Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lednice-Valtice - Day 17

Saturday, September 20
Today I learned a new definition for an old word - "folly." It is an architectural feature constructed on one 's property merely to enhance the view. Our hike today visited several of these on the former Liechtenstein property. They were built over a period of  300 years by the Liechtensteins and were designed by the most prominent architects of the time.
We started our hike by walking up to "Colonnade," an arch built in the classical style in 1820 on Rajsna Hill.  
When we walked through, there was a paved road on the other side. Our guide Lada told us that the road is exactly where the iron curtain was built in the 50s. It ran from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic.
For decades, this beautiful park was not able to be visited by the public. We walked along the hillside where we had a great view of Vatice. Unfortunately, it was very hazy so no good photos. 
We walked into the village and passed the homes. They are currently celebrating "harvest" and are decorating pumpkins. Our other guide, Lucy, said that growing, eating and decorating pumpkins is a new thing, maybe only 10 years or so. I was impressed with some of the artistic decorations for newbies.
 Valtice Castle is located in town but we did not tour it. 
Instead, we went to the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic located in the basement of the castle. It was like going into a cave, complete with cool temperature and moisture everywhere. They have been using this cellar for wine making for 600 years. We were treated to a discussion of winemaking and samples of at least 6 wines. We are in Moravia and it is known as the  "wine capital" of the Czech Republic. This is the largest winery with 2200 acres of vineyards; and it produces 4 million bottles a year. One-third of their business is red wine and 2/3 is white.  The Czechs do not export their wine - they drink it and have to import 30% more .
After the winery we walked to the wall of an old cemetery where our bus driver Radick (sp?) had sent up cold cuts and vegetables and put out stools for us for a picnic lunch. Quite lovely.
Then we continued our walk on the estate (now owned by the state).  
We walked along some vineyards and through an old oak and pine forest, with many of the trees aging out.
Since it was Saturday, we found it was a popular place with cyclists, too. And since the land is somewhat marshy anyway, we were plagued with mosquitos. But our repellent worked. 
We came upon another "folly," the Rendezvous, which resembles a triumphal arch.
It was actually used as a hunting lodge where the sportsmen would have cold meat and wine before heading out for the kill. Today the top level had been rented out for a wedding reception. However, they never retrofitted it with an elevator. How do you get grandma to the reception?
Later we came to a chapel dedicated to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters,
and finally to another folly, the Three Graces, which was built as a place to display some statues collected over the years.
We returned to the hotel in time to attend a little wine festival down the street. I went for a short time, had no wine because I wasn't sure what I was ordering, but did enjoy the folk shows.
We had a special treat tonight. We had dinner at a local winery, again at a cave-like, bricked in facility. The vintner, a young man in his early 30s, was very excited to have us. He served the wine straight from the barrels using a special pipette. We must have had at least a half dozen samples. He said there are about 180 wineries in the area, but very few are young, like him. He inherited the business from his grandfather. We had a great dinner with chicken schnitzel.
Afterwards, a trio I had seen earlier performed for us - a violin, accordion and bass. They were very entertaining. Quite a day! 

No comments:

Post a Comment