Friday, 7 March 2014

A Spring Sunday walk

Here's another blog post that is a bit late, but fortunately just a bit. :-)

For Sunday afternoon, my sister invited two of her foreign (Estonian and Latvian) co-workers and friends to our hometown, because they wanted to get out into the country somewhere, but did not have the means to go for a big trip. And one of them really wanted to see a rybník.* And since we know how many different interesting things can be found in our little town, it was a good fit for a Sunday walk.

The weather turned out perfect. For the first time in months, I went out without a winter jacket or coat, and I was almost hot at times! And a bit cold after the sun set, but that's normal with early spring. Yes, spring has come. After the long, long winter we suffered last year, it is almost unbelievable. We have had a remarkably bright and sunny February, too!

See, Spring! It's now more than just the snowdrops, so I think it's official.

We circled through the part with Art Nouveau little villas and houses again, so I took photos of some old favourites in lovely spring sun... and could not take photos of others because of the sun.

My old frenemy the Winged Frog. (I was very afraid of it as a child, and then grew very fond of it.)

Then we went to the town square and I took a photo of our slightly outrageous neo-Renaissance town hall.

Apparently, though, I failed to take a photo of the row of oldest houses in town, immersed in conversation about it as I was.

This is the street that leads to the railway station. "Hračky" means "Toys" - there has been a toy shop there all my life. Given how many many shops have changed hands and purposes here over the years, sometimes many times, this is a reassuring little landmark.

The gothic back of the baroque Catholic church.

The front of the church and the old town hall (also baroque, I believe), which now houses, among many other things, the town library (so you can imagine how fond I am of this particular building). There is also the entrance into the underground. Our town, you see, dates back into the Middle Ages and there's a whole system of underground cellars and corridors. I think I've only ever seen a very small part of it myself.

After that, we landed in our favourite café - this expression now really has a certain distinction to it, because a new café has sprung up near the railway station. But we keep going to this one, because a) it is closer at hand, b) they have Fair Trade coffee and tea, c) the whole establishment has a lovely old-time-y feel to it, being situated in a gothic (!) house with a garden walled by the old town walls in part,


and as you can see, the owners have lovingly decorated it with various knick-knacks that fit the old world atmosphere,

d) all their "china" is blue-and-white glazed with lovely unique decor, and I believe local-made (and it just so happened that this napkin-holder on our table featured Estonia's national birds...),

e) they make their own delicious cakes that keep getting better and better; I had this cheesecake that was of the Czech quark/curd variety - those have a tendency to be too dry most of the time and not very deserving of the name of cheesecake, but this one was perfect - and no crumbs! just the "filling" and the dark chocolate on top, nom!

f) and, of course, blueberry milkshake. All four of us had blueberry milkshake. I don't think I've ever been to the café without ordering blueberry milkshake. I think I've tried one or two times, and failed.

Aside from the points mentioned, they also carry an excellent brand of ice cream, have a children's corner with games and toys and books, have local magazines to read, exhibit paintings by local painters, hold various events like concerts and lectures on local history, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

Then off we went to the park and our church. The bell-gate (it's a gate, right? not a tower!) has been sporting a new decoration recently - apparently, this chalice was found in the vicarage somewhere. It may have hung on the church originally, maybe? but it certainly looks better where it is now. (For a little bit more on the importance of the symbol of chalice in Czech Reformation in my words, see this old post that is also the first to mention our favourite café and the blueberry milkshake.)

And the church with its unique outdoors pulpit.

Then around the brook / creek / whatever else you would call it in your particular brand of English, and around the brewery (that is not brewing anymore), to the first rybník on our walk.

This one's not very impressive. Also, even though it's called so, I think the purpose of this "fishpond" is not so much to hold fish, rather it was originally a reservoir of water for the firemen? I'm not entirely sure.

Then we climbed up the cemetery hill from which you get a fairly nice overview of the town.

So that's us - Kadri, me and Elina. Marta did not want to have her photo taken, so she was the photographer.

