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31 July 2005

soaking in the emptiness

a full day of the krumlov. a raining day, unforunately, but only a light raining day that would not stop us. first item of business: reserve a room in luhacovice where we would be traveling the next day. we found a different payphone with working buttons and called the first pension listed in our guidebook. i'd studied a few of the czech phrases in the book but i definitely wasn't prepared for any type of conversation. i needed to find someone who spoke english. i was ready with the pronunciation when a woman answered the phone.

'dobry den.'

'dobry den. mluvite anglicky?' [good day. do you speak english?]

'ne.' [uh oh.]

'mluvi nekdo anglicky? [does anyone here speak english?]

'ne. ne anglicky.' [additional sentences in czech. hmm, i wasn't prepared for this. red alert. abort the mission.]

'prominte. nerozomim cesky. dekuji.' [i'm sorry. i don't understand czech. thank you.]

we guessed that we'd experience the same situation when calling other hotels in luhacovice, a very small spa town on the east side of the country. almost everyone with a public facing job in prague was able to speak at least a little english; not the case in smaller towns in the czech republic. we needed to find someone to help us. sarah had already made friends with a girl in the tourist information office when she was researching transport options to luhacovice. we walked over and asked if she would be willing to call the number we'd just called and make a reservation for us in luhacovice. they obliged and reservations were made. [thank you so much, infocentrum in cesky krumlov!]

sarah secured an audioguide for the city and we went out to explore. the rain was off and on, misting, but wasn't bothering us. the guide was excellent and filled with interesting stories and as we followed the map we learned a lot about the city [of course, much of that knowledge, once bright has now dimmed.] the town hall and the marian plague column, erected in the town square in 1716 to commemorate those who died by the plague, a coat of arms of the czech republic and of cesky krumlov, the schwarzenberg family coat of arms (featuring a raven plucking the eye out of the severed head of a turkish enemy soldier), the rosenberg family coat of arms (featuring the five petalled rose, a symbol which can be seen throughout the city), the church of st. vitus. we weren't able to complete the entire tour by the time we needed to return the audioguide; we contemplated extended the time but decided we wanted to see other things. ice cream, up to the castle, passing a pen with live bears in it [rain prevented pictures] and through a beautiful garden. the hostel had a laundry service; over to give them our clothes, and then back out. a great memorable dinner in the town square with czech zon cola [http://www.zon.cz], very tasty; sarah had garlic soup and an eggenberg [http://www.eggenberg.cz], the oldest beer in the czech republic.

eventually the rain was gone and darkness had come; we wandered the streets, soaking in the emptiness and beauty of the city at night, taking photographs. back to the town square where i experimented with exposure times as cars carried back in time drove the cobblestone pestering the pedestrians. such a wonderful night. we returned to the hostel; laundry wasn't finished until around 0200. we set our alarm; we'd be catching a bus to luhacovice the next day at 0730.

posted by paul on Sun 31 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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