A mini prague without the tourists

Trip Start Jul 13, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Moravia,
Monday, August 17, 2009

I arrived in Olomoucs after 9 hrs of epic transportation - bus from Zdiar to Poprad (which followed the base of the tatra mountains and left me in two minds as to whether or not I really wanted to leave??), next: two trains, firstly from Poprad to Zilina then from Zilina to Olomoucs and finally a tram from the station to my hostel... 

My changeover in Zilina came with a 90min delay, so I ventured into town to find some food and stopped at the first terraced restaurant I found, after ordering my food the couple at the table next me, invited me to join them, he was dutch and she was Slovakian, they wanted to know why a girl was travelling around on her own, where I'd been, come from etc etc... I sometimes get sick of answering the same questions over and over, but these guys were different, they weren't just asking out of polite conversation, I got the impression they were genuinely intrigued... and as a serious schoolgirl error, in my complete exhaustion I ordered a cheese burger forgeting that what I would get would (quite literally..) be a cheese-burger with no meat...

Olomoucs is really a pretty town, very provincial and steeped in history. Gregor Medel studied theology here at the university (but more of him when I get to Brno!) and my time here was spent mainly wandering around the 'old city' along the river, following the remnants of the city walls and wandering through the old buildings of the university that now houses the art and theatre faculty.. (hence the 6ft paper mache donkey and the equally disproportioned headless chicken...)

I befriended a german couple in my hostel (who watched me poach eggs in the morning and wanted to know what I was doing?!?) and coincidentally they had noted the book I reading ( by the Polish author : Ryszard Kapuscinski, who seems to be infinitley famous in the former eastern bloc & not anywhere else...) On my second day I took the guided tour with one of the hostel hosts who went into detail the history of various buildings, squares, fountains (and there are a few!!) and residents... I pretty much followed the steps I had taken on my own the day before - only this time with a wealth of more knowledge.... I had noted that some of the old buildings in the square had pictures of animals above the doorways - which was how houses were identified in historical times rather than by numbers... (ie/ the black dog, the yellow fish etc etc...).

The tour also highlighted a couple of appropiately located cannonballs in obscure places - above the entrances to a bar and on the trinity column, on the later it is guilded it in gold to highlight the devine resilience of the column...   There is an immense clock tower in the main piazza that rivals the one in Prague, this was destoryed and rebuilt by the soviets in a rather kitsch manner (including scenes of rural life around the clocks) with about 7 clock faces that display the time in days, day of the year, month, hours & seconds, 24hour time, astrological & zodiac time... At midday it plays three traditional tunes while various characters rotate above the clock faces and finally after 6 mins (yes!! 6 mins) the gilded rooster lets out a rather limp crow...

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