I wrote on Instagram that Cesky Krumlov is what all of my medieval town dreams are made of. When deciding whether or not to extend our trip and go to the Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov was the tipping factor. Here’s the Lonely Planet description: “Outside of Prague, Cesky Krumlov is arguably the Czech Republic’s only other world-class sight and must-see. From a distance, the town looks like any other in the Czech countryside, but once you get closer and see the Renaissance castle towering over the undisturbed 17th-century townscape, you’ll feel the appeal; this really is that fairy-tale town the tourist brochures promised.”
It’s hard not to rave about the perfection of this picturesque city. I posted pictures and everyone though we were standing in front of a backdrop. Like Hallstatt, I could’ve roamed around for days, or holed up for weeks reading novels, contemplating life or writing a book.
We got to Cesky hours later than expected, so there was definitely a feeling of being rushed as we wandered the town right before dusk. When we left Innsbruck, I expected the drive to be uneventful and for the geography to look similar to Austria and Germany. It didn’t. As soon as we got to the Czech Republic, we knew. The roads were narrow and crappy, the land seemed barren and brown without those beautiful bright green rolling heels Austria is known for. There were billboards of pornography even in the countryside and the homes were not necessarily run down, but not as nice or well kept.
We stopped at a gas station right after crossing the border in order to use the rest of our Euro, and it was a much different experience than we had in all of Austria. It was dirtier and the people were well .. of a lower standard. They were nice — but obviously not as well educated, friendly, etc. They stared, knowing we were foreign, whereas we didn’t experience that in Austria either. For the first time on the trip (but not the last) I felt a bit unsafe. We quickly got back on the road, but before we did, I bought us 6 or so ice cream bars to share (and use up the rest of our coins)! Lila LOVED having her own and got it every where. It’s the simple things 🙂
Anyway, back to Cesky. We walked around the upper border of town in search of viewpoints I had read about that were great for photos. We easily found multiple spots that offered fabulous views, and the lighting was just perfect. We then went deeper into town in search of something to eat, and that’s when I got so grouchy! I hadn’t had a proper lunch, and it was past time for dinner. Finally Lance found and convinced me to eat at this restaurant that was fine — but we were the only patrons so that was weird.
We went back to the pension, but I wasn’t satisfied to call it a night. We changed our clothes and got Lila ready for bed, but then put her in the baby carrier and went back into town. It was dark, but the town square was full of people. There was an old car show going on, so we stopped and watched for awhile before wandering some more. We crossed a bridge kind of heading outside of town and immediately decided to go back to the lit tourist areas. Lance later said he too felt the tangible “this place isn’t super safe” feeling that I did.
The Czech Republic has only been a democratic country for a few decades. I think transitioning from communism has been hard, and it’s made the people skeptical of police, authority and strangers aka foreigners. On the other hand, that’s also what made it so interesting to explore — it feels much more authentic than most of the places we visited.
We stayed at the Castle Apartments. The Lonely Planet describes them as “a group of three houses near the castle district that have been transformed into comfortable private apartments that offer wooden floors, and modern kitchenettes and bathrooms (no additional charge for the romantic views). Castle Apartments just may be Cesky Krumlov’s best-value accommodation option.”
It’s a bummer we only stayed for one night, because they really were SO nice for the price — not even $100 a night! It even included a hot breakfast, which we gobbled up. The following morning we walked around the town once more, and then got a pass that allowed Lance to drive into the Old Town right up to the pension door so we could load our luggage. (He had lugged it on his own from the far away parking lot the day before.) It was just enough time, but I would’ve preferred more in this beautiful city!