Olomouc in the Czech Republic. Here’s an article about it on Wikitravel. Don’t worry, we’d never heard of Olomouc (pronounced ‘OLO-moats’) until Thursday either. We just decided that we needed to slow down a bit instead of jumping straight into Krakow from Vienna and it’s home to a UNESCO-listed world heritage site.
We arrived last night after an exhilarating train ride from Vienna. What made it exciting? The simple fact that we could open the windows. Who would have thought? I guess we felt more connected to the pleasant landscape with the wind rushing through our hair and with passing freight trains threatening to instantly decapitate anyone who sticks his head out too far. I went cross-continent on Amtrak and ViaRail, its Canadian counterpart, back in the summer of 2001. I enjoyed that experience immensely, especially the isolated expanses in British Columbia and Jasper in western Alberta. How much better could it have been if I only could have opened the windows?
Vienna was disappointing. It rained consistently the first day, and although we know better than to let poor weather detract from a beautiful locale, it did. Beyond that, it was overpriced – many commercial establishments seemed designed solely to gouge folks like us – maps and signs were unhelpful at best and totally misleading at worst, and the entire central area seemed to have been designed by one, not terribly creative architect. And who really wants to by a $80 concert ticket from a bored Turkish man in a natty powdered wig and faux-Baroque knickers?
To be fair, our biggest mistke was not getting off the beaten path. We had stuck around longer we would have probably visited a few sights outside the city center, including the Zentralfriedhof, a cemetery home to more than 2,500,000 departed souls, including Beethoven and Brahms. (If Salzburg was any indication, Austrians venerate the deceased.) But of course, we never found Zentralfriedhof on a map. Then again, we found the Jewish Quarter on the map quite easily, but never managed to find it on the street, despite wandering round and round and round.
So, Olomouc it is. We’ll report back later.