Cesky Krumlov

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, November 17, 2008

Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO protected world heritage site and rightfully so. It is nestled at the foot of beautiful surrounding hills with the Vltava river snaking through the heart of the old town. Megan put it best when she said that this place is "very photogenic". It is pretty hard to take a bad picture here, even if it was overcast for most of our stay. The place that we stayed at is being run by some friends of ours that we met in the summer in Gryon (Cam and Emma). As they were giving us the orientation of the town talk, we quickly found out that this stop is going to be all about the food... darn. Cam and Emma took us to one of their favourite places for dinner, U dwau Maryi (the two Marys). The four of us ordered the "bohemian feast" and it lived up to its name. The platter comes with your choice of chicken, rabbit, or pheasant and is accompanied by roast ham, potato pancakes, roast potatoes, dumplings, millet, saurkraut, and yogurt. It was fabulous, we all chose the pheasant except for Meg who was feeling the rabbit. It was so much good food washed down with some incredible beer, when it came time for dessert all we could do was order the dumplings with blueberry sauce... wow. The walk back to our room took a little longer for some reason.

After sleeping the feast off, we rose for a day of exploring Cesky Krumlov. We headed for the big draw in town - the Castle. We found it to be like much of the old town, very old and oozing character, but very well maintained. The Castle grounds are massive consisting of expansive gardens, tons of halls, galleries, and rooms, and of course the castle staple, the tower. Unfortunately the interior of the castle was closed for the season. The grounds remained open as did the gardens and tower which was nice for the views of the town from the top. The gardens are still well manicured and they are even home to the revolving theatre. The outdoor theatre is in the centre of the gardens and the seating actually moves in a 360-degree circle giving various backdrops for the performances during the season. We headed back down into town to better investigate the winding cobblestone streets. After only a few minutes we were glad that we came here when we did. The streets are packed with specialty and souvenir shops, and enough cafes and restaurants to keep you gastronomically stimulated for weeks. There is also the old Eggenberg Brewery that has a very interesting story. We were told that for years the owners of the Brewery used members of the towns vagrant population as the work force paying them not with cash but rather in - you guessed it - beer. Apparently some time ago new owners took over and tried to clean the place up a bit. They let go all of the "employees" and hired new staff paying them with a monetary wage of all things. Members of the town were not big fans of having their vagrants back on the streets of the old town so they petitioned the Brewery to take them back hoping that the vagrant population would go hide away in the Brewery as opposed to annoying some of the citizenry on the streets. Unfortunately the Brewery is now bankrupt and production has ceased leaving almost all unemployed. Apparently you can still take tours of the Brewery, but it is no longer functioning. That evening we headed to another local eatery that was recommended by Cam and Emma. It is a cool little place in the catacombs of the city below the town square. It was candle-lit with nice antique furniture and the seating seemed to go on forever. We had to climb down this very small spiral staircase to get down there and weave through the various rooms until we found a corner of the catacombs that seemed comfortable enough all things considered. Although the description of the place was enough for us to check out, but when Cam mentioned those magic words "fabulous pork knuckles" we could not resist. It was absolutely delicious with incredible service and of course fabulous beer, and all for less then half of what we would pay at home for the same thing (and it probably wouldn't have been nearly as magnificent). After our meal we called it an early night as for some reason we were ready for bed.

The next day we decided to explore some of the rolling hills that surround the town. They have tons of hiking trails that wind around and through the town and all meet at the same point at the entrance to the castle. We strolled for a couple of hours taking in the nice views of town before we headed back for some refreshments. We were greeted by another delightfully friendly cafe owner who was anxious to here all about Canada. We were more than happy to oblige especially when the complimentary dessert showed up. After again eating too much we headed back to our room to regroup for our departure tomorrow. We have really enjoyed our stay here. It is hard not to with such a beautiful setting and such deliciously tasty cuisine! Off to Berlin!

Megan and Kevin
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