Beer-ly Beloved

Day Twenty-Eight – Stalin Containall, Letenské Sady

Beer

Beer spills off the overflowing cup in rivulets, running down the sides of the plastic, leaving a trail of foam in its wake. As the bartender gruffly hands the drink to the bright-eyed tourist, a wave of laughter rises up from a nearby group, nicely capturing the mood of the beer garden.

In the Czech Republic, it seems that the only things open after 10 p.m. are pubs, bars, or beer gardens. Grocery stores, mini marts, restaurants, all close around then, perhaps to go partake in the merriment usually found at these late night watering holes.

The only downside to beer gardens is the number of abandoned cups you see lying around. It’s nothing that would take more than five minutes to pick up, and maybe that’s not as annoying to anyone without experience in the food service industry, but it is enough to make a busboy’s hands twitch walking past the discarded drinks.

In another world, in another time, America could develop to a point where we can establish laws like this. But considering how few places it’s legal to drink in public in America and how much garbage already litters public spaces in most major cities, that won’t happen anytime soon.

Sonnets could be written about beer gardens and open air bars; this post nearly was one. Sitting in a public greenspace, enjoying the slight tang from whatever drink the koruna at the bottom of your bag can afford is an entirely unique and peaceful experience.

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Degrees of Difficulty

Day Seventeen – Old Town Square, Český Krumlov

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Flames dance across the town square, keeping beat to the low sounds of the didgeridoo humming and spinning fast enough to daze.

Like a typical town square, most roads through town lead back here eventually, and is therefore where street performers and buskers are likely to be found.

Since Český Krumlov was established in the mid 13th century, the town’s economy has been based around outsiders. Originally with the nobility in the castle, once the Schwarzenbergs left the castle in the late 19th century, the town went into a depression. The fact that it was virtually ignored through power changes in the country, the town was bypassed by the industrial revolution and left to its own devices essentially since it was founded, it has no real exports.

But that overlooking became the town’s draw. Rarely, if anywhere else, can you find a town as well preserved from its original layout and architecture, and now Český Krumlov is one of the best places for sightseers to visit if at all interested in getting a taste of what life was like in the Czech countryside back in the day.

This street performer set up right after dusk, counting on the passing foot traffic of those on their way back from a day of tours to supply an audience. Fumbling his way through a few routines, he kept a mostly consistent flow to his performances. Some might think that a scathing review, but as the man was juggling fire, anything that doesn’t end in a trip to the hospital 15 miles away is nothing to be scoffed at.

The town is a beautiful place to go off the grid and visit for a few days, taking in the combination of Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic architecture, but be prepared to go off the grid – WiFi wasn’t around in the 13th century and the modern updates have only gone so far.

Just Around the River Bend

Day Fifteen – Vltava River, Český Krumlov

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A frigid wind picks up across the Vlatva River, whipping hair around and forcing chins down against the night’s chill. Laughter carries on that same breeze, and tourists float around the bend, rafting the night away with a few ales between boats.

Drifting down the river through this fairytale-esque town gives sights and sounds straight out of a Disney movie. A bubbling brook, pastel houses pressed against each other and guitarists strumming from bridges above, the scene would make Walt Disney’s heart sing.

Established in the mid 13th century, Český Krumlov is a small town on the southern border of the Czech Republic. The town switched hands a few times between Czech and Austrian nobility, and was heavily populated by German citizens even from the beginning, the area has culminated into a small town that draws in tourists from across the world.

The town itself is home to about 14,000 people total, and at a brisk walk can be covered in about 30 minutes. That doesn’t mean you’ll see every nook and cranny of the city, but the wandering can certainly give you the layout and more than enough to learn your way around. Most roads lead back to the town square whether you know or not, and if you’re really unsure, just hop in behind a tour group and see where they take you.