Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back to the Middle Ages in the Czech Republic

My beautiful room and terrace with a view...
Good evening from beautiful Czech Republic. I'm starting to type this out from the terrace of my room just before dinner, and the beautiful church of St. Barbara in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kutna Hora is just in front of me. I really don't know how I can always get so lucky, but tonight I have the best room in the entire town, if not in this entire area of the country. I know I say this practically everyday -- but this is a Travelife.

It's a mammoth terrace with a table for working, and there's no better inspiration than the baroque cathedral of St. Barbara and the Jesuit house right in front of me, on a cool early evening with birds still flying around and peace and quiet everywhere. Just the right atmosphere to type out a blog entry before dinner.

GOODBYE FOR NOW

This morning we checked out of the Rocco Forte Hotel Augustine in the center of the old town of Prague after a lovely and relaxing breakfast in their ever so stylish terrace restaurant -- my usual mix of carrot juice, orange juice and all kinds of other juices. I asked for all these juices and the restaurant staff didn't even blink an eye. That's service for you.

That's us after breakfast at the Hotel Augustine.


The Hotel Augustine was so lovely and we really hated to leave, but there's just so much we need to discover in the Czech Republic, so we headed out to the 13th century town of Kutna Hora, about an hour's drive from Prague.

However, we'll be back in Prague in a couple of days -- and I'm so looking forward to this. The Philippine ambassador to Prague has invited me to dinner at her residence, and the incredibly talented Czech soprano Noema Erba has prepared a private concert just for us. Prague is a city of music and a city full of talented artists, and the beautiful Noema is among the best and certainly my favorite.

LUCK IS ON OUR SIDE



Today, we reached Kutna Hora just before lunch. Our driver took the country roads so it was a very picturesque drive. And just our luck, when we got here the town was fully booked because of a medieval festival today, but we'd snagged rooms at the best place to stay, at the very top of the town, and I literally have the most wonderful hotel room in the whole town. I don't think I'll be sleeping much tonight.




The townspeople undertake a medieval parade and drama

Kutna Hora's medieval festival happens about twice a year and today was one of those times. What a wonderful sight it was to see the entire town dressed up in 13th and 14th century costumes, and to experience everything related to those times, just as we are in this most picturesque of Czech towns. It was truly a trip back in time to see this authentic medieval lifestyle in this medieval town.




Everyone was out and about in 13th and 14th century costumes today...


Kutna Hora is beautiful and a must-see anytime you find yourself in the Czech Republic; but today, with the medieval festival going on, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read more about it in an upcoming issue of Travelife Magazine. In the meantime, scroll down to read more about our adventures today....




BACK TO THE PAST

We tried our hand at different medieval games including jousting and falconry, and sampled various local foods all in one go. I travel all over the world all the time, but I have to admit that the Czech food I had today was an entirely new experience even for me.

One of the stands was selling homemade bread spread thickly with pork lard -- as in no-holds-barred cholesterol-busting pork lard in a bottle -- and then sprinkled with onions. One of the elderly Czech ladies told me this snack reminded her of her childhood, as this was a favorite snack in Czech homes during the Communist era. I kid you not: it was literally plain bread spread thickly with lard and then sprinkled with onions.

Bread with pork lard and onions.
Who would've thought that that would be delicious?


FOOD FOR THE GODS

Of course I just had to have it, even if it might have killed me. The lady selling it actually took the bottle of lard straight from the fridge, and as she was spreading it on the bread, all I could think was: "Wow. Double whammy. A ton of cold, cold pork lard. Talk about an instant artery clog."

When I finally got my piece of bread with lard and onions, I said to myself: "Here goes nothing."

There goes the lard -- lots of it...


Then I bit into it. What an interesting, and actually delicious taste. The onions went very well with the lard, and the lard was actually delicious. Of course I had to hike up the hill afterwards to hopefully burn all that cholesterol off, but it was certainly good to try this old-fashioned Czech dish at least once.

Then the man in the next stall gave me a cup of warm honey. Yes, he told me it was honey with herbs so I gulped it down after the bread and lard. What he forgot to tell me was that it was something like 20% proof. Wow. That's a lot of alcohol -- but somehow it went down very well after all that lard.

SURREAL BUT NICE

I spent the rest of the afternoon puttering around all the stalls, trying the food and doing bits and pieces of shopping as many of the townsfolk had put out stalls to sell home-made crafts and delicacies. I put my headphones on to some of my favorite music and got lost in my own world, while exploring this other very old and fascinating world.






I do some of my best thinking when I'm walking around by myself with some music on. And this afternoon in particular, it hit me that my Travelife is really so surreal.

I couldn't believe I was in this medieval UNESCO World Heritage town in the middle of nowhere in the Czech Republic with a whole town in costume, and just a few days ago I was having sushi in Tokyo, climbing a mountain in Sri Lanka (read all about this in our latest June-July 2012 issue!) and walking the beach in Kota Kinabalu.  


Israel, South Africa and even Mt. Ararat in Turkey are on the cards as well, along with a host of other places too many to mention even in a Travelife.

Living the Travelife in Kutna Hora
How surreal, how amazing, how very much a part of my philosophy of living in the moment, every single minute of every single day.

Good night from picture-perfect Czech Republic. Just look at this view taken right now at 10:30 PM after dinner from my terrace. Do you wonder why I'm still up and blogging? I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight, with this view in front of me. I can look at it forever, or at least for a few hours, with my Mac, my iPod and my Blackberry to keep me company.

What's on my iPod

Sara Smile
Hall & Oates

Stay Awake
Ronnie Laws

Tiger in the Rain
Michael Franks

To Have But Not To Hold
Madonna

Without You
Michael Franks

Just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.










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