Czech It Out!

Published: November 9th 2016
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Cesky KrumlovCesky KrumlovCesky Krumlov

Quintessential medieval town.
I've had some bad luck in the past week or so; seven hours stuck at the Ukrainian-Polish border, shitty weather and having my hostel let me down on the one day I really needed somewhere to store my bags and hang out. Now, I had an overnight bus journey on a full bus with no spare seat next to me, meaning my bag had to tuck underneath my legs again for the journey. Oh, and I had wet feet, socks and shoes.
Luckily that was only the situation for half the ride as my neighbour got off the bus in a wild, wet and windy Wroclaw - a city I had considered visiting had I more time. Finally the shoes and socks could come off, though my fellow passengers might not have appreciated it. I didn't care, it had to be done.

Having taken so many overnight buses in South America, sleeping on them had become second nature but it has been a while since I have had to do it, so my sleep was pretty patchy. The buses were of a pretty good standard in South America too, although this bus wasn't too bad - it had a toilet, good wifi and your own personal entertainment
Castle Tower, Cesky KrumlovCastle Tower, Cesky KrumlovCastle Tower, Cesky Krumlov

Was a bit surprised and slightly disappointed to see that most of the castle facades have been painted on.
unit to watch movies, TV shows or to listen to music.
By 10:15am the next day, I had arrived in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. This time unfortunately, it would only be a fleeting visit and I would not be wandering its glorious medieval streets once more.
The last time I was here, a failure to check opening times meant that having gone all the way out to Karlsteyn Castle, Davies and I couldn't get in as it was closed on Mondays. This time it was Tuesday and I was out to make amends.

It was a slightly ambitious but do-able schedule; 11:17am train from Prague to Karlsteyn; about roughly three hours in Karlsteyn to visit the castle; a train back from Karlsteyn in time to catch the 5pm train to Cesky Krumlov, where I was staying that night. All this after an overnight bus. I've not had such a packed schedule for some time as I have had so much time to do everything I wanted to do - but now I had a deadline to meet. It was kind of exciting though - it was the kind of thing I'd put myself through numerous times in the past and I
Colourful HousesColourful HousesColourful Houses

Cute buildings in Cesky Krumlov's old town.
have to admit there was a rush I'd get from trying to complete such challenges. Though I like to do things more comfortably these days, that rush had returned a little bit here. Prague's main train station looked a lot flasher than I remember it - I'm guessing it must've had a makeover in the nine years since I was here last.
Getting off the train at Karlsteyn station, the memories suddenly came flooding back and I could pretty much remember every detail of the twenty minute walk up to the castle; following a leafy country road for a little bit, crossing the bridge, walking through the main drag of Karlsteyn town past all the souvenir shops and cafes, the final ascent to the castle gate. Recently it seems that I'm remembering less and less; I believe that the human brain is like a computer in the sense that it only has a limited amount of random access memory and that as you make newer memories, your brain has to delete old ones to make space. But everything is backed up on the hard drive; you just need to go to the directory and open the file, which revisiting a
Cobblestoned StreetCobblestoned StreetCobblestoned Street

One of many in Cesky Krumlov, adding to the town's medieval flavour.
place undoubtedly does.

This time however, I got into the castle, which you can only do via a guided tour. And while our tour guide was cute, she unfortunately wasn't very charismatic as she delivered the history of the castle via a rehearsed and monotonous delivery.
The castle is named after King Charles IV who was also the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire between 1355 and 1378. The castle was where he lived and was also where the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels were kept and safeguarded. To be honest the castle's setting and its historical importance are what makes it so famous and renown, much like how Bran Castle is really only famous for being "Dracula's castle", and its interiors are actually pretty bland; less Segovia's Alcazar and more Carcassonne's Chateau Comtal. With all the castles that I have seen on my travels, I'm thinking that it wasn't really worth the effort in getting here; it was more about settling an old score more than anything.
An hour and a half was all I needed at the castle and thus I was able to run down the hill to take an earlier train back to Prague and in turn take an earlier train

Buildings in the old town of Cesky Krumlov. The castle tower is in the background.
to Cesky Krumlov. By now I had been walking and travelling around in the same clothes for more than twenty four hours and I was cold and tired - I just wanted to get to the hostel, shower and sleep. Which was exactly what I did some five hours later in Cesky Krumlov after catching a connecting train in Ceske Budejovice.

