Impressions from Cesky Krumlov
Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
14Trip End Ongoing
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past the tourists who sit at the dozen or so cafes that line its banks.
Everything here is centered on the river, but the speed at which it
flows contrasts the way everything else happens in town. Things tend
to unfold with that stereotypical European slowness: relaxed conversations extend luxurious suppers, one bottle of wine turns to two or three, and somehow sipping a thimble sized espresso is the most demanding task of one’s morning.
Cesky Krumlov is a place you can lose yourself in, and a place that often prompts the question: “can you imagine living here?”. This came up several times throughout the weekend with our group of travellers — my girlfriend Natalie and I, her brother and his wife. We saw a for sale
sign hammered into a slightly run down building that still stood proud at the top of an impressive cliff. The building overlooks the river and offers striking views of the town castle and the rolling hills of the Czech countryside. What could we do with this place? Could we afford it? Probably. Could we make it profitable? Maybe. We have a wide-varied set of skills, and we could surely lure in a lot of English speaking tourists if we decided to make it into a hotel or bed and breakfast. It’s been done before. A well-known hostel in the area was started by a Canadian expat and a heartbroken American traveller who came to Europe to forget love, but ended up finding it in this small village. It’s such a wonderful story the New York Times decided to publish it. (Read here)
I sometimes have these wild ideas of going off the grid, buying up some property somewhere beautiful and slowing down the pace of my life. I imagine forgetting the rat race, shunning the hierarchy of modern corporate life and ignoring the noise on the internet. I’m not alone in
having these fantasies; the idea pervades popular culture. We watch with envy when Russell Crowe gives up day-trading in London and settles into running a struggling vineyard in France in A Good Year. We wish we could just uproot and change our lives like Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun. The truth is, for many of us, these are viable options. They just aren’t what we really want to do.
Natalie and I moved to Prague this year, and I think we’ve slowed the pace of our lives down as much as we will ever be able to. And in reality, they aren’t that slow. We work a lot, read the full Globe and Mail and New York Times online every morning, and are hooked into social media. We obsess about getting good references, and planning for future schooling and future careers. That’s not to say we aren’t relaxed, because we are. We’re just always conscious of the future;
always plotting a few moves ahead in the chess game of life. I still want the big house, the good job and the bragging rights. Operating a bed and breakfast in Cesky Krumlov, running a vineyard
in France, or fixing up a Villa in Tuscany all work better as fantasies rather than realities for most people. And the unhurried pace that a weekend in a charming town can bring to life is refreshing precisely because of the frantic pace of the rest of our lives. Despite how much the idea appeals to me, I know I’ll never be able to really unplug and leave the rat race. I like it too much. And so do most people, that’s why we’re all in it. We like being busy and
connected, we like to complain about it, and we like to get away from it — but only once in a while.