He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Kudějologs in Olomouc

Hostinsky pivovar Moritz. Michal Giacintov to the left.
Matěj Zdeněk Kuděj was one of Jaroslav Hašek's best friends and in 1913 and 1914 they travelled extensively together. Kuděj was a notable writer in his own right, but little known abroad. He was also a keen traveller, and spent a few years in North America. His knowledge of English allowed him to do  translation work; Kuděj is the man behind Tarzan in Czech! I readily admit I haven't read a word of what Kuděj has written, and haven't read a line of Tarzan either but would still like to report on a unique hospoda in Olomouc: U Kuděje. It is owned by beer-expert, haškolog and kudějolog Michal Giacintov.
Those of you who read my earlier letter from Lipnice nad Sázavou might recognise his name, he was one of the two k.u.k Soldaten who had travelled 200 km to meet me! We got on very well back then and I was invited to visit Olomouc and decided that a detour from Vienna was within reach. After bidding farewell to Oddny and Jan in Vienna, I caught the Zagreb-Warsaw express from Wien Simmering to Břeclav and then a local train to Olomouc. There I was picked at the station up and spent two enjoyable days visiting the Giacintov family.
Olomouc, Horní náměšti
U Kuděje is indeed a remarkable pub. It features beers from small breweries only, one of them the local Pivovar Moritz which Michal partly owns. Despite being a traditional hospoda it draws many young people and is non-smoking. This pub is unique: it brings together good beer, good atmosphere, mixed clientele and good air quality. However much I love Czech hospody the latter two elements are often missing! A visit to  the brew-pub Moritz was next, another classic and very popular spot. The beer was, needless to say, good. We also went to a heavy-metal concert at the local Jazz Club. I am sure Matěj Kuděj would have approved.
Michal with daughter Emma at U Kuděje
Olomouc is a beautiful city, seat of the Archbishop of Moravia and it was also the Habsburg's retreat in times of trouble. This is where they spent their time during the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. As a result the city is surrounded by a ring of fortresses, 17 in all. Until recently they were used by the uninvited socialist brother from the east, but are now partly converted to museums. We did a tour of the local Skansen and Fort 14, beset by mosquitoes after the recent floods and a week of tropical heat.
Near the Archbishop's palace Michal pointed at the barracks built by Maria Theresia, right next to it! It was a blatant provocation by the powerful Empress, the enlightened despot who would not tolerate a rival centre of power. We also visited another micro-brewery Svatováclavské, sat down with the owners for an amiable chat and a beer in midst of the deadly rivalry! The evening was rounded off at the classic U Kuděje with a slide-show about Czechs in the Romanian Banat, near the Iron Gate on the Danube.
As for Hašek and Olomouc, there is little to report. The city is not mentioned in the novel  at all, the nearest we get to it is Archbishop Theodor Kohn. He was of Jewish origin and suffered because of this, a fact mentioned in Švejk. As for myself and Olomouc, I'm very grateful for having  had this opportunity to visit the city, although it could be considered "off topic". So, if you ever go to Olomouc, make sure you visit U Kuděje and Pivovar Moritz.

No comments:

Post a Comment