Sigmund Freud, Leoš Janáček, and 14 km

I frequently call myself a boring person.  Not a bored person, but a boring person.  I am content to sit an entire day indoors with a book or continually take the same route on walks or runs.  Mind you, I find variety much more interesting and I experience a surge of pleasure with the discovery of new scenes and situations, but without an outside influence or suggestion (or push), you're likely to find me in the same places doing the same things.  I have been here almost five months and yet I have traveled so little within the Czech Republic.

Žaneta, a colleague and friend, reacted with surprise when I told her that I was thinking of taking a train alone to some neighboring village for a change of pace.  She offered to join me in the adventure.  So, last night she sent me a message saying "if you still wish to go somewhere tomorrow, I can pick you up at the parking lot at Lidl at 10 AM" and then later she said, "get ready for snow, if we go somewhere in the mountains.  I'll plan some options and you'll make a choice."  Shortly after 10 AM, I was sitting with Žaneta and her dog Jim in her car deciding where to go.  Both of us have colds, so we didn't feel like going to the mountains and dealing with snow.  Instead, we decided to go to the birthplace of Sigmund Freud and then take a walk to the birthplace of Leoš Janáček, a famous Czech composer.

Our first destination was Přibor, birthplace of Sigmund Freud (formerly Freiberg during the Austrian-Hungarian empire).  We walked by his house, and I took a rest on the iconic couch.  We then took a walk through Náměstí Sigmunda Freuda (Sigmund Freud Square) to a nearby church of the Virgin Mary, which Žaneta found reconstructed--to her utter devastation.  She had described how charming and otherwordly she had found the space behind the church, a lonely hollow with dilapitated stations of the cross.  The church itself had been exposed stone and now shone in white splendor.  I didn't mind the church, but the reconstructed stations of the cross made the stations look generic, as if their casing was from Ikea.
Having had our fill of Přibor, we found our route to Hukvaldy, birthplace of Leoš Janáček and also home to a castle ruin.  Our route would be 7 km (4.3 mi).  Then we hunted around for an indicator of the trail.  If you are ever in the Czech Republic, you can identify trails by the painting of three horizontal and parallel lines on signs, trees, posts, or any other free-standing object.  We were going to follow the green route and then take the blue.  I was able to spy our first indicator to set our journey in the right direction (see right in the left-hand side of the photo).

The sun shone, and I could hardly believe I was willingly taking on a 14 km (~9 mi) hike in January.  The day was clear and our tongues and noses were loose.  We chatted about all sorts of things, from the idea of the Trinity to feeding pasta to Žaneta's dog Jim.  In between sentences and conversations, we raided our stashes of tissues and attended our noses, which were also glad for the walk.  After a pit-stop for tea and mixed nuts and a bit more walking, we found ourselves in Hukvaldy.  Janáček's home wasn't open for touring, but just the site and the village were enough for me.  I pictured him walking through the village and hearing music as he listened to the intonation and rhythms of Czech speech. We then went to see a statue of a fox, because Janáček wrote an opera called Příhody lišky Bystroušky (and liška is a vixen).  Since we were only a kilometer from the ruin at that point, we made the ascent, with Žaneta wishing her fox-like dog could haul her up the mountain.  At the peak we had another snack in front of the closed ruins, looking out over the amber-brown collage of trees, wishing they had snow to cover their nakedness, but still markedly aware of the chill of January and the inch of snow beneath us.  The chill drove us to quickly return to our feet so we could return to Přibor.
Czechs have a knack for designing hikes in such a way that you don't have to return the way you came, but our route today didn't  allow such invention, so we turned back around 2:30 pm, wondering if we would return while we still had light.  By this point, my hands were numb, and opening my second packet of travel tissues seemed almost impossible.  I found myself unable to even have enough control over my hand muscles to put my tissues into my front jeans pocket.  Even blowing my nose was awkward, and I found my right hand positioning unnaturally next to my nose.  Later, when I helped Žaneta with Jim's leash, I thought I wouldn't be able to push the button to open the latch.  This was the last dextrous move I would manage, for when we were within maybe 3 km of the car, I felt my back and legs disappear into the numbness of winter as well.

When we finally returned to the car, I was unable to undo the front clasps on my backback over my chest and waist.  Žaneta had to assist me and was shocked by my icy hands, scalded with red from knuckle to finger tip.  Once inside the car, we blasted the heat, and as the dusk gracefully bowed to the entrance of complete darkness, I was able to feel the full thankfulness of an invigorating day's journey.  She dropped me off near the doors to my building and my legs struggled as I left the car and approached the building.  Now, warm and with more muscle control, I can say that I am thankful not only for today's companionship and adventure, but I am also thankful because without Žaneta's intervention, my planned day-trip might have remained just that: an unfulfilled plan.

* * *
Our Journey in Photos:
Freud's home
Sigmund Freud Square

The reconstructed church

Finding our way

Proof: I was there!

Our resting area for our first hot tea break

My traveling companions

Sun--and germination in January?

Entering Hukvaldy
Janáček's home
The nature reserve which surrounds the castle ruin.

Vixen Monument

Castle ruin


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