We have fallen madly in love with Krumlov. So much so that we have already planned for August next year to spend at least 3 nights if not more in this magical town. One lousy overnight stay in this town is just torture.
It is hard to explain how beautiful this place is. It's like Disneyland but for the whole family, without the rides. It's like one of those enchanted towns in Disney movies. It was very quaint.
Summer time I can imagine us trying the downstream kayak that lasts for a few hours to longer than half a day. Or walking around town listening to artists all over the world trying their hands on street performance while trying to break-in to a much bigger audience of the industry. All over the world, because the songs came in different languages, some familiar, some not.
We can also just spend the days pigging out, sampling dishes near and far, traditional and new, a mix of cuisines that would have made the place tacky but surprisingly, didn't one bit.
It's a place of breakfast buffet at a nearby hotel or a bohemian feast by the river or a Chinese restaurant by the town square or a feast in an old jail house with only candles to keep your table lit. But then again, you can try your own cooking at an apartment equipped with modern gadgetry, a WiFi to connect with the social world, then you open your window and you're greeted by the majestic castle's tower confusing you if you are still in present time.
Krumlov is such an amazing place that there is not enough words to describe it. Anyone who dare asks me how my vacation was, my answer will always be, "one heck of an adventure". Czech Republic is not to be missed. Krumlov should be a place a person should visit at least once in their life time. It is that enthralling.
How did our tour start?
2nd day out of town tour, the adventure of the first day started to take a toll on all of us. We start dozing off en-route to Krumlov. Eva noticing how knackered we were, took the orientation lighter this time.
She patiently waited for all of us to be awake to give us a little history of the town. It's always great to have some information under your belt to understand what you are looking at. Basically we were mostly asleep from Prague to (Ceske) Budejovice were we did a pit stop. Half an hour away from Krumlov, just enough time to be armed with some history.
I only refer to it as Krumlov because we are already in the country. Cesky Krumlov somehow means Czech's Krumlov, so Eva pointed out that it will be redundant to call it with it's full name.
The 5-petalled rose is the symbol of the Rosenberg family who used to rule Bohemia in the olden days. They did beautifully and bountifully for 300 years from the 13th century. Their coat of arms (as above) has the red five-petal rose and so is every street's house and shops adorned with it even more so in the present day.
They're in almost every door, water pipes, road drainage, paintings, gates, windows and the list goes on.
We didn't realise how much walking we've done until the time we reached the end of the day. We walked and walked and walked, looking up, down and under just to make sure we get to call the rose first. My hubby was a little sneaky so Alex and I have to be sneakier.
We started at the parking lot (on the map, it is on the top right of the castle and walked every where in this little town, visited the church, crossed couple of bridges which are essentially the town's border and we picture how the castle was protected from previous invasions. We walked so much that we have viewed the castle from different angles.
Were we tired? Knackered. Every shred of my flesh were crying murder. Does it matter? No. I always muttered under my breath whenever I feel exhausted, "I didn't come here to rest, I came here to get drowned with information, be bathed with culture and be oriented with how life is and was in Czech".
A write up about Bohemian dish on the back cover of the menu...
Lunch was at U DWAU MARYI. A restaurant with magnificent views to offer, the castle, the town, the river, the kayaks passing by, the ducks, the birds, the sky, the everything you appreciate outside the stern wall of cities.
U Dwau Maryi I believe is also a Pension. Pension is pretty common in Europe, it's a type of accommodation that is cheaper than the chain of hotels most are familiar of. I have never been in one, nor seen one so that's as much as my knowledge about Pension is.
Going back to lunch. Since we love to try different type of dishes, our guide, Eva brought us here.
She recommended OLD BOHEMIAN FEAST for 1-8 person. Each of us chose the type of meat we want. I and hubby went for pheasants, Eva chose rabbit and the boys pick chicken. Each chosen meat comes with smoked meat (which in this case was pork ham), millet, potato cake, dumpling and salad.
This is the first time we had dumplings that is different from the oriental type we are so used to. Their dumpling is a type of heavy, thick slices of moist bread.
We could have easily ordered this centuries ago, the only difference is, we wouldn't have used knife and fork, it will be our bare hands.
