So, here I am. In the Czech Republic (don’t even dare to call it Czechoslovakia!). This is my new home until mid-October, and I’m stoked to be here. Everything is different, mostly because the language is completely unrecognizable and people giggle
any time I attempt to say a word in Czech.
Czech is an amazingly beautiful country with a long history of conquerors, religious and political oppression and now forming it’s new identity as a free country and part of the European Union. After communism ended, Czech and Slovakia split in 1993 to form independent nations, referred to as the Velvet Divorce. It was the most peaceful and amicable split in history, with nobody dying and everybody remaining buddies. Many people think that the split was initiated so that state-run industries could be privatized and make some rich guys even richer.
This is Cesky Krumlov (missing some Slavic accent marks), a UNESCO world heritage site built in the 13th century and amazingly well preserved. It’s only a couple of kilometers from where I’m living.
There are close to 200 restaurants here, and buses arrive every day with new groups of tourists eager to see such sights as the castle, the baroque theater (one of only two in the world!), and the general oldness and charm of a medieval town.
The house where I’m living is sort of out in the middle of farmland and forests. This is from a walk a few days ago. Not Bad!
If you go the other direction on this road, here’s what you’ll see:
Just about 1.5 kilometers away is the river, where there is a large grassy bank for people to camp on. I’ll regularly see 100 tents spread out here from people canoe camping or bicycle touring. The infrastructure is amazing, and bicycle routes are clearly marked.
This is a fairly typical bicycle tourist here, with a converted mountain bike holding a rack and sometimes wearing a backpack.
Kids ride bikes here too!
For some reason, these kick scooters seem to be everywhere. This is a basic one.
This one I call the Big Kahuna. It doesn’t look any less weird, but comes with a suspension fork, knobby mountain bike tire and rear fender.
Today I put on my spandex and went on a road ride with my buddy and colleague Mike. We rode to the top of Klet, the nearest mountain, for a sausage and beer. Here he demonstrates his tube swapping prowess ‘in the field’. As an aside, If you judge the popularity of a sport by the sheer number of participants, Big Kahuna scooter riding was the favored way to ride down Klet. I turned my head so fast in disbelief as the first one zoomed by that I almost went off the road!
Mike’s a great guy, and is also from the Bay Area, we were hired together and had met a couple of times before being sent to the same region. He’s done a cross country bike tour and also speaks German.
By the way, if you’re ever in Cesky Krumlov and need to go to the hospital, don’t go to the one here. Trust me. Just try to pronounce ‘Cesky Budejovice’ (or ‘Booty Town’ as it’s called by the Americans) instead.
One last parting image, just to assure you that there are bike hipsters anywhere in the world you go.
Stay tuned for an upcoming segment I’m tentatively calling ‘Where’s the Bathroom?’