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Published: April 9th 2005
View of Cesky Krumlov from the castle.
Never say never. Last June when we left Cesky Krumlov and a few days later when we left Prague we said that we would love to visit these towns again, but that it probably would never happen. Little did we know, nor could we have guessed that seven months later we would be living in Prague for half a year and that we would have the opportunity to visit Cesky Krumlov again.
Cesky Krumlov is a small Bohemian town in the southern part of the Czech Republic. It is practically unchanged from medieval days. This, at least for Nancy and I, makes it a fascinating town to visit. The buildings are absolutely ancient. Many are in good repair and many are being refurbished. UNESCO has designated Cesky Krumlov a World Heritage Site. This designation seems to carry with it some funds for restoration so the sites can be preserved for future generations.
The Austrian border is just a few miles to the south and the German border just a few miles further to the southwest. The word Cesky means Czech. The word Krumlov means bend in the river. The town is located in a loop of
Ceksy Krumlov from the castle.
the Vltava River. In fact, the neck of the loop is so narrow that Cesky Krumlov is almost an island. A castle stands high on a rocky hill above the town.
Nancy-When we visited the city last summer with the Elderhostel group, we thought we had exhausted the small winding streets and had seen all the fascinating buildings, shops, the church and all of the castle grounds. Yesterday we knew we didn’t want to spend time or money on re-seeing the inside of the castle so we left the group immediately and walked through the castle area and out toward the street. When we got outside the moat, I suddenly realized that we had always gone through a very narrow opening, down the stairs and across a small bridge into the town. But ahead of us was another path out of the castle. We walked through that gate and looked at the street and realized we had never been on it before. It was obvious if we walked to the right we would almost at once be back on the way we had entered the town before. I said, Let’s go left and see what is this way and
Cesky Krumlov from the castle.
also see if this is the right direction to get back to where the bus driver said he would pick us up. Bill agreed and we walked up the slight incline of the street, through the city gate that was in that direction and over the river on the other side. It was interesting to see that ‘the’ river we had just walked over was not the river that surrounds and almost cuts the city off. It was a side stream of some size. Bill looked off to the right and called to me to see that the side stream enters a flume and boils up as it goes into the main river. We couldn’t get a picture because of the height of the side of the bridge.
I thought I had
Cesky Krumlov from the castle.
seen a side path that would lead to a very small bridge over the end of the flume and knew that would be a good picture. So, I lead Bill back though the gate and down a set of ancient steps to the spot I thought would get us to the bridge. It was gated off. So much for that photo opportunity!
I had seen a sign for a Hostel called Hostel 99 and it had interested me. So, I lead him back there and we read the menu. It had some good sounding vegetarian meals. They were rather inexpensive too. So we decided to eat in the hostel restaurant. Inside the space was divided into a small bar with two regular long tables, one short table of the sort to sit around with your beer mugs (for 4) and two high round bar tables with stools. Then there was a more ‘restaurant like’ area but no one was sitting there. So we chose one of the high tables. I had noticed the menus hanging by clips to a line around the bar and I grabbed one. They were attached to those things you get when someone wants
A fairy tale town that has not changed through the centuries.
you to fill out a form. You know the boards with a clip on the top. I took mine out of the clip and started to read it. Bill sat there. The waiter came and asked for our order and Bill told him he had no menu. I pointed to them and the waiter gave one to Bill (guess he figured Bill didn’t see them.) He told Bill, use it on the (oh I remember what they are called) clip board. Bill promptly took it out of the clip board (just as I had done before I knew you were not supposed to). The waiter went back behind the bar, saw what Bill had done and said, “Put it back in the clip board.” Bill didn’t hear and I quickly got his and mine back ‘properly’. I ordered a pasta with cheese and spinach. Bill started to get pasta with chicken but decided on pasta with cheese and a tomato sauce. We ordered and stated to pay more attention to the other restaurant/bar patrons. There were two groups-one women and the other men. The women were having a good time but rather quietly. The men were having a grand old,
A small court yard inside the castle. The walls look like stone, but are painted to look three dimensional.
noisy time. The men must have been friends of long standing. They were drinking beer and laughing and telling what sounded like good old stories of the “Do you remember when???” variety. There was a little more cigarette smoking than we enjoy but it was not terrible. They were not drunk at all but merely having a very enjoyable afternoon with each other. We almost wanted to go over and join but would have had nothing to contribute to a Czech conversation. We vicariously enjoyed their party.
When our food came, we were really surprised. This was a rustic looking spot in a very old and lovely building with high vaulted ceilings and neat little cubby holes for tall candles, etc. but not of the ‘this is a fine dining restaurant’ ambiance. The two pasta dishes were in very nice and extremely hot ceramic bowls. The food had obviously been prepared after it had been ordered. No steam table here.
Beautiful arches leading from one court yard to another inside the castle.
