Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ghostly encounters in the Czech Republic

Now it can be told, now that the sun has risen here where I am in the Czech Republic. I had a hard time sleeping last night, in my beautiful five-star castle hotel right across the hill opposite the castle of Cesky Krumlov, because my two friends were talking about ghosts and eerie encounters over a delicious beef and cabbage dinner last night.

In fact, midway I finally covered my ears and said: "I don't want to hear about this. Not when I'm alone in my room." Of course, I think this just made them more eager to tell their stories of eerie feelings in the corridor and sounds in the room.


Face it. We're in Europe, a continent with at least hundreds of years of history and all kinds of goings-on in every neighborhood. The entire Europe was practically a battlefield for centuries, so coupled with their rather eventful if not violent history, then you probably have at least one death or murder in every single castle, if not dozens or hundreds.

But that comes with the territory. If you want to see Europe's most picturesque medieval towns and stay in their most famous, historic or romantic hotels, then of course lots of them are going to have stories -- so many stories, in fact, that most people here don't even give these stories or eerie experiences a second thought. It's just part of everyday life for them -- although I'd prefer that it's certainly not part of my Travelife.

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The other option, of course, is to visit these beautiful towns and then to stay in one of these nondescript new business hotels in the outskirts of the city -- the kind with no ghosts but also no character. But of course that would be pretty boring. I really chose this hotel where I'm in right now as it's supposed to be the best and most romantic of all the hotels in Cesky Krumlov.

My lovely room on the second floor with a view had no eerie feeling to it. I have two large bay windows opening up to views of the castle and it's pretty light and airy. But my friends weren't so lucky, being on the floor above where apparently they'd felt some kind of presence as soon as they entered -- or at least they'd felt something.


Technically there's no connection between our two rooms so I shouldn't be worried at all -- but you can't help thinking about such things when you're staying in a room at a 12th century castle all by yourself. 

It doesn't help that there's a great hall opposite my room -- I guess it's where everyone used to dine. Well, I was half-expecting to hear voices of merrymaking and singing, and glasses clinking in the middle of the night.

But as I said, this is Europe so it's pretty standard to have such experiences. Personally, I don't really get these eerie experiences in continental Europe itself for some reason, but I have a whole collection of ghost stories centering on luxury hotels in England. Staying in hotels famous for their ghostly apparitions is almost like a past-time for some people there, and such hotels are often booked out well in advance.

But as long as I'm not staying alone and the supernatural being is not throwing my bags across the room, it's not too bad and it actually can be something to write home about -- or to blog about. I've had creaking doors and windows opening and closing by themselves at midnight, for instance. But when you're staying by yourself in a rather grand room, well, yes, it's certainly an eerie thought.

Fortunately I survived the night by getting under the covers and not emerging till daylight. And now, looking out of my window, it looks like another picture-perfect day in beautiful Cesky Krumlov, one of the loveliest towns in the Czech Republic, so I've forgotten about anything and everything scary.

PS: Take my advice, by the way. Don't come here alone. Not just for the ghosts. This beautiful town is a shame to see by yourself.

Just another day in a never-ending Travelife. Good morning from halfway around the world -- from a lovely and still very old-fashioned country we're falling in love with a little more everyday.


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