Fantasy thoughts: elementals

When it comes to creatures in fantasy, authors can be really imaginative. There are the ‘classical’ creatures like werewolves, vampires, dragons and many others and authors (including those of computer games) seems to be able to create several more with different place on the scale between any large beast and human. Or just really scary beasts with some slight sentience.

The fact that I started reading a bit more seriously only two years ago might be a factor, but so far I have yet to encounter a book that would use elementals, let alone in such scale as they are used in World of Warcraft. That is despite the fact that creatures related to the four elements appeared in old myths (ancient China, Greece) and some others are most likely inspired by them (Russian Ded Moroz – (Great)father Frost or other examples from Slavic myths).

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Finding inspiration

This is a slight crossover post. While focused on another journey to a nice place (with loads of photos), one of the destination is a chateau I hoped might give me some inspiration for my writing. I hope for it, at least. Also, as a side effect (is it really still late April) it seems I got a bit more summer-ish skin tone.

Before I get to the hike itself, I feel like I should mention one thing: Due to how I was traveling, I departed one hour later than I usually do for hikes that are some distance away from my home. Unfortunately there’s no train heading in the general direction of Wien around 6:00 from here, so I had to be okay with 7:00 and thus starting the walk around 9:50 (I usually try for 8:30-9:00).

The area around Lednice and Valtice towns consists of parks, ponds, the chateaus and other buildings as well as cultivated landscape totalling almost 300 square kilometers. Most of it was done by the Liechtenstein dukes on the verge of 18th and 19th century and eventually made it to UNESCO heritage in 1996. It was the reason I believed to get a bit of inspiration there, though if it’ll happen is hard to guess.

Austrian oak forests

After a walk through the groves of Austrian oaks, I reached first of the cultural landmarks: hunting lodge named ‘Diana’s temple’ and shaped like Neoclassical arch. With main hall in the top-most level.

Why would someone shape hunting lodge like that?

After a bit more walking, the next landmark was a structure in Victorian Gothic style that reminded me of how the castle used to film Harry Potter movies had its windows sculpted. That one was, for change, in pine groves.

As it was mid-week and still before the main “chateau season”, so to say – most of cultural landmarks in Czech republic have ‘pre-season’ and ‘post-season’ where they are open to public only on weekends (April and October) while during the main season (May to September) they are open 6 or 7 days in the week. That meant that most of the time, I was spared the decision whether to dish out some cash for look from inside and instead just took photos from outside and walked on. Not that I would mind it, if I was to see everything from inside, I’d probably need another day.

Shortly after, I reached quite a charming crossing of paths.

Pine and sand crossroads

From there on, I walked to a a semicircle gallery that most likely imitated Antic architecture with the statues of muses and eventually a neoclassical farm that is currently used for horse breeding, yet at that point my main attention was more to the nature.

Seems that this particular pond is dry for quit a while…

The trail led me around a pond that seemed to be well unused for some time, based on the rampant growth of grass. Eventually, I walked to the set of three ponds, first taking a small detour on the shores of the east-most one and after returning, crossing them between the central and east one.

At that point, the sounds of various birds was my main companion. After I left the ponds behind me, I eventually reached the Lednice town and headed for the town square and eventually the chateau gardens (the gardens are open to public). As mentioned above, most of the castle was closed, apart from the greenhouse which I decided to not visit – it was awfully hot on its own already, for late April. So, I walked around the gardens taking pictures.

It was this exact place I hoped to give me some inspiration. I visited in once already, in June 2008. I remember it well, it was school trip and we took the same train back as several of the Polish fans as it was just after the Polish team lost the final match. Good thing we had seat reservations paid in advance, otherwise we’d be hard pressed to find free seats. So, I returned there after (almost) 10 years.

Memories of that aside, at that point I was glad that I could get there mid-week, I am sure that with weather like this, the place would be awfully crowded during weekends.

The park itself has “no cycling” signs pretty much everywhere, for obvious reasons. People wanting to see the landmarks could be threatened by fast-moving cyclists. On the other hand, the area around is quite flat lowlands, which is perfect for cyclists. So, I saw quite a lot of them pushing their bicycles around (which is allowed), leaning them on the benches when they were taking photos.

Several photos later (I’ve shown only a few above) I left even the chateau’s park behind and walked to my next destination. Now it was walking mostly through fields with trees growing either solo or in small groups, many of them looking like they took a lightning strike during their life, being leafless, the tip broken away and the bark gone.

Then came probably the most interesting cultural landmark. Obviously, artificially worn out things were there long before 2010s jeans. Someone in early 1800s had the idea of having a hunting lodge (yes, another one) built to look like ruins of a gothic style castle.

Romanticism fascination with old (especially Gothic) things and the sad story of them falling apart was brought maybe too far in that case.

And that was pretty much the last interesting point of my journey. From there, I had roughly 8km to go through riparian forests, which can be interesting to see. Unfortunately, the trail took pretty the most direct route on asphalt road used by foresters, with the last 2,5km being through the city. I was disappointed by that, partially because I know that riparian forests can be nice relaxing place and because asphalt feels awfully hot in days like this one.

On the other hand, it possibly saved a bit of my time. I reached the rail station in Břeclav at 15:08, with the train in my direction departing 15:11. Pretty much perfect timing.


Map with GPS log included. Unfortunately, the dense foliage and water caused some multipath issues (without too much technical details: satellite signals reflected by water and ‘bent’ by the vegetation screw up the calculation of my position), which makes it look like I went through the pond. That was not the case (I can’t swim and it’s not that shallow), it’s just limitations of technology.

And that’s it for this one.

Writing thoughts: hiker’s inspiration

This will be kind of crossover post about how I sometimes get inspiration for my story while walking through the hills. It might not be just the landscape, but anything. The weather could be a factor as well. Reading books can be good inspiration for duels or battles but for the atmosphere, just going out to the hills works better than anything else.

Nature is often magical. It’s good to have some inspiration just from walking around and being able to think, undisturbed. It’s even better when the landscape itself gives you ideas. Here are a few times it happened to me.

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