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Published: September 10th 2017
Today is our first actual stop in Austria. Looking out our window in Linz it appears to be a "city" rather than the small towns and villages to which we've become accustomed. Looking past the tall buildings I do see a much smaller onion shaped church spire, the tell tale sign that an old town exists and exactly where it is. But.......we are not here to visit Linz. No, no my friends, we are here to (drumroll here....) Hop on a bus and take a two hour trip back to Czech Republic.....Yep...hey no judgements here I just do what they tell me to do I'm here for the ride. (Pun intended). So as in all prior tours we get the signal to grab our "quiet boxes" and head to your appropriate bus. (I've been calling them monitors). As an aside I like the irony of calling them quiet boxes when what they actually do is make the tour guides voice come out load and clear....
Today our guide is Stephen, he is very young (I'd say mid twenties) and very knowledgeable about the history of the Czech Republic. He is taking us to Cesky Krumlov his hometown. The word Cesky
is a derivitive of the word Czech which directly translates in English to Bohemian. It is an ancient word which loosely means artsy and free spirited. Krumlov means curvy River. So we are really going to the Bohemian curvy River and check it out.
The bus ride is spent listening to Stephen talk about the relationship between Czech Republic and neighboring countries, everyone gets along well even Slovakia (once a part of his Country called Czechoslovakia. He speaks easily about the two countries "divorcing," how it was a friendly divorce which came at the end of the Russian occupation, both countries thought it was the right time to begin a new chapter and how both countries have prospered and continue to be friendly. Stephen had many stories to tell us about the personal history of his family in this region. Stories passes down through the generations from Great Grandfather, to Grandfather and from Father to son. The one thing that has rung out with all of our guides is their passion for their country and what it means to them to be free. From Prague to Germany then Germany to Austria and now Austria back to Czech Republic everyone
mentions the disappearance of borders. If Stephen hadn't mentioned it we would have never known we were not in Austria anymore. You flow from one country to the next and the guides will always point out where people in the past were stopped and held up for hours waiting to cross the borders. These are really happy people and so proud to show off the wonders of their culture and history.
I would like to add here that there is one issue, to this date not resolved, between Austria, Germany and Czech Republic. That is the question of who drinks the most beer. On our way to Passau from Prague Guillome swore up and down that Bavarian's drank more beer per capita than anywhere in the world. Now I sit here and Stephen tells us that the current winner of most beer drunk by each citizen is of course the Czech Republic, who drink what amounts to 1 liter of beer a day per person. Now I'm not here to name a winner. beer is a very cherished staple of the people. All I know is onboard ship Tom asked for a beer with lunch and was brought a
At the castle
The coldness of the stone castle is softened by this beautiful flower arrangement just tucked into a carved niche in one of the courtyard
regular glass of delicious beer. Before he had finished it our waiter Aleskandar whisked it away and said "no I'll bring you another, this is what we give to our children." Shortly thereafter a much larger more appropriately sized beer arrived. Tom's only lament regarding beer is that it is so good here he is reluctant to return home to Budweiser......Urquell Pilsner is the new favorite for him.
I have forgotten to mention someone who keeps appearing in our tour group. They jumble the the people around and mix up the groups But this one always seems to end up with us. I call her Hermione Granger as she appeared at the beginning of the 1st Harry Potter movie. We've all had one in the classrooms of our youth. You know the one who always raisers their hand even before the teacher finishes the question shouting "oh oh oh I know, I know"...waving their hand wildly in the air while supporting it with the other hand. Okay my Hermione may not be quite that awful but she is constantly holding up the progression of the tour by asking questions she obviously already knows the answer to then attempting to
add another spin on the subject to show how smart she is. She lives for the moment in which she can catch the guide in an error or show herself to be more informed on well....everything. On one tour the guide was talking about a painting of Marie Antoinette's Mother and a quote was written in German over her head . Hermione raises her hand in the "oh oh oh" fashion and reads the caption out load in perfect German (0kay now we all know she can read German.) Hermione now asks the guide why it is written here. This is probably the fifth time Hermione has piped in so far just today and our sweet guide just looks at her and says. "it was something Maire Tersea said and this is why it is in quotes." Sort of just stating the obvious.
But I digress.........back to Cesky Krumlov, We park the bus right in front of Stephen's high school off load a group that can't do the entire walk and the bus heads up the hill to Castle Krumlov.
Stephen slowly walks us through the gardens ,stable area, through multiple courtyards and walkways. We basically am over
This is an example of Graffito. It is the art of the clever use of plaster and paint to create a facade that appears more like a fine painting on the structure.
come with the magic of this area. You can see clearly a lot of it is being restored and Stephen did speak of how lucky the citizens of Cesky Krumlov was the during the Russian occupation they considered this hamlet of no special consequence. This town is a thousand years old but to Mother Russia....it meant nothing, a fortunate thino because it also meant the ones in power didn't go in and destroy the history by tearing down the the castles and other buildings as they did in so many other places, to replace them with square cement buildings "of the people." You can see through out the countryside that certain towns have multiple 7 storied or so very square and very plain buildings for the people to live. This is also on the outskirts of Kumlov. Once they were given their freedom they painted these buildings in bright blues, greens, oranges, and yellow to "Cheer them up." As Stephen would say. He also said that all these restorations will continue for years and the entire community is dedicated to bringing back the splendor of the past for the world to come and visit.
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