were like white tail spiders in that when you see a white tail, it’s always a big one, you never tend to see any small ones. So it was with these spiders, they were always about the size of an old 20cent coin. Not hairy or anything nefarious, just in the wrong place, and happy enough with a helping hand.
My time in the countryside ended with a bang, literally. Marcel had an old school hand musket, I’d found it earlier in my stay, but forgotten to take him up on the offer to shoot it. So I was glad to finally get it out at about 1am in the morning, to shoot it into the sky. It was pretty cool to load with actual gun powder and then pack in a small lead bullet. Shooting the thing had a fair amount of noise and kick too. I’m hoping to do something similar when I get to the States.
The next morning I had to once again pack my things and move on to the next place, my current location, a place called Zivohost. It’s a popular holiday destination as it’s on a man made lake. I finally got to meet my original intended hosts, Martina and George. I was and am helping tidy up their place on the lake. And once again I’ve been regularly left to my own devices to do so. They both work in Prague, so they can only be at the lake on the weekends or at irregular times throughout the week.
I’m happy when they are here, and I’m happy when it’s just me by myself, as there is a fridge full of food and I have plenty to do. There’s a camp fire, plenty of stars at night, a nearby bar with internet and a fishing rod for exercise in patience and frustration. They have paddle boards and a canoe, oh and a sweet inflatable dingy which is nice to laze about on. I’ve found I’m rather content when I have a paddle in my hand and I’m sitting in a canoe, or standing on a paddle board skirting along the beautiful shoreline of the lake. Especially when I’m joined by a school of fish, or one of the massive fish that alludes my hook.
It’s kinda like lake Karapiro, except no lake weed, or farm land. It’s surrounded by cliffs, trees, a smattering of holiday homes, and on one area a large holiday park. The water is just superb. It hasn’t rained during the day time whilst I’ve been here, which means I’ve been able to work hard clearing trees and turning them into wood chips. Then, to cool off, walk 20m down the now treeless path to the private dock. Yeah, it’s not a bad spot.
I quickly came to the conclusion that it was the type of spot that I’d be happy to remain around a little longer, so I agreed to stay for 2 weeks instead of just the one. This meant I now had a weekend off to figure out some plans. Where to go for 2 nights? Do I go to a place called Pilsen? Where Pilsner beer came from… nah I was told it’s not that nice of a city, and there are plenty of really nice places to choose from. I ended up getting on a train to Slavanice, which is in the south. It was so far south that I was able to run to Austria and back, that was cool. Then I took another train to a place called Telc. It’s a UNESCO protected spot because it’s main square is from the 15th century and is pretty darn cool!
Nice just to walk around and have one side conversations with people, them mostly with me. I found a couple of times I’ll try and chat with someone, but they’ll shake their heads, so I’ll get out the trusty translator app, but they’ll see the Union Jack and then say “oh, do you speak English?”, “yeah, I think so” is my response.
I returned to Prague after Telc, where I stayed with George and Martina at their nice place near the centre. I worked a day at their place, and then got to explore for a day. Prague gets very hot and humid! It made my usual plan of walking around from place to place a bit less enjoyable. But then again, Prague is a city that I’ve been wanting to see for a while. I think it was a Jason Bourne movie, either way, It’s very pretty! Amazing architecture, great coffee and beer, and plenty of nice things to look at. I visited the Communist museum, which is ironically next to a Casino. That was interesting! Though later, when I quietly walked around the massive St. Vitus Cathedral, there was a tomb for the former bishop of Prague who held the position during the early communist regime. The thing that stood out when I was reading his impressive and very formidable life, was his advocacy for Freedom of Conscience. That was the interesting comparison between him and the commies, where they wanted one conscience.
I was able to depart the heat of Prague for the refreshing coolness of the Lake earlier than expected, and do so in the company of some new buddies. I’d met them the week before, when whilst taking a break from the trees, they, all of a sudden were there. Paco, is a buddy of George’s and was taking a much needed lake day with some lovely young German ladies, who had finished their studies in Prague, so that broke the silence and I ate very well that day, and again when they brought me back!
I realised the other day that I am now beyond the halfway point of my trip. Kinda disappointed by that fact. It no longer feels like yesterday that I was in Japan, so much has happened since then. I guess it’s rather the complete otherness of this side of my travels. Next Friday, I’ll be touching down in a place I’m very fond of and familiar with, Scotland. I’ve liked not being able to understand people. You get to experience the silence of ignorance for a change. Where you will sit a a table with people, not having a clue what is being said, so you get to just listen to the foreigness of the language. So yeah, everything from Scotland is all very familiar to me.
I’m not complaining, and true, some Scottish accents are fairly close to a foreign language too, but I love it.
I’ve loved the struggle of Japanese, of Greek, Macedonian, Serbian~Bosnian~Croatian, Hungarian and Czech and for my final week German. Though I’ve met a lot of Germans on this trip, and all of them have spoken English really well. I like German, it has an element of fun to it.
Sadly I’m going to be moving on from the Czech Republic on Sunday, tomorrow. Its been the place I’ve stayed the longest of all the places I’ve visited so far. But to be fair, I wish I could have spent 25 days in all the countries I visited, well perhaps not Slovakia. I didn’t much like Slovakia .