Sunday, July 1, 2007

Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov

The second part of the trip, Ceské Budějovice, was not nearly as interesting as Trebon. Although it was home to the Czech brewery “Budwar”, we didn’t see much of the city. I think we only stayed because the hotels were cheaper than our next destination. We did go up in a tower near the center and see a great view however. Afterward, we went to a Pizzeria for dinner, and once again we were able to use our Czech while ordering- it is so fun. After dinner, we went to a tea house and it was really relaxing to just sit back, drink some great tea, and pay about 4 bucks for all of us to enjoy said tea. We also watched some TV at the hotel and it was fun to see the differences in culture displayed through the media.
The next morning, we woke up early to head to Ceský Krumlov. I’ve visited this town early, and remember some details (such as being surrounded by the Vtlava on three sides and all the toy stores) but it was great to see the town from a historical perspective.

We started our tour of the city, which is beautiful by the way, at the town’s theater, which is connected to the castle through three tunnels. One above (for the royalty) one in the middle (for the common folk) and one underground (for the servants). Well, something to that effect. The theater was amazing! It is one of two Baroque theaters that is still in original conditions, and that hasn’t been renovated to fit newer periods. I couldn’t get over it. We learned about all the theatrical devices that were used in Baroque times, and it amazed me how they were able to put on these shows without electricity! They don’t use the theater as a theater anymore, the humidity created by breath can destroy some of the preserved items, but they have a couple of shows that recreate the time period followed by a Baroque dinner. There is one at the end of July and one in September, and I am pretty tempted to attend and see a period of history through the lens of theater.
After this tour, we started to descend into the city center. One the way, we saw some brown bears in captivity. I guess the crest of the crown or some legend about a bear had started a tradition to have bears in captivity, and though it was completely random, we saw some bears in Ceský Krumlov. After this spectacle, we walked through the city and our tour guide talked about the interesting buildings and the history of the city. Most of our group was very tired, but I enjoyed looking at the architecture. Afterwards, we had lunch next to the riverbank. I had shopska salat (a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc) and polevka (soup, in this case, garlic soup, which is really good). I think it would be a lot of fun to study in this city, but the old University is no longer open. It seems like all the Universities are in Prague.
After our short visit to Ceský Krumlov, we began the return trip. Most of us were completely wiped out, it had been a huge day, so I decided to read a book on the bus. I’ve started Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” which is by a Czech author. The book is amazing; I’m only 100 pages in, and I can’t wait to start reading it again. I want to enjoy it and read it throughout my stays here in Prague, but I’m sure I will probably finish it rather quickly because it is incredibly interesting. I want to take a class on Czech literature during the fall semester...
Halfway home, we stopped at a castle that was typical of early Gothic architecture. It wasn’t the most impressive castle, but it had a lot of historical background and I could admire the fact that it was so incredibly old. After a quick tour, we got on a boat and traveled down the Vlatava toward another castle. The boat ride was a lot of fun, and Julia and I were trying to call the Loch Ness monster from the depths of the river (surely she was on vacation from Scotland and was able to visit a landlocked country, right?). Although we failed, our group enjoyed blowing bubble-gum bubbles and enjoying the nice weather. Unfortunately, the boat-ride took to long and we weren’t able to make it to tour the second castle. We headed back (most of us drained to the max). I’ve noticed that my friendships are becoming much stronger. I had such a good time on the bus just chatting about random things. Families, books, politics, religion. When you can talk about religion and theology and discuss politics without yelling at each other you know that you have made friends. It is great that I can enjoy Prague with people who I like. When we returned to Prague, I realized that this city now feels like home; I felt like I was on vacation and only now returning home to Prague. It is so interesting how a place can become your new home so quickly.

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