Extreme European Adventure: Český Krumlov (June 25-26, 2014)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - continued
Our travel tale continues after we've been promptly picked up at 2pm by our CK Shuttle driver, David. The drive from Salzburg to Český Krumlov (pronounced Chess-key Crum-lov) takes about 2.5 hours.

David was a talkative, friendly fellow who has quite extensively traveled the world. He was quite knowledgeable and gave us a good history of Český Krumlov, the Czech Republic, gypsies (seemed to be hated around these parts), and food/beverages to try.

At a particular junction in the road, David asked us if we wanted to travel to Český Krumlov nearer to the river or a different route. Since everyone was tubing down the river (quite the sport in the Czech Republic), we chose to get a closer look at the action. Apparently almost everyone from the Czech Republic goes to Croatia for vacation too.

David was nice enough to stop at an ATM after we arrived in Český Krumlov so that we could pay in CZK instead of Euro (saves money that way...everyone seems to take Euro, but they definitely charge extra in Euro). The ride to the Penzion DeLanta (our lodging in Český Krumlov) was very expedient and safe.

The Penzion DeLanta was a very affordable and clean. Our stay was just 79 Euros for two nights. Breakfast, which was honestly huge and expansive, was 4 Euro per person per day. We opted to get breakfast both days (it wound up feeding us lunch too). There was fruit, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, juices/coffee/tea, pastries, meat, bread, cheese, and eggs. So much tasty food! For less than $110 USD total, this stay was a steal of a deal!

After Martin checked us in and told us about local yummy eateries and things to do, we geared up for a possibly rainy nighttime stroll. Luckily the rain stopped, and we really did enjoy our slightly cool evening in the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town of Český Krumlov.

I loved the colors and textures of this place! The Czech Republic is such a mix of neglected and repaired buildings. There is a ton of pride and restoration in Český Krumlov...but there isn't a ton of excess money and the town went through decades of disrepair while under Soviet control.

I think this set Český Krumlov apart from other places we've visited. We go to a lot of gorgeous places that have invested massive funds into development centuries ago. We see the upkeep happening on these buildings or see ruins. It isn't often that you see a place in development. I'm glad we didn't wait to see this town/city. Next time we're here...it is likely to be a different place. Right now it seems to be part of a Bohemian fairytale.

Kris in Cesky Krumlov

Isn't Cesky Krumlov gorgeous?

And the Vltava river running through it just adds to the charm. It was funny to see the people on the river rafts even though it was cool and had been raining. I guess you might as well...you are likely to get wet rafting anyway.

Walking down the bricked narrow streets, we stumbled across some interesting and comical street art. It was nice that it seemed almost all contained into this one alley area and didn't desecrate any historic buildings.

I can't speak one bit of Czech (and David said it is an incredibly tricky language), but I could appreciate the signage. I really like the way the letters looked.

After a lot of wandering around, we found a dinner location for the evening.
How did Kris get way up there?

As suggested by Martin, we ate at Satlava. We loved the ambiance of the place, and the food was delicious! We got the mixed grill for two which included a turkey breast, piece of pork, and small steak with a baked potato and potato pancake each. I gave Kris my pork for his turkey and gave him the portion of my steak I couldn't eat. The food was quite tasty and super affordable! The food, a soda, and the tip was $20!

All this yummy food for less than $20 USD.

Thursday, June 26, 2014
The delicious breakfast provided by Martin at the Penzion DeLanta really helped set us up for the day. Another couple (from Canada) was in the dining area and were discussing how much they had left in Czech money. We offered to buy it from them and were able to trade for optimal exchange rate in Euro. Win win for everyone.

Thanks to an awesome breakfast, we didn't have to touch our granola bar stash.

The skies were looking clear but the forecast was chilly due to the storm the day before. Wearing slightly warmer clothes than normal, we headed out to explore for the day.  On the walk, we saw more river explorers.

Man made rapids?

Our first stop were the castle/palace grounds. We were hoping to do a tour of the castle theatre, but it was closed until the next Tuesday. We just decided to look at the interesting architecture, check out the palace bears, and get some photos of Český Krumlov from the view the castle afforded.

See?  Bohemian Fairytale town!

