The children were in London over the weekend for the final XC tournament, so we had planned a short getaway to Budapest. But Mother Nature thwarted our plan with the forecast of wet and cold weather across Hungary, so we exchanged a weekend in Budapest for a day outing to the Czech Republic instead. Better weather.

Another snap for my collection of abandoned border crossings. Even with the sunshine and blue skies the frontier line is cheerless.

In the old neutral zones between crossings, the scenery is cheerless in a different way. Shady looking currency exchange shacks, casinos, and lots and lots of strip clubs. Post-fall-of-the-wall capitalism at its seediest.

Thankfully the scenery improves as one moves further into the country. This is the Victory Memorial in Znojmo, commemorating the end of WWII.  In case you’re interested, Znojmo was annexed by the Third Reich (surprise, surprise, the transplanted Germans and the local Czechs didn’t get along.)

Our stroll took us up to the castle, along old medieval lanes with sgraffito buildings and other traditional architecture, both restored and faded. Of course Znojmo has a castle; the city is strategically positioned on a former trade route.  Plus, it’s pretty hard to throw a rock in these parts and not hit a castle or its ruins.

Views from the castle wall, looking out over the Dyje River.
One of the courtyards of the castle complex housed a refuge for birds of prey. Yes, I was thrilled to be so up close and personal to my feathered friends. 

(Shy Guy)

A few more pretty sights.

Znojmo rooftops and the city hall clock tower.
Leaving the city in the afternoon we passed what we thought may have been a wedding reception. Neighbors were streaming toward the party, maybe because the woman on the mobile phone had called them? 
Someone asked me if we ever get tired of the Czech Republic. “No,” was the sincere answer. The Czech are welcoming people; our German is never corrected, but replied to with friendliness; the food is epicurean nirvana, not to mention ridiculously inexpensive; and the small villages each offer something a little different for the curious traveler. That’s why we like to “Czech” out the country so often!