We hope you enjoy this guest blog from my mum Susan Ansell, our travel companion through the Czech Republic…. and for the record – it was ‘lunging’! (photo captions by Lauren)
The long awaited and much anticipated moment finally arrived – the reuniting with Lauren and Joel. A midnight arrival it was for me into Salzburg where I fair launched off the train and did a frenzied run in search of Lol. Needless to say it was a full standing double-plank with much jumping as one, then looking at each other again and then laughing and jumping for joy…ahh, nothing like family. We conquered Salzy, then Eagles Nest and this is where I begin the Cesky update.
We shuttled it over the forested pass between Austria and Czech. Goodbye pristine Austria, hello rustic Czech Republic, only fourty years ago under Communist rule. Firstly the border (stations deserted now of course) and the roads changed from silky smooth, to narrowed pot hole repaired roads. I was already thrilled to be here. A river to follow, tiny townships of Czech living and we arrived in the much drooled about Cesky Krumlov – pronounced ‘Chesky Croom-loov’. The emotion was overwhelming – to be sharing this quaintest and ‘oh so Czech’ of villages with Lauren and Joel was feeling beyond my most creative of dreams.
Ceske sits, plonked in a big bend of the river, cobbled streets, colourful towers and a majestic castle to top it off. Then the hostel. Fabulous. Great atmosphere due not only to the variety of patrons from all over the globe, but also the place itself. Wooden and rustic, crooked stairs, chewed up lounge arms, nooks and crannys, and joy of joys my bedroom was a huge loft with river views. The kitchen table was just an old door, keylock included.
Next day was a car pick up, a drive in the wooded Czech countryside plus a visit to a UNESCO village that the Germans decided to have for themselves at one point in history. But the dinner… oh bliss…a medieval feast (a la traditionalle). Monster wooden platter loaded with too many delights. Joel was attracted to the display menu that suggested “knee bone”. Gorged ourselves like true medievals on our mound of meats, complete with banging beers and mugs of wine on the table.
Last day for ‘The Cesk’ and it’s down to the river to join the local Czechs on a rafting rampage downstream for four hours. It was more of a float really but through forests. We were pumped for the float so found ourselves in a trusty rubber ducky style raft. Firstly a drop down a weir with half of Ceske watching on from the bridge for those who capsize. Any who capsize at this point receive huge cheers from the onlookers as the rafters scramble for their drifting drum of gear and attempt to get going again. Once in the raft again huge cheers of ‘AHOY’ come from the gallery and the rafters raise their oars in appreciation for the encouragement.
Lauren and I relaxed whilst Joel was our Captain, taking care of the most important role, the steering. Captain Joel made a last minute ‘change of direction’ decision and we were grounded on a rock after only ten minutes. The raft began to fill from the back and we needed a quick exit strategy before our drums floated downstream. Lauren saved the day and launched to the front and, mounting the raft, began a ‘raft off the rocks’ motion that saw her building momentum from a steady thrusting to a more aggressive one. Joel had referred to it initally as “good humping Lauren” but it was downgraded to ‘thrusting’. Later Lauren attempted to downgrade it further to a ‘strong lunge’ but it was dismissed. However her efforts saved us, and with a loud ‘AHOY’ we were off again.
Along the river we spotted a rustic stand selling beer and vodka. Joel shouted to abort the rowing effort and steer to the shore. Beer in hand he reboarded the raft but this marked the end of his Captaincy which he happily relinquished to the mother-in-law. He took up a new position inside the raft in the fully reclined position, beer in hand. Another day and off to Prague via some ruins Lauren had researched. The ruins were just jutting out on a hill and were neither supervised nor protected. It was like discovering them all by oneself.
Needless to say I feel the most fortunate person in the world to have experienced not only this Czech village but, to have done so with our daughter and with Joel, has been one of the biggest joys in my life.
Prague…..here we come.