And then we went to the other rybník - the one I've written about before, the one where I've seen the muskrat. This time, I think I glimpsed a kingfisher - too fast to take a photo, or even to see it properly, just flashing by; but it was an unmistakable shiny shade of turquoise, and in these parts, that could only mean a kingfisher. I can check an item off my birdwatching bucket list - that is, I could if I actually had one. If I actually had one, seeing a kingfisher would have been on it.

I took many many photos at the fishpond, because we arrived there just at the golden hour, and so it made for an excellent photography playfield.

There are even more fishponds over that way. I learned to ice-skate there. (Sort of. I suspect I would not be able to ice-skate again if I tried it now.)

* Rybník ("fishpond") is one of those curious parts of the Czech reality that you never fully realise is there until you've had a brush with a different reality. The Czech countryside is full of them. Small ones, large ones, solitary ones and whole systems of ones. Some are well kept, full of fish, deep, with pleasant paths shaded with carefully planted trees leading around them. Others are all sorts of muddy and weedy and forgotten. Some are used for swimming in the summer, and then, when they freeze over, come alive again with skaters on top of the ice. Others explicitly forbid all that because of the fish. Some can be used for fishing by people with the proper licence (like the one above is), and the banks, especially in the mornings and evenings, are occupied by the silent men with fishing rods whom you should pass with quiet reverence for their patience. That peace and quiet, only occasionally broken by the splash of a fish, adds a special charm to the landscape.


  1. Hana, I have so enjoyed this "trip" through your area. The view is charming, everything so picturesque. Your outfit also fits in with (my idea of) the general atmosphere. ;-) The café, the frog - all delightful!
    I envy you the springtime weather - we are still waiting; it's very cold here today - less than twenty degrees.

    1. Ah, yes... you're having a more snowy variant of our last winter... I hope it will end there soon as well - it's no fun!
      And thank you. :-) I'm glad you liked it.

  2. Seeing every picture here.. I feel like I was with you in your trip. It must be fun. I love the pretty primitive things. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting! I like travelling around the world this way, so it's only fair to share. :-)

  3. winged-frog is very cute! Loved seeing all the pictures! Thanks for the tour! Kriston

    1. Hello, Kriston! Welcome to my blog, and thank you for the comment.

  4. Hani, thank you for a lovely stroll through the beautiful city. I admire the beautiful houses, churches, and overall well-being of the post.

    1. Just a little town. :-)
      Jsem ráda, že se líbí. Za tu dobu, co tu bydlíme, úžasně prokouklo.

  5. Thank you for the lovely walk! I do so enjoy the glimpses of your town and life on the other side of the world. Someday I'd love to come visit you and see your rybniks in person and have a blueberry milkshake! Or perhaps you could visit me here, and I could show you our version of 'art nouveau' architecture (so very, very different from yours!) Or if you came and saw my childhood home in Hawaii I could show you the special fishponds I grew up with: loko i'a. Yet another thing we have in common, in an across-the-world way!

    1. Oooh, I'd love doing both! Hawaiian fish ponds! Such a fascinating thing - I had no idea. There are so many things around the world one has no idea about!
      Ours were originally often started by aristocrats who were making money by selling the fish... now it's an old tradition that I once read Czech experts were teaching people in Africa about. Keeping fish in fishponds. I loved that. It was almost exactly like that saying about giving someone a fish and teaching them how to fish, and it made me patriotically proud in the best possible way. So I'm very fond of our fishponds. :-)

      And it's fun the observe the forms Art Nouveau took around the world. There's e.g. Latvian Art Nouveau, too, sometimes similar to ours, sometimes very different.

  6. Beautiful pictures! It's still too cold to go for a nice walk in the northeastern US. I am ready for spring! The picture of your town library reminds me of the library I work at which is also in a lovely old building, not quite as old at yours though. I like walking through the building and wondering what books girls my age were reading in the 1800s.

  7. What a charming place! I keep meaning to do something similar for my blog; maybe this will inspire me :-) The usual too-dry curd cheesecakes sound like they may be made the same way cheesecakes are usually made in Nepal. They're good but not quite "right," since the cafe owners are basically winging it with local ingredients, which would be paneer or something similar to quark. Whatever their secret is should be passed on to us here!