Although Angela was feeling better during our tour of the Kromeriz gardens, the fever she contracted at the border crossing between Hungary and Slovakia was tenacious, and she relapsed while we drove toward Olomouc, Czechia.
I booked an apartment for a couple of nights near the city center so she would have room to relax and recover. We grabbed the last available room at the Hotel Palác, which turned out to be a four-room penthouse suite, complete with a kitchen, two balconies, and an amazing view of the 1,000-year old cathedral next door.
Most importantly, the apartment was also dark and cool with a comfortable bed. Ang loaded up on the last of the Nyquil and slept late the next day.
During Angela’s respite, I explored the town of Olomouc, seeking out both the old and the new artwork on display. Naturally, I had to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Column of the Holy Trinity and found some wonderful street art along the way.
I wandered the side streets and navigated the main roads utilizing the city’s quaint but efficient streetcar network, and even found time to dine in a former torture chamber at the aptly-named Torture Restaurant and Bar.
The next day, Angela was feeling better but not up for any adventure and insisting that I carry on without her for the day. We had already planned to see some of the more remote parts of Czechia, so I set out on another driving loop to do just that. Places where coffee-shop conversation revolves around God and politics and the rain. Simple towns filled with fiercely proud and independent people who subverted Nazism and then Stalinism by speaking in Esperanto, an outlawed language that sought peace through universal communication and understanding.
I left Angela resting easily and drove northwest through sleepy villages and one-church towns, past hayfields in the midst of harvest and roadside ponds marked with rings of bass feeding on mayflies. Along tree-lined, lonely roads that vanished to each golden-green horizon.
I drove through towns like Svitavy, a center of resistance for the aforementioned Czech Esperanto movement as well as the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, immortalized in the movie Schindler’s List. Lined with candy-colored storefronts, filled with impressive sculpture, and surrounding a central square of cobblestones, the old town of Svitavy is representative of these small Czech villages.
I stopped again in the town of Nové Město na Moravě just because the central church looked interesting and I wanted to stretch my legs. As it turns out, the Church of the Holy Kunhuty in that town is representative of an unusual type of exterior painting specific to Czechia and Slovakia. I didn’t know all of that at the time, but it was gorgeous, and it afforded me the opportunity to meet some interesting locals as well.
On my way back, I stopped several more times. When I grew tired or hungry. When the town looked interesting or inviting. When the clouds turned dramatic or when the fading light hit the fields just right.
And, although I wished Angela could have been there for the adventure, I counted myself blessed to witness such a raw, simple, beautiful day.