It was a pleasant trip down here yesterday. fuego did the driving, MaK the navigating, and I the passengering. To navigate in this country you have to know the names of every damn village and cottage between your start point and your destination — referring to roads by number at an intersection is rare, and using the same town name at two consecutive intersections also seems to be against the rules. Sometimes even when you do recognize a town name on a sign it’s difficult to tell what intersection the sign is referring to.
One wrong turn eventually led us to a little place whose name translated (with only a little license on my part) to “Snowville”. It was pretty and appropriately named. The snow was coming down hard as we went through, and it seemed that everyone in town was out with shovels. We got to see the village twice, as we reached a dead end at the far end of town. The road went on, but when we asked a guy if we could get through he said “maybe in a Jeep.”
Eventually we got here and settled in. This place is nice, and very inexpensive. We have the bottom floor of a house — two bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen — for less than $30 per night.
Once we settled in it was time to set out in search of pivo and a bite to eat. We quickly discovered that options are limited in L. Hradek. We walked down to the most center-of-town-like area and surveyed our options, but one place had the wrong kind of beer, one was an English-style Pub which was right out as far as MaK was concerned, and one was a not-so-special hotel restaurant. Finally we asked some people on the street where a good place to go would be. After much discussion, first directing us to one place and then another, we said we just wanted to go to a place to have a nice beer and relax. One of the guys took charge, and walked with us to a place very close to our little home away from home. The man said hello to everyone in the pub, including the kitchen help.
It wasn’t a fancy place at all, but it was comfortable. It is part of a hotel that serves a sports complex; I assume it is where teams stay when they visit. We sat, our beers came, MaK chugged hers in the Czech fashion, and we settled in for a nice meal. My dinner was excellent. While sipping my dessert beer I said to fuego, “You know what I like about this place? It’s not smoky.”
fuego looked around and noticed that there were no ash trays on the tables. It turns out we were in a non-smoking bar. fuego asked if this was a Slovak law, and the bartender said no, they just didn’t want people smoking in there. I honestly never thought I would find anything like that in Eastern Europe, where tobacco is a food group. When we were done we bought some beers to go and made the short walk back here, tired, happy, and not smelling of smoke. It was a good day.