The Road to Sedlec

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A friend recommended that while we were in Prague, we should take a side trip to Sedlec to see the Kostnice Ossuary. It turned into quite a day. Every transportation point was an adventure.

The subway arrives.

First we had to get to the bus station by subway. But we didn't have the right change for the subway, which sells tickets for 26 crowns - coins only - so it was off to Tesco for some juice and (yummy licorice) throat lozenges. When we got back with change, the ticket machines were being serviced. But eventually we got on the subway and when we got off, it took us a few minutes to locate the bus station. A nice young man at the info desk told us the bus for Kutna Hora, the nearest town to our destination, was leaving in three minutes from stand 12. We dashed and made it.

On the bus to Kutna Hora

When we got to the bus terminal at Kutna Hora, the signage was rather confusing. Could we catch the bus to the ossuary from there? The terminal was quite large, with outdoor bays for about 20 buses and they were all marked in Czech. None of them said Sedlec so we walked into the center of town by a circuitous route to find lunch and the tourist information center. We had pizza for lunch that was rather tasty, but the stressed out and squabbling Americans behind us were rather off-putting. After lunch, the tourist info center told us that yes, the bus did leave from the main terminal but also from near St. Barbara's Cathedral which is the area's other attraction. So we wandered over to see it. Wandering is the best you can do in Kutna Hora because all the roads are twisty and there are signs pointing in every direction. But wandering is fun in old towns and the cathedral is large and tall and hard to miss.

St. Barbara's in the snow

It was duly impressive with some beautiful stained glass windows and doors with gorgeous open keyholes and swirly curved hinges. After a short tour of the premises, we found our way to the bus stop that would take us to Sedlec and the ossuary. A few other people, locals and tourists, were also waiting there and we were all surprised when our bus passed right by the stop. But a few minutes later another bus stopped for us. We rode for about 20 minutes, managed to miss the right stop and had to walk back a bit to get to our destination.

Zoupi in the ossuary

An ossuary is a boneyard. This one is remarkable because it contains the bones of about 40,000 people - ranging from Bohemian aristocrats to plague victims - and they have been artfully arranged in the crypts by a woodcutter who took on the task as his life's work in 1870. There are swags of skulls and frills of femurs. It is respectful, serious, and odd as anything. I really enjoyed it.

A coat of arms in bones

But it is small and in 20 minutes we had finished our long and thoughtful look at the place. We decided to head back to Prague. Maybe we could take the train. We popped into the other local tourist info center and a geeky man (Many of the info center workers we encountered in our journeys were long haired men who looked like they were displaced Unix hackers; it was strange.) looked up the times. If we hurried down the road and around the corner - not across the bridge - we might make the next train in 17 minutes. We did it, with about 30 seconds to spare. We hopped on the little two-car local and rode to Kolin, where we had to change.

The City Elefant commuter train

We hoped we'd get to ride the City Elefant, but were directed to an express train from Berlin that was arriving late due to snow. We found our way through to the 2nd class open carriage and settled in for the ride back. It was quite comfortable but there wasn't much to see - from track to horizon to zenith, everything was greyish white.

Snow and fog from the train

We thought we were set when we reached Prague because we could take the subway back to our hotel, but the subway was broken! They were still selling and validating tickets, though. and everyone who had been swindled by this - there were not signs about the problem until after you'd entered the subway itself - stood in a ragged line by the one service window that was open. The woman inside the kiosk looked less that interested in our problems, but I stood in line anyway. She gave me a shrug, which may have been more than the Czech speakers got.

It seemed there was not much to be done about it, so we opted to walk back to the hotel. It wasn't that far, maybe 20 minutes through Wenceslas Square and up a bit towards the river. Chilly and slushy, but perfectly walkable. Tod was wearing a new pair of boots, though, and by the time we reached home he was hobbling at the pace of a geriatric waiting for a hip replacement. Ouch.

So we saw the ossuary, which was one of the only things on my wish list for Prague, and every step of the way was an adventure.

1 Comment

I love your writing!!

What an adventure. When on holidays, the journey is all part of the fun but if you had to make your way to work etc, all the delays and confusion might get a little tiresome. Makes you appreciate the efficiency of the Japanese rail system.

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  • The Goddess: I love your writing!! What an adventure. When on holidays, read more