Each serving was individually prepared and baked. On top of the pasta were big chunks of fresh tomatoes, sliced raw carrots and cucumbers. They were the freshest veggies we have had anywhere in Europe. That was so unexpected. The menu said nothing about any kind of salad with the meal. Oh yes, we had ordered water and instead of the tiny bottle of water we have learned to expect, we got a real glass full of water (free) instead of costing more than the meal like water often does. (It’s a pity we don’t love beer. If you order water with most meals you pay a bundle but beer is cheap and from all reports the best you can buy in Europe-sorry about that Germany). We had thought we would get a dessert since the meal was so inexpensive. But we were stuffed with the large bowl full of delicious pasta! The bowl was so super hot that even the
Inside one of the court yards.
last penne was too hot to take directly from bowl to mouth. Quite a nice surprise!! Oh, in keeping with the Czech norm the toilet facilities were spotless and very attractive. The only catch was you had to climb a circular staircase to the second floor to use the toilet. I am not sure if the guys with their beers had any problems negotiating coming back down the stairs or not. I wouldn’t want to try them if I had consumed much alcohol. [Bill--the secret to safely negotiating a spiral staircase is to stay right. If you do not stay right you end up with a very painful and quick trip all the way down. I had an Army buddy, long ago when I was in Germany, who gave up going to his favorite bar in Mannheim. The bar was on the 2nd floor. He always for forgot to ‘stay right’ and always fell down their spiral staircase.
We were to meet the bus at 4:00. Since we knew exactly where the bus stop was located and that it was near Hostel 99, we decided to end a wonderful day with the dessert we had been too full to eat
One of the entrances to the castle.
when we first arrived in town. This time the restaurant was free of other customers and we decided to sit in the regular ‘restaurant’ area where it was really cozy. We each ordered a jam crepe. Bill got an expresso and I got more water. Once again the food was a pleasant surprise. We each got two large crepes. (In Prague you get one) The plate was so big!!! The crepes had heaps of jam inside and whipped cream over them with chocolate sauce drizzled in a lovely pattern on top of that. Then there were two slices of apple, two of blood orange, four of regular orange and a kiwi in the center. It was absolutely beautiful! It tasted about twice as good as it looked too.
We took the brochure from the hostel back with us to Prague. When Bill’s sister comes in May, we want her to visit this town and we think we will spend the night in that hostel. That will give us a chance to eat MORE of their good food. Good idea???
In our wanderings we found a section of the old city wall. On the inner side of the wall
One of the cit gates. Hostel 99, where we ate is just inside the gate to the right.
the walkway, where defenders would have stood to shoot their arrows, pour their boiling oil, or fire their flintlocks, a restaurant uses it as an outdoor dining area. The day was too cold and wet to intice us, but on a nice sunny day I think it would be great to sit down to a good meal and contemplate all that might have transpired here through the centuries.
It was a pity that it rained or drizzled most of the day. It didn’t cramp our style as two adults but I think some of the parents of young kids had a hard time entertaining their children when they couldn’t let them romp and play in the lovely castle gardens, etc. The rain was just clearing up as we left and today (Sunday) is fine and clear. Who knows why such things happen? It is very unusual for us to have rainy weather on our travels. We almost always seem to bring clear skies and the best weather a vacation spot has seen in years. We even had 3 days of incredible sun in Bergen, Norway once where it rains over 2/3rds of the days each and every year. Obviously,
Part of the old city wall from the outside.
someone in our group must have the other kind of experience and predominated in the weather yesterday. But everyone seemed happy on the way home. The students work so hard all day long everyday. It was good for them to have a change of scene and a chance to just relax and be with friends.
We stopped to have a pit stop on the way home. No one seemed to really need to use the toilet very badly and we almost just drove on. Thank Goodness we didn’t. I was first in the bathroom and when I came out I saw a little boy heaving in the men’s room sink with the floor around him covered with previously eaten French fries. Then there were enormous piles of vomit all though the McDonald’s where we had stopped. I went back to the bus and asked if anyone’s kid was in the toilet. I wasn’t sure who it was that I saw since I didn’t want to enter the men’s room. Quickly someone else came on the bus and told a women in our group that her ‘adopted’ son was vomiting. She had brought her own two young sons and was
Another view of the wall from the outside.
sort of baby-sitting two or three other kids whose parents couldn’t come. Sure enough it was Patrick. I don’t know him so I am not sure who’s boy he is. He had eaten, according to reports, several helpings of French Fries and a big ice cream during the day. He has a weak stomach and tends toward car sickness. Apparently when we went around two traffic circles quickly in order to make the stop at McDonald’s, it was the final blow for his tummy. We were all SO-SO-SO glad he did it in the restaurant on tile floors and not on the upholstery of our rather luxurious bus. So was the bus driver. He said if the upchuck had occurred on the bus we would have been fined in order to clean the bus. Seems a little heartless but I guess it would have really made a smelly mess. Probably the McDonald’s folks saw it differently but I am sure it wasn’t the first (nor will it be the last) time that happens. Patrick sat on the front seat the rest of the way. He had a plastic bag in case. At first he was white and chilled and then
The old city wall from the inside.
he got his color back and seemed ok. I don’t know if he learned a lesson about eating junk food or not. I hope he learned he needs to sit in the front of the bus from now on. I felt so sorry for him. He is a sweet child whenever I have seen him before and I know he was embarrassed as well as uncomfortable. I need to get to know all the children better. I really enjoy Miriam and Jason and Brandon the three who I know by name and who talk to me. Well, Jason is a little too young to say he TALKS to me but we communicate a lot. He and Brandon are brothers and the sons of two fine young people who were friends of my brother-in-law before they came here to study. Brandon is 4 now I believe. His birthday is this month. He is incredible in his verbal skills and seems to love the students and adults here very much. It is also obvious they love him. What lucky kids. Two good parents and a whole community of adults and students who give them unconditional love. What lucky students and adults. To
A bear in the bear moat.
have young children in our midst to remind us how we all should live in perfect trust that our care and comfort are the priority of the one who loves us best. It is easy around children to see why the Bible says we should all approach God like a child approaches both God and his or her parents-with love and trust and openness
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