Monday, November 1, 2010

Cesky Krumlov "Solo" Adventure

Since there isn’t anything particularly interesting to say about Halloween in Prague, I shall backtrack to my trip to Cesky Krumlov using as many initials in place of names as I possibly can. I set off alone, but in spite of this I found myself perpetually in pleasant company.

Cesky Krumlov is three hours away from Prague. During the journey, I spoke in Czech with another student and writer who was going to a town along the way. We reveled in our shared devotion to chocolate and bright colors.

When I arrived, I got off at the wrong stop and spent a long time taking my frustration out on the map which clearly had every street mislabeled. It turned out that I was just in the wrong side of town entirely, so I took the scenic root down the highway to my hostel, Krumlov House. It was a charming hostel fresh out of a Lord of the Rings, complete with a dragon on the door. The kitchen was well-stocked with ingredients and spices, but I only used it to make tea, toast bread, and heat up some baked pumpkin.

I had lunch on the bank of the Vltava, covered in blankets, at a vegetarian restaurant called Laibon. I became friends with the owner and went back to have tea a few times during my stay.

My first evening was spent attempting to get my fill of hedge mazes and French and English gardens in the area of the castle. The anxiety of travelling alone in a new place hit me that night in the form of a rather uncomfortable stomach ache.

The next morning I had breakfast with a woman from Jordan—we will call her S. for the sake of being mysterious and Kafkaesque. Many things were closed that morning and we ended up having grilled cheese at a café. I find that anything that we would normally have for lunch in the United States is fair game for a Czech breakfast.

We walked through the winding cobblestone streets of pastel houses. A Thai man asked S. to take a picture of him with the town in the background, and he asked if I was her daughter. Before S. had to return to Prague, we had a lunch of apple strudel with whipped cream. A swarm of bees descended upon us and forced us eat the strudel very quickly.

That night, while walking through the square, I ran into M. from my dormitory and his mother. I had no idea they were planning to make a stop in Cesky Krumlov and it was a pleasant coincidence. They invited me to dinner with them, and I brought them to Laibon when the restaurant that was recommended to them was full.

They could only stay for a little while. After they left the entire costuming crew for a German historical film about Mozart’s best friend squeezed into my table. They advised me as to how to perfect my Marie Antoinette hairstyle. It became too busy for me to have tea with the owner again so gave the costuming crew some elbow room.

That night I met a woman from China—L.—and together we went with M. to a bar with a live gypsy band. I was incredibly excited because in both Prague and Budapest there were supposed to be gypsy bands and I had not come across one yet, although in Budapest there was a steel drum player. M. began talking to two women from Taiwan who were leaving for Prague the next day. We gave them our contact information so that we could show them around Prague, but neither of us heard from them. (Although two days later, I did get a call from someone who seemed to only speak Mandarin.)

On my last morning, I walked through a park near the hostel with L. and I took my last pictures of Cesky Krumlov. I didn’t think it was possible to meet so many marvelous people in one place. I think travelling alone was the key to my trip going so well. I wasn’t attached to any group of people which allowed me to go where I pleased and meet new people. I may have used my “approachable, trusting white girl” appearance to my advantage.

I’m planning my next trip now. I don’t know the details yet, but it might be to Dresden and it might be on my birthday.

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