I came to this town to do a rafting trip with two of my good friends. Down the Vltava river, the largest river in the Czech Republic.
The weather was not kind during my one night stay. Overcast, and rainy. However, the dreariness was unable to dull the feeling that the place was a little bit magic.
Cesky Krumlov is exactly how I would picture a small town in Europe to be. For starters, there’s a castle. It seems this is a pre-requisite for any European town wishing to attract tourist dollars. The town’s streets are mostly only wide enough for one car to fit through, and are paved by cobblestones. You often need to watch where you step, careful not to twist an ankle in the gaps between the pave stones. Drivers are also a hazard – Czech drivers hoon through these streets at scary speeds; I’m amazed I didn’t witness any accidents. Tour groups are led around by their guides, phones and cameras at the ready. Restaurants and bars litter the place – in a good way. Literally every corner there is somewhere to pop in for a drink or a bite.
Apparently, Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO heritage site; clearly of cultural or historical importance. I’d love to hit you with some juicy facts about the place, but I don’t know any. I didn’t take a walking tour. Google will do facts better; you’ll just have to settle for only my observations here.
The town square is rather small, and to be honest all the action is to be found in the side streets that weave in and out of each other like spaghetti thrown onto a plate. These streets are home to shop after shop after shop. The shops are trying to sell you all kinds of stuff in a passive, “come have a look inside if you want, or if you don’t I don’t really care” kind of way, which as a customer is my preference. Donuts, beer, coffee, food, wooden things, glass things, postcards, toys, trinkets, knick knacks, paddy whacks, give a dog a… sorry, off topic.
The central town area is surrounded by the Vltava river. Bridges connect the small piece of land in which the central town is located with the lands surrounding. One such bridge leads you directly to the castle’s gates.
The castle is spectacular. Walls stretch to the sky. From the bridge at ground level you can see people walking atop the walls. Inside the castle’s walls are sculptures of priests and warriors, beautiful painted buildings, amazing views of the town, and even a place to grab a beer. Atop one of the castle walls was a row of peep holes built into a stone wall that was much too high to peer over. Each peep hole was the size of a small window. Looking through these holes you could see the town below, and the bridge we had walked over to get inside. I envisaged archers standing beside these peep holes, firing down onto anyone trying to storm the place. It made me think of how difficult it would be to get into a castle – if someone was insistent on keeping you out that is.
Note: the photo accompanying this post is taken from atop the castle.
We walked past a bunch of people standing on a bench looking through thick metal bars with spikes, all staring at something below. I joked to my friends that this is where they kept the tigers. Bad joke (is it even a joke?). It turns out that this is not where they kept the tigers. Nope. This is where they kept the Grizzly. Yep. Grizzly. A very large brown bear eating blueberries off a bush in a sealed off area eight or so metres below attracted many stares. Not sure what this was all about. And honestly not too sure how I felt about it either.
There are some other attractions in the town: a wax museum and a torture museum to name a couple. But I didn’t go into any of these, remaining perfectly happy to wander the streets.
If you ever find yourself in Cesky Krumlov, here are some suggestions:
- Na Louzi: Little pub with indoor and outdoor seating. Cheap beers, though not a wide selection – light, dark, or yeast (yeah, I don’t know what this flavour is either).
- Music Cocktail Bar: The door from the street hides the sprawling area underground of this bar. There are plenty of places to sit around the bar, and equally as many tables available. There was a couple drinking out of a bucket that had 7 different coloured straws in it – I imagine this is some kind of specialty cocktail. What I can tell you is that the White Russian’s are good.
There are many other places to grab a drink. We stayed on a Saturday night, and overall the town felt a little quiet. I’m not sure whether this was because we visited slightly after peak season, or because that’s just how this town rolls.
- Kafirna Na Starem Plesivci: Cosy. Friendly staff. The scrambled eggs were very tasty; these come with bread, which was average at best. If I ever go back I’ll ask for toast instead.
- Hole in the wall joint (opposite the Mini-market Vecerka): Take-away only and extremely cheap. The pulled pork roll was a massive feed for US$3.25 (Czk 65). If I had to sum the place up I’d say: You get more than what you paid for.
- Traveler’s Restaurant: Very affordable, FANTASTIC food, good atmosphere. The place was full when we arrived at 7pm. I recommend the pork ribs to share. A word of warning: they are RICH. Cooked with the skin still on, the meat surrounded by small pockets of fat melts off the bone. Delicious. Dangerously delicious. FIVE STARS.
Skippy hostel: The hostel is located across one of the bridges just outside of the main town. It is right on the Vltava river and was managed by an older Czech lady with spotty English. It seemed to me she had converted her home into a hostel. It was warm and cosy. Four beds per room, no bunks; my two friends and I had a room to ourselves. There was an amazing area to sit out the back right on the waters of the Vltava river; the perfect spot to play cards and drink a beer.