Shhhh! What Do You Think This Is, A Pub?
A still-life from the Smallest Pub In The World (a.k.a. SPITW).
I was sitting in the grass at the Smallest Pub In The World in Úholičky, waiting for my good pal Stewart Moore to arrive for a ride, when my iPhone chimed with a text message.
It was James Gogarty, an old riding buddy, with a warning.
If you're out and about on your bikes stay clear of the fields or you will feel like the vietcong on the run with freakish amount of hunters out there.
We are indeed out on bikes. No hunters yet but thanks for heads up. Cheers.
No sooner had I hit the send button than two hunters and a dog walked in front of me. One of the hunters was carrying two dead pheasants.
Whereabouts are you?
Úholičky. World's Smallest Pub.
So I plan to stop for my first beer at Okoř at 3. Depending on your constitutions, it would be great to have one with the two of ya.
We had a plan.
It was a mild but depressingly gray day, the sky the color of wet cement, the clouds as low as a slow worm's belly.
The ruins of the 14th-century Okoř castle, enveloped in fog.
Stewart arrived, dripping sweat from the long slog up to the SPITW from the river.
We headed back toward Velké Přílepy and then to Noutonice, picking up one of our favorite trails that heads down into the valley behind the castle at Okoř.
I love that trail, but I was a bit trepidatious about taking it, what with all the hunters around. By this time, we'd heard a few shotgun blasts echoing through the woods. But we were talking loudly and we were dressed brightly, so I figured we'd be OK.
I can report that we did not get shot.
(For a map of our complete route on this day, click here.)
By this time, though, the fog had started to creep in, the ruins of Okoř castle looking like some fantastical movie set.
We rolled up to the lovely Family Hotel Okoř, where James was already nursing a beer at the picnic table outside. (We must have drunk about 500 beers at that table by now.)
We ordered some soup and drank a few beers and sat outside and laughed and talked and laughed some more. It was great to catch up with James after so many months.
I also got to chat in broken Czech and English with a guy who had stopped at the hotel with his 1956 Jawa motorcycle, made in Czechoslovakia. It was a thing of beauty. So many lovely design elements to pore over. Apparently the guy used to work as a technician for BMW and refurbished the motorbike himself.
A 1956 Jawa. Love that front fender!
It was starting to get dark (or darker, I should say) and we were starting to get cold, so we settled the bill and decided to head to another pub. Inside, this time. We figured we'd head back to the SPITW, which has a cozy fireplace.
Along the way, we cycled past misty ponds and on roads that disappeared into the thick fog just ahead of us. Magical.
Stewart (left) and James and some beer and some soup.
At the SPITW, we found a fire in the fireplace, a friendly barkeep, and no one else around. We ordered a round of beers and bourbons and got to talking and drinking. One bourbon led to another, and a few locals started to wander in. And before we knew it, we were being told by the lady bartender to shush. She did it all friendly like, with a smile, but she still asked us to shush.
Told to keep it down in a Czech pub!
We didn't know whether to laugh or get angry. I think we found ourselves feeling a little of both.
Yes, we were talking animatedly. But we were laughing and having a good time and not presenting a threat to anyone.
But as James pointed out, we were strangers talking loudly in a strange language. Perhaps if the tables had been turned, we'd have asked the table of loud Czechs speaking Czech to keep it down if we were in a bar in Boston.
But I doubt it. I know what James is saying, but I doubt it.
The scene of the crime.
But we didn't let it get us down. We drank some more and eventually tried to befriend that table of locals, to mixed success, as I recall. But I think in the end they realized we were harmless.
It was dark by this point, and time to head home.
Let me just say that we did not go gentle into that good night, after so many whiskies.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Length of ride: 25 kilometers
Maximum speed: 41.6 kph
Pivo Index: 3 for me
Whisky Index: Around 6 for me (from what I can remember)
Time on the bike: 2.10.15
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 700 kilometers
James in deep thought. Or deep in his cups. One or t'other.
Scenes (above and below) from a foggy ride from Okoř to Úholičky.