This post is a continuation of a series documenting our time in Central Europe. We had started in Munich, travelled our way through the Austrian Alps & Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg. Next on the itinerary was Českÿ Krumlov, the tourist magnet of a medieval town in the southern part of the Czech Republic.
While planning the trip Česky Krumlov ( Krumlov from now on for simplicity and because Česky simply means Czech!) was a certainty on the list of places to be visited. My parents had been on a day trip to Krumlov from Prague and it had been one of the highlights of their trip. Day trips are not my style of travel anymore. A day trip gives limited time in a place and even that is a time when these small towns are inundated with other fellow day trippers. As we travel super light, I would rather stay overnight at a place, even if just for 1 night and enjoy it when the day tripping masses have left. So we decided to spend a night in Krumlov and booked the highly recommended attic apartment at the Castle view apartments for a night.
We started in the day in Salzburg where we were picked up from the railway station by the CK Shuttle that I had booked for the transfer to Krumlov. Though slightly more expensive than regular public transport, the CK shuttle is very convenient for a journey to Krumlov. Taking public transport would mean multiple changes of trains and the very long walk from the train station to the old town where all the sights are, whereas the shuttle drops you to your hotel in old town
Although Czech roads are good they are no match for the smooth as a baby’s cheek autobahns of Germany and Austria and the difference starts as soon as you cross the border. After 2 and a half hours on smooth highways we were winding through narrow country roads towards Krumlov. As the roads got marginally worse the scenery got a lot better, woods interspersed with small towns.
Once you see Krumlov you can understand why it’s so popular with tourists. It’s just picture perfect beautiful, small old town with a huge castle looming over it, sloping red roofs of houses and all of it surrounded by a winding river protecting it from the plainness of the modern world around.
Our driver collected the pass required to take a vehicle into the old town which is otherwise pedestrian only, and dropped us to our apartment. After a quick check in we climbed the stairs to the prettiest apartment I have ever stayed in, which made me feel that I should have stayed longer!
When most places mention a room with a view it’s a partial view of the place obstructed by numerous things, so I wasn’t expecting what I got. The most gorgeous view of the castle right from the apartment window.
Inspite of the fabulous apartment with the beautiful view we had to get out and about as we had just one day to explore this town. So we freshened up and left the apartment to see the town itself.
Armed with our Rick Steves guide, our cameras & a healthy dose of expectations we started our walk around Česky Krumlov. Our apartment was in a lane right off the main square which at this time was crowded (not as much as Salzburg though!), so we took a few photos and moved on.
The main sight in Krumlov is obviously the castle which looms over the town. In all Czech small towns the castle interiors can only be seen on a guided tour. Following a guide with a huge group like cattle is not my idea of fun on a vacation. So we had decided to skip the interiors of the castle. The courtyards were free to walk through and you could buy a separate ticket to climb the bell tower. Being a sucker for views the bell tower was always on my list of things to do!
We followed the crowds across the bridge and up the stairs to the Hrad ( Castle – just flaunting my minuscule knowledge of Czech).
As you approach the Castle gates the huge bell tower makes for a pretty picture that is just waiting to be clicked.
We then entered the first courtyard and bought our tickets to climb the Bell tower. The courtyards were too crowded and since they were free I decided to drop taking photos of these for now and return for them later. We made a beeline for the tower & climbed the narrow spiral steps that by now we have become used to, these were not so bad! As we came out to the balcony that goes around the tower it was as crowded as can be. So we waited in each quadrant till people moved on so that we got some good photos without people poking their selfie sticks into frame!
Each sector had its own distinct view, each deserving a photo and some time just standing and admiring it keeping the camera away.
I research my photo opportunities as far as possible, so I knew that the best view of the old town below was a bit further ahead in the castle complex but this pretty view from the bell tower was too good to ignore altogether.
After having our fill of the view we descended the tower and moved on through the castle complex. The courtyards were filled with tour groups waiting for their turn to visit the interiors. So we just sped through them to the final courtyard and the small balcony which had the view I was looking for.
Thanks to Rick Steves I knew exactly where to head and I crossed the little door to the balcony which had a small cafe with views that would put most restaurants with a view to shame!
It was an over cast day but inspite of the dull skies the pretty town made the photos worth it.
The Czech Republic is famous for its cheap and delicious beer. Each town has its own brewery and are proud of it. Krumlov was no different, inspite of being at the most touristic place possible I got the cheapest beer I have had on this trip. So with a Eggenberg for myself and a ice tea for the better half we enjoyed this view for a good half an hour before descending back into town.
By now it was lunch time and we started looking for a place to eat. Rick Steves recommendations have never failed me yet, so we went to a restaurant in a quiet lane in old town and had a memorable riverside meal.
The Goulash was spicy and delicious, the better half devoured her pancakes and we lingered for some more time eating a traditional Czech cake with berries and jam. A great meal in a great setting!
Tummies satiated we decided to walk away from the crowds. As I have said before, however crowded the streets are, I have always found the churches empty. It was no different in Krumlov, the beautiful St Vitus church was empty.
After we did our Church routine I asked the better half if she was up for a little hike. She gladly agreed and we walked out of old town and started our hike up the hill to what is known as Krizovy Vrch or the Hill of the cross. With no proper signage we just tried to go towards the white chapel on top of the hill & promptly ran into a dead end. Thanks to a local resident who explained the route in part Czech and part English, I’m glad I had taken the time to learn some basic Czech and soon we were on our way up the hill on a path surrounded by flowering grass meadows.
We got up to the plain little white chapel on top where there was just the two of us and a local student sketching the beautiful scene below. The crowds of Krumlov old town had been left far behind.
We sat there for a while before starting our descent back into Old town. on our way down we stopped for a while in the meadows taking photos of the beautiful wild flowers that were all over the place.
We returned to the bridge into old town and as we were moving in most people were moving out. Soon Cesky Krumlov would be empty of day trippers and even more beautiful lit up.
We decided to rest our legs for some time and enjoy our beautiful apartment for some time before heading out again to enjoy the town all lit up and have dinner.
But that is a story for another post, another time.
Bye. (Czechs use Ahoj for both hi and bye which i find to strange to end a post with!)