Ready, Set, Go!!
First time to drive in a foreign country? Me too, here’s a tip: an “International Drivers Permit” makes renting a car much easier. Leaving Prague airport was like any airport in the US, follow the signs that have a big number on them to get out and motivating somewhere. We’re in luck, ended up on the right road! Our goal today is to lunch in Kutna Hora and find the Strawhouse before dark.
I had been secretly culturing a rhinovirus (aka: common cold) since arriving in Prague, the gift from a fellow traveler on the flight in. It was chilly and overcast, we pulled into Kutna Hora a little lost and seeking help. Parking our little red rocket whom Lucia had already named Lucy, she asked the first person she saw in the street for directions to St. Barbara Church our first objective. He looked like a local but when Lucia asked if he could help us he started looking around and seeing me responded “Sprechen Sie deutsch”? He did look excited as he asked but I ruined the meeting by replying “nein” the only word I know in German. He quickly walked away. Standing together, alone on the cobblestone sidewalk assessing our situation, we don’t know where we are on the map, hungry cold and getting wet, it’s time for some food and beer! Within minutes we walked up to Harmonia Cafe, it was mid morning still no pedestrians except us, what’s to lose we went in. Good hot soup and great cold beer with directions to the church, plus a bonus conversation with a British couple who live in France and had just arrived by train. We left satisfied and I had beat back the cold a little with great Czech Beer!
Walking towards St. Barbara Church I wondered what the lady in the upper left was thinking? Had no one filled her cup? Maybe we’re not dressed properly for the occasion, or she could be upset the King had not asked her to dance. Discovered the GASK Museum on our right as we walked up to the church.
Amazing beautiful and complex, St Barbara Cathedral is massive to a simple farm boy from the midwest. Walking around the outside you marvel at the detail in the finish, the architecture, and really wonder to yourself how did they build this thing? Starting in 1388 this version was last completed in the 1800’s.
Inside the scale is even more striking. It seemed to me to larger inside than out. Be aware, you are not allowed to bring a tripod or a monopod into the church. You can check them at the desk and retrieve when you leave.
Kunta Hora’s historical wealth came from silver mining. Your looking down along a valley next to the St. Barbara Cathedral with St. James Church in the background. It was being renovated at this time but it important to note is was built in 1330 with the most recent construction in 1420. The tower is 282 feet tall and I wonder how much valuable, pertinent knowledge we’re missing by overlooking history.
Walking down cobblestone streets and walk-ways is exciting, after all these stones could be several hundred years old or a couple of hundred at least! The downside is, it is harder to walk on cobblestones for a long period of time than you might think. Keep in mind this is the old (ancient) central part of town (touristy) and modern streets, business, pedestrians and life are not far away. We did enjoy the peaceful solitude on this day.
On the other side of the city, across the modern streets, business, pedestrians and life is where at least 40,000 maybe as many as 70,000 souls are laid to rest. Well, laid may not be accurate either, more like positioned to rest. If you find yourself seeing the skull and crossbones in the sidewalk your at the entrance to the Sedlec Ossary
Spinning a quick 90 degrees you’re looking at a fairly normal entrance to a church, no? Appropriate architecture, nice people enjoying one another’s company, even in the rain. Alright let’s go in and see what all the fuss is about!
Really, those are all someone’s bones? What, how much? What, I need to check my pod? The minute you walk in your witness to bone arrangements galore, a nice person is asking you to buy a ticket to go downstairs to see more and by the way sir I must ask you to check your monopod with me, you’re not allowed to use in the church. I am suffering with conflict here, amongst other things.
This is not uplifting, literally, you descend until your underground, there are windows at ground level allowing light in, but you are below them. It is incredible, bones, bones and more bones, everywhere.
Some say the eyes are the window to the soul. I’m thinking the eye holes are portals to someone whom is not here but somewhere, maybe looking at me! Frankly speaking, I’m not comfortable with that thought. I can’t help but think of these bones with flesh, eyes, and thoughts. Who were these people? What did they do, how did they do what they did and what were they thinking about most of the time?
Believe it or not, a wood carver named Frantisek Rint was appointed to organize the bones in 1870. This must be his signature piece, unless it is a prank on us all.
In case you don’t believe me, this is only one of several formations of bones. All in the lower level of the church. There was not much conversation among viewers as we walked around, some were interested, some stood still as if in a trance and some like me were trying to photograph while being very distracted by thoughts which transited all emotions. Others wondered silently looking at the floor then up for a few moments, then away.
Close your eyes, remember reading Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or the Brothers Grimm for the first time? What did you see? Fantasy, story, adventure way beyond what seemed real to you. Was exciting, no? It’s raining and very quiet, walking a path in a forest you’ve never seen before, you come into a clearing that leads to a mudhouse with a thatched roof, the door is cracked open but you can’t really see inside, something from somewhere is moving, suddenly there stands a tall thin man with inquisitive eyes, long gangly hair, disheveled appearance, smiling he asks, you must be the Fetching Mrs. Seacock? Weakly she says yes… Welcome to my straw house, allow me to show you around.
The house is real, we did stay here and you can too, just click here and make your reservation! Lucia found this “HobbitHole” during her background searching for the trip.
Most of you have heard of and probably used airbnb for your travels, this was our first try! It’s not at all spooky or Brothers Grimm like, Jan and his wife Mira are wonderful hosts, inviting us for dinner and a breakfast before we left (not part of the deal). The straw house is only part of their yoga retreat. Jan studies and is an accomplished yoga master, paints abstract art, and builds straw houses! The main house is very large and was once a command post for the Soviets when they controlled the Czech Republic. Jan told us the Soviets trashed the place before they left and he and Mira have been repairing for over 20 years by themselves, one piece at a time. People come from around the world to study and meditate with Jan and Mira. One rule if you stay in the straw house is you cannot consume meat. They are strict vegetarians, we respected their request and only drank wine!!. They grow most of their own vegetables and Mira served us a wonderful soup with handmade bread washed down with home grown mint tea. We will go back to visit them again. If you want to know more about this very unique place just contact us!