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Years ago, when I was studying abroad in the Czech Republic, someone gave me the tip that the town of Cesky Krumlov is a great place. Well, actually they said, "Cesky Krumlov is a jewel of a town" and then kissed the tips of their fingers like a passionate chef.
Two years passed before I got the chance to visit, but I remembered that quote upon my arrival because it's fucking true. The town of Cesky Krumlov is alarmingly beautiful. A fortified castle looms over cobblestone streets and red tin roofs. A lazy, glassy river encircles aforementioned. Think Beauty and the Beast, and you've got it.
The only thing going against Cesky Krumlov was that it did not appear to boast much of a thriving nightlife scene... or so we assumed. I guess you can't judge a book by its cover. Four of our craziest nights of travel happened back to back (to back to back) while in this city.
After only a few hours in the town, we found ourselves spending our days in Cesky Krumlov anxiously awaiting our nights there... and these were days we were spending eating fried dough covered in nutella. The reason for our excitement was the unmarked cafe that opened at sunset and the low key gambling addiction we developed there.
Opened is a loose term as the door to the cafe was never actually unlocked. Hopeful patrons were to knock on the glass door and wait for the owner to stagger into view, deeming by some unknown scale if they were welcome to enter.
Socially awkward as we were, we strolled up to the cafe two minutes after we were told the place would open (not cool), tugged on the handle repeatedly (not cool), and then pressed our faces up against the glass when the door wouldn't budge (really not cool).
Despite our behavior above, the owner pulled open the door. No one else was inside the cafe (it had legitimately just opened), so we took a seat in the corner next to a didgeridoo.
When we finally struck up the nerve to talk to the owner, it was about the weather. Yep, the weather! We complained how cold it was outside - really exciting stuff.
The owner, "Hon", offered to "fix us up some of his famous rum tea". Well, we were never going to argue with that, so we gladly accepted... and that is how we fell down the rabbit hole.
The concoction - pineapple tea, rum, and honey was just the social lubrication that we needed. When it came time to pay for the drinks, Hon suggested we gamble for the cost instead. Maybe the point is that he gives you the drink first, and asks you to gamble with him second. Whatever it was, we accepted.
I never really thought I would enjoy risking my travel money aka food money for the sake of throwing a three dice with a couple of strangers, but it was EXHILARATING. Each roll cost 10 crowns - about 40 US cents. It was enough that it didn't feel like "go fish", but I also didn't have to hate myself when I played for over 2 hours. After only one night, we were hooked.
During the day we would legitimately refrain from buying food or doing activities so we could save the money to gamble with that night. We jingled all over Cesky Krumlov as we hoarded away our coins to waste later.
Better than the game and the rum tea was the cast of character we played with:
- A women in her sixties, driving across Europe with her dog, a Shih Tzu named Emma. The women averaged 11 Jamesons a night. We would later run into her in Slovenia at, you guess it, another bar.
- Two "local nomads" (don't ask me how that makes sense) who took us to a "stolen gallery" art show in an alley where we didn't understand anything that was being said and never figured out what was going on
- A townie who lamented about the hit and run accident he had been in a few weeks ago -apparently not a big deal in the Czech Republic - and the court hearing he had skipped that morning - again, supposedly not a big deal (???)
Everyone who walked through the door lit up a cigarette that was not tobacco and made us remember that Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.
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