10 April 2012

On the cottage, in the nature, Part II: Telč

The records of Telč, a small town just a well-placed Petr Cech punt from the Austrian border, date to the 14th century. It has survived Hussite sympathizers tossing people out windows, numerous fires, occupation by the Swedish army, lightning striking the Holy Ghost church, occupation by the French army, and two plagues.

There's also been its share of growth -- but not in the town center. That area, thanks to the oversight of Zacharias in the 16th century, became a bustling marketplace. Essentially an elongated triangle with colorful building fronts of various styles, the town center hasn't changed much in roughly 500 years, a fact not unnoticed by UNESCO, which placed the area on its World Heritage list in 1992.

Baldy admires UNESCO World Heritage site No. 3 for him.
(The others: the Grand Canyon and historic center of Prague.)
Photos are here.

09 April 2012

On the cottage, in the nature, Part I: Overview

Of all my weekends in the Czech Republic, this one was most likely my Czechiest. I left Prague for a three-day holiday "on the cottage, in the nature," as Czechs, God bless 'em, like to say. (Although, to be fair, I once, while trying to show off my elementary level of Czech, told a young boy on the bus that his name was Baldy.)

The cottage, which belongs to the Special Assistant to the Blogger for a few more weeks, is in a village called Lhota, which boasts a population of seven. Located in the southern part of the country, a short jog from a town named after a lime tree, the cottage is where time stands still, and not just because the clock in the kitchen is stuck at 8:20.

The church across the street from the cottage.

We began the weekend by moving concrete slabs so the SAB could sink into the hole and turn on the water. The kitchen was heated by a stove that runs on wood and coal. If we needed hot water, we poured it from a kettle on the stove -- and that meant any warm shower was taken at a swimming pool 20 minutes away. The church across the street wasn't big enough to hold a basketball court. The local grocery store closed at 8. There was no Internet (OK, except on our cell phones ... we cheated), no TV, just us, Baldy, a visit from the Special Assistant's family, and constant visits from a friendly brown dog who bolted into the cottage the first chance he got. In other words, it was exactly what I needed.

The Special Assistant to the Blogger fires up the wood stove, which I guess made
me the Special Assistant to the Wood Stove Firer-Upper.

02 April 2012

Not Prague, Part 13: Return to Dresden

So much for following this piece of advice. The Guvnor and I were on the cusp of setting foot into the picturesque, historic area of Dresden when an older gentleman stopped us, asked The Guv where he was from (England), and then informed us that he was a survivor of the Allied bombings that set Dresden on fire at the end of World War II.

The man told us that he truly enjoyed saying "Good morning" to us, because when he was in school he had to greet everybody with a "Heil." No "Good day," no "Hello," no "Is Man City bottling it or what?" Just "Heil" (or perhaps "Sieg Heil" or "Heil Hitler"). He also assured us that he knew the Germans' role in starting the war. I mention this to illustrate that despite our initial fears, the man was bending over backwards to show he wasn't trying to be antagonistic. But he told his story long enough to end with this kicker: Out of his class of 30 children, three survived the bombings. And that was the start of our day in Dresden.

Of course, it's impossible not to mention the war when it comes to Dresden. The fire bombings destroyed a vibrant, cultural city, and during the Communist rule there was debate and/or foot-dragging in regards to rebuilding what had been reduced to burnt rubble. But today much of the historic center of this city, now in its ninth century, has been rebuilt -- the Zwinger in 1964, the Semper Opera House in 1985, and the centerpiece, the Frauenkirche, in 2005.

The historic center of Dresden.