Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Dawgs Travel Diary: Jaw-droppingly stunning


Cesky Krumlov is ridiculously dripping in awesomeness.

His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and loyal human consort The Nashman were a bit let down by the train station and the generic new part of town but as we stood on top of the hill before the final descent down to the city's Budejovice gate we were left speechless. After 13 days of backpacking we have finally reached our main destination. And what an amazing first impression. The old centre lived up to our expectations. I mean, HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit, having lived all their lives in old historic picturesque towns, are not that easily impressed but someone better come pick our jaws from the ground because as early as now, we were making plans to revisit the city during a different season.

A perfectly preserved medieval city!

...but the first order of the day is to have lunch...and food is not difficult to find here...

...we had fish....

...with the regional beer..

...before hopping to a cafe to get some turkish coffee...

..and another stein of the regional brew, this time Pilsner, the grand daddy of all pilsens in the world.

...and then it's time for His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and loyal human consort The Nashman to have a walkabout and make love to the city.

The Dawgs Travel Diary: Slow train ride to a most marvelous place

A whisker past noon, His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and their loyal human consort The Nashman headed off to the train station for the next leg of their backpacking trip. We were leaving the capital of Southern Bohemia for the crown jewel of our journey. It was a most wonderful train journey on an old rickety train that had only two carriages! It weaved slowly through pine forests and we spotted some deer and rabbits! (That's very promising for the local cuisine!) There were lots of level crossings and so the train stopped and honked its horn every so often.

The cute train station.

Being train nuts, we honestly don't mind if this was today's transport.

The dawgs and The Nashman are cunning linguists and have started speaking basic Czech. There is an interesting observation HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit made in the Czech Republic regarding languages - you can get away with some German, the young people definitely speak excellent English (and like the Pelefins with a slight USA twang, an effect no doubt of TV and Hollywood), and the older generation can but do not want to speak Russian. As in EVERY culture, it helps if you know how to say Thank You in the local tongue. Don't be a dork from The Ateneo de Manila and insist on speaking conyo. Well, ok, we don't really expect that much from Atenistas.

It's like home! Ihi/Isbu - 4 koruna, Tae/Tak-ki- 7 koruna. But unlike Victory Liner terminal toilets, you won't feel ripped off here because the toilets are actually clean and there are basic toiletries.

We like that it has that nearly run down feel. It has character! Ok, the dawgs and The Nashman still think that the Swiss train system is the best but sometimes that experience can be too sterile and boring.

Yummy looking livery.

The bag racks above your seat, the train is sectioned like a mini-jeepney! Apatan harap-harapan pwera lang kung may mataba.

Of the three of us intrepid travellers,PA/PR Gromit has the most experience with trains and he gave a talk on the basic history of the Czech rail system. PA/PR Gromit pointed out that the first horse-drawn railway in the continent originated here, on this very spot, leading to Linz, Austria.

We met a couple of trains along the way..... one of the most beautiful cities in Europe...

The Dawgs Travel Diary: The REAL Budweiser

For the benefit of The Ateneo de Manila students who know nothing, the capital of Southern Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, also goes by a more familiar German name - Budweis. The city was the royal tipple brewer for the Holy Roman Empire and remains home to the last brewer still wholly owned by the Czech state - Budějovický Budvar (Budweiser Bürgerbräu). Thus, they are the RIGHTFUL owners to the Budweiser label (no matter what those lawyers tell you) and Czech Budweiser is far superior to that diluted copycat piss being sold in the rest of the world.

This morning, His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman killed some time navigating the alleyways of this pretty Renaissance city.

HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit start the day with a modest breakfast. We were also chuffed to bits that The Nashman is the first ever Flipinoy tenant in this pub.

We are newspaper junkies and our Czech vocabulary has increased tremendously after watching dubbed Hollywood flicks last night. Apparently, boob jobs are still booming.

...we also learnt that Titanic is the number 1 all time box office hit in these parts. I still have to see that film.

The dawgs remind The Nashman that the only way to experience a city is to go off the beaten track, in the underbelly of the city.

HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit explore the massive town square.

...which is surrounded by 3 different architectural styles.

The weather is so tropical. Bring out your flipflops and sandos.

Detail of the town hall's baroque facade.

Now, I have a feeling of de ja Vu. It could have been some street in the Philippines were it not for the American bombardment.

It's so pastel yummy.

The rivers Vltava and Malse are frozen... prove that, The Nashman threw a wheelie bin to the river. (Don't worry, we replaced it properly)

This used to the be old meat hall (or Slaughter House to you Baguio natives). The centuries old building is now a beer hall. A good crowded place to drink Budweiser. Sadly, it was too early when we got there.

...fortunately, street stalls abound selling gluhwein! Mmmm...

That's the Black Tower, built 1553, around the same era as the Spaniards were sending nasty Friars and corrupt Catholics to the Pelefins.

Mmmm...coming from Baguio, The Nashman always stops for ukay-ukay!

Looky looky here. The Tom Cruise Miracle Crusade is slowly gaining a foothold. The Christians mock the Scientologists for being a 'cult' but give them another 2000 years to fine tune their machinery, and they will be just as acceptable as Catholicism, also once labeled a cult.

The winter heating comes from coal??? (Or is that just some factory smoke stack?) Hmmm, I thought there was a Soviet-built nuclear plant here..

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Dawgs Travel Diary: First night out in Sud Bohemia and Studies of Motion 40

...or is it?

That's the namesti Premysla Otakara, the biggest plaza in the Czech Republic.

Samsonova kasna (Samson's Fountain, for the benefit of The Ateneo de Manila students who only understand conyo).

The christmas tree and the renaissance-baroque town hall.

...oooh, tan lines...

..a bit of shopping for the laydeees

It's not just a cafe, it's a club. With mission-vision and philosophy.

Of course, before dinner, we need some of the local amber.

Mmmmm...that's Master Polotmavy special 13° - sweet caramel.

The cuisine is still very German. I had the roast smoked pork with all the fats.

His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem joins The Nashman for a drink at the bar....

...our first attempt at speaking the native tongue. I was thinking espresso but somehow ordered coffee with lots of artery-clogging cream. I would normally not order this but I loved it.

Our room has a weird elongated shape with two beds on opposite ends. This is obviously The Nashman's bed...

..while HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit get the one on the elevated floor.

And since we have been eating (and enjoying) mostly roast pork for the past 6 days of this leg of the journey, The Nashman has become so FAT! The only use for that added weight is for testing the structural rigidity of the open beams of our ceiling...

Studies of Motion 40: Assume the Pork Roast Position

The Nashman is very porcine. Look at all those belly back flabs. Ewwww.

Ok, this beam, having supported The Nashman's 66 kg overweightedness is structurally sound.