Romantic. Quaint. Picturesque. Mountains. A winding river. And of course, a Castle!
Everyone had told us not to miss Českÿ Krumlov while we were in the neighborhood. So, this time we booked a FLIX bus to take us from Prague to this southern Czech Republic town, and it didn’t show up! We waited and waited, along with a bus load of others, and the bus never came. After 2 hours we all gave up. FLIX offered us a 7:30pm bus as a replacement for our scheduled 11:30am bus, but, by then, Joyce had found us another bus line at another bus station leaving at 2:00pm. Lesson learned – when you travel, you have got to be flexible and resourceful!
And, for the first time since we left Paris, we were staying IN A HOTEL! The Hotel Zlaty Andel was situated directly on the main square of the Old Town. Our room was large. It had 2 double beds, a tiny table and two small windows, which I had a problem thinking of escaping through, if there were a fire, as we were on the top of the slanted roof with a 3-story drop off. The rather large bathroom had a very strange layout, but our room had a mini-bar! We popped the small bottle of champagne, unpacked and settled in for 3 nights and 2 days.
Everyone we talked to said this was a ‘medieval village’ but it really isn’t. It sits on a bend in the Vltava River which provides a natural moat, and the first to take advantage of this were the Celtic tribes who arrived a century before Christ. Then came the Germanic tribes; the Slavic tribes arrived in the ninth century and settled in for a good long time (1302 – 1602). Bohemia’s top noble families took turns ruling here for centuries. Českÿ Krumlov’s golden age was the 16th century when artists, scientists, musicians and alchemists flocked there from across Europe. When the ruling family ran out of money in 1602 they sold it to the Hapsburgs, and it became much more a Germanic town until 1945 when most of the Germans were expelled (or killed) by the new Czechoslovakian reigine in cohorts with the incoming Communists. It wasn’t until 70 years later, 2015, when those families who were kicked out could legally return.
Seriously, there was no way to take a bad picture in this little town.
A river runs through it….
Enjoying plenty of sunshine and blue skies, Joyce and I are posing with the Krumlov Castle in the background.
We found a very nice ‘free walking tour’ and enjoyed a 2-hour stroll around the center of Old Českÿ Krumlov. From the map our guide showed us, you can easily see how the river defended and also provided transportation to and from this part of the country.
We saw big churches, buildings covered with colorful decorations and saints with halos guarding the main squares.
Of course we toured the Castle – it has a very nice tower, big entryway, painted walls and its own brown bear! But, even more importantly, it has one of the only two remaining Baroque theaters that survive today in fairly good shape. Even after fires and being totally neglected during the years under Communism, it has been restored to where it is used once a year for a performance during the annual music festival. We managed to snag one of the few English-language tours but, unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the theater.
While strolling around town on our own we met a monk, found a weird bench held up with 2 large feet, watched a blacksmith make a suit of armor and wondered why the people canoeing on the river were all towing inflatable ducks, pink flamingos and big, blue birds?
We took time to walk through what had been the Jewish Quarter and found that the synagogue was now a museum and the Jewish population had departed long ago.
What we didn’t find was any good restaurants or much to do after two days. We were ready to bid adieu to this pretty little town and head to our next big city – Vienna!
Until next time….