Tábor, Czech Republic

After today’s outing, I learned I need to head south from Prague for the rest of my time in the Czech Republic. The countryside is beautiful with rolling hills covered with a mix of farmland and forests.

As I looked out from the open train window, little towns slid past. They all looked like they needed to be explored. I picked the town of Tábor. We pulled into the tiny station and I jumped off.

Small enough to easily cover on foot, Tábor packed plenty of interesting sights in its compact center. Again, I felt like the only non-Czech in town this Sunday afternoon. Families were strolling through the square while eating ice cream. Kids played in the fountain.

First things first, I headed for the highest vantage point. The Catholic Church had a side door wide open inviting me to climb its tower. Almost to the top, a sign instructed visitors to crawl under the largest bell. I have no idea what you do if it starts clanging. I would assume deafness would set in quickly.

I said a quick prayer, slid under and continued my climb. Finally, I stepped up into a small room with little windows where you could look out over town.

The caretaker at the top of the tower was a character. He spoke German to me immediately when I gave him a few coins to cover my entry. He told me he’d lived in Tábor all his life. I didn’t ask about his fluency in German, that can be a touchy subject with folks his age considering this country’s history.

He’d covered the walls inside the tower with an organized collection of coins, stamps, medals and currency. You have to keep busy he told me. After careful study, he helped me select several old Reichsmarks to take home.

The view from the church tower helped orient me and I made a mental note of which streets I wanted to explore. I thanked the tower caretaker and made my way down the spiral stairs. Back on the ground, I looked up and took a photo of his office high in the sky with one of the little windows open.

By this time, I needed lunch. My strategy is to find a restaurant that’s just a bit off the beaten path. If it’s harder to find, it’s got to be good to stay in business. Plus, it will mostly be filled with locals.

Sure enough, I found an interesting place I could sit outside just behind the church. Stuffed with ham, bacon and onions, the dumplings were a treat. I also took a break from Czech beer and paired lunch with a dark Belgian.

Fueled up, I wandered around town down twisty streets and narrow alleys. I learned that Žižka Square was designed to only be reached by small streets so the approach would be more difficult in times of war.

The Czech Republic is full of little towns just like Tábor. Unfortunately, I think the vast majority of tourists stay in Prague and never venture further out.

The tourist office had a map where they encouraged visitors to pin their hometowns. I stuck a red pin in Oklahoma. It appeared I’d been the only recent visitor from the States.

Satisfied that I’d thoroughly explored Tábor, I jumped back on the train for a scenic return trip to Prague on the rails. Everyone had their windows down to enjoy the warm August air.

I’m convinced this is the most civilized way to travel.


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