Telč , Czech Republic

Among the more remarkable human settlements in central Europe, Telč has been carefully sequestered in the rural south of Czech Republic, away from prying eyes and unrequited interests of some who would seek to turn it into a prime tourist destination useful only for squeezing every last coin out of throngs of gawping tourists being led around by tour guides with microphones and flags attached to their necks.

 

None of that here to worry about. Despite the entire town centre’s inscription on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, you’re as likely to find a cabal of tourists here in the off-season as you are a to find herd of bison singing Sur La Pont. The off-season appears to be every month of the year outside a bit of July and August. Even the Chinese don’t seem to know about it. Enjoy the space and the calm by yourself.

What’s the big fuss?

A mixture of intangible, inexpressible delight. That is the main effect of being in Telc’s central ‘square’ (more of a wedge). Much like the Piazza Del Campo in Siena, some feelings say it better than words ever will. As I have to at least try, I will at least say that there are two rows of beautifully painted unique town-houses with porticos stretching from one end to another. There are fountains, a chateau, and beautiful church. It doesn’t stop there. Surrounded by lakes, Telc is just as pretty from without as it is from within. A parkland stroll provides you with a full glimpse of its beauty. The reason to be here is to experience a place almost entirely given over to delighting the senses.

That’s nice but I bet you can’t get hammered or laid in this dainty little burg. Wrong. While the central square is eerily dark and quiet after 10pm, there are a couple of café bars that remain open. The real action is happening outside the centre, firstly at the noisy rock bar ‘Derby’, then up the road towards the station at the enticingly named ARMAGEDON, which isn’t anything to look at, indeed it’s drab with a capital D, but with friendly chatty locals and English football on the telly, it’s a good place to get a conversation going with some down-to-earth locals. I got home at 2am with a big smile on my face.

I stayed at the homely guesthouse Ubytovani Maja, a short walk from the chateau, where I was greeted by the rotund and jovial owner, speaking not a word of English and about a dozen words in German, yet somehow managed a half-sensible conversation along with several beers, all washed down with slivovitz in the middle of the afternoon. The Czech’s don’t do things by halves. He may have some opinions bordering on fruity but the place was clean, homely, comfortable and quiet. The breakfast is absolutely enormous.

How do I get here then, smart-arse? Start at Prague or Bratislava, then go to Brno. Enjoy Brno, it’s great. Get the train or bus to Trebic. Trebic is a lovely small town west of Brno. Enjoy Trebic for a morning, even stop for lunch. Get an early afternoon bus to Telc, remembering to walk inside the autobus station in Trebic to experience a real-life Life on Mars experience. Is it 1973? Remember to get there early because Czech intercity buses sometimes turn up and leave early. If there’s no-one at the stop the bus will leave even if it’s 15 minutes early – you have been warned!

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