Woolly Mammoth

Arriving in Prague that morning, we had time on our hands.

Our flight to Amsterdam was in the evening.

It was the summer of 2018, at the height of the tourist season in Europe and wherever you looked, there were people and more people. 

Seems like another world now and well, it was.

We had been walking in the south of the Czech Republic for the previous month and now, after weeks of solitude, there was no avoiding it: a long day in super overcrowded airports and public transport.

We weren´t interested in sight-seeing. We had visited Prague several times in the past and didn’t want to devalue our memories. Like most other European cities including Amsterdam, Prague was over commercialised, over-priced and over-crowded.   

For want of any other ideas, we went to the Prague City Museum.

It was housed in a beautiful old, classical style building, but besides it’s architecture, the exhibits didn’t make a lasting impression on me. 

Except for one: a replica of a woolly mammoth……

Read more

The Metamorphosis Part 2

 

Sometimes, sitting on the terrace of the Hotel Zamecek after a long walk, my enjoyment of that idyllic setting was disturbed by an image of Franz Kafka appearing before me.

Kafka sitting next to us in a chair, a blanket over him, looking at the forest, now and then a cough heard over the sound of the water.

Kafka suffered from TB and spent months in and out of various sanatoriums in Austria, his stays there funded by his father who owned a factory. He died from TB at the age of 40. Once, Europe was dotted with sanitoriums.

In the days before the invention of antibiotics and vaccines TB, amongst other illness, was a scourge. Today many of these former sanitoriums had been renovated and turned into hotels (Anya and I had stayed in a few of them).

I wondered if this wasn’t also the case with Hotel Zamecek and resolved to ask at the front desk about its past. 

 

Read more

The Metamorphosis Part 1

It took us a day to get from the Austrian border to the Hotel Zamecek in the west of the Czech Republic. We had to catch two trains and a bus to reach the town of Kaplice, from where we walked to the hotel. We followed a road out town. The traffic wasn’t too bad but our rucksacks were heavy and it was a warm day.

Late in the afternoon, tired and jaded, we saw it: the Hotel Zamecek.

Our spirits lifted.

It was beautiful, like a small castle. 

It was surrounded open grassy fields and pine forests. 

Our room was on the third floor. Whilst ascending a wide, stone staircase with a high stone balustrade we noticed that the original decorations on the ceiling and walls had been freshly repainted. The hotel, obviously old, had been beautifully restored.

In a large open area at the top of the stairs, there was a polished wooden bookcase with books left behind by departing guests. After putting our rucksacks down and showering and putting on fresh clothes, I went to the bookcase. Anya loves maps and I love books; whilst I was perusing the books, she was in the room pouring over a map of Bohemia; we planned to do some walking in the area.

I found a few books in English. There was one which caught my attention.

‘The Metamorphosis’ written by Franz Kafka.

I grabbed it and put it in our room.

Then we went downstairs to order a meal. We were famished.

Read more