Yes, we even ate spam

Trip Start Oct 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Since we did not have a Lonely Planet we decided that the best way to see the Czech Republic was with a local tour guide. Luckily for us we had two. Our friend Karel, with fresh US green card in hand, just happened to be in Ceska Lipa visiting his mother after being out of the country for five years. Perfect timing for us as we were welcomed to stay with Karel and his mom for the few days we were in town.

Since Ceska Lipa is a few hours from Prague, we spent the first few hours upon our arrival walking around the city. Karel and his cousin, Joe, showed us the hot spots...a castle, tv tower, charles bridge...but were vague with historical details. This is not to say that the information Karel did provide us with was not accurate...everything we visited was, in his opinion, "old and popular."

Being the excellent tour guide that he was, the following day Karel took us for a drive through the country side to visit the Bezmez castle, yet another old and popular site to see. This was not before, however, visiting his grandmother who we found tending her garden. The Czech people are old fashioned in the sense that they still grow all their own vegetables and raise their own meat. This particular grandmother was too old to continue to house rabbits and pigs, but the next door neighbor had two large pigs that we got to see. Yet we only got to see them because Karel told them that we had never seen a pig in the United States, and since we were limited to only five Czech words (one being the dogs name, Wally, short for Wallenstein) could not defend ourselves properly. The castle we visited was built on top of a mountain, as they did back in the day, so of course we had to hike to the top. It was bit of a climb, especially for us out of shape folk, but we knew the views would be worth it. And of course they were...only problem being that Monday was the only day the castle was closed...the day that we were there.

Our next stop was at a resturant owned by one of Karels friends and since it has only been a few days since he has been back it was a great surprise to be there. (This could be a good time to mention that the food in the czech republic kept our stomachs in a constant state of turmoil. Most of the time we had no idea what we were eating but it was safe to bet that it was some sort of pork and dumplings. Once we are convinced that we ate Spam cleverly disguised as a hamburger.)Soon enough we had beers in front of us and shots in hand. Molly and I were in no state to be drinking, especially since it was 3pm, but it seemed as if we didn't have a choice. Apparently it's rude not to indulge in what you're given. And...just when we decided that if we sip our beers slowly we found that a new one is put in front of you and you are demanded to quickly finish the first one and start on the second. As it turns out, this happened for quite some time and Molly and I were regreting the day alcohol was invented.

After lunch/dinner Karel continued the tour of his friends. First stop was to meet his mom and then after that we found ourselves meeting his Aunt and Uncle at Joe's house. Within minutes of walking in we had glasses of wine in hand (and a cocktail that tasted like twinkies in the other) and plates of food in front of us. We couldn't decide if people just liked us or if it was a common gesture in Czech hospitality but whereever we went there was a plate of food waiting for us...even if we showed up unexpected.

The following day was spent visiting more friends and driving through more countryside. Karel and Joe took us to the ski fields about an hour away from Ceska Lipa where we took a gondola ride to the top of the mountain that overlooked everything that we had driven over the past couple days. Apparently when the sky is clear you can see the Alps and even into Italy. Afterwards there were more friends to visit, cucumbers to pick, and even a party later that night back at Jorda's resturant. Molly and I were adament about not drinking but it seems that us leaving town was a bigger event than we thought. Two bottles of champagne were brought to the table and shots of the traditional drink (which in my opinion is worse that ouzo) were taken. There were about ten people at our little party and well there were only two others that spoke english. Made for an interesting night.

After many more meals of meat and bread and fizzy lemon water to drink we finally made it to a plane and headed to London where we met Sara (molly's friend from college) and had a much needed quiet night in watching tv.
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