Ruth, waiting for the train in Kutna Hora.
Remember the other day when we bought first class tickets? Well even though first class is not expensive it makes much more sense to buy second class. I found out that there is a “group” discount. And if you are two people traveling together, you are a group! But you can’t get this discount in first class. So by traveling second class, we pay the reduced price for the second class ticket, and get a 40% discount on the companion fare. And if you have a third person, that person gets a 50% discount on their ticket. So our 130 km (81 mile) train trip from Kutna Hora to Svitavy cost a total of 277 korunas ($13.85).
The next thing I found out about Czech train travel is that you can in fact book a reserved seat in advance. But apparently nobody ever does that because it costs extra and the trains are rarely full. So if you sit in the reserved seating area, you will only get moved if someone comes along holding a ticket for that seat. But nobody ever does.
Our train arrived a few minutes late, and we had a connection to make in Kolin. As it was, we only had a few minutes to make our connection. Kolin is a larger city so they have several platforms and it took us a few minutes to figure out which train was ours. By the time we ran up the stairs to the platform, the train started to pull away! If we had been even one minute sooner, we would have made it! Oh well, this just meant that we had to wait two hours for the next train.
Ruth stayed and watched our bags and I walked to a local grocery store and bought some lunch items. We just sat on the platform and had our lunch and watched the people until our next train arrived. The two hours actually went by very quickly.
Kevin, on the train to Svitavy.
When we got on this train at 2:35pm, we took the very first compartment, one that was marked as reserved. When the conductor came by to check our ticket, it was no problem. And because this was the reserved section, only one other girl came to sit in our compartment and it was near the end of our journey.
Mostly factories and farmland along the way .
We arrived at Svitavy at 4:00pm, about two hours behind our plan, but it didn’t matter because our couchsurfing hosts Andrew and Chisono had said they wouldn’t be home until 3:00pm anyhow. We had walking directions to his flat, and it was only about a mile away.
Waiting for the rain to stop.
As soon as we got off the train it started to pour with rain! We found shelter under a building entranceway and a lady on a bicycle quickly joined us. We said hello in Czech, and then she went rambling on, her laughing about getting wet in the rain, and us laughing about the fact we didn’t understand a word she was saying! We did tell her in our very simple terms that we didn’t speak any Czech, and she laughed again.
The rain let up and we set off for Andrew and Chisono’s place. We were almost there when a car pulled up and started asking us questions. Of course we had to once again explain our lack of the Czech language and they laughed and said in English “oh, you are tourists?” and told us to enjoy our visit! Immediately after, a minivan pulled up and there was Andrew asking if we are Kevin and Ruth! We were almost at their flat but he drove us the rest of the way.
We spent the next couple of hours talking and getting acquainted. Andrew was born in this town but he had gone to
for a year to learn English. There, he met his wife Chisono who is from Australia Japan, and had also
gone to to learn English. They were married in Australia six
years ago, and moved back here to begin a family. Now, they have two boys (5
and 2) and a 3 month old daughter. Japan
They had only just arrived back from a vacation in the Czech highlands and suggested it would be easier to go out for a bite to eat. We went to a nice little spot where Ruth had a chicken fillet with roast vegetables and I had a local specialty of boneless pork knees with horse radish, mustard, pickles, and bread. The meal was great, the prices were great, and Andrew says he will meet us there for lunch again today.
Their flat is fairly large, but with five people living there it is full. So Andrew’s father has a fully furnished flat that is sitting empty at his business, so that is where we spent the night. It’s in an industrial building, but it’s very nice and it’s like having our own apartment! We have stayed in some interesting places through couchsurfing, and once again we have met some interesting people! In fact, on the way over to the flat, we stopped by Andrew’s parents house to say hello to them. We quickly practiced how to say “It’s nice to meet you” in Czech, and we enjoyed a short conversation with them. His mother's English is actually quite good, and they were suggesting places we could go for a hike.
Today, we will explore the town of
, where my
grandmother was born back in 1905. This town has some interesting history,
which we will tell you about in tomorrow’s blog post. Svitavy