Br(u)no: The 500-kilometer Rule
Photo credit: Stock Picture / Freepik.
I am from southeastern Washington state in the United States. I delivered newspapers, babysat neighborhood children and spent summers mowing lawns so that I could buy a car as quickly as possible.
For me, a car equaled freedom and freedom equaled adventure. When I purchased a used 1978 Toyota Corolla from my neighbor (on the day before I took my driver’s test, which was also my 16th birthday), I took a US map and a drafting compass and drew a circle with a radius of 300 miles around my hometown. Three hundred miles, I figured, was relatively easy to reach for a weekend trip.
That 300-mile circle included many fascinating places: Seattle, Wash.; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; most of Idaho; some of Montana; Portland, Oregon; Mount Rainier National Park; the entire Washington State coastline. Over the next dozen years, I I drove every road within that 300-mile radius several times.
When I moved to New York City, there were even more places to visit within that new 300-mile circle: Boston; Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Montreal, Canada; the Adirondack Mountains; and Chesapeake Bay.
Now I live in Brno. The 300-mile circle has changed to a 500-kilometer circle — and the potential for adventure seems even greater than it ever has. The cities are more exotic. There are different languages, different governments, different types of cuisine, different cultures.
Just consider the urban destinations: Dresden (approximately 295 kilometers away, as the crow flies), Munich (386), Leipzig (387) and Berlin (435) are the big German cities. Wroclaw (215), Krakow (260), Poznań (360) and Warsaw (458) are the big-name Polish cities.
Slovakia has Bratislava (120) and Kosice (340). Hungary has Budapest (258) and Szeged (416). Austria has Vienna (110), Linz (197) and Salzburg (307).
And 500 kilometers actually gets you to the salt water: the Adriatic Sea. Bibione (475) and Caorle (487) are two beach destinations in Italy and the top of Croatia has even more beachfront. The Austrian Alps and the Tatra Mountains are filled with places to explore.
And these lists do not even count all of the exploration that can be done within the borders of the Czech Republic.
Clearly the destinations are all in the eye of the beholder. Cities are fun at some times of the year. The mountains and the sea are better during the summer. Sports events and concerts often provide the impetus.
But a free weekend three weeks from now can be the perfect excuse to pack a bag and just go . . .
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In some cases, the journey may be more interesting than the destination. Each mode of travel brings its own positives and negatives:
Automobile — Simply planning a road trip is half of the fun. Imagine the possibilities! A car makes the trip easier and more comfortable.
However, cars can be tricky. Parking can be a headache, especially when you don’t know the local language well enough to understand the rules. The threat of engine trouble can be a nagging bit of stress. Hotels or campsites generally require planning. And, clearly, fuel costs money.
Train — Watching the world pass by from the rails is a great perspective. Modern trains are generally comfortable, especially with reserved seats. You get dropped off in the middle of a city and you don’t have to worry about parking. Plus, you can drink beer or sleep en route.
Just know to avoid popular days and times, like when students travel to and from school (e.g., Friday afternoons and Sunday nights).
Hitchhiking — Thumbing a ride seems to be acceptable nowadays. South Brno has dozens of young people waving signs for Bratislava or Prague on weekend mornings. Teenage students of mine hitchhiked to Berlin and back.
It takes a special kind of adventurer to hitchhike, and I am not that type. (Like I said, I am from the Pacific Northwest, home of many serial killers.)
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Over the next year or so I plan to visit many of the places within 500 kilometers of Brno in order to provide a guide for how you can experience them, too. Every third Sunday, there will be a new entry in this 500-kilometer Travel series.
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What are your favorite destinations within 500 kilometers of Brno? What would you recommend that people do there? When is the best time to visit?
I hope that this column will provide thought-provoking observations of local life that will be interesting for a Saturday-morning read. If you have any suggestions or comments, please pass them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. The publishing of this article does not constitute an endorsement of or any other expression of opinion by the management of Brno Daily.