What will I remember of the Czech Republic?
I cycled through the romantic sounding North and South Bohemia. It really does have some beautiful spots once you get away from the some of the heavy industry in the north. Although not blessed with the greatest weather the best times were those spent alone riding through the rustic villages and country side. The highlights being riding through settling snow high on the forested hills and watching wild dear bouncing through farmland. Despite some really beauty to look at I have really struggled with the people. I accepted that in the capital Prague they may be more stand offish with large numbers of tourists and stag parties but unfortunately I really have struggled to connect.
I appreciate the language difficulties and my ignorance with a vocabulary of 3 Czech words but many people speak English seemingly very well.
A benefit of being alone is that to avoid insanity I have to engage and communicate with the locals. However, despite engaging every strategy finding a way has been near on impossible.
I can only describe every response to a question as abrupt providing nothing more than the bare minimum and the distinct impression that they do not want to be in the conversation. Facial features remain static.
Something I find in many countries is how on entering and leaving a public place such as a bar or cafe there is a tendency to say a welcoming and exiting remark. I have always liked this approach some other cultures take (unfortunately It seems rare in the UK). In the Czech Republic they do this and of course try to join in the custom, however, despite the locals being acknowledged I don’t seem to get the same response
On sitting in a bar or cafe for several hours because of the dreadful weather for 3 days in Tabor I was unable to rouse any interest in anybody. Not a name, a story, a question an acknowledgment. I really did try very hard and resorted to getting completely paraletic in desperation to get things going. On the one occasion a communication arose it was with 2 very drunk older men with very big beards. They spoke no English but I had the distinct feeling that this was not friendly. This suspicion was increased when the man who owned the bar and did speak English came down from his room and placed him self directly between the men and me. Perhaps a touch of paranoia had set in.
I attempted to spark the weather conversation. I knew it was bad as it was the main story on the news for days but even this provided no entry point to start a conversation
I even tried giving a ridiculously high tip to see if money could buy me a friend. It did momentarily with a very big look of astonishment followed by a smile and thank you but just as quickly the face dropped back into the emotionless.
There are obviously a few exceptions Perhaps I am being extremely harsh but I spent a lot of time people watching and I was positive that towards each other they had a very different approach. I am very surprised at what I found and I would really like to afford the time to investigate this further and find something more positive. I hope one day somebody can disprove me.
All that said to end on some positives the great things (and a few merely trivial) I will remember from Czech Republic are:
- The excellent Communist Museum in Prague
- My day battling with the elements out of Prague
- Crossing the border on a fantastic days cycle from Germany
- The cheap and very good beer
- Ice Hockey on TV
- People on Roller Blades
- Fire breathing bar staff