Published: May 14th 2012May 14th 2012
České Budějovice Main Square
One of the largest in Europe.
...at Arktic Fresh Food, home of the best hamburgers in Olomouc but more on that later. The rest of the Czech Republic after Prague was a mad dash through another popular tourist destination, the castle at Český Krumlov, followed by 2 subdued places in Moravia, Brno and Olomouc, which were practically devoid of tourists compared to Bohemia.
Arrived in Kraków this morning on the overnight train from Olomouc. Very nice and comfortable ride in a 6 person couchette. Took a 2½ hour walking tour at 11 am after settling in at the hostel located at the edge of the Old Town. Tomorrow Auschwitz, Wednesday tour the salt mines and Kraków's Jewish Quarter, and Thursday down to Slovakia and the High Tatra Mountains. That's the plan anyway although I'm not sure how much longer I can keep up this frenetic pace. The planned climbing in the Tatras will be relaxing compared to zipping through the Czech Republic and Kraków.
Travel Related Details
$1 ≈ 19 Czech koruna (Kč)
České Budějovice Accommodation and Food
Stayed at AT Pension between the bus terminal and town center for 490 Kč/night for my own room with private bathroom. A
huge breakfast was an additional 60 Kč and totally worth it. The place is super quiet and I took major advantage of that fact to catch up on my sleep. I found a great restaurant on my way back from the brewery tour, Restaurace Perla on Pražská just north of the main square. Massive quantities of gnocchi, bread, and salad chased down with a mug of the local specialty was ~180 Kč. Sit near the entry to aid in ventilating the plumes of smoke from the other patrons. Lunch I cobbled together from all the leftover breakfast that would have been impossible to finish and took it to go. Ate Chinese yet again at the bus terminal/shopping center where free WiFi was available. Transport
Can't comment on local transport as the town is totally walkable including to the brewery in ~20-30 minutes. Heading for Brno, I rocked up at the station at 8:45 am or so without a reservation and bought a ticket from the Čsad Jihotrans driver for 200 Kč plus the 10 Kč baggage fee although the pack probably could have been stashed on the bus. Left on time at 9 am and arrived in Brno at
Where hops and malt are added to the pure water.
1:30 pm which was kind of a long ride for a short distance but the bus stopped a lot. Possible to shave 30-60 minutes off the trip by leaving at 6:45 am but I wan't about to do that. The Original Budweiser Brewery Tour
There is a 2 pm tour in English every weekday for 100 Kč and it lasts for about an hour. Extremely minimal beer sampling, like one small cup of unfiltered brew. It was alright and the bottling plant was very cool. Český Krumlov
Done as a day trip. Entrance fee to the castle with one hour Tour I is 250 Kč. There are several other tours, all pricey. Not sure if I'd do that again. Everyone will say how lovely Krumlov is but, sorry to report, I think it's one big tourist trap and was extremely glad to have based myself in Budějovice. Frequent local buses head from the Budějovice terminal to Český Krumlov for 32 Kč one way (40 Kč on the faster Student Agency buses).
