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Czech Life, Just Me

To the castle (not back)

I spent hours on Saturday trying to get to the castle.  Not Prague Castle, or even Vysehrad (which is meant to be lovely – let’s go in the spring), but a polystyrene castle on a ski slope in a tiny ski resort in the Jeseníky mountains, in northern Czech Republic.   We spent a happy day snowboarding with the lovely girl who sits in the office next door to me at work.  Lovely work-neighbour had found us a great deal www.slevomat.cz (which I think is the Czech equivalent to lastminute.com), which included transport, board hire and tuition for a very reasonable price.

Hubby can, in that irritatingly Alpha-male way, snowboard really well, despite having only gone about four times.  This is in the same way that he can run really far with seemingly little effort,  learnt how to drive in about 3 days (I had lessons for 14 months) and would know where he was on the map even if you air-dropped him blindfolded into a foreign land and spun him round for about an hour.  Of course he can snowboard.

So hubby went off on the proper runs, stopping by the baby slope every now and then to see how I and nice-work-neighbour were getting on.  And we were getting on just fine, albeit rather slowly.  Snowboarding is tricky.

Our lovely instructor (Honza) was ever so patient and kept smiling even though the poor bloke must have been freezing cold and bored out of his brain.  Nice-work-colleague and I spent the whole day on the baby slope, which could have been the blackest of all black runs as far as I was concerned.  In the morning session we walked the 25 meters to the top of the slope (marked by a polystyrene penguin – seriously, this was a proper child slope, meant for children rather than fully grown but slightly incompetent adults) and tried (repeatedly) to get down to the polystyrene castle at the bottom.  In one go. Without falling over.

 I can’t bring myself to explain fully how disgracefully bad I was.  The fact that I spent much of the day trying to just stand up and stay up was evidenced by the crippling pain I experienced the following day, in my arms and derriere.  I displayed such poor coordination and balance that by the end of the day Honza looked amazed that I could actually walk properly.

 I did make small steps/slides. After a hearty lunch (and some well-needed beer) I managed to turn right (not left – I think that will need to wait until another day) and also get within 10 ft of our end goal – the plastic castle at the bottom.

Nevertheless it was an amazing day out.  Lovely to be outside in the snow and (some) sun, and to feel like I’d really earned lunch. Saturday was another foray into the world of Czech food – lunch was Smazeny Syr.  This is apparently very typical and is essentially two 6 inch wedges of Edam cheese, covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried, served with chips and tartar sauce. It’s enough to give your doctor (or yourself) a heart attack.  It was just the thing however, to warm us up after all that falling over in the snow, and the perfect accompaniment to the pints (sorry, I am European now, litres) of beer that we had.

Heart attack with a side of fries

This week has been slightly less outdoorsy, as in the new year of staying in and chilling out (see my post on new year’s resolutions) I have joined not one, but two, book groups.  This means that although I am staying in this week, I am certainly not chilling out.  With a total of 682 pages to read by the end of next week, I have a long way to go and am turning pages like a woman possessed.

 One of the books I am reading is Vaclav Havel’s autobiography “To the Castle and Back”. For those of you not in the know, Havel was president of Czechoslovakia and of the nascent Czech Republic.  He was a play-wright turned politician/freedom-fighter and effectively led Czechoslovakia out of communism and retained massive popularity in the CR from 1989 until he stepped down 14 years later.   The book itself is written in a slightly peculiar way – less linear history and more fragmentary -  dotting about all over the place. Nevertheless it’s really interesting and helpful to know a little more about the man and the country.  From the cover you will see he is (or certainly was) as smoker, which is clearly why the people of Prague like him so much. 

The reason I like him so much is that according to the title of his book, he managed to get to the Castle and back.  On Saturday I couldn’t even get there in the first place.

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About CzechingIn

A blog about an English lady living in Prague.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “To the castle (not back)

  1. Hi Czechingin,

    Your post had me LOL as I read it. Don’t be too harsh on your husband. I’m sure there are things that you can do better than him. You should write another post about those!

    If you will forgive me being pedantic, you were already a European before moving to Prague. Britain is part of Europe both geographically and politically. What you mean is that you now live in continental Europe which uses the metric system. Therefore, as you say the slope was 25 metres long, you got within 3 metres (not 10 ft.) of your goal. Doesn’t 3 metres sound closer than 10 ft.?

    Continuing the metric theme, your Smažený sýr was two 15 centimetre wedges of Edam, not 6 inches. And I trust you only had a litre of beer as large beer glasses here hold 0.5 of a litre which is just slightly less than a pint. If you did have litres of beer, it might explain why you couldn’t stay upright on your snowboard :-))

    Posted by Chaplain.cz | January 12, 2011, 10:43 pm
    • You are indeed being a little pedantic, I guess it must be in your nature as a former publisher :)

      I can assure you that I understand that Britain is politically and legally European. I think there is a difference between this and being “emotionally” European however. I am sure that there are a number of Brits who will agree that they may not be “emotionally” European. For instance, a number of my English peers tend to be far more “westwards” looking, and culturally slightly more “in tune” with the US, than with mainland Europe. Indeed, as I grew up in London, which is obviously a very multicultural place, I would guess that many of my school friends might be emotionally more aligned to India, Pakistan or Israel, than to mainland Europe.

      Rosalind – You are right, it was your kind of lunch. Shamefully, I did actually mean liters (plural).

      Posted by CzechingIn | January 14, 2011, 9:14 am
      • Hi Czechingin,

        I’ll take the rebuke for being pedantic :-) And I do know what you mean about many Brits not feeling ‘emotionally’ European and some at least, feeling a greater affinity with the USA, not least because of sharing the same (or at least, nearly the same:-)) language. I have to say that I personally, feel less & less affinity with the USA the more I read & hear about it – in particular, the ignorance of so many of the 80% of US citizens who don’t hold a passport & have therefore never travelled beyond the borders of their own country.

        Likewise, I do know what you mean about many of your schoolfriends having more of an affinity to the home countries of their parents or grandparents in the Indian sub-continent, than to continental Europe. I went to secondary school with numerous first generation immigrants from India & Pakistan during my teenage years in the muticultural city of Coventry.

        Posted by Chaplain.cz | January 15, 2011, 10:03 pm
  2. My kind of lunch…

    Posted by Rosalind | January 13, 2011, 1:52 pm
  3. Mountains are overrated!!

    Last winter Mr K and I decided to go to Spindleruv Mlyn for a weekend, where over the course off our two day stay the following misfortunes befell me:

    1. I fully justified my prior suspicion that I would be hopeless at skiiing (having failed miserably at all sports ever back at school), falling over constantly and getting myself undignifiedly pinned to the ground, while David of course mastered twisting and turning and even stopping with irritating ease.

    2. Nearly whizzing to my death on SM’s suicidal bob sleigh run, which at 2,5 km crosses three main roads. I’d just about succeeded (more by sheer random chance than any element of design on my part) in not getting myself killed veering out uncontrollably in front of oncoming traffic on the first two, and it was in a state of insanely grateful hysteria that at that point one of those rescue snow buggies rolled up, and I tearfully managed to persuade the driver that – while not yet technically speaking injured as yet – I was in definite need of immediate mountain rescue. I later told David that I only cried in the first place in order to make him take pity on me, but that is not entirely true.

    3. The Mexican restaurant we ate at that gave me near immediate food poisoning, and in my hurry to the restaurant loos I fell over and cracked my head on the toilet bowl, mercifully managing to manoever myself into appropriate position before my fajitas took their vengeful toll.

    In short, NEVER EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Miss Knedlíkova | January 13, 2011, 2:40 pm

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