Walkabout V: Blank Czech

October 16-28, 2016

Czech Republic, Hungary, & Poland (With stops in Austria & Slovakia)

After stockpiling a nice little share of airline miles, I decided to consult the American Airlines travel awards map to see where those miles could take me. Seemingly at random, I picked out Prague. This one, I told myself, was going to be completely free-form. I would fly into the Czech capital and wing it from there. But as the trip drew nearer, I obsessively looked at maps of Eastern Europe and found nearby places I didn't want to miss. Before I knew it, I had a bus ticket to Cesky Krumlov, a hired car to Budapest, another bus ticket to Krakow, and a night train back to Prague. So much for 'free-form'. But every single one of these stops was worth the time and effort, and they all provided a glimpse behind what used to be hidden behind the Iron Curtain. What I found was a stockpile of history both glorious and grim (a visit to Auschwitz was particularly eye-opening and depressing), and proud peoples with hospitality, grace, difficult languages and wonderful food and drink. Na zdraví, everyone!