Czech Republic: Central Bohemia’s Highlights
A September Visit to Brno, Kutná Hora, and Malesov, Czech Republic
On my last day in the Czech Republic, I have learned a few things about this landlocked nation that I’d like to share. Overall I must say that my experience here has been very positive, I can’t think of one aspect of the country that I didn’t enjoy or wasn’t impressed with.
One thing to clarify. I had stated that the official name of the country is Czechia, but that’s not really true. It’s more of a marketing nickname, one that is designed to be easier to say, but the problem is, it is too easy to confuse with Chechnya, the war-torn breakaway province of Russia that everyone is running away from and afraid of.
The similar-sounding new nickname just is too much like the other. So I didn’t hear or see much of that here, despite the marketing of it.
My post conference trip was to Central Bohemia. And this is the area the surrounds the capital, Prague, but doesn’t include Prague. My friend John Henderson wrote a detailed story about the city where the conference was held, Brno, which is part of Central Bohemia. It has just 380,000 residents, and is the country’s second largest city. Prague, with 1.3 million is the tourism dominator, they get nine time as many visitors.
But I found Brno to be a very pretty and safe-feeling city, without the traffic and confusion and size of Prague. I only had the experience of traveling a long way across town from the train station to my hotel up on a mountain in the city but it felt so much bigger. Next time I have to indulge myself and spend time in the Old Town of Prague and see the sights that everyone raves about. I really just missed them this time due to the location of my hotel.
The food in the CR is very similar in most restaurants where we ate. On almost every menu were two soups–a beef bouillon with liver meatballs, and a mushroom soup with dumplings. Soup was always these, never anything else. Duck, various variety of pork including knees, neck and back were there.
And goulash, beef slow cooked with a thick sauce. Food here is heavy and the vegetarians I traveled with had to kind of punt, picking the salad and a few vegetables from the meat-heavy menus.
The hotel beds all had that maddening European double-duvet situation, where two single covers are placed over two beds side by side.
In every hotel room I’d take duvets and put them horizontally, one over the other, to avoid the dreaded air leaks. There was never a top sheet, but there were always enough plugs which was a nice change. Often this is my biggest beef not enough places for me to plug in.
The towns we visited were not on the main tourists radar, and some were really beautiful. Kutna Hora is an ancient town where the street signage and architecture is solidly 18th century and earlier, there is almost no part of this UNESCO World Heritage town that is out of place, ugly or too modern.
We took a tour of the Italian Court and learned about the long line of kings including Good King Wenceslas, who ruled the area back in the day.
A highlight of our visit was seeing the Gutenberg Printing House Museum, where we watched a letterpress create postcards, and downstairs, we saw how hot lead type produces lines of text that was once used to print books and newspapers.
Train service here is what the rest of the world deserves. I took a train from near Malesov to Prague, a distance of 44 kilometers, the the fare was around $4. The train had snacks and was immaculate, and honestly, if train travel like this was available in the U.S.
I am sure it would be used by many, instead of all of us having to drive our own cars.