Two country buses later, we were completely removed from the big city and found ourselves thrust into the pastoral – a slower pace of life. And thanks to a friend’s generous offer, we were immersed in the eclectic-bucolic aesthetic of a remodeled Southern Bohemian schoolhouse from the early 1900s.
In Czech Southern Bohemia, where narrow tree-lined orchard roads bend through rolling hills, you are just as likely to see a distinct Soviet-era Lada or old Czechoslovak Skoda than today’s indistinct modern rides.
Skies were wide, men waved from tractors and the occasional deer ducked out from its lunch in the corn fields. Heat waves rolled over the pavement; I daydreamed in black and white and found myself believing – if only for a moment – that I was somewhere in the Czech countryside of Closely Watched Trains, an iconic 60s era Czechoslovak film.
Our daily routine, when we chose to abide by it, consisted of a bicycle ride to the nearest town to do our grocery shopping. Blond-haired, blue-eyed Czech toddlers stared at us wide-eyed from behind their mothers. Store clerks giggled at our broken Czech queries about things like bread and charcoal for the barbecue. People here were downright giddy with friendliness. Not that Prague is unfriendly, but the short distance between us and the big city connected two very different worlds.
The real sensory payoff, however, was the country house where we stayed. Recast in the late 1990s from a 1905 schoolhouse, it was anything but ordinary. At turns tasteful and playful, its interior recalled an Austro-Hungarian hunting lodge and was outfitted as much from long-lost toy trunks as it was from antique curio cabinets.
When we noticed a huge, hairy spider in the middle of the living room floor one day, we both wondered aloud: “Do you think it’s real?” A silly question perhaps, but in this house, hairy bugs could easily serve as well-placed décor.
A few prods with a stick and the spider skittered, proving otherwise – and reminding us that we were just in the countryside.
Enjoy the photos. You’ll understand why we found it difficult to leave.