Just across the Czech border, a little over an hour from Vienna, lies Znojmo (Znoima). Most of Europe gets a day off work for Easter Monday, and since the cold, rainy morning ruined our plans for a bike ride, we decided to take a road trip. Czechia! The Czech Republic has changed its name and likes to be called Czechia, by the way. It’s also a new country for Jake, Eli, and me.
You know you’re in Czechia when the cathedral spires get pointy.
You can tell you’re in Eastern Europe when the towns are all brazenly decorated with Easter eggs.
We parked next to a quiet pedestrian street decorated with a row of Easter trees, streaming with ribbons, butterflies, and soft knitted carrots, and ending at an Easter market.
The Easter market was mostly closed but there was still one stall open selling hot wine and fried bread. One is all you need to gather with friends, hey?
I love the way Eastern Europe still recognizes Easter as a fun holiday without getting all bogged down in the religious part. I love the way they put ribbons up in the trees without worrying about choking the birds.
Znojmo was absolutely lovely, in that medieval Eastern European way that makes you wonder why we’ve never heard of this city before. We walked across crumbled stone walls and explored castle ruins before the rain drove us inside for lunch. Easter Monday meant most places were closed so we ran through the streets looking for anywhere that was open and stumbled into La Casa Navarro.
A couple of ginger beers later, we were dry again and all was right with the world.
Outside again the sun was shining!
In the town square and found a bunch of sheep penned up in the middle, munching hay and bleating at everyone as they walked by. Jake and Eli thought it was pretty funny, and I have to agree, an angry sheep is about the funniest sound on earth.
Daddy also helped the boys make a video. They are getting pretty good at that.
Also pretty good at posing for the camera.
Another thing we learned, in addition to the Czech Republic preferring to be called Czechia, was that the Swedes had some pretty terrifying armies. Central Europe often found themselves at the mercy of Swedish invaders, and the motto during the Middle Ages was “He Who Hides Wins The War.” So they hid. All the villagers in this region dug underground networks of caves and tunnels that are now open for tours. We took the tour and learned that as a tall man, Mike would have had a lot of trouble hiding underground! There were passageways and narrow vents for fresh air and cooking, but the ceiling was pretty low. Eli’s ears lit up when he heard about the dungeons. His mind would also light up later that night with these stories running through his little head, but at the time we didn’t know the images of skeletons would keep him awake!
The rain was closing in again after we re-emerged above ground, which made it an easy decision to return to the car and go home. How easy it is to cross these borders now, from Czechia into Austria. How hard it must have been just 25 years ago when Europe was still divided by the Iron Curtain.
How lucky we are to be here now, just an hour’s drive away.