*By the way, the restaurant beside U DWAU MARYI is a vegetarian restaurant. Although Bohemia is all about meat, vegetarians will never go hungry anywhere in this country.
The restaurant has a wonderful character to boot that even just going to the washroom is like a time warp.
Shiny wooden stairs with all its bumps and corners, walls as uneven as the cobblestone road outside the premises, ceilings that whispers events it witnessed, kitchen in a small archway, every single piece screams a period of time when life was a lot simpler.
The restaurant overlooks the Vltava river and so it is just but plain fitting for my husband to go down there and have a photo op. It is not a quiet river, in a sense that there will always be a group, a couple, a family of kayakers going down stream to wherever their destination ends. Or it could be adorned by a group of ducks or a few sparrows flying low, playing like they are almost touching the water.
The puzzle is about the four seasons. Seasons that this place has. Winter, Autumn, Spring and Summer. Isn't our guide such a clever lady?
The castle has it's own garden which is massive by the way. It has it's own under-the-stars auditorium/theater. It's such a genius theater because the whole seating area is the one revolving into different scenes on a 360 degrees.
After all the climbing and walking and at some point during the day, dragging our feet from location to location, we finally reached our bed for the night. Castle View Apartments.
I booked this through booking.com so many months before. My focal point was the view.... and the fact that Rick Steves mentioned it in his books and featured it in one of his tour videos.
I must say, it is indeed Castle view.
What I found out, to my utmost pain and discomfort was that shops in this town closes like crazy early. By 5:30 PM, half are already closed. We were informed that we'll have to come back the following day as it is too late for the drug store to still be opened.
As we desperately look for any mini-market who might miraculously carry the ever elusive pain reliever, we came across a mini-market who's owned by a Vietnamese man. Language barrier you say? Hubby's good with sign language. The answer is he doesnt' have pain reliever. He did however offered us fresh cherries.
We hesitated in the beginning but the minute we tried a piece, we were sold. Funny enough, it is the first time I ate unprocessed cherries. Didn't realise how gorgeous it is in its original state. I couldn't stop munching it and I was not sure up to this day if there's any after effect if you eat too much of it. At that moment, I couldn't care less and frankly if I see a box right now with something as nearly as sweet as what we had in Krumlov, I wouldn't waste time searching the net for after effects. I will just dive in and eat the lot!
Although it looks like a walk-in kind of tavern, it's highly recommended to make a reservation. We were lucky because we arrived before 9 PM. There were 2 vacant tables left on the ground floor, right where the spit fire was cooking meat. We wanted to move upstairs and enjoy without the smoke and flames but were informed of reservations.
In the end, it was actually good that we were seated where the action was. We enjoyed watching the cooking process. Boys think cooking meat without all the marinades to masque it's real taste was pretty cool, I think so too.
If shops close at 5:00 PM, taverns and restaurants like this have their last order at 9:30 PM.
I felt really bad for some tourists who came last minute to the tavern, looking quite hungry, only to leave empty stomach, they missed the last order for the night. They can still order drinks, just no food and when you're hungry? Where's the fun in that?
So off to bed we went. The only downside with the apartment is it can get pretty hot in the middle of the night if you don't open the windows. Since I was a little unwell, I asked for the windows to be shut. I woke up sweating rivers!
The boys were okay as the electric fan was on them but my poor husband slept without a blanket and nothing much else because it was deathly hot!
I got up and opened all the windows that I can reach hoping I am not inviting insects let alone vampires in. After all this is bohemia, I won't be surprised to wake up with a creature in the room. Luckily for us, nothing weird like that visited us.
The hotel rate included buffet, a decent and filling one. We were very happy with the meals we all had. It is not as elaborate and grandiose as Dubai but when you're in a hurry, running late and is off to another old town in a few minutes, you really don't have time to complain. All you have is gratefulness that you have something in your stomach for another full day. Life is really that simple. The buffet have everything we need for the day, a balance diet. What else should we ask for?
Our guide is Eva of Sightseeing Prague. She and Adrienne (our designated driver) dropped us off in Krumlov. Eva got us oriented with the town. Then she and Adrienne fetch us from Krumlov to our next destination the following day.
Our tours were a mix of education, fun and relaxing moments. It's never too much of everything.
Mobile phone: +420 728 880 367.