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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Cau to Cesky Krumlov

Snow banks on the Vltava, Cesky Krumlov

Tonight is our last night here--back to Prague in the morning. Thanks much to Mathemajician* for recommending Cesky Krumlov to us in the first place!

Summary restaurant recommendations to anyone who may come here: Krcma Satlava and Krcma Barbakan are both worth trying at least once, Satlava for the garlic soup and boar goulash, and Barbakan for the trout (we just went there tonight, and the trout was notably better than Satlava's). For daily fare, Hospoda Na Louzi is cheap and good, and the menu evolves sufficiently day to day to keep it interesting. We tried many other places, but the three above are the ones that stand out.

Other than the questionable incident with the Pension, which may well have been an honest mistake, everybody here in Krumlov has been fair and accurate in tallying up the bills and making change. One possible exception is the ATM machine, which posted a duplicate transaction a few days apart--but this then later resolved itself so I'm not sure what to make of it (by the time I emailed my bank about it, the duplicate was gone, though I have a copy of the online statement showing the duplicate).

Overall, I do highly recommend Pension Ametyst (particularly for non-smokers since it is a rare non-smoking oasis in a country of human chimneys). It's a good value in a good location, very clean, and the staff (three different ladies during the course of our stay) have all been very nice. Possible down-side for some is that you're not going to meet anybody staying here--Hostel 99 or the more loungy pensions are probably better for that--this is a good spot to get some work done.

The Information Center near the steps up to the chateau has an internet cafe that's only 0.5Kc/minute (half the price of Snek further into town), and the connection seems faster and the computers better configured. Also, their network is set up on DHCP, so I've been just pulling a cable off the back of an unused desktop and plugging in my laptop and it has worked fine (actually, I had to add a DNS address by hand since the ones provided by their DHCP server didn't seem to work with my Linux machine--probably another Microsoft intentional incompatibility). Whether they charged me for this has depended on who was working the desk on any given day.

My laptop has been splendid, incidentally. It is just small enough to fit into the side pocket of my leather trench coat, so I can actually walk through town--and in and out of the internet cafe--without remotely looking like I'm carrying a laptop. (More than once I've gotten the "you have a laptop with you?" from an internet cafe guy, peering over the counter trying to figure out whether I'm nuts or what.)

Oh, and I think I finally have put a label to the social ambiance here: People here are patiently bored. It's hard to properly qualify this at 1am in my closing paragraph... but roughly: I get the impression most of the people here are completely unchallenged by their jobs and life, but that that's just fine, that's just the way life is. It's as if nothing has substantially changed in a long while, and nothing is expected to change any time soon, and everything kind of runs at a slow pace so nobody's particularly overworked. It seems most of the people working here have friends who come in and hang out with them at work, and you just get the impression they don't have anywhere else to be (which sort of makes sense since most of the places here are combination restaurant, cafe, bar, and often pension--where else do most people go??). But this may well be seasonal--the kind of patience I'm seeing here may make the most sense as a sort of deep breath before the onslaught of spring and summer tourists. I would be curious to come back some time during higher season just to see how the town changes.

If only there were a tourist season without all those tourists....

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com