Brno Accommodation and Food
Spent 2 nights at the centrally located Hostel Mitte for 490 Kč/night in a 6 person dormitory with our own
bathroom. The hostel was very nice with far ranging free WiFi but the downside was the cost and the disappointing breakfast of yogurt, granola, and corn flakes but no brewed coffee even though the hostel had a cafe downstairs. It was the poorest value lodging I encountered in the Czech Republic. Fortunately for dinner, I stumbled across the Pakistani inspired Pizzoner (Pizza + Döner, very clever) on Štefánikova north of the main square. An enormous plate of döner, rice, salad, and bread with a soda goes for 99 Kč or substitute a mango lassi for an additional 15 Kč. Pretty, pretty good. A 25 Kč cup of joe or espresso can be found at McDonalds close to the hostel, 35 Kč at the hostel's cafe but no way was I buying anything at the cafe as a protest to the failure to include coffee with breakfast like every other place I stayed. Transport
I bought a ticket for the one hour ride to Olomouc with Student Agency for 105 Kč (several departures during the day but sell out quickly). Two nice aspects of traveling with them is that they don't charge for baggage and leave from the bus stop
opposite the Grand Hotel which is much closer to the center than the bus station. From the center it is a 2 tram ride (1 zone, 20 Kč) to the bus terminal or a 15-20 minute walk first to the train station then through the shopping mall. Punkevní jeskyně (Punkva Caves)
Easy to get to on your own and worth half a day. I bought a 4 zone ticket for 34 Kč (valid for 90 minutes on all manner of transport in Brno area). KEEP THE TICKET AFTER THE TRAIN RIDE. It covers both the train to Blankso and bus #226 from there to the caves at Skalní mlýn. There are trains almost half hourly but not so many buses. I took the 10:03 am train then the 11:15 am bus to the caves. That gives just enough time to walk to the cave for the 12:00 pm tour including the underground river boat ride for 170 Kč. After the boat trip, I hiked to the top of Macocha Abyss (huge sinkhole) then back to the park entrance and the Kateřinská Cave where there was a 40 minute tour at 2:20 pm for an additional 80 Kč. I was
"caved out" and didn't want to spend any more dinero
so I tried to hitch a ride back to Blansko before the 3:14 pm bus was scheduled to depart. I think you could do the Kateřinská tour at 2:20 pm and still make the bus. Otherwise, the next and last bus is at 5 pm. If you catch the 3:14 pm bus there is a train at 3:30 pm back to Brno which will give you ~45 minutes more to tool around Brno on the trams on the same 4 zone ticket bought from the bus driver leaving the caves. Note that it can be pretty cold in the caves. Vila Tugendhat
Defintely book in advance if interested in the tour. I went by to snap a few pix and the 2 remaining tours (one in English the other in Czech) were sold out on a Thursday in May. I imagine in summer it is even busier. Bit of a walk from the center or several trams stop close by.
Olomouc Accommodation and Food
Stayed the 2 night minimum at Poets' Corner Hostel in a 6 person dorm for 300 Kč/night. No reservation but it is
Filtering Out the Yeast
Mmmm... yeast filtrate.
very small and very popular. Free WiFi and laptop are available. First meal was shortly after arriving at the all you can eat buffet at Nepal for 110 Kč. Forty's Pizza serves decent 29 Kč slices as well as better deal whole pies. Cafe 87 next to the Modern Art Museum serves nice breakfasts with thick fruit milkshakes for ~90 Kč. Alanya Kebab sells the basic, classic döner sandwich for 60 Kč and gooey pieces of authentic baklava for 10 Kč. Arktic Fresh Food has great burgers with fries starting at 90 Kč but BYOK (bring your own ketchup) or fork over another 10 Kč for ketchup for your fries. There are numerous places to get a delicious double cone of gelato for 20 Kč. Transport
Easy to get to the center from the Student Agency bus stop at the train station. Numerous trams pass both for 14 Kč. In Prague I purchased a train ticket in a couchette (6 person sleeper compartment) for 825 Kč leaving Olomouc at 10:44 pm for the 8:15 trip to Krakow. Archdiocese and Modern Art Museums
Both open Tue - Sun 10am - 5 pm with free entry on Wednesday and Sunday.
Nominal entry fee other days. I found the Archdiocese collections of art, treasure, and archeological findings more interesting. St. Moritz Church Tower
Open Mon - Sat 9 am - 6 pm and Sun 12 pm - 6 pm, 20 Kč suggested donation to climb the tower for super views of Olomouc center. Letiště Olomouc
Aviation Museum Olomouc has a mixture of Czech and Soviet aircraft, paraphanalia, and military vehicles. Open daily 10 am - 5m pm, 50/25 Kč entry fee, 30 minute walk from the hostel or catch tram 2 or 7 to the end of the line.
There are more photos below