Getting off the train, I was on the outskirts of town. Walking down the main street, it looked like a town not yet finished loading. There was so much construction, so many buildings cracked or crumbling with boarded up doors and grimy windows. However, when I came upon the town center and touristy zone, everything was clean again.
Check in was two doors down, offsite of the hostel. Up the skinny, twisting steps I found my room in Hostel Mitte. https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-Mitte/Brno/50530 Similar to in Prague, I had a little alcove pretty much to myself. With a small desk just off to the side and a trio of windows blowing in cool autumn air, Brno felt like a literal breath of fresh air. There was a grocery store less than 60 seconds from my room, the en suite bathroom was graciously large and comfortable and the beds were cozy and warm. The front door constantly protested to open, but some things can’t be helped.
So… it wasn’t a date; not really, maybe. I’m not sure, why don’t you tell me. She came in when it was just me, looking around for her bed. We found it, the one above mine and we got to conversing. Her English was broken, intertwined with a German accent. Our talk of travel turned to regional and cultural differences. She seemed as interested in my opinions as I was of hers. We googled and swapped pictures of our home towns and a few stories along with. Then she went out, for a bit, and upon her return we got back into politics. It was already getting dark, and mid conversation she asked, “Do you want to get a beer?” Remembering the shyness I exhibited with the Frenchy back in Berlin, I of course said yes.
The drinks took a while to get to. We wandered the dimly lit streets, passing by a Ferris wheel and the local college until we came across the cities church where we waited a while. Along the way I bugged her about how much the Europeans smoke, which she agreed was distasteful. I brought up the fact that I didn’t see many solo female travelers, only groups of girls or ladies with their boyfriends. She countered with the standard “solo travel gives me freedom,” and “none of my friends could come anyway.” She also gave me a “you don’t look like a rapist,” which I took as a… complement? And then the line that took me aback. I quote:
“If you were with a girl I would not have asked you for drinks.”
We bantered back and forth, not able to decide which venue would behold our presence. Finally, picking a loud but tiny place, we each claimed a drink. Conversation kept up; covering so many topics I can’t remember them all. Within an hour, the bar was closing shop (we had walked for a while before choosing this venue) and our bill came. I paid, she got mad, I shrugged it off. To be fair, her pint was 25CHZ, which is less than 2CAD. My cocktail was three times that.
We went home, then to bed, and when morning came, had another brief conversation. She had stayed her one night and was leaving; had to catch her bus and train home. She told me to make sure I went and saw the castle, (which we talked about the night before) gave me a smile and a wave, and vanished beyond the door. I didn’t get her Facebook, number or anything like that. She gave me her name once, and I don’t even remember it.
There’s something about Czech castles and their amazing views. Špilberk Castle rose up high above the city and with a blue sky the scenery rivaled that of Prague. The interior was closed, but the grounds were open and beautiful. The walls were tall and of stone and cannons pointed from the tower turrets. The windy chill of late October rippled through the air. Kids and dogs played in the fallen amber leaves as families made their way to and from the caste gates.
Unfortunately, fun and good times ended here.
I visited the castle on Monday, so I figured the stores would be open. Nope. For some reason unknown to me even today, the usually bustling streets were shallow of people. Most everything was closed, including the grocery store. This is the second time I’ve been left without a reliable food source (Wroclaw the first time.) I had to pull a bit of cash and get my daily sustenance from the overpriced roadside vendors. Most of them were closed too, but I managed to find a few still serving. Then, the next day, I set out to find my keychain keepsake. I wandered for over an hour and everything marked as a souvenir store was clearly not. One was a beauty salon while the other two sold things like porcelain pottery and fabrics. I asked the hostel check in desk and they pointed in the direction of my desired destination. After walking around for almost another hour, I frustratingly went back and asked the hostel again. They pointed it out on the map this time; literally thirty seconds down the road.
I got the things I needed and am ready to travel on Halloween day. Austria is only a few hours away; time to Czech out.