Day Seventeen Now we return to real time Nazi Bridge Below. Communist Bridge on Top
I awoke at 08:00 and discovered that I wasn’t alone in bed. Badje had abandoned Ota and chosen to sleep with me.
While reluctantly packing to leave Ledeč nad Sázavou, I occupied my mind with thoughts about the many things I admire about my friend Ota. For instance, he manages time seemingly without effort. He schedules much more activity into the same time frame than I do. As I recollect my own life, I worry about being on time so much that I miss other opportunities. For example, on a day when I am scheduled to catch a flight, I generally block out that whole day. I think I have learned from him to fill my time more productively and organize myself better. Because I know I’m organized, I’ll have the confidence I need to enjoy the time and not worry. You’ll see why I tell you this, later. Hana consented to spend my last day with me and Ota. Otto was already off to work but he did call by cell phone before I departed. For breakfast, I tried to finish yummy leftovers; roast rabbit, buchty, fruit juices and yogurts. With Hana watching, I was not able to wash the dishes. She packed the substantial remains of the buchty for me to take with me. She also packed a bag of green Kozlov apples and a German peach flavored iced tea in a box. Ota pulled the car to the front steps. I said my sad goodbyes to Misha and Badje and we took off to visit Ota’s sister, Hano. Our first stop was at the Ledeč main square. Ota needed some cold medicine, which Hana went to buy. Ota reminded me that I would like a bottle of Absinth to take home. It is illegal to buy it in the United States so it is a great souvenir for me. Ota informed me that there are two varieties. One comes in a green bottle and one in a blue bottle. They only had the green. My next quest is to find a blue bottle. Along the way, we stopped at a double deck bridge. We parked on the lower level. They explained to me that Nazi invaders built this deck of the bridge. It was never completed. It now stops at a wall on the far bank. The Communists used the pylons and base work as support for the
completed bridge above. We climbed a metal staircase to reach the top level. Here, we had a spectacular view of the approximately 10mile long drinking-water reservoir. I noted that as far as I could see, there was no protective barrier to the water. Ota told me that the waters are regularly patrolled but people do fish and swim here. In fact, Roman, Hano’s husband, was caught fishing but the authorities only warned him not to continue. He has not been caught again. Hano and Roman’s home is less than a half hour drive from Ledeč nad Sázavou. We drove on another non-road to get to their farmhouse home. The farm is very old and many repairs are needed. Roman’s parents own the place and Carpenter Roman repairs and replaces in exchange for rent credit. There are other siblings to consider so the parents feel the need to get some value from the farm. The couple has decided that they now want to own their own home in order to better benefit from Roman’s talents. They are considering buying a particular lot that is located much closer to Ledeč nad Sázavou. The farm is large and has many fruit trees and also pastures. There is an animal barn and a farm equipment barn and a small guesthouse. With fences, the buildings form a kind of corral. I saw no farm animals, only two dogs that looked suspiciously like Badje. There isn’t any commercial farming going on here. “Dancing Building”
Earlier in the morning, little Vojtišek had been stung on the hand by a wasp. By the time we arrived, the swelling subsided and Vojtišek was in a much better mood than he had been. Hano prepared for us a beautiful chlebíčky platter with meats and cheeses. It was garnished with sliced eggs, tomatoes and yellow bell peppers. Vojtišek devoured the cheese. Ota gave his sister a bottle of creamy lemon liqueur we bought for her in Poland. Hano opened it for us all to taste. It was
very good. Hano gave me gifts from her and Roman and Vojtišek. She gave me a set of ceramic mugs, a 3½-inch onyx cube and a package of cherry tomatoes, every bit as luscious as their larger cousins. She asked me if I enjoyed the lemon liquor well enough to take it home with me. I explained that I could not take an open bottle of liquid onto an airplane. Little did I know the half of it. Ota knows that I have been collecting small stones as souvenirs of various trips. At this time, he gave me a 1¼-inch diameter, spherical white stone that has been in his family for as long as he can remember. Therefore, there is
Saint Vitus Cathedral
really no story attached to it any longer. The family has just coveted it because of its uniqueness and beauty. Now, the stone has a story. We toured the farmhouse’s second level. It is spacious but it does need some repair. We saw that Roman had begun work but there was much more to accomplish. Back in the living room, with the lemon liqueur, we toasted to good health and good friends and being Wenceslas Square together again soon. Before driving off, we played with the dogs and Vojtišek in the corral. I ate purple plums from a tree. If their plans go according to schedule, this will be my only visit to the farm. Hana, Ota and I left for Prague. Along the way, we passed through some heavy rains. Close to the Centrum, we encountered awful traffic and highway jams. Ota got off the highway (but onto a road) and wended our way into town. This made a lovely tour of the outlying city and eventually, of the inner city for me. Ota was always armed with a map. Hana helped to navigate. The rain ended. In fact, the sky became spectacular with its huge cloud formations and brilliant blue color.
Once again, we parked on Wenceslas Square. One machine spits out timed tickets for the parking spaces on the block. With two hours of pre-paid parking, we strolled the wellmaintained, pretty and historic cobblestone streets of the capitol city. Hana shared personal anecdotes about many of the sites we passed and Ota translated for us. Prague is comprised of four sections; Hradčany (Castle Quarter), Malá Strana (Little Quarter), Staré Město (Old Town) and Nové Město (New Town).
When we reached the Charles Bridge, I reminded Ota of his previous trip’s warning about pickpockets. We, along with thousands, strolled across the bridge toward the castle perched high above the city. We circled back, in the general direction of the car and I had the opportunity to see parts of the city I had missed before. Near the French Embassy, the Vltava River has a ledge, in the center of the water, to control water flow and (hopefully) flooding. It creates a nice effect like river rapids. We crossed from Malá Strana to Nové Město on a different bridge and walked back toward the car along a new route. We shared two softserve ice cream cones on the square. One
was butternut swirl dipped in pecans. The other was caramel swirl dipped in walnuts. When we reached the car, there were two minutes left on our parking permit ticket. Already, two policemen were hovering over the car. In the spirit of making the best use of our time, we three agreed that I had enough time to go and see the big box store near the airport, Tesco. I wasn’t interested in buying anything. My luggage was already crammed full and I had two unopened bottles of liquor in my carry-on bag, among many other things. I am interested in retailing and this company is one of Europe’s most successful. I was particularly glad to see the food selection. Bread bins were being replenished while shoppers filled bags with warm loaves and rolls. Fish enjoyed waiting to be selected while they swam in three giant clear-glass tanks. The butcher cases were filled with beautiful cuts of fresh meat, which included a good variety of game meats. As Ota accompanied me, Hana shopped for clothing for the family and especially for Vojtišek. He needed a white flower-boy outfit for an upcoming wedding. Unfortunately, nothing was suitable and time had run out. Driving to the airport, we took a wrong turn on the freeway. Time was already short. I felt anxious. Perhaps Ota or Hana did too but they didn’t let on. We arrived in time and, thanks to Ota’s planning, I was able to enjoy a wonderful final day in Czech Republic. At the airport, we three ate greasy but tasty bramboraky (potato pancakes), two large ones for about $2.15. We also downed the open container of peach iced tea because I believed I could not bring it on the airplane. I felt very sad to leave. Even as I write this entry, I feel sad again.