May 12, 2016

Getting High

Literally. I climbed on the top of a smokestack (and an old castle, too).

Recently, I took the brace off my broken knee for the first time since the injury and started to learn how to walk again. Shortly after, a friend from the Czech chimney climbing club (yes, there's such thing), organized an ascent on a smokestack in the central Czech Republic. So, I put the brace back on, and went for it.

Right, it might not look like the best idea to you, and perhaps rightfully so. But let me clarify a few things: a couple of years ago, as a member of the club, I climbed industrial chimneys regularly. It was my passion, and I climbed a few hundreds of them. I might write an article about it one day, but for now, let's just say that this activity wasn't new to me. Another thing, visiting with friends from the club that I haven't seen in ages, sounded great. Finally, the actual climbing is a delightful thing to do. As I believe that a good psychical state significantly impacts the healing processes, this event was right up my alley.

An early morning a few days ago, I boarded a train in the direction of Benesov — a city where the event was.

From the station, it is just a short walk to the destination: Ferdinand, a local brewery.

Benesov (3)

At the main gate. "Pivovar" is the Czech word for a brewery.

The establishment has many cool industrial details..

Benesov (5) of which was our point of interest: the 45 meters (150 feet) tall pile of radial bricks.

Benesov (4)

yeah, that one.

Benesov (6)

Once under the structure, I greeted friends, tightened the knee brace, and grabbed the ladder. Let's begin!

Benesov (8)

" comes the sun, and I say, it's all right.."

If you ever wondered how it is to climb a stack like this with a knee that you can't bend a bit; well, it's rather challenging. But the feel and the views pays off.

a part of Benesov, as seen from the stack. click for bigger.

A part of Benesov, as seen from the stack. Click to enlarge.

Benesov (13)

This wasn't the end of exciting things. It happens that the friend who organized this, Jana, works as a manager of an old chateau located at the edge of the city, just two miles from the brewery. Some of us moved there to spend the afternoon.

The chateau has roots in the 13th century as a castle, and since then, it was rebuilt a couple of times. The last modifications were made at the turn of the 19-20 century during the reign of Franz Ferdinand, who used this as his summer residence - before he was assassinated and the First World War started. Anyway, the chateau has a respectable collection of its old equipment, furnishings, weapons and such. And we got a detailed tour through all that.

Benesov (14)

"...and note this crystal chandelier, its history goes..."

Jana also provided us with access to some otherwise forbidden places, such as the castle's highest tower. To get there, one has to get through interesting but clearly not wheelchair-friendly spaces. Again, quite a task with the broken knee.

But the views it offers were a worthy reward. Mainly the gardens surrounding the castle are class.

Benesov (17)

That's where we went next..

..and after an hour or so, we split and went for an individual program. Me, I got back to Prague to hang out at the riverside, as my leg had enough exercise for the week.


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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories