czech culture,  South Bohemia,  Spring

tre-bon! & a witchy holiday

on tuesday, alex and i were invited to celebrate witch’s night with a couple of our students and their families. i don’t think anybody really knows what kind of holiday this is, and almost no one can describe how it came to be like it is. but i do know that it is primarily celebrated in small villages and in the early evening, most of the men in the village help to erect this giant may pole called “maika”. here it is at dusk….

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then when the maika is erected, the children burn witch effigies in the bonfire and the men sit around the fire near the maika drinking beer and are prepared to sit there together all night. why all night? because someone from a neighboring village may come and try to cut down the maika if it is left unattended. if the maika is cut before dawn, shame and misfortune will befall the village but if they make it ‘till dawn, it is a success. then, the following day is a public holiday: czech version of labor day. and here is alex horsing around with the kids…

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this weekend i was craving a day trip as it’s been a few weeks. so we decided on třeboň , a beautiful south bohemian city of historical interest about 30 minutes to the east. which really is one of the nicest most quaint and magical czech cities i have visited so far. it’s famous for both its fishing industry (as multiple fish ponds and lakes are in the area teeming with carp and other fish since the 16th century) and its spas (as it sits atop of mineral springs). definitely the place to go if you would like to eat fresh czech fish (usually carp or trout) and to heal what ails you! spas are a little different in CZ, you go to them to cure problems through different treatments (for example, sitting in a peat bath for an hour) and are sometimes even covered by health insurance!

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below is one of the two famous spas, berta’s spa… (or lažne, in czech)

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třeboň is also an excellent place to go on a big ‘ol hike around a famous lake called rybnik svêt, or “world pond”. now this ain’t your average pond, it’s pretty dang big, but in CZ any man-made lake has to be called “pond” no matter how large it is. yes, this lake can be circumnavigated in 3-4 hours. alex didn’t know this, bless his heart. but there was no backing out…. we have to get in good walking shape again after the long winter.

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a little bit into the hike, we came across this in a clearing in the forest…

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turns out, this is the schwarzenberg tomb– where all members of the famed czech royal family bearing that name are buried. what a beautiful neo-gothic structure to just find in a forest! alex wasn’t interested in entering, preferring to spend more time with “things that are alive, like trees”. can’t blame him…. nice to look at, though.

a variety of different landscapes we traipsed through, from pine forests to peat bogs.

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four hours later we finish the loop and our legs and feet can barely move us anymore. is that pathetic? and on to a well-deserved lunch on a loverly peaceful terrace.

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o, you say you’re a bohemian? do you drink bohemia regent ? no?! didn’t think so!!! looking forward to telling people that “well, i actually lived in bohemia.” bam. argument over.

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and now we are at home and i am hurtin’! more walking is in order, or perhaps i am too old now. almost age 27, retired from walking.

and the best thing i saw all day? this bicycle training course near a park. life-like roads with fully functioning traffic lights, signs, and lanes for kids to practice bicycle skills off the streets.

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