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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Czech Republic City of Brno: a bust?

We left Poland behind us as we traveled onto Brno, our 1st stop in the Czech Republic, via the fantastic bright yellow Student Agency Bus. We’d taken the candy apple red Polski buses throughout Poland and thought THEY were great until the Student Agency Buses; each one has very comfy seats (essential for long haul trips if you’re a certain age!), a hostess on board to deliver newspapers (in Czech only of course!) as well as serve everyone free hot beverages.  Sounds far, far better than Icelandair for sure especially when you get all that for only about $15 for both of us to travel 7 plus hours from Krakow.  

Last year’s trip was all about train travel including the not-to-missed Trans Siberian trip across Russia, Mongolia and far into China; this year’s is mostly about bus travel. Because of the Schengen Agreement, traveling from Poland into the Czech Republic is the same as going from one state or province to another with no customs or border stop in between. We’d come to Brno, the 2nd largest city in the Czech Republic, to see the city a bit but especially to visit the Macocha Abyss, which will be my next post.

Hostel Jacob in Brno: way 'cosier' than I
 thought we'd get after receiving an email
confirmation showing a bottle of wine on a
 lovely table in a large double bed room.

The door closed with perhaps an 1/2"
clearance between the bed. They had,
without a doubt, the smallest kitchen
we'd ever seen too in a hostel.
Next day I asked if there were a room available
that more closely resembled the confirmation photo
and was given this room instead with the shared
kitchen and bathroom at the same price; figured it
never hurts to ask!

Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, came to Brno at age 21 when he entered the Augustine Monastery; studied genetics at Vienna U. and then devoted himself to the study of genetics in the monastery garden; slao became director of a mortgage bank, a respected breeder, a meteorologist and pioneer of new methods of beekeeping – who knew!

Spent an hour or two seeing Spilberk Castle: Dating from the 13th C. and rebuilt into a Baroque fortress in the 17th and 18th centuries, it used to be the most notorious prison in the entire Habsburg (not a mispelling as here in the Czech Republic, they don't use the 'p' I grew up knowing it as) monarchy.

My first, and no doubt the last, goat picture this trip; aren't you relieved!

It was pleasant enough then to just walk around
the grounds ofcastle so we decided not to enter it.

I had bought the beaded necklace above at one of the
market stalls in Krakow; ended up having to throw it
and the others away as the colors bled;what a pity.
  I should have known to always stick to gold!

Steven and I were trying to figure out if this was a
 gargoyle or not. Anyone know?

Views of the city and Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul
from Spilberk Castle.

Petrov aka the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul: 
The cathedral and the castle together create the characteristic skyine of the city of BrnoInteresting bit of useless knowledge: The bells chime noon everyday at 11 am because it commemorates the year 1645 when Brno had been under siege by the Swedes for 3 months and the Swedish military leader proclaimed if he could not seize the city before the Petrov bells chimed noon, he would quit. The Commander of the Defenders ordered the bells to chime noon one hour earlier and the Swedish army moved on.

Below are photos walking to Petrov.

Thought it was intriguing seeing it from different angles.

The cross reminded me of the Inuit stone carvings
known as 'Inukshuk.' My brother Paul and his wife,
Gloria, gave us alovely one.

Old Town Hall: The legend of the bent spire in the portal is that when the stonemason didn’t get paid for his work, he purposely bent the middle spire.

Old Town Hall looking much better at

Freedom Square:
 Interesting triangular shape but that’s about all it has going for it, Steven and I thought, after seeing the magical old town squares in Poland; guess we got spoiled. What a shame the main square in town has huge portapotties, a massive contemporary McDonald’s, beach chairs and sand and some of 
the ugliest modern architecture – need I say more!  


They say the clock in Freedom Square is the most curious one in the Czech Republicsure won't dispute that. It was unveiled in 2010 on the 365th anniversary of Brno's resistance to the Swedish siege in the Thirty Years War.

Hard to take this photo as the clock was constantly
The 6 m high granite clock in the shape of a cartridge; an accurate time signal controls this time machine.

Capuchin Square: Interesting coming across these 15 or so street performers moving as directed; I could have watched for a while but Steven wasn't as intrigued as I.
Capuchin Church of Finding of the
 Holy Cross as part of the Monastery

I think Steven's weary pose accuratelysummed up Brno for him as he wondered why we bothered to come here at all. Had some interesting sights, yes, but the city had nothing really in our minds to make it a must see stop even on a 97 day trip.