Brno to Velké Bílovice
After getting ready for another fun-filled adventure in the southern Monrovia region of the Czech Republic, we made our way down to the restaurant near the lobby of the Hotel Grandezza, to have some breakfast. While sipping an outstanding cup of cappuccino, we noticed some commotion going on behind us…apparently they were filming a scene for either a movie or T.V. commercial.
After our cup of joe, we enjoyed the complementary breakfast buffet before our guide showed up to take us on a walking tour of Brno. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Brno has a very cool vibe. While the city is much smaller than Prague, it has many of the same features, but with less congestion than the capital city.
The historic center of Brno is quite beautiful and is peppered with historic sights that date back as far as the 11th century. A large number of the buildings are from the Baroque and Renaissance periods. The dominant sight in Brno is a stone promontory called Petrov, in which the Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul rests.
Brno is the capital of Moravia and is the gateway to the fertile vineyards, later in the day we went to the village of Velké Bílovice, but more on that in a minute.
After our walking tour we went to this really cool pub for lunch called, Stopkova Pivnice. This pub is one of the pillars of Czech social and cultural life in Brno. Stopkova Pivnice originally opened in 1910, and given its central proximity, appeared to be filled with intellectuals, students as well as politicians. We sat on the second floor where all the windows were open to the bustling street. This pub is well known for its Pilsner Urquell lager, which we of course tried and thoroughly enjoyed.
Our next stop in Brno was yet another Czech UNESCO site, the Villa Tugendhat. This museum, once a luxurious private villa, showcases the beginning of a new error in modern architecture. The building is set into a slope, with a sensational view overlooking the historical center of Brno. The villa broke from all period trends in every respect, and the interior design was far ahead of its time. One of the most amazing features of the villa are the massive windows that drop into the basement, opening the living area up to the elements in the most dramatic way.
I’m not sure who gave birth to modern home architecture, American Frank Lloyd Wright, or German Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—but in the Czech Republic, Mies gets the credit, even thought Frank Lloyd Wright was about 20 years older. Ironically, Mies died in Chicago, where Mr. Wright had strong ties. Regardless of who inspired the clean, simple and modern design, both had very similar styles. As someone who has spent most of their life in Arizona, I have always been a fan of Mr. Wright, who built his architectural school Taliesin West in Scottsdale. As a fan of modern architecture and design, it was a thrill to visit Villa Tugendhat.
After our museum tour we took to the car once again and hit the road toward the village of Velké Bílovice, where we got to bear witness to the last day of celebrations for the wine season. Traffic was a bit heavy, so it took us a while just to get in the area, but once we did, we began headed down an old country road lined with vineyards. The scene was straight out of a Hansel and Gretel book. [Actually, I know nothing about Hansel and Gretel, but it seemed like a good description]. Let’s say it was very idyllic or ethereal.
Once we arrived in the town square, the celebrations where in full force, with dozens, perhaps over a hundred young people dressed in period regalia. There was live Czech music being played and a series of group dances taking place, with of course lots of local wine flowing. It was really fun to witness the event with all the historic buildings adding to the idyllic backdrop. I was amazed at just how colorful, ornate and intricate the clothing was. Everyone was having a wonderful time. One of the local wine makers (whom I think may have also been the mayor of village), offered us a case of wine in nearly ever variety he produces to take with us.
We had planned another nice dinner that evening, but with wine in hand, we decided just to head back to Brno, find a little pizzeria and get a pie to take back to our lovely room at the Hotel Grandezza. We found a great Italian restaurant just beyond the square of the hotel and had a lovely and relaxing evening with our windows opened wide, listening to some local music being preformed in the square.
Tomorrow we’re off to see the Château Lednice, along with some other exciting stops. Please stay tuned for the next Road Diary update from the Czech Republic.