Yesterday, Seth and I spent our day visiting the lesser-frequented areas of Prague. We started our day by traveling north of Old Town Square. We could not believe we had been in the city for two days and had still not found a kolache shop. Fortunately, our hopes and dreams were answered. We walked into a promising bakery and were promptly greeted by the delicious Czech cakes. Here, kolache come in three sizes. The one we are familiar with in Texas is the medium size. (It seems most people here order a large and share it.) Seth and I bought a medium poppyseed, a medium apricot and cream cheese, and a medium strawberry and cream cheese. Czech kolaches have a lot more filling than their Texan counterparts. They are shallower, less buttery, less sticky, and less sweet. While they were quite delicious, I have to say I think I might prefer the Texas kind. Just to be sure, though, I will need at least one more taste test.
After sampling the local goods, we were on our way. By this point, Seth and I had seen some of the city and we were going to see the country, so we wanted to see suburbia. We took the subway to the east side of town, where we found clusters of old Soviet housing projects. Since the Czech Republic gained independence in 1993, the local community has worked to modify the cinderblock structures into more friendly middle-class apartment complexes. Some of the buildings are now painted bright yellow, others gradients of red. They were truly interesting to see.
On the way back to the city, we decided to take the tram so we could view the scenery we missed along the way. We stopped at a pedestrian square about halfway into town just to have a look around. Then we hopped back on the streetcar and rode to the city center. We stumbled upon an old fanciful synagogue and a pre-Gothic church before ducking into a beer garden for a pint. For dinner, we ended up at an amazing underground restaurant. I ordered the goulash (very tasty), while Seth tried the trout. Both are traditional Czech dishes. The former consisted of wild boar in a sort of meaty, red pepper sauce with onions and bread dumplings. The latter was very lightly breaded, deep fried, and served whole. Seth and I decided to be extra adventurous and try the Moravian wine on the menu. It was really strange but quite delicious! Both the white and the red were very sweet, and the red was slightly carbonated so it was somewhat like sparkling grape juice. I can imagine an extremely unpleasant hangover if one accidentally overindulges.
This morning, we awoke bright and early to catch the first of three trains to Hukvaldy, Seth’s family’s village. Our first train to Hranice na Moravě was large; our second train to Studénka was of moderate size; and our third train to Příbor looked like a child’s toy. Because our second train ran late, we missed our connection to the third. Luckily, we spotted a beer garden and sipped a drink while we waited for another train. Eventually, we made it to Příbor. We stopped for lunch and waited out the rain before embarking on a ten-kilometer hike to Hukvaldy. When Seth and I finally got here, we were utterly exhausted. We set our stuff down at the hotel and went on a leisurely walk around the town. We spotted an old chapel, a kolache shop, a chicken coop, some livestock, fields full of beautiful yellow flowers, and adorable country houses. It is amazing to think that people have been living on this land for nearly a millennium. Tomorrow, we plan to visit the castle on the hill (ruins from the thirteenth century) before catching a train to Nový Hrozenkov. I had no idea how much travel this part of the trip was going to entail. I wish I had allotted an extra day!