I have to admit that it feels a bit wrong to write the name of this city without the diacritical marks because it doesn't really tell you how to say it correctly. If I were to write it phonetically it would be more like Chesky Krumlof. So that's sort of how you say it. I guess it doesn't really matter, but this makes me feel a bit better.
This past weekend a bunch of people from the Central European Teach Overseas group got together in this picturesque city to enjoy one last hurrah before the diaspora. There was a canoe trip planned, but not being overly huge on the idea of possibly being drenched with cold water and not being able to breathe, I opted out of that plan. I have to say I'm quite pleased with my choice, especially considering the temperatures this weekend. Let's just say there was nothing about it that really made me want to be wet at ALL. And when I saw how cold and droopy all the canoers were when they returned, my feelings didn't change at all!
So instead of being miserable and wet, I enjoyed taking in the sights that the city had to offer along with Naomi, Crystal, Tammy, Kelly, and sometimes Kassidee (who is recuperating from surgery last week and therefore couldn't canoe.)
I have a small confession to make before I go any further. Anyone who knows me very well, and especially those who have lived with me, are WELL aware that I'm not exactly anyone's idea of a morning person. Quite the opposite really. However, I've been giving the ESI retreat crew some false impressions. See, at pretty much every retreat I've been the first person up! The main reason for this is that I require a certain amount of comfort in order to sleep well. I can't really say that beds in the Czech Republic, and particularly in hostels, were designed to give Sarah a good night's sleep. Small point of interest, this Saturday, the 14th, marked the 16th anniversary of my comfy bed requirement. Amazing how a split second decision on the part of my sister in 1992 still effects the way in which I sleep.
In order to continue with the deception, once again I was the first person up and out on Saturday morning. I've come to enjoy getting the first shower on these occasions, and being up so much earlier than the other people gives me a chance to get out and be alone long enough that I can actually be a fairly friendly person by the time I have to deal with people. It also gives me a chance to take photos alone so that when I'm in a group I don't have to look like the snap happy one :)
Um, did I mention that this place is really beautiful? Well, it is!
After walking a couple laps around the town I met up with some of the girls and we walked a bit more before looping back around to the hostel for breakfast. The city is built mostly in the bend of the Vlatva River. It reminds me a lot of the city of Loket near where I live. It's just a wee bit bigger is all.
Most of the crew took off after breakfast for their canoe trip, but we West Bo Girls and Kelly continued to take in the sights. We went for a tour of the castle first. The castle is "guarded" by bears. This tradition began several hundred years ago when one of the former residents thought it would be good to keep up with fashion and put them there. Since that time, there have always been bears living around the castle, and when they "retire" they are removed to the floors of the castle :)
They didn't allow us to take any photos on the tour, just like at Karlstejn, so we had to be satisfied with a group photo afterwards, followed by pictures surrounding the castle and in the gardens.
I specifically took pictures of the "hoppers" on the fountain. Just for fun!
We had lunch in the park by the lake and there were joined by some of this years bigger ducklings. They were very friendly, and not in the least bit afraid of us. They actually ate the bread right out of our hands! I'd never fed a duckling from my hand before, and I must say I thought it was pretty cool!
After a day spent wandering around the town, the rest of the group returned and we had a Bohemian feast. I didn't end up getting any good photos of it, but we did feel pretty Medieval eating it. Afterwards Crystal, Naomi, and I went around for a night tour where we got a little silly :)
Good times in small places.
Even after all the late night frivolity, I still managed to be the first one up and about come morning so I was off once again looking for things to take pictures of!
The first picture there is a view of the castle from below, just so you know. You walk across the blue section in order to get to the castle gardens. It's all really lovely.
After breakfast some people started heading out, but our train wasn't until the afternoon so we decided to take in some more sights. We went to the tower from the first photo in this note and got some great views of the city.
Naomi spotted a pretty field while we were in the tower, so she decided we needed to go there, so after the tower we hiked over and got some fun pictures looking back toward the tower. Yeah, and I've pretty much become a poser these days.
We headed back to the hostel to pack up, then ran to a cafe for one last little treat. This Cocoa Marlenka cake was pretty much amazing! And then we were off for the train ride home.
So there you have it. A view through the eyes of the well traveled transient drifter.
(oh, and I can't totally take credit for this photo because it was Crystal's idea to take it first. Just had to add that little admission.)