Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hell will be not be open

WTF was I thinking when I decided to take a holiday in the Czech Republic in winter. Don't get me wrong, it is very beautiful here, and the snow on everything is beautiful, and well, cold, but if I don't get to speak English to someone soon other than to the wonderful people at the Tourist Information Centre (these people are really good) then I am going to go mad. There is almost nobody here who has more than a few sentences of English. The only tourists I see here are large groups of Japanese tourists who descend for a few hours and then leave. Every day brings a couple more busloads. I am very jealous of them. The Czech Republic is a lovely place, filled with lovely people, but, damnit, right now I need some companionship.

Today, to make a change from trudging around in the snow in Český Krumlov, I decided to trudge around in the snow in Rožmbeck, a small village about 24km up the Vltava. The bus ride up there was very beautiful, past the snow covered banks of the river, where pine forests come down to the water's edge, and where some of the trees (and surprisingly big ones at that) have buckled and broken under the weight of the snow. Eventually the bus pulled into Rožmbeck and I alighted, only to discover that Rožmbeck had apparently closed for the winter. I stood on the bridge and stared at the river for a bit, before wandering up the path to see what I could of the famed castle here. The answer? Bugger all. So I wandered back to the bridge and threw snow into the water. This excited some ducks as they thought I was throwing in bread. Fat chance, if I had bread I would have eaten it to keep warm. The snow that I threw into the river didn't melt, the water was that cold. I stood some more, before tramping up and down by the bus stop, that helpfully didn't have a timetable and waited. An hour and a half passed. Occassionally I would walk back to the bridge to tease the ducks. Then I cleared all the snow and ice off the seat at the bus stop. Hell, it was something to do. An old Czech crone came up and waited with me. This was very reassuring. Some more time passed.

A bus came.

Back in the village I bought a day old Guardian for the equivalent of two quid. I read it all and did both crosswords while drinking tea and eating food.

Tonight I am having a beer or two and then I am going to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. One of the lovely ladies at the TIC here assures me it will be in English. I hope so. And if and when it is I am going to feel bloody superior at being able to understand it all.

I am sure that Hell is not all fire and brimstone. Oh no, it is cold and it is damp. And it is closed, for all eternity.

My next holiday will be spent somewhere hot. Cricket season be damned (to a cold closed village), I'm sick of taking my holidays in winter.


Patrick said...

Hey Richard,

sorry to hear you're having some pretty negative experiences during your stay in southern bohemia - I recommend salvaging what's left of your winter vacation in Brno. It's a city with a small-town feel and, based on my experience there, the people are quite friendly (though the service industry still leaves a bit to be desired, which is par for the course in this country).

Jitka and I were rather surprised to find the villages around Pisek in ghost town condition - everything, from restaurants to cornershops, are closed until Sunday, the day we were planning on heading back to Prague. Looks like we'll be heading back early.

On the other hand, the pension we're staying in (the same one we'll be having our wedding party at) is fantastic - we've got the whole place to ourselves, the owner speaks English, and it's got wi-fi....

More on the blog, when I get around to doing another entry.


Patrick (and Jitka and Mikesh)

p.s. where did you get the Word Verification app?

Rhys Lewis said...

That's an interesting observation that Hell will be cold. I'm sure you've read theories on the exo/endothermic potential of hell, and therefore the possibilities of the unlikely.

There was a book review of some global warming pol-sci-rant in the Economist last week. The reviewer pointed out an interesting throw away comment in the book, which was that humans are a tropical species that has migrated to temperate environments. As a result cold is viewed with a lot more fear and discomfort than hot.

So if we were still fearing a global winter (the first incarnation of the greenhouse effect, and the predicted outcome of a large-scale nuclear war), then there would be universal consensus and action to warm the planet up, regardless of the consequences. As it is, the thought of things getting a bit warmer subconsiously takes us back to childhood, with long hot days when sunburn was a novelty.

The lighter basin in the viaduct was swarming with sprats this morning. As they randomly broke the surface it looked as though they were light drops of rain over an area the size of a baseball diamond. I guess they have adapted to feed on diesel.

richard said...

It's not like it's overwhelmingly negative. I just need some human contact. I should really have timed this holiday better, although having said that, if I'd come later, I wouldn't have seen the snow, and as I walked about in the municipal park this morning, český krumlov was beautiful. It could be a lot worse, I just need someone to share it with.

The Word Verification app comes with blogger, I'm afraid. But it is damn useful.