From city to town to village

Trip Start May 29, 2005
Trip End Jul 28, 2005

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Friday, June 10, 2005

The train from Krakow back to Cesky krumov takes about 7 hours with a stopover in Prague (or praha as it's supposed to be called). I had heard about Cesky Krumlov from Aussie Paul Anderson of MBA 2006/Honduras vacation fame. Damn good advice too. Guys, this is THE most beautiful town I have ever seen. Tops venice, tops anything else you can throw at it. It is deep within the heart of bohemia, a tiny little thing of a few thousand residence within a beautiful green valley. A river meanders through town and a great castle looms over the entire thing. I have some amazing pics but they require a) photo stiching and b) that USB connection for me to show you. My advice to future eastern euro travellers: place this town as your top priority. There isn't much night life if you aren't in a hostel but this is a place I could relax for days and days. Hiking up in the hills, intertubing down the river, cool little restaurants and shops, tiny alleyways...real deal old world europe. The entire town is a UNESCO protected site which limits Mcdonald's ability to set up in the main square. By the way you could probably build a nice little vacation strictly by seeking out UNESCO protected sites...they haven't gone wrong yet and there are many of them.
I arrived mid afternoon and checked into the Krumlov house, a wonderful little hostel a little bit up the hill above town that feels like an authentic bohemian house. Weird door locks, heavy doors with counterweights on pulleys to make them easier to open, very decorative. It's great that we can build 100,000 track houses per year but nothing in the US seems built to last whereas this town was build of stone hundreds of years ago and the same bridges and castles still stand. I had dinner last night at 2 marys which specializes in "ancient bohemian" cuisine. It's an old restaurant at the river's bend and the food was great. They are stil dealing with chicken, meat, and cabbage, but can do some amazing things with it.
I ended up hanging out in the hostel with the other people staying here last night. One young arizonan couple is on their 10th month of a year long round the world trip. Sounds amazing: they stay at places for weeks or months, not days. I'm so jealous and so concerned at the same time. I don't know whether to envy them or frown at them. It's the type A in me running into direct conflict with the type C in me. I wonder what they will possibly do when they get back to arizona. How will life ever compare to what they've had this past year and how will they cope with the sorts of menial jobs they are likely to be able to score after having a resume so full of adventure but so devoid of work experience. Or does that matter? They probably have no desire to work at the BCGs of the world and maybe they pity me more than I pity them. I get this feeling with many of the travellers I meet and haven't decided what to make of it.
As for the sights of Krumlov, the best so far is the only bear moat in all of europe. That's right, 'bear' moat. Why have water when you can have a bunch of wandering brown bears down in there? Big ones too though they seem content to play with empty beer kegs and bouncy balls rather than frighten off the mongol hordes.
I'm going on a hike above the town this afternoon before jumping on a train to vienna. I've really compressed this trip into a corner(or this phase of it at any rate). I'm pretty much arriving in Vienna and heading to the airport the next day. Ah well, it was all worth it. Next stop: Greece! George hooked me up with a connector flight to mykonos so I'll be flying from athens direct to the island and will have to see the parthenon on the way back. I'll be in greece with some of the Haas crew for the next 10 days...stay tuned.
Parting thoughts on Eastern Europe: go here while it still exists. It's safe, beautiful, cheap, easy to get around, and most of all, simple. If australia is the US in the 1950s then Eastern europe is western europe in the 1920s, but minus that whole post-war destruction thing to deal with. I love it here and recommend it highly to you all.
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