Have you ever heard of Brno, Czech Republic? Have you ever heard of Oaxaca, Mexico? What do they have in common? The former reminded me of the latter because Oaxaca is where I first realized how big and how populated our world is.
On our honeymoon in Mexico Karin and I found ourselves in a large bustling city that we had only heard of because we were scouring the map for places to go. Further as I watched the people go about their business in the crowded market, I realized that they in turn had probably never heard of my home city, Portland Oregon. Or as my brother put it after attending an Army vs. Navy Football game where 50,000 fans were rabidly involved in the outcome: 900 million Chinese could care less.
Similarly, Brno, the Czech Republic’s second city, gets little attention in the wider world. We found it very delightful. First thing we noticed was while it had all the facilities and size of a big city, the hustle and bustle was definitely missing. People walked at a slower pace—we could feel that the intensity of Prague or other big cities we knew was not here.
The city is home to the huge Masaryk University with over 42,000 students. As we approached our hotel we heard trumpet playing coming from a 3rd story window. We were delighted to discover we were across a narrow street from the Music Department—which in turn was across the street from the city philharmonic music hall where the next day we heard a rehearsal while walking down the street.
Like most places we really enjoy there is nothing spectacular to see in Brno. The castle has an interesting history but is not impressive to look at. For instance the well in its central courtyard is claimed to be the deepest in the country and therefore important to the survival of the residents. Yet looking down we saw just a black hole.
The first day we followed a walking tour of the city center’s main sites. The second day we went out into a couple neighborhoods and then to a large reservoir at the edge of town. All very pleasant. The highlight for me was a steak dinner at Monte Bu (Cow Hill). Karin really enjoyed the Romani Museum which displayed the history and culture of the gypsy migration across Europe since they came from India about 1,000 A.D. We both enjoyed buying cups with the authentic but very common Zweibelmuster design.
So my travel advice for the day is: don’t always look for the spectacular and impressive. Instead seek peaceful and pleasant experiences for a true perspective of the world.
Read more of our journeys away from Prague: Environs