Pardubice; History, Horses & Huge Helpings!
Pardubice, in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, is pronounced Par doo bee chey.
Why can’t the Czechs make their spelling easier?! Says Lyn Funnell.
It’s a lovely place, with lots to see, good time-keeping, and all with very low prices!
We flew from Stansted to Pardubice Airport, which is still being turned from a military to a civilian airport. Then we travelled the short distance to our hotel, the Kostelni 100, built in 1680 and converted two years ago. It’s just off the Medieval Pernstynske Square, near the Green Tower.
Pardubice has suffered a lot of disasters through the centuries, including the Black Death, like most of Europe. Out of 300 inhabitants, 200 died.
A memorial stands in the cobbled square.
There were two big fires in the town in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was destroyed again during the 30 Years’ War in the 17th Century.
Then along came World War ll which caused more damage.
But each time, the ancient square was hardly damaged and rebuilt exactly the same.
The buildings are lovely. If you look carefully you’ll see that they’re all different, and they’re painted in different colours.
Later, we were taken to visit the Pivovaru Brewery, where we had dinner. There are lots of breweries in Pardubice, including one next to the railway station. But the Pivovaru Brewery is the oldest, dating back to 1871.
A visit to the Kladruby National Stud.
What a lovely morning!
The stud was established in1579. It has 3,000 acres and around 300 greys are kept there and there’s another one a few miles away for the black horses.
Old Kladrube horses are descended from one of the world’s oldest breeds. When I die, I want to come back as an Old Kaldrube horse, because they live an idyllic life, in idyllic surroundings! They even breed naturally, with no artificial insemination…
They were ceremonial carriage horses for Royalty. They’re strong, with a natural attractive trot, lifting their forelegs high. They look as though they’ve been trained to do it, but they haven’t.
The police use them too. As they’re very placid, they don’t flinch at the sounds of trumpets or other loud noises.
We were shown around the small chateau in the grounds, where the Royal Family used to spend weekends several times a year.
There are a lot of paintings of horses on the walls. But the one that impressed me was a picture of a group of horses sheltering under a tree during a terrible storm in 1738.
Lightning struck the tree and killed all the horses. A groom shouted, ‘Beloved ones!’ and the name of the field is Beloved.
Outside again, a carriage pulled by two grey Old Kladrube horses was waiting for us. We trotted off on a tour of the grounds.
Fields had groups of happy horses grazing on the lush green grass. Foals played together, or ate beside their mothers.
Sometimes a car drove past, usually without slowing down, but the horses completely ignored them.
It was a lovely experience, and an unforgettable morning.
Pardubice’s emblem is the front half of a horse. You can see it everywhere. Legend says that in 1158, Emperor Barbarossa besieged Milan, but the siege went on for a long time. One night a few Czech noblemen, including Jesek of Pardubice, entered the city and loaded with rich takings, were on their way out when the city defenders discovered they were there and lowered the heavy portcullis, cutting Jesek’s horse in half. He lifted up the front half of his horse and his saddlebags full of treasure and walked all the way back to the camp. And for this, the Czech King Vladislav ll awarded him a coat of arms of the front half of a horse with a golden bridle on a red shield.
In the afternoon, after another huge meal, we went to Litomysl. The whole town is UNESCO listed.
The chateau is perfectly preserved and everything you see is original.
We loved the old theatre and the ornate rooms, but unfortunately, although there were seven of us English-speaking tourists and only two Czechs, the guide insisted on speaking in Czech first, even though he spoke English. And as he was obviously enthusiastic and rambled on for ages, we eventually wandered away to explore on our own, ignoring his pleas for us to wait.
Dinner was in the luxurious Aplaus restaurant.
They specialise in traditional Czech cuisine from the well-known chef M D Retiggovas’ recipes.
A visit to see the Kuneticka Hora castle, where I was lucky enough to meet Katerina Doubravova, who now writes for B-C-ing-U! every other Friday. So I’d better not say too much about Kuneticka Hora!
We then had a whistlestop tour of the new golf club where we had a hasty brunch.
All the time we were there, I only saw two people playing on the course.
It’s a golfer’s delight. The hotel prices are very reasonable, the food’s good, and the golf course isn’t crowded.
And then, it was time for what I’d been really looking forward to – Pardubice race course, and we were in the VIP lounge!
We were greeted with a glass of Czech Champagne, which was in my opinion just as enjoyable as some expensive French Champagnes that I’ve sampled.
There was a delicious buffet. Oh my, how the Czechs can eat! We could only gaze at it longingly, hoping that our full stomachs would make room for just a nibble or two!
It was the start of the Cross Country Steeplechase so everyone rushed out onto the balcony. The thundering hooves as they raced to the winning post is really exciting, even though I hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on!
There was about half an hour’s gap between each race. We were escorted on to the racecourse where two Old Kladrube greys patiently waited for us. Once again we climbed into a carriage and we were given a tour of the racecourse. Oh the VIP way of life is so moi!
I was surprised to see how high the jumps are close up. You’re not aware of it from above.
In the evening, after a long rest and digesting, we strolled along from the hotel to the restaurant Na Staré Rybárně : http://www.nastarerybarne.cz/
It’s right beside a lake and the food was unpretentious but perfect. And of course, being in the Czech Republic, portions were huge!
We had an early breakfast in the hotel, then we caught a train direct to Prague, which is around 50 minutes away.
On the train, we had a private carriage with a steward. Coffee and water was free. Tickets are only £4, and the train was on time!
In Prague, we all needed the loo, but we discovered that you have to pay, and only one of us had any Czech money. They don’t have euros in the Czech Republic.
It’s times like that you discover who your friends are…
Prague is a city that everyone should visit at least once.
See my article. It hasn’t changed since I wrote it.
We ate in the Hotel Aria.
All the plates are hand-painted with famous musicians on them.
I was pleased go be given Edith Piaf, but then I swapped her for Jim Morrison.
The food and service were first-class, and the portions were slightly smaller.
After lunch, we went to the airport.
As so often happens now, the plane was late leaving, which meant I was going to miss my coach and have a long wait, plus I’d have to change in London. But luckily the coach was late too!
Good old England. You can always rely on her unreliability!