Castle Quest

After some weeks of being sequestered indoors in front of my laptop, and Marcela at the UN, we rented a Škoda Fabia and drove along the highways of western Bohemia toward Plzen.

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It was very cold and snowed all weekend.

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The roads that connect sleepy Czech villages were empty.

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Except for this red car.

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But that was it.

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Be very very quiet: the village is sleeping.

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After an hour of driving, we came upon this castle: Křivoklát.

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No one was home, except maybe some ghosts.

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And a feline tour guide.

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Friend to all animals

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And snowmen

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But not swans; this swan was mean. He hissed at me. I hide behind a fence and defended myself with snow. Which in retrospect seems cruel, but I was under attack by a magical creature and I have little recourse against such magic.

The swan was clearly enraged.

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Possibly because we ate his friend, the duck. Which was delicious.
And I ate two pheasants. Which might have also have been friends to the angry swan; I’m not sure.

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And then there was Točník on the hill, nearby the ruins at Žebrák.

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How do we get up there?

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This road looks pretty, but trust me: it sucks.

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Hmmm, maybe I should have turned right at the fork.

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I’m getting nervous.

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Marcela: Unfazed.

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This is a road? Perhaps we should turn back before the ogre finishes his lunch of Yankee stew and returns to guarding his hunting grounds.

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This is better.

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Hey look! The monastery at Kladruby.

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We stopped in Horšovský Týn to buy some pastel house paint…

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…and see the castle…

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…which was closed for the Winter.

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Plzeň, the birthplace of lager-style beer, home to Pilsner Urquell.

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I feel so…civilized.

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And insignificant.

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Some time later we arrived at Švihov, a castle on a pond

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Wait? What? Locked?! This can’t be…Let me in! You bozos! I’ll eat yer guts!

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You know what, though? That’s fine. We don’t need your pond castle.

There are a hundred castles within fifty miles of here.

And we just found…

a really big lake!

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That somebody put next to this super majestic castle at Orlik.

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And…the castle is closed for the Winter.

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You know I’m tired all of a sudden and I just realized that it’s cold out here.

Czech castles may be shut and locked for the Winter, but once you get inside they lose their charm. That is probably how it has always felt for outsiders.

From the gates, a castle is captivating and evokes the adventures of knights. Inside the walls, a castle feels like a opulent cocoon that protects thieves from the oppressed.

Take, for example, this relic that we discovered at Křivoklát.

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This is where our weekend adventure ends. It is time to make the drive back home to Prague. Thanks for coming along. We’ll leave you today at this lone dilapidated shack at the forest’s edge. You should be able to take refuge from the weather there with the bats and mice until you can make some travel arrangements.

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2 Comments. Leave a comment or send a Trackback.
  1. #1 • STeve said on February 24 2009:
     

    Nice to get away and see the unknow. The lake looks magnificent in the cold. Looks like you made the best of nice getaway!

  2. #2 • Tom Tenoever said on February 24 2009:
     

    Jeremy! What a magical picture book. I especially love the feline tour guide. And you and Marcella look great. Thanks for the update and keep in touch. – Tom

 

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