Dead forests, ghost towns, and sex clubs

I wish I could say that our weekend in the Czech republic started off quietly and rested, but unfortunately only the opposite is true. During yesterday’s dinner, my son said he was tired and wanted to sleep. I didn’t finish my meal, and brought him to bed. Instead of the usual smooth process, I spent the first evening fighting my son for three hours. Or well, at least convincing him that he was – in fact – very tired. The little dude apparently had forgotten how to sleep in unfamiliar houses. He kept saying how he wanted to go away, or sleep in the camper. After a couple of hours he gave up and he fell asleep at my side. By that time – after 10pm – I felt no desire to join the rest of the family downstairs and pretend to be in a fantastic mood. I decided to catch some extra hours of shut-eye, after a week that was already hectic. The rest of the night was a blur of my son trying to push me out of the bed, and trying to tunnel his way underneath me. He was so restless! I think I woke up at 4am, he was fully awake at 5, and before 6 we were in the living room. Not a great start, but at least with an early start we could profit more from the wonderful weather.

The first half of the day was spent with a short hike through the forest on our doorstep. It’s pretty here. Mixed beech forest and small irregular patches of coniferous plantations lined the road. Various patches of clear-cut plantations seemed to be on their ways towards mixed forests. Other older patches of spruce were heavily infested (and many killed) by bark beetles. A sad sight, with dead poles towering high along the previously cleared stubs, the bark peeling off the dead trunks in large chunks, often covering entire stretches of forest path. The typical feathered burrowing marks and holes in the bark reveal the recent fate of the trees. On the one hand, these little beetles can have a huge economic impact, but on the other hand, they also are keystone species that through killing their host trees can create space for new species. If we wouldn’t need to make profit off of everything, these beetles would be a good thing…

The afternoon, we spent in Vimperk, an empty village I have visited a couple of years back. It was always empty and rather quiet, but it seems that the pandemic hasn’t done the local economy any good. Empty streets and empty shops. We found a place that sold remarkably good coffee, but it wasn’t clear how they could sustain there business, as other than us there was no clientele. The road to Vimperk is an odd landscape, where small ski resorts, sex clubs and brothels follow one after the other. A place called pussycat club advertises ‘neue Mädchen’ and ‘non-stop’. I can only guess what happens inside, but it sounds exhausting. Near several crossroads and gas stations, women of all ages, shapes and sizes were offering their business. An odd sight, which makes me wonder how bad your circumstances must be to choose to spend your time out in the freezing cold on a Saturday afternoon along the busy roadside to make a living. The thought alone makes me sad.

I decided to isolate myself in our bedroom for a while after we returned to our cottage so I could write my post for today. Seven adults and two kids also take a high toll on my impulse intake capacity – and usually the kids are the least overwhelming. They’re also mine, which helps. I need my self time.

As I’m wrapping up this post, the smell of grilled pumpkin-sage pasta enters my room and fills my nostrils. A clear sign that dinner is almost ready. My stomach let’s me know it’s happy, so I guess I’ll leave it at that for today.

Morning hike in the woods
Morning hike
View from our balcony
Vimperk – only empty streets

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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