Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zelezny Brod or how to make tourism out of nothing at all

Yet another weekend by myself in Bakov, and yet again I decided not to spend it in Bakov nad Jizerou. I've been planning to visit this glass factory in Zelezny Brod and the town seemed quit interesting from the internet pages and local accounts, so off I go.

Zelezny Brod has a privileged position close to the Cesky Raj and the Giant's mountains and so it's a stop over for many tourists going to the hiking trails of the mountains. The town is associated with glass making, many business have been developed around town, making glass jewellery and other items. You can visit the factories and expositions related to glass making, plus old timber houses kept the same as they were a few hundred years ago.

On my way over I had a glimpse at the Czech Paradise, high mountains with bizarre rock formations, a bit like these in the picture.
It certainly gave me a reason to go back to the region for a hiking trip. There are lots of things to do around here, rafting, mountain biking, and all winter sports you can imagine. There are several towns in the region offering all these facilities in the renowned Czech hospitability and politeness. :-)

Getting back to my day trip, there were lots of signs pointing you to the sights of the town: the 1900's Town Hall/Teather, the town museum, including an old timber house, the glass school with an exhibit of glass work.

But I didn't find what I was looking for, the picturesque town with lots of streets you can wander on, like I was lead to believe. I did find the Small Place, Mala Namesti, which reminded me of pictures I saw of turn of the Century "mahala" in Bucharest. Different style of course, timber houses (again!) and Empire style houses, a typical church (next to a pub).

I also wanted to see the house they had restorated as it had been a few centuries ago, another timber house with objects related to the day to day lives of the first people to have come here, but no success. There was no electricity in that part of town, so all businesses, including my glass factory and the museums, were closed.

But one thing I have to say: these people knew how to sell themselves. They had signs everywhere (rare around these parts), they pointed to the main attractions, had panels telling you the stories behind these so called attractions.

All you actually had to see were timber house after timber house (the flowers on the windows changed) and old, falling down and badly renovated houses. But they advertised all of these and they were proud of the cultural heritage. All without having a very touristy town, selling crappy souvenirs or advertising beds in guest houses.
Maybe a lesson for our own tourism. Don’t get me wrong, I felt cheated of the 4 euro trip I made (4 euros, 2 way ticket), but I still went there, spent a little more than an hour, and had it not been for the electricity, I would have bought some hand crafted, glass jewellery. Ad I'm going back, maybe not to the same town, but in the same area, for my little hiking trip, whenever I decide to take it.

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