Cesky Krumlov: fairytales, gyspy madness, and Hostel 99


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Published: June 27th 2009
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Cesky Krumlov: fairytales, gyspy madness, and Hostel 99



Just back from Cesky Krumlov, "the fairytale village of South Bohemia" it is called. I love it, it had such charm, with its cobblestone sidewalks, babbling river (not as innocently babbling on this trip, I'll explain later), colorful castle tower, and hilly landscape. Though it is the second most visited place in the Czech Republic and has its share of souvenier shops and touristy gymics (including the Museum of Medieval torture=the the stereotype museum in every Europeon village), Krumlov has an old-worldliness that though present in the more modernized Prague is not nearly as common. Took the bus there from Prague (the bus is actually cheaper and faster than the train) and arrived around 2:00. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea taking all my school stuff when I was returning the next day, so had to walk a mile uphill with the weight of a summo wrestler upon my back in order to reach my hostel. It was actually the first time I'd ever stayed in a hostel, I read about this particular one, Hostel 99, in Rick Steves (Rick Steves travels the world and writes really useful guidebooks about most places in Europe, I would highly recommend to pick one up!). I actually really loved the hostel! I went by myself, so I was a little nervous, but the manager James was so nice, he set me up in the room, gave me a map, showed me the most interesting places to go. Plus Hostel 99 is super clean, has it's own restaurant that serves some of the best food in town, is a great place to meet fellow travels, and is 5 minutes from town center.

As soon as I locked my stuff my first task before I could go out to explore was to buy a pair of jeans. My old jeans were ancient and in the trainstation I squatted down when I dropped something, and what do you know, they ripped completely in the, forgive my lingo, I know no other word for it, crotch area. So pretty much I had to keep my legs glued together whenever i sat or walked so I probably looked pretty strange to passerbys. Right down the road from the hostel I found a clothes shop where I found jeans, but discovered I didn't have enough money to pay for them. I showed the Vietnamese lady working the shop my old jeans and she let me give her all the cash I had and wear the new pair to the ATM and back. Ah, classic.

Once that business was taken care of, I went off exploring, camera in hand. First place I went was the castle. 3 years ago I visited Krumlov with my parents, and it was amazing how my memory was jogged as I viewed the sites. I opted for the free exterior of the castle (there are guided tours inside for pay, but honestly I don't think it's that interesting inside). Though the weather was grey and rainy, the castle is gorgeous with its arched doorways, colorful cheery tower, and breathtaking view of the town. On the bridge connecting the castle to the gardens, two teenagers were blowing soap bubbles. I stopped and watched, and eventually asked in my very broken Czech if I could blow a bubble. They were confused at first, but eventually understood, and we spent 5 minutes blowing soap bubbles in silence, watching them float away across the Vltava. I tried to see if could capture Cesky Krumlov through the viewpoint of a bubble with my movie camera, but the bubble refused to stay put long enough for my camera to focus on it, too shy I suppose to let me see though the looking glass into its secret world.

I relaxed among the gigantic twin black trees that dominate the castle garden (I'm not sure what species they are, but really quite stunning) and then made my way to the main square. I wandered back to the place where I stayed when I was here last, part of the reason why I fell in love with Krumlof in the first place (The Castle View Apartments, few rooms but breathtaking fews with full kitchen and everything). Next door was the ceramics shop where I bought my favorite coffee mugs those years ago, I was amused the find the same exact design of cups there, including my own, and so of course I took up a picture. I struck up a conversation with the enthusiastic bubbly store owner, Andrea, told her about how I had been here before and bought a cup and painting here (the shop doubled as an art gallery). We had a lovely conversation about Krumlof and she asked about Texas and my studies, and eventually we were talking like old friends. She was super friendly and asked if I was a Sagittarius, I responded I was a capricorn, and she proceeded to tell me that because I was born December 27 (at the beginning of Capricorn) that I was really part Sagittarius and went in a long explanation of the meaning of astologogical signs.

Afterwards, she led me the art gallery of Jan Hozer(will look up later) and convinced her friend to give me free entry to the gallery, and then minutes later I was given a free ticket to basically every attraction there is in Cesky Krumlov! The exhibition was pretty strange. Andrea told me the artist was a "strange very short man who was very crazy, but genius" and that seemed evident by the fact almost all his works featured the human buttox. No joke!

After that (clear throat) arousing experience I headed back to the hostel to grab some dinner. An observation, when you're traveling and you don't speak the native language, the ears and are constantly tuned in to hearing when any form of English is spoken. That's what prompted me to sit at the table of some fellow hostelers who I spent the rest of my day with. Two Aussies, a kiwi (New Zealand), and an Irish couple. We hit it off great and I somehow got positioned as the new "official tourguide" of the pack, due partially to the fact I knew more Czech than them and was surprisingly well oriented for only being there a couple hours. After dinner, he yet to a Krumlof's famed gpsy pub.

The gang was skeptical at first. The place was so tiny and the bartender's face was locked in a permanent grimace, but once the live music started, we had a rollicking good time. An accordonist, celloist/singer, and clarinet somehow emerged out the kitchen and burst into song, and immediately several people got up and started dancing in the (very narrow) aisles. One guy started doing those crazy knee bend kicks, and the drunkest of our crew got up and started to immitate him, which was pretty comical. I danced as well and filmed the crazyness from amongst the crazy, which seemed to amuse everyone.

I overheard an American at a nearby table mention it was his birthday, so I told my drunk Aussie friend who told the band and they did a gypsy drawn-out version of happy birthday as we all sang along. Near the end this Czech guy that spoke hardly any English came and sat down next to me and was trying to talk to me. He kept on repeating "I don't speak good English," insisted I repeat the phrase "Super speak Czech" and several time said the word "sexy." My comrades were quite amused and one of the Aussies began playing up like we were an item so he eventually he left. Upon the stranger's departure, the kiwi piped up., "I think he was trying to say, 'can I take you home.'" Everyone burst out laughing.

Afterwards went back to the hostel. Met my roomates, two Aussie finance majors. One of them actually said he recognized my text book and we began discussing my finance project, something I never would have expected to do in a hostel.

Slept beautifully. Wanted to go rafting like I didn't get to when I was here last, but apparently 3 people died the day before because there has been too much rain and the Vltava river is higher and much willder than usual. Most rental companies refused to rent any rafts at all. My new friends found the one company in town still renting and went for a 5 hours trip which they invited me to go on, but unfortunately I had to be back on the bus to Prague by 4. So I wondered around a bit. Ate lunch at Na Louzi, where I played piano for an amused crowd. Eventually rented a bike, and rode throught the cobblestone streets and half way to Zolutuna Abbey (where I had wanted canoe) but unfortunately had to turn around before I reached the abbey so I didn't miss my bus back to Prague. Was still amazing though, I love bike riding. I plan to do a bike tour to Karlstein Castle from Prague before I leave for the states.

Well, that was long, and I have 2 projects and a test to study for (the reason I returned so early). Until later, nashledanou!




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