Wednesday, August 10, 2016

More from the Czech Republic: Ceské Krumlov

We had a driver pick us up in Prague for the drive / tour to Ceské Krumlov. It was so relaxing not having to get to a train station or airport. And to not have to think about directions. There’s a lot about independent travel we like (especially the independence) but letting someone else take care of you has it’s advantages.

Our first stop was Hluboká nad Vltavou Chateau. It dates back to 13C but evolved through it’s most recent Gothic facelift in 19C and now looks a bit like Windsor Castle. We had the choice of waiting 1.5 hours for an English tour or joining a Czech tour accompanied  by an English language handout. We chose the later and were quite satisfied with the result. A couple standouts for us were that the walls and ceilings were primarily decorated with ornately carved wood but Princess Elenora’s private rooms included lovely floral ceiling panels to brighten things up. (No photos allowed. Bummer.)

 We went to Ceské Budějovice (pronounced Chess key Boo da yo vee see), the true home of Budweiser.  We couldn’t help ourselves. We had to confirm that it is indeed different and better at the original source. Indeed it is and it comes in a range of styles, as our photo confirms.  We had lunch at an old tavern, Masné Krámy that appeared to be affiliated with Budweiser. Along with our “Buds”, a “Budvar B: SPECIAL drawn from the tank" and a “Budvar B: DARK” from the tap, we had pork and potato in dark beer sauce and a caesar salad. We thought about the "ice cream made from dark lager with a raspberry sauce” but managed to resist. 

We later enjoyed wandering around the main square with the fountain, iron pianos and interesting rain spouts.

Iron pianos as a tribute to a local musician
Rain spouts

Our next stop was in the little village of Holašovice, a World Heritage protected village, with 23 gabled farmhouse painted with "South Bohemian Folk Baroque" designs.  (Note: Following WWII the Germans in the area, about 1/3 of the local population, were expelled. This left these lovely home in Holašovice empty until later adopted by the Slavs.)  In the town park they have a gigantic slingshot.  Well apparently it is really something used as part of the April 30 / May 1 activities to “burn" witches.

As expected, C Krumlov is packed with tourists, but it is so very cute, what else could we expect?  We hurried up to the Castle for a brief tour before closing. The museum is fine but not amazing.  The view from the WatchTower is a highlight. Then we wandered through the Castle Gardens and back to town.
The Castle Watchtower
Looking down from the Castle Watchtower...these houses look so like apart of a toy village

View of one of the dams on the Vlatava River in C Krumlov.
Note the canoes  (above and below the dam) and the the sluice way to the right that
allows canoeing around the dam.
For an evening snack we opted for cheese in sunflower oil with garlic & sliced chiles, with first a prosecco, then white wines (gruner ventlinger & reisliing), and ending with a red (cabernet sauvignon from Sicily) wines.

We rose early the next morning for a walk to checkout the pre-crowd town. We discovered it to be chilly (53F). We confirmed that typical tourists sleep-in until 8am and that this town lends itself better to afternoon light.

By 10:30 we were ready for a guided tour around town. Making beer & raising fish were historically the income producing activities. There were four royal families up through WWII, then everything was nationalized and the buildings were totally neglected under communism. The last royal family, the ones who also owned Hluboká nad Vltavou Chateau, were established by the first Duke who was proud of his triumph in a key battle with the Ottomans. After the battle he saw a raven feating off the head of a Turk. He was so struck by the image that he chose to highlight it for his family shield. Nice, huh?

Following communism, properties in CK could be purchased for roughly $4000 (US). Those same properties would now be worth $500K - $1 million. There is a cool rotating theater on the castle grounds. The concept is that instead of waiting for scenes to change, the audience rotates to the next scene. Or if the story requires a move from one town to another, the audience moves with the actors to the next town. Unfortunately the theater dates from the 1950’s and is not appreciated by UNESCO. So the big controversy is: tear down the theater? Move it outside the castle grounds? Move it underground, raising it up for performances? The later options are very costly (i.e. millions of dollars). Tearing it down also means remove more recent heritage. For now, status quo wins.

After a little walking and shopping we stopped at a riverside cafe for lunch. The wine, a Pinot Noir from Moravia, was rich and fruity and bolstered the flavors of the bread, prosciutto and fruit we had for lunch. After lunch we continued our walking and shopping tour and after a short break at the hotel Pat went on another shopping trip and bought a shirt.
This Rudlandské Modré (Pinot Noir in Czech) was yummy before the meal,
with the meal and after the meal.

For our evening repast we went to Papa's and had another table along the river. We had an arugula and prosciutto pizza accompanied by a new wine to us, Andre Hrabal 2012 (good body and flavor, was decanted by the server, and held up during the whole meal). Note the interesting label.

Next morning before departing we went to an overlook near the hotel, got one last photo and met a young couple from Beijing also taking photos. He took a great photo of us with the castle in the background and then they asked us to pose with them.  Of course we did but I'll never quite understand the attraction for having photos taken with strangers.


  1. Thank you for the beautifull photos and interesting reactions and thoughts to the wonderful places that you are visiting💋