Prague-Kutna Hora-Hodonin (Days 33 – 35)
Day 33 (9/2/2010):
The day started early with us heading out to a close town called Kutna Hora. As we exited the train and were reading the local map a traveler approached us asking if she could tag along in our adventure today. She was a punk rocker kindergarten teacher and we usually don’t pick up hitchhikers but we had a good feeling about this one. So the three amigos headed out to find the illusive “bone church”.
Hiroki keen on its heels using his sharpened traveler’s skills took us through back alleys and a random dirt path. Right before I was going to challenge his 6th sense, boom: the bone church appears. It was a really interesting church which is a shocker for us and a nice change of pace from the everyday churches / cathedrals we see all the time. The church was built to honor the dead from a major plague that attacked the village centuries ago.
On the train back we decided to occupy a pretty empty 6-seater car that just had one older women and her dog. As we entered she muttered something in Czech and we as good Americans just said hello. After a short discussion between the three of us I decided to rest my tired legs by putting them up on the seat, bad idea. The women immediately gave me a death stare that was very intimidating and lasted for quite a while. I noticed this stare out of the corner of my eye and tried not to pay attention to it, but it felt like a tractor beam that just sucked me in after while (10 seconds). As soon as I made eye contact the women said a very long Czech sentence that invoked fear into my heart. Right away I took my feet off the seat and I apologized even though I had no idea what she was saying. I guess she was offended I put my feet up or maybe she was complimenting my sneakers, either way it was definitely an interesting experience that made the punk rocker and Hiroki laugh.
For dinner that night our hosts made us a vegetarian pasta meal that was out of control and everybody found out how inflexible my hips are.
Day 34 (9/3/2010):
Hiroki said the day started off when he tried waking me from my sleep and I said out loud “I want that cake.” I guess you can take the weight away from the fat kid, but you can never take his hunger. The hosts were gracious enough to let us stay at home most of the day and relax. We watched two movies and it felt really good to just have a chill day and not have to rush around. The hosts came back from work around 2pm and we left for our road trip via car to their home town in Southern Czech called Hodonin
We arrived at their sister’s amazing apartment right in the heart of town. At night we met the parents and had a very interesting conversation over dinner in a humongous wine cellar. The stories they told regarding communistic rule in Czech Republic was very riveting and made me feel blessed for the country I was born and raised in.
After dinner we had some coffee / drinks and I guess we made a good impression on the father because he invited us to attend his 50th birthday party the next evening. We jumped at the opportunity to experience more of the Czech culture and party it up with great people.
Day 35 (9/4/2010):
Due to the birthday party invitation we had to change our train schedule and update our host in Vienna. Afterwards the Czech hosts took us around their hometown to visit a castle that had a cool car collection on display. We didn’t get to do too much walking around because of the rain. I don’t know if we follow the rain around or vice versa, but it literally has rained about 75% of the trip so far.
Once the rain subsided we had a picnic style lunch that was much-needed and a change of pace for us. Then the rain started again so we decided to hide from it by visiting a local cave called: Na Turoldu. Years ago the cave was used to dig up the massive limestone quarry that was hidden underneath, but now is just another tourist trap. It would have been a lot cooler if we could have explored the cave by ourselves instead of going on a guided tour (FYI – I hate guided tours!)
The afternoon was quickly coming to an end and as night approached we entered the restaurant where the birthday party was being held. We made our way to the back yard area where people were gathering. We were introduced to the whole family and almost no one could remember Hiroki’s name so he went by Hero or Heroma for the rest of the night.
After the short introductions the father presented us with a shot each of who knows what. Apparently it was a schnapps alcohol with a weird green root floating inside that was all home made. Since the father said it was tradition and I didn’t want to offend anyone I decided to take the shot, bad idea. Although it didn’t taste that awful it was a gateway to breaking a lot of Wagner rules that night.
A short time later we sat down for dinner and there was a champagne toast. The burly man on my right pointed to my glass and gave me the drink sign. I said no thank you and grabbed my glass of water. He said no and pointed at the champagne glass again and I again grabbed my water glass and said no thanks. He repeated his phrase and I figured there was no way out of this one so I swallowed my pride along with the champagne. That followed by a glass of red wine with dinner.
The food at dinner was very interesting in itself. They served a meatloaf-looking dish wrapped with stuffing that Hiroki cleverly named the meat clutch. It was actually pretty tasty and was accompanied by fries. I haven’t had a fry in a long time, but after hearing the stories of harsh communist rule and them going without for so long I felt very wrong wasting the fries so I dug in. I do have to say Hiroki and one of the hosts came to my rescue by eating a majority of them.
After dinner Hiroki put on his drinking shoes and basically fucked shit up. The whole group wanted us to have a good time and feel like part of the family so they invited us to partake in the drinking session or shall I say sessions. The birthday boy lead the charge by offering another shot of the schnapps / root concoction to us. I gracefully bowed out this time, but Hiroki living by his travel rule to never decline an invitation jumped in.
Over the next couple of hours Hiroki did work with the Czechs in the drinking department. One of the hosts came over and even said that the drinking group is very impressed by Hiroki’s incredible tolerance to alcohol for his size. Hiroki being the beast that he is didn’t flinch one time from any of the shots and keep his cool like he always does. Another part of the evening came when they brought out a canvas for everyone to participate in painting a picture for the father to celebrate his birthday and new position in the Czech government. You can say Hiroki and I got our Picasso on.
The night ended with us taking a stretch limo back to the sister’s place to crash. Hiroki and I can honestly say this was our best Couchsurfing experience on this trip so far and it truly was a great feeling to be part of the family even though it was only for one night.