Ahojte! Sorry for the long hiatus. I’ve got some news:
I’m moving to Denmark (with my Czech partner).
Yep. Chlohemian is migrating over country lines. Having gotten this news a couple months ago, it was necessary to take some time to process it, plan, and take some first steps to figure out our new life. Things got stressful quick and I needed a break from the blog. However, I am committed to get back to it and catch up on all of the exciting travel, Czech and otherwise, that has been going on.
The first of these is: I CLIMBED ŘÍP HILL!
This has been a goal of mine from the very beginning. Ever since I learned this is the legendary site of the first Czech settlement, with the help of Praotec Čech (or Great-Grandfather Czech), I knew I had to see it with my own eyes.
Říp rises 459 m (1506 ft) up from the surrounding flatland in Bohemia – and you can see it; it’s the tallest thing around. The hill-mountain and its rotunda on top are considered major Czech national cultural monuments. It’s the “erosional remnant of a Late Oligocene volcano” (Wikipedia) and originally had no trees – it was bare until Moritz Lobkowitz (of the well-known House of Lobkowitz, or just that beer you sometimes drink in the pub) planted it with mainly oaks and hornbeams in 1879. The Romanesque rotunda of St. George dates to around 1126.
What Mecca is to the Mohammedans, Říp is to the Czechs.
We started our day with a 4-hour journey by public transit to Roudnice nad Labem, a nearby town of about 15,000 on the river Elbe with quite a pretty city center. We were tired and hot upon arriving and needed to go for some lunch – and ice cream.
Former watchtower Hláska, with its Baroque roof, is now used as a look-out tower.
Gorgeously ornamented building on Komensky Square, now a post office.
After some sightseeing we started off on our trek to the hill. The funny thing is that despite Czech Republic’s great system of tourist trails, we had the hardest time just getting out of the town. The markings were sometimes in awkward, hard-to-see places. But with a little help we eventually found our way…
Just before this picture was taken, Ondra had said, “What way are we going anyway?!” (The name of the street is “Towards Říp.”) He didn’t laugh as hard as I did.
If you do this trip, bring a sun hat because it’s mainly along fields without much shade. Despite this I had to stop for some Leaning Tower of Pisa-like photoshoots:
Ahh, nothing like a cleverly-staged photo to make you feel like a giant.
We finally got to a long, paved road that sloped up towards the hill, with lots of fellow tourists walking up or down it. I was amazed to see people of all ages there, considering that once we started the ascent, it was incredibly steep. Ondra and I felt pretty bad for being out of breath with all of the older people we saw coming down from the top.
But we reached it! – sweaty and red-faced.
The area on top of Říp is surprisingly bare. There is the rotunda as well as a tourist hut selling beer, malinovka (raspberry soft drink), and other refreshments for unusually reasonable prices – Ondra and I had a bet that if the beer was less than 50 czk he’d buy me, and he did. The rotunda is quite pretty from afar, but when you get up close you will see that it is covered with markings and etchings of people’s names. I felt that was really disrespectful towards such an important piece of history, but I guess when it is already so bad, others don’t hesitate to add on.
In my own more literal way, I couldn’t resist planting my own flag there, as a reward for the four years I’ve spent Czechifying myself and at the same time attempting to convert others to the Church of Peanut Butter. I hope I’ve made some small impression on this land, but to be sure it will be only a fraction of the impression it has made on me. I couldn’t have gotten here without my American background, and I couldn’t have gotten through it with such flying colors without the warmth of my Czech community.
We started our descent by way of the “Prague View” – you can’t actually see Prague from here, but it’s in the direction of the city. And what a classic Czech view over the beautiful summer fields.
I can definitely say the way down was much more fun than up – isn’t it always? But we kept glancing back to see what we had accomplished, the mini mountain receding grandly into the background. Look at this color scheme, the blue of the sky on the green of the foliage on the gold of the fields. I could look at it forever… if only we didn’t have to catch our 4-hour route home!
So there you have it, folks. We had to celebrate our victory – both our first time conquering a time-honored Czech tradition – with a classic pose from Pat a Mat. You would be surprised at how much work it was to get this photo, all elements (lighting, scale, and height) considered. And check out my tan from hanging out under the Italian sun.
A je to! That’s it.
Stay tuned for some upcoming posts on what I’m going to miss about my beloved Czech Republic once we make our move.