Hi all! Sorry for our absence but we’ve been up to our elbows in barn swallows!
Soon after our arrival in Southern Bohemia we learned that capturing adults would be quite different than it is back home in Colorado where we capture adults throughout the whole season. Here, however, we would be capturing the adults at our 4 sites in one week full of long, intensive days. With this week coming up, and the impending hatch days of our first chicks, Amanda and I decided to take a day to be tourists. We opted to go to Český Krumlov, a UNESCO heritage site that is a short distance away...however, given that the Czech Republic is the size of South Carolina, everything is relatively close.
We arrived a little before 11 am, just in time to take the Eggenberg brewery tour, a brewery (or pivovar in Czech) that was built in 1560. While the tour itself wasn’t as polished as some of the tours we’ve been on in the states, the size and history was far more impressive. Some of our favorite tidbits of information were that they make a beer that is ~3% intended for the workers (however, they typically opt for something stronger); most of the people drink beer or the soda that is also produced in the brewery while running the machines; and they get 95% of their bottles back to be reused - a policy US breweries should adopt! Our tour included two tasters of beer, and to our surprise, those tasters were the size of a normal beer (0.5 L). While we enjoyed our full liter of beer (each), we chatted with two Australian sisters that were traveling through Europe and by the time we left we were clearly feeling the effects of the tasty beer and the uneven cobblestones.
We headed into historic part of the city and found a place to have lunch. One of our Czech house mates had suggested a vegetarian restaurant with a patio looking over the river. Somehow, we stumbled across the restaurant and had a delicious lunch that was a sampling of their specialties. While we were eating, we enjoyed watching the ducks dabbling at the edge of the Vlatva river (the same river that runs through Prague) which makes several sharp turns through the city. After lunch, we wandered through the city looking in shops for souvenirs and admiring the dazzling glassware. We were drawn to an amazing smell that turned out to be trdelník - a sweet pastry made by rolling dough around a stick, rolling the stick over an open flame, and then rolled in cinnamon and walnut. Imagine a churro, but about 100 times more tasty! I can’t wait to get my hands on another - we were disappointed to find the stand closed later in the day.
We started making our way to the train station to meet one of Amanda’s childhood hood friend, Alyssa, who had been traveling through Europe. Unfortunately it started to rain, and while Amanda had the sense to bring her rain coat, I had left mine in the car. By the time we reached the train station I was completely soaked, as were Amanda’s pants and shoes. Even more unfortunate was the fact that Alyssa had missed the train and the walk in the rain had been unnecessary. We left some notes telling her to meet us at the castle and hoped that she would find them when the next train arrived. We walked back down to the city, stopping to trade my soaked shirt for my rain coat at the car, and headed to the castle. We found that the main gate is protected by a bear moat, yes...a bear moat. The castle has been protected by bears since 1707 and the moat is currently occupied by four bears: Vok, Kateřina, and their cubs Daxi and Hubert. We continued into the castle and enjoyed the sites and the architecture. Alyssa found us in the castle before we started wandering through the expansive gardens. We made it to the end of the garden where the pond is located before turning around to head back into the city for dinner. We ate at another restaurant overlooking the river where we had an entertaining waiter who may have offered us the young bar tender (telling us he was a nice boy) and finished our meal with some strudel - our first since arriving in the Czech Republic.
After dinner we headed back to Lužnice to get a good night’s sleep before our first day of banding...more about this soon!
Český Krumlov Check out the photos from our adventure