Tuesday 11th December
Judy seldom needs an alarm clock so we were up by 0615 ready to have breakfast at 0700. Just as well as Rags had set the alarm for the wrong day! We left the apartment before 0800 for the walk to the railway station. Rags was going to bargain the ridiculous A$15 taxi-fare quote we were given yesterday but as there weren't any taxis around we had to walk the 2-3km anyway! It was hot work at the time but we got there with all our luggage in plenty of time for the train.
We firstly travelled for just over an hour to Cheb, on the German border, changed trains to Pizen 2 hours away and then had to catch another train for a short time, get on a bus for about 30 minutes due to rail repairs, back on a train arriving in Ceske Budejovice at about 1600. So much for their 5 hour 6 min trip! As all information on changes were in Czech we were lucky to have a local who spoke English in our carriage to interpret.
Once in Cesky Krumlov, the tourist information office at the station was very helpful
and armed with map and directions to the bus and which stop to get off, after a short trip into town we found ourselves in the dark alleys of the Old Town. We soon found Parkan alley where Fodors said there were many pensions. The first door we knocked on had us in our new base for the next 3 nights after only a minimal amount of haggling. The room, spotlessly clean, is like a cave carved out of the limestone with a low door and archway into a modern bathroom.
Cesky Krumlov is a medieval castle city in the southwest of the Czech Republic that has preserved its medieval center like no other due ts peaceful evolution over more than five centuries. The Český Krumlov Castle, built in the 13th century, is the second largest castle complex in Czech Republic after Prague castle. It was listed on the UNESCO register of monuments of world significance in 1992. Cesky Krumlov sits between two bends of the river Vltava.
It was still raining lightly but our stomachs said drink & food were needed and after a short explore we found ourselves in a cafe down in an other cave-like
room similar to one we remember in Budapest 5 years ago. We had only just started to have our first drink when 3 chaps from New Zealand, whom we had met on the last train, appeared. This gave us a chance to have some-one else to talk to and an enjoyable meal of goulash soup in a cob, and a shared dish of pork knuckle washed down with several half-litre mugs of dark beer was had.
As we were quite tired after our early start and travels we wisely declined to join them for even more drinks at another pub and retired for a fairly early night.
Wednesday 12th December
After another night on a hard bed we awoke just before 0800 and after showering our hosts brought us breakfast on a tray to have in our room which has 2 comfortable chairs and a small table. Breakfast consisted of meat, cheese, tomato, yoghurt, bread and a couple of types of bun.
We could hear the rain outside so were in no hurry to leave the room but it didn't stop so at about 1000 we donned our warm gear, jackets and beanies and left. It drizzled
continuously all day but as it wasn't windy and blowing in our faces it didn't bother us too much. We spent most of the day exploring the thirteenth century city and castle which overlooks it. Unfortunately we were unable to explore the castle rooms as these are only open in the high season. Even the 2 brown bears that usually reside in the moats were nowhere to be seen! However we were able to wander through the castle area and peer into the castle garden which is also closed. We mostly had the whole area to ourselves as the tour buses arrived much later in the day.
We crossed the fast flowing Vltava River that was overflowing the banks in several spots - we wouldn't want to fall into there! The river swirls in almost a complete circle around the old town of Cesky Krumlov making a beautiful setting for the many bars, pensions, restaurants, clothing and jewellery shops housed in the beautifully restored buildings of this town.
After enquiring about alternatives for our travel to Vienna on Friday we returned to a little restaurant near our room that we'd picked out earlier. Here we had the “food
of the ancients”. The food served here tried to copy the food that people from many centuries ago would have eaten. This consisted of food such as millet cake, dumplings, smoked meat and chicken flavoured with tarragon. Quite tasty.
The rest of the afternoon was spent looking in various shops including jewellery shops for a particular designed Czech/Bohemian pendant that Rags would like to buy Judy for Christmas. We did find one eventually very close to where we are staying, but, being the careful buyers we are we will check out what is in Cesky Budejovice tomorrow before making a decision.
Dinner was at a vegetarian restaurant two doors down from where we are. Judy had a chilli dish with hardly any chilli taste, Rags a vegetable- cheese dish with little cheese. The dark beer served here was returned as it was flat and lifeless. Understandably we won't be going back!
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