On the tour evaluations we send to tour members after they return home, one of the questions we pose is, "Are there any 'wow' moments you'd like to tell us about?" I've noticed that those who travel more frequently are less likely to say they experienced a true "wow" moment, but rather talk about places or aspects of the tour that they particularly enjoyed.
Well, for me, today was a genuine "wow". Maybe it was the fact that the sun finally came out again after about a three day absence, maybe it was the fact that I had almost an entire afternoon free to do whatever I liked, or maybe it was just the stunning scenery, but Cesky Krumlov, a small Czech town not far from the Austrian border, really wowed me.
The day was picture perfect, and everyone was drinking it in. While Krumlov is definitely a tourist town, on a day like today how could anyone feel anything but happy and lighthearted? Even the woman slaving over a hot open flame wrapping pastry dough around metal rollers to cook and create tasty snacks for a never ending crowd was in good spirits. This was no day for museums, so I spent hours wandering the town streets, the riverbank, and the castle and gardens.
After all that walking, I was ready for a little break, so I stepped into Dobra Cajovna, the Good Tea House, where they offer both an amazing selection of loose leaf teas and water pipes. In the garden out back, tiny weathered crate tables with wire framed chairs sat at the edge of a quiet grassy courtyard.
Having leafed through the extensive menu of teas on offer, I chose a sampler of three Chinese varieties. Arriving together on wooden tray, my server explained how each tea should be correctly brewed using the clever little pots provided to steep the tea before tipping them sideways into the shallow teacups, thereby allowing the tea to drain into the cups while leaving the leaves behind for future use. With the large pot of water I was given, I was able to brew about ten cups of tea for myself.
I held a cup of tea between both hands and surveyed my surroundings and realized I felt supremely happy. Every so often, I have the feeling that I am living exactly in the moment, and I was struck by that sensation this afternoon. I sipped tea and read a page or two at a time from a German translation of an Agatha Christie novel, while overhead the birds sang and the occasional whiff of the sweet smoke from a single water pipe reached me. Heaven on earth, indeed.