Some aspects of village life in Stará Oleška

Bus 436 for Decín hl.n. © Ricky Yates

I promised back in May that, having moved from Prague to Stará Oleška, I would now write and reflect on my new life in North Bohemia. So here is a post about some of the practical aspects of village life, often in stark contrast to my experience during the previous eight and a half years of living in Prague.

Public transport

Stará Oleška lies on the 436 bus route which provides a service from the village, into the centre of Decín, terminating at the main railway station – Decín hl.n. In the opposite direction, it is possible to travel further into the hills to Jetrichovice and occasionally slightly further, to Vysoká Lípa.

In typical Czech fashion, the first bus of the day arrives in Stará Oleška at 04.43 and will deliver any passengers into Decín some thirty minutes later. The Czech Republic still has a culture of starting work very early in the morning which this service is clearly designed to meet. How well used it is I do not know as I’ve never been up at that ungodly hour to see 😉 However, I have heard it pass my house more than once – from my bed 🙂

Then throughout the day, there are regular services, allowing people to go shopping in Decín and return home an hour or two later. But unfortunately, you cannot have a night out on the town and get back to Stará Oleška by public transport. The last bus of the day leaves Decín at 18.43. And the fare for Stará Oleška – Decín? CZK 25, one euro or slightly less than one pound.

A nice touch that I have observed, in marked contrast to the UK, is the willingness of bus drivers to drop passengers off at the most convenient point, not necessarily an official bus stop. There is a home for adults with learning disabilities here in Stará Oleška and some of the residents travel into Decín for sheltered employment, returning on the bus in the early afternoon. The bus always stops to drop them off at the top of the driveway to the home, rather than taking them on round the corner, to the next stop. Likewise, when I was travelling on the bus through the neighbouring village of Nová Oleška, the driver stopped a couple of times to drop returning schoolchildren, directly in front of their homes.

Bus trailer for bicycles © Ricky Yates

On some services, clearly indicated on the timetable, provision is made for the transport of bicycles in the form of this trailer, towed behind the bus. It allows people to go biking in the hills without having to cycle all the way back to return to civilisation!

Veselé pod Rabštejnem railway station © Ricky Yates

Stará Oleška does not have its own railway station, but there is one, two kilometres from the village centre, provided you are prepared to walk 🙂 It takes a lot longer to get there by road. Taking the blue waymarked route, alongside the large lake, Olešský rybnik, and continuing up the hill, on the footpath, through the forest, will bring you to Veselé pod Rabštejnem station. For the train to pick you up, you have to stand on the platform and put your hand out. If you want to get off, press the buzzer on-board to tell the driver to stop.

Train at Veselé pod Rabštejnem station © Ricky Yates

Ceská pošta van heads off having delivered my post © Ricky Yates

Postal service

As in Prague, there is postal delivery here in Stará Oleška, once a day, Monday to Friday. But that is where the similarity ends!

Living in the Chaplaincy Flat in Prague, I would frequently get a chit in our mail box on the ground floor of our block, saying that there was an item that needed to be signed for, or a package that was too big for our mail box, that I had to go to the Post Office to collect. The chit always stated that our post lady had tried to deliver the item but there was no one at home to receive it when she called. This of course, was a complete lie. Usually one or both of us were at home, but the post lady chose not to bother to try and deliver the item as it was much easier not to carry it and instead, just put a note in the mail box.

My shiny new mail box on the front gate of Stará Oleška 44 © Ricky Yates

The contrast here in Stará Oleška could not be greater. If there is an item to be signed for, when the post lady arrives outside the front gate in her Ceská pošta van, she gives a couple of blasts on the horn. When I reach the front gate, she is there with her clip board, indicating where I have to sign. Once signed, the item is handed over with a smile. Only when I genuinely have not been at home, has a chit been left in my mail box. The post lady also dresses in typical Czech fashion, wearing her blue and yellow pin striped Ceská pošta polo shirt, teamed with a matching blue mini skirt 🙂

Even when I do have to go to the Post Office, there is a great contrast. In Prague, after taking a numbered ticket, I frequently had to wait up to thirty minutes before being served. Whilst here, I do have a slightly longer journey to the Post Office in Markvartice, once arrived, there is rarely more than one person in front of me and collection is completed in a few minutes.

Refuse truck parked up around the back of Bar-Restaurace U Soni © Ricky Yates

Refuse collection

My grey wheelie bin for household rubbish, is emptied weekly, late each Wednesday afternoon. But as the refuse truck passes along my street, it first has to stop at Bar-Restaurace U Soni, ostensibly to collect their rubbish. The truck is driven around the back to where the bins are, but is then parked up there for at least the next half hour.

As far as I can observe, the three-man crew are then duly fed and watered at what I would describe as the Stammtisch (German), Stammstul (Czech), a table set up around the back of the premises, where the male half of the couple who own the business, often sits in the evening, having a few beers with his close friends. Whether the refuse truck crew are fed and watered free-of-charge, or in return for certain favours such as collecting commercial refuse and deeming it household waste, I do not know. But it could really only happen in a small village 🙂

12 comments to Some aspects of village life in Stará Oleška

  • We have a great postal delivery and rubbish collection service here in Mid-Wales, but I do envy you your excellent public transport, Ricky. There hasn’t been a proper bus service to our village for many years and even the old post-bus service ceased to run some years ago. We do have a rail station 4 miles away, but need a car to get there.

