Olomouc, a small town in Moravia, has been wonderful. We’ve been staying at a great hostel called Poet’s Corner, run by two fantastic Aussies, Greg and Francie. On Saturday, we took a tour of the town with Francie, learning about it’s history as the former capital of Moravia, the Astronomical Clock, Saints who once lived here, the column to the Trinity that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and tips on great places to eat. Fun facts:
- There is a canon ball that is lodged into the side of the Trinity Column from when the town was under siege during the 30 years war. Since it didn’t seem to be going anywhere, they gilded it.
- The town is famous for its chocolate pie. It’s delicious.
- The Astronomical Clock was “fixed” by the Red Army in the mid-50’s. They replaced the formerly traditional facade with a more proletariat theme with a mosaic of scientists and farmers and blacksmiths, etc. The dials on the clock tell the date, 12 hour time, 24 hour time, minutes, phase of the moon, current night sky and, most interestingly, the daily Saint’s birthday. With the “remodeling,” birthdays for Lenin, Stalin and a few others were added.
- People love ice cream here. It’s not strange to see people eating it for breakfast. Serving sizes are much smaller than in the US (no surprise there) so it doesn’t seem quite so deviously decadent. Come to think about it, anything with sugar is a big hit here.
Yesterday, we decided to rent bikes. The ones we got were pretty crappy – mine didn’t have gears or hardly any brakes – but it did have a basket and barely functioning bell. Needless to say, I walked up most hills. Mark’s bike did have gears but even absolutely no brakes and a really hard seat. But they were cheap! We biked about 20 km south through rolling fields of wheat and small towns to a castle in Tovacov. We stopped for lunch at a roadside tavern and because of our lack of Czech language skills, ended up with bowls of goulash and plates of some sort of meat product (looked like Moravian scrapple to me) and potatoes swimming in butter. Just the meal you want during a 40 km ride, right? But we made it to our destination and relaxed by a quarry filled with water to relax. Mark immediately fell asleep. Amazing. I read my book till his siesta was over and we rode back home. Needless to say we were exhausted and scarfed down some pizza and ice cream before heading back to the hostel and crashing.
We’re up early this morning to hit the one and only vegetarian restaurant in Olomous (perhaps all of Moravia) before hopping on the train to Krakow, Poland. It’s cool and cloudy and we’re a bit sore from yesterday’s 40 km ride, so it should be a nice voyage.