Český Krumlov, the second time around

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Beautiful Český Krumlov.

Visit date:  August 7-9, 2013

This is our second time to be in Český Krumlov.  My husband and I first came here in the summer of 2006.  We always wanted to come back but different travel plans sidetracked us.  Seven years later, we’re finally back.

This fairytale-like town is my favorite in the country.  It can really get crowded in summer but of course there’s plenty of room for everyone to sit by the river to read or watch the rafts and canoes go by.   If you’re like me who loves old towns with cobblestones on narrow and winding alleys, you would also wish you could spend your entire summer here.

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The castle. Wouldn’t it be great if this was your view each morning when you wake up?

GETTING THERE FROM PRAGUE:

It’s a 2-hour drive passing through E55.  If you aren’t driving, your best bet is to take the bus.  Student agency is a reliable company and they sell their tickets at www.studentagency.eu.  There are also a lot of tour buses leaving Prague which can be arranged at your hotel reception.  Another option is to take the train.  Timetables can be found here on www.idos.cz.  But I’m not a fan of the Czech railway system so I suggest trains should be your last option.

STAY:

Sluneční Dům is a charming bed and breakfast 5 minutes on foot from the town center.  We were lucky to find accommodation for three days and two nights on the last-minute because this town is always full and bursting to seams in summer.

The rooms are color coded in pink, blue, yellow, green and orange.  We first stayed in the pink room then moved to the yellow room the next day because the former was already reserved for other guests that day.  I love how Jana, the owner, took time and attention for details.  Everything from sheets to toilet paper is in the same color to match the room.

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Inside the yellow room. I’m sure the TV would have been yellow if there was one available. 🙂

Though the rooms are not really big, they have the basics and are spotlessly clean.  That’s saying a lot coming from someone who is close to having OCD disorder when it comes to cleanliness –yes,  me.

Breakfast is continental and very filling.  It would be great to have some eggs but that’s just me and my love affair with eggs at the breakfast table, otherwise the price is really great for what you get.  Yes, we were happy campers here.

DO:

Rafting, canoeing, swimming and the things you want to do in the river.  The Vltava River stretches through this town and is one of the reasons why the place is popular among the local tourists.  Boat rentals are found along the river.  Next time we come back we’ll definitely rent a canoe and paddle around this scenic town.

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My husband looking  at the town through an arch at the fortress.

I think most tourists come to Český Krumlov on a day trip so the major actions happen during the day.  Walk around the whole town, not just at the castle area.  Go through the castle park to check out the open-air theater which is one of the only two in the world that has a revolving auditorium.  At night the whole town transforms into a quieter place.  The walks on lamp-lit, cobbled streets are worth experiencing.  Stay overnight at least to get most of what this gorgeous town offers.

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Nighttime at the town square.

EAT:

Most Czechs are hardcore carnivores so their cuisine revolves mostly on meat.  The good news for fish eaters like me is this town belongs to South Bohemia region which has ponds and lakes all over the place.  This only means plenty of freshwater fish on the menu!

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Left: My grilled pike perch with mashed potatoes. Right: Hubby’s massive serving of beef sirloin in vegetable sauce, aka “svíčková”, served with dumplings.

We went to a few restaurants but there’s only one worth mentioning and that is “Vlašský Dvůr” along Dlouhá street.  I had grilled pike perch fillet with mashed potatoes while my husband had a typical Czech dish called “Svíčková.”  My fish was really tasty and husband said his meal was, too.  For main dishes, prices range from 130 – 250kč (€5-10), quite cheap for such a touristy place.

BONUS:

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Dívčí Kámen ten kilometers from Český Krumlov. There’s just something so achingly beautiful about it.

Ten kilometers from the town lies one of the most well-preserved castle ruins in the country — Dívčí Kámen.   This one was a nice surprise for both my husband and I because we never heard of it before.  (I know, right?  Shame on us 🙂 ).  It’s in a town of Třísov where there is a free parking area to leave your car before you begin to hike to get to the ruins.  You can either hike through the woods to cut the distance in half or walk about 3km on a paved road.

Two words of advice: sensible shoes.  Don’t be like that lady in the photo below who looked so out of place in the wilderness:

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Uhmm, hiking wasn’t part of the agenda when I was packing for this trip, hence the ballet flats.

We hiked through the woods on our way to the ruins and went on the paved road on our way back.  Yep, the ballet flats made it all the way back to Prague unscathed but I still recommend  to wear a tougher pair of shoes.

Entrance to the ruins is 40kč (less than €2).  They will give you a printout of its history to read.  About 360 meters away from the ruins is a restaurant by the stream called Restaurace Hamr where we had our lunch of grilled chicken and pork.

THOUGHTS:

I don’t understand how I’ve never heard of this place before or why my Czech husband also didn’t know it exists.  It certainly made our trip more memorable.  The weather also cooperated that day.  Instead of the usual 37°C scorcher, it dropped to a cool 24°C —  a perfect day to commune with the earth, the wind and the sky.

Český Krumlov will always be one of the few places I truly truly heart.

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