    • Ricky

      Public transport is brilliant in the Czech Republic. The rail network is dense – unlike in the UK, there has been no Dr Beeching. The bus service here has been a great boon for me when my car has been in Prague being repaired. And for those who live in the village without a car, it is absolutely essential. Fortunately, the regional government subsidise it, keeping the fares low.

  • Jeremy Radcliffe

    I love reading about experiences in different parts of the world – yours is rather interesting!
    I spent only a few days in Prague last year but was pleasantly surprised by the city and loved the trams, but very busy in summer!
    What to write now? A day in the life….

    • Ricky

      Hello Jeremy! Thank you commenting here, as well as on Facebook, I’m very pleased to know that find my experiences interesting.

      Prague is a wonderful city. Like you, I too love the trams, much preferring them to using the Metro, even though it is usually quicker. The historic centre can be very busy during the tourist season. If you want to avoid the crowds, come in the ‘non-tourist season’, early January – late March.

      There isn’t really a typical ‘day in the life’ at the moment. Sometimes I go walking as in the two previous posts; other days it is working on the house & garden which has and will be written about too.

  • Very interesting and insightful post, Ricky! Even information that is useful to me as an outside-of-Prague-er. I had no idea I would have to stand on the platform and wave to “by request stop” a train on certain routes… I thought just being near the platform might be enough, so that’s great to know to be sure. And it seems like Budejovice and Prague are the same in the post office parcel delivery system — as I am often working from home, I thought it was a bit fishy that they never actually try to deliver the parcel…. hmmm 😉 Sounds like things are good in Stará Oleška!

    • Ricky

      Glad you enjoyed this post, Cynthia! Regarding Ceská pošta and its parcel delivery service, some years back in Prague, we had a young male postman who did ring the bell & try to deliver packages. He also spoke some English. I suspect he left for a better paid job! I do think it is a city versus country thing. Service here is certainly more personal for which I’m most grateful.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    I’m delighted to hear you’re enjoying your new surroundings, I think villages and villagers are pretty much the same everywhere.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean – I am very much enjoying my new surroundings, other than being without electricity for over 13 hours from 17.00 yesterday until 06.40 this morning, which is why I’ve taken a little longer to approve & reply to your comment!

      In some respects, villages & villagers are similar everywhere. But the big contrast between Stará Oleška and the North Oxfordshire village of Finmere where I lived for over 15 years, is having decent & cheap public transport.

  • Julia Walz

    Hi Ricky,
    I have enjoyed reading your blogs, especially since I was recently in Markvartice for the church re-consecration. My mother came from this area and I had visited there with her back in 2001. However, she died in 2004 and so some of my siblings and I from Minnesota and California as well as cousins from Germany.
    You shared about some aspects of village life. I am curious how you are finding the internet connection there.
    Julia

    • Ricky

      Hi Julia,
      I’m pleased know you’ve enjoyed reading my blog & how nice to have a second comment from an American who attended the reconsecration of Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church in Markvartice. See the comment on the reconsecration post from Jim Lewis.

      The answer to the question in your second paragraph can be found in a blog post from the beginning of June. See http://rickyyates.com/i-am-connected-to-the-internet-and-the-new-house-has-wifi/ It works perfectly, as long as I have electricity. In the six months I have been living in Stará Oleška, I’ve suffered two power outages causes by storms bringing down trees and power lines 🙁

      Please keep visiting & commenting 🙂

  • Julia Walz

    Hi Ricky,

    Nice to hear back from you and to be referred to your blog regarding wifi and your adventures in getting set up for internet connection.

    Thanks for also referring me to Jim’s blog. I know him personally. We both have ancestors from the same area and had dinner together while we were there for the celebration. It was a memorable experience for my family from the States and cousins from Germany. We were able to enjoy each other’s company and transcend language barriers with laughter and hand signals for those who couldn’t speak the other’s language of German or English. But I have to admit, the Czech beer helped. As I speak fluent German, it was not a problem to communicate with them and to interpret. On the other hand, I found it very frustrating that I could not understand or speak Czech. And I can appreciate what you are experiencing.

    My goal is to visit the area again and to do some hiking, so I have been getting back into shape with hiking twice a week with a group of dedicated hikers who walk 8 kilometers each time. I am usually at the tail end 🙂 by the end of the hike. I also enjoyed your blog post about your hike. By the way, did you ever find the little chapel?

    • Ricky

      Hi Julia,

      I do always try to reply to people who are kind enough to leave comments here 🙂

      Fascinating that you know Jim Lewis and met up with him when you were both here for the Church reconsecration. And I’m sure it was memorable for your US family & German relatives to meet up, especially if it was for the first time. I can well believe that Czech beer helped to lubricate the conversation 🙂

      I totally understand your frustration with not being able to understand or speak Czech. It is a very difficult language! Other than a few old German words, the result of Czech lands being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, it bears no relation to German, nor English, French, Spanish….. Rather, it is deemed to be the most difficult of all the Slavic languages to learn & its only redeeming feature is that it uses the Latin & not the Cyrillic alphabet.

      By far the best way to explore this area is on foot, following the various waymarked routes. So do visit again and fulfil your goal. Since I wrote that blog post about walking from Jetrichovice to Srbská Kamenice, I have re-walked it & found the rock chapel in Všemily. I have some photos so maybe the topic for a future blog post.