Prague to Vienna on Foot: Grandmother’s House

A series of posts following David and Gail as they walk 480 kilometers from Prague to Vienna in 2014.

September 22, 2014

Some days come with irritating compromise. Others with unexpected delight. The day we departed Slavonice was both of those. We had to walk to Vranov nad Dyji but, being at least 45 kilometres away, it was outside a reasonable day’s walk range. Yet there were no accommodations available at the time required that would divide that distance in two halves. So we were forced to go with the best available option, an absurdly short 10 kilometre walk from Slavonice to nearby Nové Sady on day one and the rest of the distance to Vranov on day two. More concerning, the place we would stay in Nové Sady came across as very primitive in its description on No wifi, no nearby restaurants, no indoor toilet.

We head out from Slavonice after a pleasant day at the town’s annual festival, leaving late so as not to arrive at our suspected shack in some isolated hamlet too early, loaded with dinner supplies and wine to keep us occupied in our isolated, wifi-less abode. We arrive and are soon greeted by our host, Vlodimir, a charming guy from Prague with excellent English. He sets us immediately at ease. This was his grandmother’s house and with her passing, he acquired it and decided to make it a rental cottage. We were his third customers. As he phrased it, when describing the house features, ‘”this is the way it is done, Czech-style”. The toilet was dry, meaning it was an outhouse set in the backyard. Warm water was provided by a wood fire-heated device resembling a old fashioned washing machine tank with a wood stove beneath it. It was up to me to start the fire and keep it going, then transfer the heated water to a pail, dump it in the tub and then fill with cold water (actually available through a tap!) to achieve a reasonable bath temperature. After Vlodimir left us, reassuring us that we would have lots of fun, it became apparent that the house was exactly as grandma left it. Her artwork. Her knives and forks and pots and pans. Her linen.

If all this sounds like a nightmare, let me say that Vlodimir was right. We did have fun. Grandma’s house was a delightful escape and we felt as if we were experiencing the Czech Republic of a previous generation, when it was still Czechoslovakia. And Nové Sady? It was a quiet hamlet with one street, all the houses neatly arranged along the street with a church and it’s spire at its termination. We walked down to the church. It was a Saturday evening, the sun had just set, the stained glass glowed and singing wafted through the open church door. Next door was the odd Sepulchrum Collaltorum, an octagonal tower with classical portico. We headed back to grandma’s house for some soup, cheese, cold cuts and a bottle of Moravian wine. And a warm bath the way grandma would have done.

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