as i briefly touched upon the other day, the days before a holiday are tough. the anticipation. the getting through whatever stands in the way. when friday finally came and went, i gave a hallelujah and was excited about relaxing in a new town that’s been on my list for a little while– třebíč, recognized by UNESCO for having one of the most preserved old jewish towns in europe as well as a jewish cemetery that dates back to the 17th century. i was looking forward to a nice leisurely three hour train ride through the snowy highlands of the middle province of vysočina on the way to this western moravian town.
when we stepped off the train in třebíč on a cold, saturday afternoon in february, the town was comically dead. not a soul stirred down the long winding street from the station to karlovo náměstí (charles square), the 3rd largest square in the country. the square looked cold, closed, and boarded-up. i could imagine a tumbleweed (snowball?) rolling by. in the warmer months, there is purportedly a daily farmers market, but not today. for a square i thought was going to be so grand, it felt uncomfortably devoid of life and sterile.
upon arriving at our (extreeemely quiet off-season hotel), the owner informed me i had written him (in czech) that “we don’t want to speak czech”, instead of “we don’t speak czech”. i think i’m going to stick to writing in hotels in english from now on, especially since this particular gentleman had a rather superb english accent. (facepalm) i swear i’m not a jerk! i mean well! we’re actually not terrible people!
after checking in to our very pink (perfectly valentýnské) hotel room, we hopped across the river to check out the old jewish town, and my heart was much happier. this, my friends, is why you come to třebíč. although there was no life to the town center, there were some visible vestiges of such coming from this neighborhood. loud gypsy music blasting from a resident’s house. kids playing footy on the cobblestone street. other tourists (such as ourselves) began to materialize (a sign that we weren’t crazy for coming here?) as we all separately made our way up the hillside that the old town is wedged up against to take in some views.
alex pointed out just what a goth couple we might really be for these reasons: our plan for valentine’s day involved visiting a cemetery, and were disappointed to find it closed. (always gotta remember that sabbath when visiting jewish sites!) when we made it back the next morning, alex remarked how silly it was to hear me say, “good thing i’ve been studying up on my german cemetery terminology” (which i actually had been for some reason)
it was really interesting to really see the austrian influence on this area of the czech republic– so many buried here had austrian surnames and most of the inscriptions were in austrian german. another reminder of just how connected these two countries were until the early 20th century.
(our “typical” valentine’s day activity: exploring a 350 year old jewish cemetery)
our other more typical valentine’s plans involved a wonderful dinner at the coqpit and eating loads of cherry liqueur chocolates. nom. we both came home feeling refreshed just from that feeling of exploring a place completely new to you, fortunately one that can be found less than three hours away. and the satisfaction of checking another UNESCO site off the list. gonna make this weak czech crown work for me!
explorin’ your own backyard is often quite rewarding!
třebíč is totally worth it for the fantastically well-preserved three-hundred fifty year old jewish quarter if you find yourself in the area. the fact that it’s pretty much smack in the middle of the route between prague and vienna is a pretty good reason too.
is there a place near you that’s been on your travel list for awhile? (why not now?)