Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Real" Czech Experience

With me taking a new position, a few of my manager colleagues surprised me with a little adventure.  Rather than just do the normal farewell drinks thing at a pub, I was taken out for a "real" Czech experience - something called 'tramping'.

Tramping is the Czech tradition of wandering the countryside with everything needed in a backpack.  We just call it camping in the USA but tramping is never done in a commercial camp site with such things as electricity and running water.   

I was told to show up at a particular train station on Saturday.  I was told that I needed to bring good hiking boots, extra socks and a sweater, a sleeping bag, alcohol, and meat to grill.  Other recommended items included a knife, a flashlight and a toothbrush.

We took a local train about 40 minutes from Brno and then about 30 minutes to Martin's family's chata.  The closest village was Řikonín.  Population: 35.  So small that there isn't even a pub.

A chata is a simple cottage next to a forest or river.  Most are built from scratch, without water or electricity, and are a great getaway.  They became popular back in the 1920s.  

During communism, it wasn't possible for Czechs to travel outside of the country so second homes in the country offered an escape from apartment life in the city.  Per capita, Czechs have the highest number of weekend houses in Europe.

Playing lumberjack
Once we arrived we got to work setting things up.  The first things to do were to get water from the nearby stream and to start chopping fire wood.

David chopping veggies

We played pétanque.  This was a bit of a challenge in the woods but still good fun.  

Martina grilling pork steaks
After we got the fire going we grilled pork steaks and špekáčky (sausages).  Of course there was plenty of beer and wine too.  After it got dark we moved inside and played cards and continued drinking.

Martin enjoying his steak
Luckily there was more than enough fire wood to keep the stove heater going through the night because it got cold.

This morning we packed everything up and made our way back to town.  I really enjoyed my first "real" Czech experience.  Thanks everyone!!  It was a lot of fun and I'm ready to do it again.

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