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.

Friday 28 May 2010

Hard work

Tábor railway station today does not offer  any hospoda where you can sit down and have a beer with some shaggy Hungarian. There is a Bufet Viktoria though, all plastic and convenience but without  draught beer. I still felt obliged to have a bottle of Kozel that early morning in 24 May, as this is a place of immense importance. The beer was good but I had to get moving, because it was as obvious to me as it was for Švejk that all roads lead to that Budějovice. I also  had the good sense to leave some books behind at Hotel Slávia. The backpack was already getting worryingly heavy.
On the previous day I had gone to the Infocentrum to pick up some maps. I assumed that the map of the Písecko region was sufficient, and that I would confidently  manoeuvre westwards through Táborsko purely by relying on my excellent memory. I had decided to visit Klokoty on the way, but surprisingly, early  that day my excellent memory played me a trick. I added 3 km to an already long walk almost before I had started. The beauty of Klokoty monastery still made me feel humble, despite me being generally indifferent to religion.
I continued down the Lužnice valley and walked on and on, ever forward. Before Sepekov I got lost in some marshland and was nearing exhaustion, with a backpack that seemed to weight 10 kilos more for every hour. By now every imaginable part of the body was aching. I decided it couldn't get any worse anyway and carried on to Milevsko even though it was getting dark and a thunderstorm was brewing.

The last 3 km to Milevsko were unbelievably long, and just before the station the thunderstorm hit. I had bought my second umbrella from a Vietnamese in Břevnov for kč 30 and it was turned inside out within four seconds. I wrapped the wreck around the backpack and was relieved to get shelter at U Vlaků, on the railway platform. Here I had the most welcome pivo of my whole travelling career. The pub was a grotty lidová hospoda serving excellent Platan 11. I gulped down three of them on the trot and then asked for a place to sleep. The other customers were railway workers which by now were struggling with their diction, but they took a keen interest in the tourist and were generally helpful.
Just before 23:00 I finally found a place to sleep and was safe. Švejk only carried his fajfka (pipe) on his walk whilst I was carrying heaps of electronics and other necessities. On the road to Sepekov it had struck me that carrying all this on my back for a week could result in a premature end to my grand travelling project. I decided to change tack: go to Písek and settle down there, then do the rest of the anabasis as day-trips. That would rid me of three worries: the heavy backpack, keeping the electronics dry, and having to secure a place to stay every night.
I still decided on another stop before executing the plan: continue by foot to the brewpub/hotel in Zvíkovské podhradí which was only 20 km away. From there one I would head for Písek. The road went through Květov, mentioned in Švejk. It is a tiny village, I didn't even find a pub. That put pay to the intention of having a beer at every spot Švejk stopped at! I could have bought some bottle at Jednota, but beer-drinking has  to be done properly and rain was threatening. I crossed the Vltava in a downpour  and finally got to Pivovarský Dvůr, the promised land, combining a hotel and a house brewery. The beer was very good and I had plenty of time to catch up on sleep.
This concluded the first part of my own Budějovická anabase. I struggled with getting my feet into the bed and felt the best way of getting down the stairs in the morning was walking sideways. These things wouldn't have bothered Švejk, but I'm sure he would have understood my predicament. In the last two days I had put more than  50 km behind me.

1 comment:

  1. Looking at the photograph of you and Lada's drawing of Švejk, I can't help but wonder: Could the difference in footware have anything to do with the difficulties you had during this stage of the anabasis?