Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Magic lamps and BBMs all the way to Brno

Yesterday, we did a long drive from the picturesque town of Cesky Krumlov to Brno, the Czech Republic's second largest city, via a midsized town called Ceske Budejovice, that's known for its lovely town square.

We so hated to leave Cesky Krumlov because it's so beautiful, but there's still so much to see in our remaining days in the Czech Republic. So off we packed ourselves into our van and headed down the road to Ceske Budejovice for a very big lunch at a modern and stylish tavern patronized both by locals and travelers.

Yes, the Czech Republic is pretty old-fashioned, over-all, but here and there we found traces of the very chic and cool. It's a nice combination, actually.


It was a very modern tavern just off the town square, and apparently it's a great favorite among locals. When I looked at the menu, I knew instantly what I wanted to have: roasted pork knuckles with all the trimmings. I didn't care whether it was fattening, artery-clogging or just plain bad for me. It looked absolutely delicious.

The waiter looked at me and said: "That's a really big dish." Fortunately my two friends agreed to share this with me, so I ordered the pork knuckles and then we also ordered other pork and ham dishes. All cholesterol busters, I know, but we really wanted to try these dishes.

Wow. A waitress eventually brought our food and then our table was literally groaning with all sorts of heavy dishes. Even here in the Czech Republic, a nation of traditionally heavy eaters, all our food attracted the attention of other diners because some people in the next table stood up and asked to take photos of our food.

I'm sure you'll agree that the dishes below will certainly get anyone's attention because of their generous portions and appetizing presentation. Everything was dripping with fat, but it all looked fantastic.

"How greasy is it?" My friend J asked me. I'd sent the photo to him in real-time, you see, so he could see what I was having for lunch. He keeps telling me that there's nothing terribly good to eat in the Czech Republic, so everytime I taste something delicious, I take a photo of the food and send it to him -- just to prove a point.

I certainly didn't want the Czech Republic's culinary reputation suffering just because he didn't eat in the right restaurants. Well, this particular pork knuckle dish was the most delicious and greasiest thing I've ever had. Think of it as a whole knuckle of incredibly tender lechon kawali with meat almost falling of the bone.


After lunch, it was back on the road, for a long drive to Brno, which took about three hours. J kept me company on BBM the whole way -- or actually, we'd started trading barbs from about mid-morning and we'd kept it up till dinner time. Here I must point out that I never usually message him first; but if he sends me a BBM, then of course I'll answer it, and that usually starts the ball rolling and keeps it rolling for a few hours.

Yesterday, it was basically the whole day. I remember answering some of his messages as I made my way through the castle of Cesky Krumlov. He was somewhere exotic trying to haggle for something equally exotic, and I was in a pretty exotic place in the same general area of Europe as well. So we were able to exchange messages throughout our day in the same time zone.

When I passed a very long one-way road in the afternoon, I sent him a BBM: "Just passed another of those awful one-way roads." He knew what I meant. It's just another of our hundreds of private jokes. So he replied: "That's not my doing this time." I smiled and replied: "I know. But all these one-way roads certainly remind me of you."


My phone pinged so much throughout that long drive to Brno that my friend A who was seated in the row behind me said: "Who actually texts two paragraphs at a time?" He'd gotten curious and tried to catch a glimpse of my phone as I was reading one of J's messages; and he just happened to see a long message from J without being able to see his name or read the actual contents, you see.

Actually, I'm sure J will say that I usually send even longer texts than he does. Fortunately, this is a one-way account as of now, although J has been threatening to guest blog here every so often from now on. Anyway, A added, to me: "Do you know how much BBM costs when you're both on roaming? You might as well tell him to fly here, as it's probably cheaper."
I laughed. That would have been a nice idea, but at that moment J was busy living his own version of a Travelife. In fact I think that as we were speaking of him, he was buying a magic lamp to make his wishes come true. I already know what J's first wish is, so I suggested he buy two lamps for good measure.

Good morning from Brno, and we're off to see a cabbage market right outside my hotel window soon.


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