You might as well be the first to know: I’m not coming back. I made the momentous decision today while having lunch seated by the river in the small Czech town of Český Krumlov. Although it’s even more of a tourist town than Prague, it’s absolutely beautiful. I think it’s one of those places where you could come for a holiday, decide to stay for a while, and then suddenly realise twenty years has passed.
I know this sounds sacreligious, but to be honest, I was getting a little bored with Prague. Although I’d found one or two good non-touristy spots, the “Gothic Disneyland” character of the place (as I read somewhere describe it), and the complete and utter devotion to tourism was getting a little boring.
And as lovely as the hostel has been, I was getting a little bored with the “spring break” culture of the place. The place is full of Americans, Canadians (and Australian hangers-on) who spend all of their days sleeping and all of their nights drinking. They’re great kids, and they’re having just the kind of holiday they’d planned, but it’s not really the kind of environment where I want to spend too much time. I did all of that twenty years ago, after all.
The manager of the hostel suggested I should visit here, and with his help, I booked a return bus trip via a local travel agency. I needed his help, because the website remains entirely in Czech, with the exception of international flight bookings.
There was a minor fuck-up with the ticket which means I think I’ve paid for one leg of the trip twice, but the return trip only costs $20 Australian. But why get upset?
It’s funny, isn’t it, how some people on holidays waste a lot of their time with negative energy? I saw a bloke yesterday at the Jewish Cemetery threaten to “get the police” because the attendant hadn’t told him the ticket was an “all-inclusive Jewish Museum experience”. (There were signs EVERYWHERE in several languages, including right in front of him at the ticket office, by the way).
And then today at lunch, I saw a French woman go completely off at the waitress at the restaurant because she didn’t understand her order. “She doesn’t understand my English”, the woman told her supervisor. “Honey, I can barely understand your English”, I thought to myself as I watched the proceedings. But you know, it just seemed like a lot of wasted energy when she could have been enjoying the spectacular view.
Speaking of views, I also saw an American woman go completely off-her-head the other day, as she attempted to take a scenic photograph with one of those bigger-than Ben Hur cameras. Unfortunately for her, people kept walking in front of the camera, prompting her pedestrian-stopping outburst. “Honey, it’s a holiday, not a photographic assignment you’re on”, I mumbled under my breath.
Here in Chesky Krumov you can’t take a bad photograph. It’s one of those places where everything looks good. Even now, at about eight-thirty at night, with the sun behind the horizon, you could take a great landscape shot.
The cafe I’m seated in has spectacular views over the town. I’m outside sitting on a balcony enjoying the atmosphere. There’s a Spanish couple nearby obviously totally in love. A middle-aged single woman sitting by herself (I hope she doesn’t get the wrong idea) and me. In the background, there’s some 1930s jazz playing softly. And passing by on the river below us is a very boat full of tourists with an opera-singing accordian player :)
My waitress is particularly friendly, though the woman on the front counter gave me a death-stare when I walked in. “May I have a table for one”, I said. “Of course” she replied, with the subtextual message being, “Don’t interrupt me. Can’t you see I’m on Facebook?”.
After dinner, I’m going to head back to my room, give my camera battery a quick charge, and hopefully take some great night-time photographs. And I’m hoping there might be a nice pub where I can chat to my fellow tourists.
In common with Prague, it’s a total tourist town. I don’t know if anyone actually lives here (I’m sure they do), but almost everyone I’ve seen today is a tourist. Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Czech, LOTS of Germans and Austrians, one Australian who asked me to take a photograph and who smiled when I replied, “No worries”, but surprisingly no Americans. Located about two-and-a-half hours from Prague, and presumably not far from the border with Austria, German seems to be widely spoken.
The impression I get is that it’s some kind of holiday resort for a lot of Austrian people. Lots of fathers and sons in kayaks going up and down the river. Lots of older people walking around in their swim-wear (ewwww) with sandals and socks. You get the idea?
And although I think I could stay here for quite some time (maybe twenty years), I do want to return to Prague. Thursday marks the fortieth anniversary of the student uprising of 1968.
There’s an exhibition of photographs at the National Museum I’m keen to see. The Museum, of course, is the building the Russians shot at, believing it was the home of the anti-Russian Czech radio station. They were wrong, as the radio station was actually in a neighbouring building.
The bullet holes have never been cleaned up from the National Museum, as a reminder, I guess. And when I asked a woman at the tourist office the other day if there was anything to actually commemorate the anniversary she said, “I think they are going to pretend to shoot at the museum again”. Excellent!
Back in the hostel, I’ve booked a single room this time. I figure it’s a nice treat for myself before heading off to The Netherlands on Thursday night, when I’ll return to dormitory living.
And of course, the other thing I have to do on Thursday is visit the Australian Embassy, relinquish my citizenship, and apply to live permanently in this beautiful small town.