I suppose I should just be grateful that I had been living in Europe prior to my return to the Czech Republic and therefore was used to countless kilometer days, trudging around new cities. And while that is in fact actually true, I still feel that all North Americans should undergo some sort of “Welcome back to Czech” training before setting foot in the country.
Martin wanted to take the English Camp on a field trip on Wednesday. Translation: Martin wants to drag Jenni on a double digit kilometer trail of torture because yes, this is all about me. But either way, what is a summer camp without a good old fashion Czech Field Trip, right?
And so, off to the monastery at Chotěšov we went.
It all started out mostly fine. A train ride, a few sprinkles on the walk to the monastery, nothing too horrendous as long as you diverted your eyes from the looming, über-foreboding clouds off in the distance.
We toured the monastery, now used as an art gallery in addition to housing artist studios in an attempt to raise money for reconstructions.
We ate our way through snack break number one of the day.
And then it all started going downhill — but not literally, because that wouldn’t be a true Czech field trip. Oh no, we must CLIMB the mountains. We leave the monastery and walk along a street, following Martin —- who stops to check a map.
Oh….this is not a good sign. Our trip is starting out with Martin looking at a map? He doesn’t actually know where he’s going…. Push thought out of head. Push thought out of head.
Our trail heads off into the woods, following a river — still in an upwards direction.
And then it starts.
At first it’s just a plant or two, but as we continue trudging along we realize: we are in the middle of a massive stinging nettle field, or kopřiva as I quickly learned from the kids trailing along behind me — definitely one Czech word I would rather not know.
Finally, we make it out of the field and into a clearing by a river. The kids immediately plop down for sustenance while I cautiously head over to where Martin and Bethany are talking.
“So…this is an interesting path to take…”
“Yeah…I knew leaving the monastery that it was not the right way. But I think, it is better to keep going, we will get there, than to turn around and walk 300m out of our way.”
“Oh…so you knew about the stinging nettle?”
(Sheepish laughter.) “I have been through the path once before. It is a bike path. I remembered as we walked — this is not a good path for walking. It is a hard path by bicycle.”
“Mmm. Well, all I’m saying is that the next time I have to go through a stinging nettle field, I’d really prefer a sherpa. Every time I come to your country, Martin, you try to kill me.”
Martin cocks an eyebrow and before I know what’s happening, I have been picked up and am now draped over his shoulder like a bag of flour. “Oh, you want to be carried?!” He then marches me over to the nearest shrub and drops me. Into it.
“Well, I didn’t say I wanted YOU to carry me. I’d prefer to not end the trip in a bush.”
(More laughter.) “OK! We go!”
Once again, we set off through a “path” that Martin is blazing with a large stick. It’s wet. My repaired Toms are sinking into the squishy ground, once again to never be the same after a trip to the Czech Republic.
We arrive in Stod — the city from which, according to the original plan, we were supposed to be taking the train home. I gather that is no longer the plan. Martin drops back to Petr who has a map — GASP, another map check? Please don’t make me walk back to Plzen. Please don’t make me walk back to Plzen.
This time, I steal a quick look at the map so I can see just how much torture I’m going to be enduring. Upon leaving the monastery (yellow arrow), we should have taken the green path down to Křížový vrch, but instead we took the blue path over to Stod. So now, we have to take the red path down to Křížový vrch and then take the green path back up to Chotěšov so we can hop on the train back to Plzen.
And 300m out of the way was deemed too much. Martin, I give you Angry Face.