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Telc, Tabor, Krumlov, Czech Republic
Telc, Czech Republic
Feb 18, 2003

Pros: Postcard beauty every minute as well as making and socializing with new friends.
Cons: Dan’s Skoda!

Dan and his girlfriend Zouska wanted to come along to Telc with us for a the day. We thought that was great and assumed we'd all catch a train the next morning. Dan however insisted that we take his car which I was a little sceptical of mostly on account of the price of gasoline but also cause I wasn't sure if he could afford the wear n' tear on his old Skoda. (As some of you know, we own an old VW bus and have grown accustomed to foreseeing potential mechanical disaster, as has anyone whose ever owned an old VW for more than a week...) Alas, Dan insisted and assured us that it would be the most efficient thing to do...
We went nine-pin bowling that night (that's rýght, 9 pýn!) and I lost miserably.

The next morning came and we all piled into the small Skoda. Dan's brother Michael decided to come at the last minute too, so the car was fully loaded....5 passengers with our 2 heavy packs filling the front trunk! (the four cylinder engine is in the back.) Away we go....

About 20 minutes down the freeway out of Brno and the car is crawling up a mild incline. I'm in the backseat with Katrinka and Michael, ears perked up and listening, all senses on full alert... Hey, what's that funny noise? 'Hmmm, oh probably nothing', replies Dan... You sure? 'Yep, it's nothing.' Thirty seconds pass and I hear another noise coming from the engine compartment as we struggle to make the hill. Dan says, 'Okay, maybe we'll stop somewhere ahead and check.'
Ten seconds later the engine screamed a funny scream, made a clickety-crunch sound and suddenly quit as Dan rather quickly pulled the car onto the shoulder, narrowly missing 2 hitchhikers who at first, were cheerýng gleefully at us thinking they had a ride! They quickly dove out of the way as Dan frantically waved them over and we lurched to a stop...smoke pouring out the engine lid.

It didn't take us long to discover the seriousness of the damage as Dan suddenly realized that the temperature gauge read off the scale, past the red and into the 130's of the Celsius scale. All the water had boiled out of the rad (the noises we heard) and the real kicker, was how the spark-plug wires had melted off! Needless to say we weren't getting to Telc in any hurry! A few cell phone calls and an hour later, with the use of a climbing rope, we got a tow back into town from one of Dan's friends. Dan has since informed us that the car is, as suspected, officially dead. We send our condolences...(quite sincerely)

We took a bus and eventually made ýt to Telc. It's one of many quaint little medieval towns found throughout the country of Czech Republic. We enjoyed 2 sunny and quiet days there, Katrinka painted in the square and we walked around the parks and the giant ponds surrounding the town forming part of an ancient defence system.

After a horrible day of rain and scary bus riding, we arrived in Tabor. All our previous bus rides in the Czech Republic had been quite good but our bus from Telc looked to be something found in a ditch and held together with duct-tape. Everytime the bus driver hit the brakes, the whole bus lurched strangely to the left and everything inside the bus was either ripped (the driver was), cracked or broken...

Most interesting in Tabor was the history involving it's origin and it's occupants the Hussites. Preacher and philosopher Jan Hus (whose giant statue can be found in Prague's main square) was martyred after beginning this movement in defiance of the Catholic Church who at the time was full of corruption and crushing the poor and common people. The Hussites became great, yet barbaric fighters as they learned to defend themselves against the King's Knights. Tabor was their fortress. In the museum in Tabor we saw their crazy weapons and learned of their great successes in battle. The whole town was laid out to confuse invaders as there wasn't a straight street or square block to be found.
Like invaders ourselves, it was easy to get lost. Underneath the streets were 14km of tunnels used as escape routes and what not, 300m of which is opened to the public under the town square which we walked through on a semi-english tour...
Later that night, we made soup in our room with the windows opened, using our small portable stove and pots....

From Tabor, we made our way to the grandeur of the beautiful 13th century medieval town of Cesky Krumlov...perhaps the real heart of the province of Bohemia. This place was magnificent! We stayed in a very friendly hostel there called Krumlov House. A 450 year old house and former bakery whose only distinctive marking was a rather heavy door intriquetly carved into a dragon. We had a good feeling about the place when we walked in and the girl showing us our room was listening to Radiohead and offered us a cup of tea. We haven't heard much in the way of good music on the radio these days... She turned out to be from Calgary and the rest of the staff were Americans, so English was completely kosher for a change and there were many Aussies, Brits and other Americans there who we quickly be friended. The house had decent rooms, a very homey kitchen where everyone hung-out and to top it all off, an acoustic guitar for use in the living room!

We enjoyed exploring the narrow streets full of history, but even more we enjoyed socializing with new friends. The best thing about Cesky Krumlov was the somewhat secret and what we called 'sacred' Tea House. Down a quiet little passageway and thru an unmarked door was a sanctuary away from the bustle of tourists and the excitement of the city... Aromas of apple, incense and spices would guide us inside. You might be thinking, 'This sounds a bit fluffy...' Indeed, I thought so too, until I had a chance to see it all.

Garnering a large portion of respect, the Tea-men of the Tea House take their jobs very seriously and are something to watch as they brew a hundred different types of tea from all over the globe. Very stern and long bearded fellows who actually travel to places like Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and even England to learn about and purchase the best teas found in the world. The atmosphere ýs the real attraction. The main room ýs full of candles, smoky incense, an old wooden chess-set, large soft chairs, indian carpets and the coolest eastern sitar music ever(or some equivalent), fills the thick air. They brought us scribbed menus and a bell to ring for service. In other rooms we had to remove our shoes. There were no chairs, only short tables with pillows and soft carpets... They also have a groovy room ýn which to smoke a water-pýpe. Like I said, the heart of Bohemia.

We enjoyed 3 or 4 days at Krumlov House and didn't want to say goodbye, but we still had other places to see....

One night in a place called Marianske Lazne found us grudgingly staying at a more expensive hotel and it was raining again....poooo. The only thing worth mentioning here besides the big bathtub, turned out to be the strange radio we found in our room. Leftover from the days of communism, it had no dial! You get only one station.... We came for the mineral springs but found all of them under control of folks who like money....alot.

Now we're in the very small and out of the way Loket...which means 'elbow' in reference to the fact that the town is built on the sharp elbow of the Ohre river. Our room has a view of the old castle which is right next door. This town was almost destroyed by gypsies and squatters and began it's recovery only slightly more than a decade ago... Our host Thom, bought his now beautifully restored pension for only 4000 US dollars in 1990. He says it's now maybe worth to half a million as the castle and the small surrounding village has been restored. He says in his czech accent that the castle is not really worth paying to visit, ' It looks better from the outside', he says. It's rumoured that inside every house within 50 kms lies a piece of the castle, raped and gutted over the years before the restoration began. Our auzzie friend from Krumlov House Mara, met us here for a few days and we're enjoying the postcard-beauty every minute! I'm finishing this long message in the town library! Just as I began this portion, Katrinka walked in with the horrible news of some giant terrorist attacks on the US and the World Trade Towers?? The info available so far has been vague yet frightening! We don't know how serious things have become there but we are concerned.