- Dirty Windows
- Arrival in Beautiful Olomouc
- An Evening Stroll through Beautiful Olomouc
- Meeting the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic
The conditions of the windows on an České dráhy train are a crap shoot, more so when it has been raining recently. I think I need to invest in a pack or three of “Windex Wipes”. I have to think that if we were on the other side of the train, I would have had better results, but we were in a compartment and could not swap sides. Which means I will not be posting any of the pictures I took on the train.
Arrival in Beautiful Olomouc
The train station in Olomouc, as with other train stations in the Czech Republic, are old-school communist architecture but practical. The main hall was small and crowded, small for a station with 5 platforms and 9 tracks, as compared to Pardubice, with 4 platforms and 7 tracks. I wonder if it is a Bohemian-Moravian thing.Pardubice is about 10,000 people smaller in population than Olomouc at 104,000. It could be that the people of Olomouc are just better at catching trains and don’t hang out in waiting rooms.
We roughed it, bought a couple of 24-hour transit tickets, and took the tram to the hotel. Transit in Olomouc is similar to Prague: buy tickets from a machine, validate them on the validator machine on the tram or bus, and ride. The ride was about 10 minutes long and uneventful.
An Evening Stroll through Beautiful Olomouc
Památník na zvonění klíči při Sametové revoluci
After our arrival at the Theresian Hotel, we kicked back and relaxed for a while. And then decided on some exploration and hopefully dinner. There was a small park across the street, and in addition to the Theresian gate was the “Památník na zvonění klíči při Sametové revoluci” or “Memorial to the Key Jingle during the Velvet Revolution”. Standing at over 30 feet tall, the striking “Revoluce” statue is a unique monument covered in thousands of keys. The name itself pays homage to revolution and serves as an inspiring reminder for all who see it. The significance is that the jingling of keys was a way to signify support for the Velvet Revolution.
We headed to the main “Upper” Square. On the way, we noticed these square bronze “Stumbling Stones.” They all started and ended with the same Zde Bydlel (Here Lived) and ended with ZAVRAŽDÊNA (Murdered) and the camp name, with the person’s name and birthdate in-between. I have more to say about this later
The Trinity Column
As you enter the “Upper Square”, you cannot help but notice the trinity column, built in the early 18th century. The column stands ~115 feet, or 35 meters, tall; the tower was completed in 1754 after 38 years of construction. A few years after completion, during the seven-year war, the Prussians who had laid siege to Olomouc hit the column several times with cannon fire, leaving a cannonball embedded in the column. During repairs to the column after the war, someone decided that the cannonball should be painted gold, and it has been that way ever since.
Olomouc City Hall
Dominating the Upper Square is the Olomouc City Hall, a large 3-story structure with a beautiful clock tower and very cool dragon water spouts. On the north corner is the Olomouc Astronomical Clock, which during its 1950s restoration was modified by the communists; all the biblical and traditional folk art and figures were replaced with communist ideological art, including workers and athletes. Near the clock is a cool bronze 3D map of the old city. Very close to the map is a cheese store that sells Olomoucké tvarůžky or “the cheese”. They have just about every variation of the cheese, in a tub, in a tube, in a sausage, and with the wine that goes with it.
I cannot figure out why the Arion Fountain is in the southwest corner of the square. I am wondering why a fountain loaded with sea life exists in a landlocked country. In addition to the Arion Fountain, there are several other smaller fountains. Our timing for the fountains was bad; we were about a week before many of the fountains were given their spring-cleaning` and startup.
We exited the upper square to the northeast on Ostružnická Ulice, a nice little street lined with little shops. About three-quarters of the way down on the north side of the street is a small Cukrárna (sweet shop) that has the most delicious strudel. In the Czech Republic, you will find bakeries (pekařství) and sweet/sugar shops (Cukrárna). In a pekařství you will find bread, rolls, chlebíčky, etc. but in a Cukrárna you will find cakes (dort), pies (Koláč), strudel, and other sweet items. As we enjoyed the strudel, we noticed a fairly elegant steeple in the distance and made that our destination goal.
St. John of Nepomuk
Eventually Ostružnická Ulice merged into Denisova Ulice, into Namaste Republiky and seemed to change names every couple blocks. After a few more street name changes, I looked up a small side street and saw a statue of Saint John of Nepomuk. The statues of St. John of Nepomuk are easy to spot; he’s the one with five stars over his head. St. John of Nepomuk has yet to fail us, and we headed up the road with his record intact. At the top of the hill, we look right, and there is the stunning Saint Wenceslas Cathedral Olomouc, under that elegant steeple we saw back in the previous paragraph.
Saint Wenceslas Cathedral Olomouc
Saint Wenceslas Cathedral Olomouc is beautiful; it was built in the 12th century and is easily distinguished by the three spires, the tallest of which is over 300 feet (ca. 91 meters) tall. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time in the cathedral; we got there about 20 minutes before closing, and I got the pictures I could with the lighting I had.
We got to the street we had been following, which by now had changed names to 1st of May; it changed once more to Žižkovo náměstí as we crossed over Mlynsky stream to our tram stop. The tram stop was right in front of the Palacky University in Olomouc and had a big statue of Tomáš G. Masaryk, who is considered the founder of the former Czechoslovakia.
Kostel sv. Mořice
The tram dropped us near another beautiful church, the Church of St. Maurice, with just enough time to walk back to the hotel. Freshen up and make our dinner reservation at Drapal Restaurant; that was delicious. We did visit this church on another day.
Meeting the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic
As we returned from our walk around the old city and dinner, there was a discussion in the lobby between the receptionist and a guest who looked familiar about “The Cheese” or Olomouc tvarůžky. Olomoucké tvarůžky is a unique cheese from the Haná region in the Czech Republic. The cheese is known for its pungent aroma.
The man follows us into the elevator, and as I said to my wife, there is no way this elevator can fit nine people. The man chuckles as I notice his lapel pin with the US and Czech flags. I said I know you, and that’s a nice lapel pin. Just before he started talking, I said, “You are the US Ambassador, Sabet”. He said yes, Bijan Sabet, and of course, we chatted about the cheese.