As our hotel was also the one where the students were staying, I will say we enjoyed the usual European breakfast of meats, cheeses, yogurt, warm breads and so forth the following morning, in the cacophony of middle school students hopped up on the Fanta from the breakfast bar (!) but you will know otherwise.  We beat a hasty retreat, loaded the car and began our wandering from Slavonice.

The evening thunderstorms resulted in overcast skies for our return journey; we decided to sightsee until the rain began, then point the car south and head home to Vienna.  Heading east from Slavonice we spied several bunkers tucked in amidst the bright yellow rapeseed fields; at one bunker location a kindly person had mapped the additional bunkers tucked in the nearby (dark and foreboding) woods and tacked the information on a tree, for perhaps the more adventurous. 

We paused in Písečné to get our bearings and were struck by the scene on my camera viewer.  In one photo frame I had captured remnants of the Gothic castle, fading Sgraffito on the church, a Communist-era smokestack with a jumbo stork nest on the top, and the town offices, with their slightly shabby Czech and EU flags hanging limply in the damp air. So many of the little towns we drove through on this trip seemed lost in time; the leaden skies only added to the sense of the forgotten.

At the confluence of the Rivers Želetavka and Dyje we viewed Hrad Bitov, one of the largest and oldest Moravian castles. The castle is an impressive structure, made to seem even more imposing in its location atop the cliffs.  We were late to arrive for the (required) tour, alas. Some other time.  From the road up to Hrad Bitov one can view the ruins of Hrad Cornstejn, sitting atop the steppe vegetation slopes of the River Thaya and also a very photo-worthy side trip.

By this time the rain had begun, and almost held off long enough for us to reach Znojmo.  After a scramble for parking, we sought warmth and food at a restaurant on the town square.  The proprietor, Frau Helene ran the restaurant with an enviable perfection, evident in the food.  Our lunch began with garlic soup studded with rye croutons, followed by a perfectly juicy beefsteak and potato salad for Tony and a perfectly roasted trout with caraway for me. Tony and I have commented that we have never had bad food in the Czech Republic, and our late lunch was no exception.  If the Czechs ever desired world domination, they just might achieve it through their food. Adding to the ambience was the playlist of American country music circa 1980s (Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers…), as well as Czech country covers of American country music, putting us in a cheery mood for the rainy drive home.