David had been explaining to us about an outdoor stage that is used for play performances on the car drive to Český Krumlov. We wound up finding the stage and finally understanding what David meant when he was talking about how the audience seats move whenever there is a set change. Interesting theatre. The entire audience rotates to see the various scenes instead of having set changes. I'm sure it would have been a fun experience to watch Shakespeare in Czech, but the tickets were too expensive to try.

The palace has large, well-manicured gardens. Of course, all gardens are now paling in comparison to Ludwigsburg. Regardless, they were nice to wander around in. It was fun to watch all of the interesting photos and poses people take in gardens with statues.

Kristy in Cesky Krumlov

We stumbled across the Museum of Torture Instruments, and we decided to pay the small fee to enter. It was well worth it. Apparently there are two torture museums in Český Krumlov - the Museum of Torturey and the Museum of Torture Instruments. We went to the better one. There was no kitsch and cuteness about the museum we chose.

There was a rather ominous and effective sound track, dim lighting, good displays, lots of steel and rusty equipment to impale yourself with (Kris tried), and descriptions of the displays provided by a laminated translation card we were provided upon entry. Plus, we had the entire place to ourselves. Another group didn't come until we were leaving.

Kris enjoyed himself. I was ooged out. People can be pretty demented.

Although, I imagine if you knew you could still be publicly shamed or honestly tortured for committing a crime, you might actually be really deterred from general stupidity. I think there are too many people who don't see fines and prison as a real punishment.

Death by burning in the iron bull would probably make someone think twice about killing someone? I'm too squeamish to suggest actual corporal punishment, but a little public shaming might be good for some people.
They cooked people alive in this bull...including the guy who made it.  The king didn't want to pay him.

After the museum, we somehow managed to stomach eating lunch. We found a nice park bench and had our sandwiches and fruit.
Back alley wandering helps you stumble across some gems.

Walking around town a bit, we stumbled upon some fresh Czech donuts being made. David had recommended we try some talking about how the batter is unique, so Kris and I split one. I thought it tasted like a good funnel cake but was easier to eat.

We also found the soda he recommended we try called Kofola. It tastes a bit like generic cola mixed with basil. Naturally, Kris had to try a local candy bar too.

Our back alley wandering eventually led us to find the artwork of Miroslav Paral...a local artist of odd. The artist had a little gallery with a ton of works on display. There was a bench by the river and some other items displayed by a local restaurant too.

Like most European cities, Český Krumlov has some pretty ornate churches.

They also have what was once a Jewish Synagogue and managed not to be damaged during the World War due to its use as a Hitler Youth Camp. It has been returned to the Jewish community of Český Krumlov, and they now have exhibits there. I don't know if it functions as a traditional synagogue anymore, but they did have a suka displayed.

We returned back to our room to rest up a bit before evening. We knew we wanted to stay up late and photograph Český Krumlov at night, so we had a long wait ahead of us.

Upon going to dinner (we opted to go to the same place and order the same food), we came across a benefit concert in the square. We just thought it was a free concert with local bands being sponsored by the local tv or radio station at the time. Martin told us the next morning it was a benefit concert for a sick girl in town.  We stayed for a few songs from two bands. We actually really enjoyed the first band, but we didn't get there until near the end of their set.

The second band seemed to draw a larger crowd though and had people in the audience singing along.  A dog was really upset with how much his owner seemed to like the music.

After dinner, the concert was going with a different band.  We were able to hear the music almost the rest of the evening as we wandered around.

We watched sunset from an elusive spot that David, our driver, had said had the best photos vantage point in Český Krumlov.

Wandering around at night proved to be cool and creepy at the same time. We got some amazing shots from the castle.   After leaving the main square, you hardly encountered anyone. Such a change from the touristed streets of earlier in the day. Most people mistakenly just go to Český Krumlov for a day trip.

Even his shadow has a shadow and a reflection.

We were able to hear the laughter and acting coming from the outdoor theatre when we were near the castle grounds. Sounded like a popular show.

1 Response
  1. B Says:

    YAY!!! This post had everything I LOVE in these: beauty, cool sculptures, FOOD, and what Kris tried!! You guys make me want to turn your best pics into puzzles, do them, and put them on the wall!!