Other trips

Other trips can be accessed by clicking the following links:

Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea

Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Copenhagen

Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India and England

Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Ethiopia, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE and Denmark

Panama, Colombia, Ecuador (Including Gallapagos), Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Including Easter Island), Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cesky Krumlov: Suits of Armor, Rafting & Bears

After taking Prague’s metro to a different bus station from the one we arrived at several days earlier, we hopped on the 9am Student Agency Bus for the 3 hour trip SE to Cesky Krumlov, the most charming town I can imagine seeing.  Of course, arriving there in the sun helped make the view of the babbling S-shaped Vltava River and cobbled streets all capped by a dramatic castle even more magical. The town of only 15,000 hosts 1.5 million visitors a year, and is the second largest tourist magnet after Prague and is only a half hour’s drive from Austria.

We hadn’t come to see any salt mines, bone churches, cemeteries or breathtaking cathedrals this time but just to walk the cobbled streets of a beautiful town. We checked into the many centuries old former town bakery, now the Hostel Krumlov House owned by a man from Toronto and his wife from Maine who had met 23 years ago in the town and stayed. They are only now eligible to receive their Czech citizenship. Our charming room was in the basement down very windy steep stairs and had its own bathroom and ‘kitchen’ with no burners but a kettle nonetheless (glory be!).  
Thank goodness we had tickets on the Student Agency Bus and not this one that looked like it was from the 50's!

We checked into the many centuries old former town bakery, now the Hostel Krumlov House owned by a man from Toronto and his wife from Maine who had met 23 years ago in the town and stayed. They are only now eligible to receive their Czech citizenship. Our charming room was in the basement down very windy steep stairs and had its own bathroom and ‘kitchen’ with a kettle nonetheless (glory be!) but no burners.
In front of Hostel Krumlov with the dragon door.
You think I was joking when I mentioned the steep stairs!
In front of our room called Arp; perhaps
it should have been called AARP for us old folks!

The patio overlooking the lovely river.

Since we only had the afternoon and evening to tour Cesky Krumlov, we dropped off our bags got our bearings and headed down Rooseveltova (all Czech town seems to have a Rooseveltova St, we’ve noticed) where our hostel was located, to the town’s one main street while the sun still shone – we haven’t seen the sun much so far this trip so it was a rare treat even if it did only last a short while.

Stopped at a little garden overlook for some breathtaking views of the Old Town, Castle Town off in the distance and at the top of nearby Klet Mtn, a TV tower that locals say was built to jam Voice of America.

Just across the street was Hotel Ruze, a former Jesuit College, that we knew to enter and visit for a bit. Wouldn’t have minded staying here instead of our hostel!

You can see the hotel's Jesuit roots from the religious symbols on the walls.
Steven loved the suits of armor!
St. Vitus Church was next  to the hotel (think we’d seen another St. Vitus Church already in Prague!); obviously a wedding had just taken place there as there were flowers on the pews; thought we’d been on a pedestrian street but we soon heard about 20 cars from the wedding party all honking their horns driving down the very narrow street. 

Street Scenes: We had no goal in mind, no place we needed to be by a set time so it was delightful just to wander up and down the narrow streets and see where they took us. Here are some photos of what we saw:

Cars leaving St. Vitus Church with the wedding party and guests all honking their horns.

Huh times two!

Natalie honey: Kept seeing signs with a different variation of your name on them. 

Rafting Scenes: As we crossed the many short, wooden bridges as we criss-crossed the river numerous times, it was immediately apparent that rafting down the river was a popular pastime. It was fun to watch rafts slide down the chute. 

See the chute on the right all the boats came down; probably a more technical term but neither Steven nor I know it.

Castle: No Czech town is complete without a castle and now that the nobles are gone, their mansions are open to us common folk. The Krumlov Castle complex includes bear pits, a rare Baroque Theater, groomed gardens and, of course, the castle itself. The very colorful Round Tower marks the location of the castle built here to guard the medieval river crossing. We could have climbed 162 steps up to the top but neither of us felt like it as we’ve both had colds for a few weeks now – yup, I know, what wimps we are, huh!

Walking up to the Castle's Round Tower.

Hey, another map I can pose in front of!

View from the castle.

One of my favorite shots.

One of 2 bear pits in the castle.

Castle Gardens: The 2,300 foot long garden crowns the castle complex; it was laid out in the 17th century when the noble family would have it lit with 22,000 oil lamps, torches and candles for special occasions. The lower part is geometrical and symmetrical, i.e. French Garden style, while the upper is an English garden style.

Think I need to dye my hair PDQ judging from this picture! 

Gorgeous scene for wedding photos; too bad it started pouring cats and dogs 2 minutes later.
Followed the hostel owner’s advice and went to Na Louzi Restaurant for some traditional Czech food; what a treat having a lovely hot dinner instead of our usual grilled cheese or omelette we’d been having in the hostel. We both loved eating a real meal complete with meat and vegetables for a change. I had a yummy chicken and mushroom dish and Steven enjoyed his goulash, potato dumplings and a good bit of mine too. The ‘service’ was non existent: a matter of sitting down, being expected to order immediately, the food came within a blink of an eye, then the server arrived with the bill waiting to be paid right then. It included a whopping 21% tax or service fee or something. I am sure we were in and out in 25 minutes max as no dawdlers were allowed! 

Natalie and Adam: these photos and the blurb above are for you since I remember, Natalie, your saying you'd have liked more about what foods we ate, etc in last year's blog. I didn't realize just HOW much bigger my dinner was compared to Steven's; no wonder I gave so much of it to him.
Some lovely nighttime shots below of Cesky Krumlov: