Friday, April 07, 2006

Kutna Run

It's a 50 minute train ride eastbound to Kutná Hora, but you'd better make extra time to figure out the damn trains. The English language announcements don't help much, and neither do the staffers at the station, even when you try mixing in some Czech. Somehow, we did manage to make it aboard our train and find a decent cabin.

It was my first time sharing one of those European train cabins, and as soon as I noticed that the bearded, middle aged man next to me was reading some sort of porno paper, paranoia struck me that he'd be something like Fred Armisen's bit role in Eurotrip whenever we passed through a dark tunnel. Fortunately, that was not the case. In fact, he was extremely helpful, giving us tips about Kutná Hora and Sedlec. Never mind that he was speaking in Czech with the occasional hand gestures. I knew just enough to get by, but not knowing English, he was filling in words that I was having trouble with in German. Unfortunately, my German's only slightly better than my Czech. As he was walking us to the Ossuary in Sedlec, I finally told him that we're Americans, and he was taken aback by the fact that a Yank had bothered to learn his language. See, we're not all bad!

Sedlec is fascinating. Not least of all because the biggest employer there is Phillip Morris, where they've converted a huge old church into... a cigarette plant. But the real attraction here is the Ossuary, a fantastic little church decorated with the bones of 40,000 deceased. Not just as adornments along the walls or in piles like in the Parisian catacombes, but turned into candleabras and chandeliers! We felt so goth, we had to pose for some cheesy black and white photos. Hopefully they'll come out.

After a few fits and starts, we figured out the local bus system and made our way to the Kutná Hora citz center, home of the Church of Santa Barbara. No, Santa Barbara is not the patron saint of surfers or drunk college students, but of silver miners. Kutná Hora's reputation as the 2nd greatest city in the Czech Republic back in the daz was built on its huge silver boom, and the richness showed in this cathedral. Although I've had ABC Syndrome - Another Bloody Church - for several years now, it's really hard not to be inspired by the ornate work, the fantastic and meticulous masonry, and the huge spires that can be seen for miles around. It's truly a wonderous cathedral, and worth the ride out from Prague.

I'm not sure about the ride back, though. We caught the next train out, which was a slow one, stopping in every town along the way. For 2 hours. All I wanted to do was nap, but every time I put my head down, we'd hit a bumpy section of track and I'd start banging my head like an Orthodox Jew at the wailing wall.

So tired... so hungry... so ready for a nice night out after a crazy day going halfway across the country.

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