An Old School Taste of Český

Trip Start Jul 11, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Camping Paradijs
What I did
Glass Factory Tour

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, August 8, 2011

We left our quiet pension/campground in Prague early this morning. As we left we bid farewell to the very friendly proprietor who was quaffing a Staropramen beer for breakfast.  It's no wonder the Czechs have the highest per capita beer consumption rate in the world!

We decided to visit a Bohemian glass factory on our way south and were treated to a really fun experience – in an old school kind of way.  Anyone who has visited a factory or industrial plant in the U.S. would be amazed at the lax safety standards for both the tourists and the workers.  Our guide explained that the workers are given the choice as to what to wear (e.g. safety glasses, steel toed shoes, and protective gloves) but they choose not to use anything because it is too restrictive and hot.  The good thing about the lack of OSHA rules is that we could get up (really) close and see the details of how the glass is made, blown, checked for quality, and cut.  The factory dates from 1904 and was nationalized during the communist government rule.  The previous owners bought it back after 1989 and it appears to be going strong.  We were all amazed at the amount of hand cutting required on some of the pieces of glass that were being produced.  And the amount of concentration necessary during an 8-hour is beyond my imagination.

The drive south through Bohemia was beautiful.  It reminded me quite a bit of Wisconsin with rolling hills and agriculture everywhere.  The road we took wasn’t too crowded and we could drive slowly and enjoy the view.  An accident blocked the road at one point but our faithful GPS allowed us to navigate around the problem easily.  That little piece of technology has saved us hours of time finding our way.

We arrived in our campsite late in the afternoon and were treated to a beautiful spot near the Vlatva River.  Yanna, our hostess, greeted us warmly and showed us around the camp.  She explained that her mother and Aunt love to garden and there are flowers everywhere.  Where the flowers are not growing, there are vegetable gardens and fruit trees.  After checking in, Lisa noticed that they offered tastes (i.e. shots) of several Czech liquors that we had seen on menus throughout Prague.  She asked for a taste of Becherovka, an alcohol made with a secret mixture of 14 herbs.  It wasn’t bad!  Yanna offered us a second taste, this time of Czech rum made from potatoes.  We won’t be ditching the Goslings Black Seal anytime soon!

After backing into our "Premium" camping spot and hooking up to the electricity, Kaden announced that there were “trillions” of slugs in the grass.  I took a look but could only confirm millions of them nearby.

We quickly cleaned up and headed into Cesky Krumlov for a look around.  The town was built around a natural S-curve in the river and hasn’t changed much since the 1600-1700s.  The communists added a huge block of apartment buildings outside of town but the city center was, for the most part, left alone.  Hitler came to town when the Sudentenland was ceded to Germany, and Russian tanks rumbled through here in the 1960s but no fundamental changes were made and the character of the old town was exquisitely preserved.

Dinner was a real treat.  It was a cool night and we ate in a cozy, small restaurant just off the main square of the city.  Lisa had carp (a local specialty), Senn ate an entire trout (served whole), Kaden had chicken, Quinn ordered his customary hot chocolate, beers were 85 cents each, and Quinn ended the meal with blueberries on Czech flapjacks.  Lisa finished her sampling of all Czech alcohols with a taste of Slivovice which is plum brandy that we agreed smells and tastes like hand sanitizer.

I had Kovářův oheň or “Smith’s Fire”, a Jihoceske (South Bohemian) specialty.  For my family it was a really interesting dish because the German translation of Smith’s Fire was Schmiedfeuer.  Our ancestor’s family name was Schmied or Smied but they changed it to Smith sometime after arriving in the U.S.  So, was their Czech name ever Kovářův?  Or were they of German ancestry and living in the Sudentenland? I have lots more genealogical research to do.  And what's up with all the funky accents in Czech?  And who stole all the vowels from this language?  So many things to ponder while driving the caravan. . ,.

To end the day, and follow-up on Lisa’s post about bathrooms I have to describe the most unusual bathroom we’ve come across yet.  The men’s bathroom was through a door and down a hall.  At the end of the hall was a room with just a sink and mirror.  Beyond this room was a room with several urinals and a door leading to a sit-down stall.  Finally, by passing through the first stall you could open a door leading to a second stall.  Hmmm…I can only imagine the conversation between fellows as one passes from the second stall through the first stall on his way in or out!

The Mettels (Carson)
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Hackie on

Don't forget to bring back some yummy samples!

Hackie again on

Hey, where is the next installment...I am waiting....waiting...waiting!!!

mettel.europe on

We were in Wi-Fi no-man's land for a few days. We're back on-line and the posts should be coming soon. Thanks for asking!

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