I can't believe that I thought it'd be nice to have some colder weather a few weeks ago - I had certainly got my wish now as the daytime temperature hit a ceiling at seven degrees. To make things worse, the rain from Warsaw seemed to have followed me too, making walking around the town a pretty miserable experience.
Cesky Krumlov is styled as that fairy tale medieval town the tourist brochures promised and I suppose it is. But it's just that I've seen streets and buildings like this before whether they be in Prague or in the old towns of cities like Tallinn, Riga and Bratislava. And it seemed to be a bit contrived too; along with all the tacky souvenir shops, I am was a little aghast to discover that many of the buildings - most
Cloak Bridge, Cesky KrumlovCloak Bridge, Cesky KrumlovCloak Bridge, Cesky Krumlov

This pretty, covered bridge goes over a small ravine and connects the castle to the castle gardens.
notably the castle - merely had facades painted onto them.
What Cesky Krumlov does have however, is a spectacular countryside setting. The River Vltava snakes its way through the city and the view from the castle down onto the town is magnificent. Walking its hilly, cobblestoned streets and its trails full of romantic, riverside charm, I slowly warmed to the town, if not my body to the weather!
Apart from an hour in Warsaw's old town, this was also the first time in a while I had come to a real touristville. About 80%!o(MISSING)f the people walking the streets were Chinese tourists. Some of them were also in my hostel. After seeing virtually no tourists in Moldova and Ukraine, this was something I was going to have to get used to again though they do in a weird way, make me feel a little more comfortable than I had been in Moldova and Ukraine as I now didn't stand out so much.

Having been to Ukraine I wouldn't describe the Czech Republic as cheap either. Of course it is relative to say France and the UK - but train fares and entrance fees have eaten up a big
Namesti SvornostiNamesti SvornostiNamesti Svornosti

The main square in Cesky Krumlov.
chunk of my budget so far and food prices should ensure I use up the rest of it.
And it was my last expenditure that put me over my budget in a place rather annoyingly, that I wouldn't expect to be over budget in. To take the train to Salzburg would require two changeovers and most of the day and would still set you back about 30€, if not more. There are no direct bus services (perhaps a possibility for a new business venture here?) so the only other option you have is to take a shuttle which will cost you 30€. For a mere three hour journey with no borders to pass through, that is extortionate but you have no other options. Grrrr. At least the mini-van picks you up from your hostel.

By the end of my stay in Cesky Krumlov, I indeed understood why this place is so popular with tourists. It is a really easy town to photograph and with every corner I turned I found a new angle for a photo. Along with the autumn leaves, this made for some pretty pictures. Just a shame that it was cloudy and rainy the while time
Budejovicka BranaBudejovicka BranaBudejovicka Brana

The old town of Cesky Krumlov's northern gate.
I was there and that the sun was never out to illuminate the colours even more. And that it was also so bloody cold! You really didn't want to be outside very long. Winter is coming. Indeed it feels like winter is already here.

I'm moving quickly and my next entry will be from yet another country; a reunion with a friend and some chill time in Austria!

Na videnou!

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20



Bears are kept in the old castle moat in Cesky Krumlov.
Through The WindowpaneThrough The Windowpane
Through The Windowpane

View of Cesky Krumlov from the garden side of the Cloak Bridge.
Castle Gardens, Cesky KrumlovCastle Gardens, Cesky Krumlov
Castle Gardens, Cesky Krumlov

Unsurprisingly, they're rather nicely kept.

Main street on the northern bank of the River Vltava in Cesky Krumlov.. The church is that of Sveti Jost.
Cesky Krumlov CastleCesky Krumlov Castle
Cesky Krumlov Castle

Cesky Krumlov itself was passed from ruling family to ruling family over its history which dates back to 1240. This is where the ruling family at any given time, resided.
One Bridge From AnotherOne Bridge From Another
One Bridge From Another

View of the castle's Cloak Bridge from the Lavka Lock & Key Bridge in Cesky Krumlov.
Streets Of Cesky KrumlovStreets Of Cesky Krumlov
Streets Of Cesky Krumlov

Horni - a street leading eastwards out of the old town.
Czech Ready MealCzech Ready Meal
Czech Ready Meal

White beans and pink sausage. It was actually quite nice!
Local BeerLocal Beer
Local Beer

Not a bad drop. Named after the one of the many ruling families to have ruled over Cesky Krumlov.
Karlsteyn & Karlsteyn CastleKarlsteyn & Karlsteyn Castle
Karlsteyn & Karlsteyn Castle

I have this same picture from nine years ago of Karlsteyn Castle looming over the town of the same name.
Castle RampartsCastle Ramparts
Castle Ramparts

At Karlsteyn Castle.

At Karlsteyn Castle.

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