Karie on Apr 7th 2008 09:59 pm
Cesky Krumlov takes the cake for the “Most Likely to Make You Want to Stay Longer and Do Nothing” award. When you plan your trip, figure out how long you want to stay, then add a day or two. It has the relaxing feeling of a beach resort, except that there are no beaches and it’s not overpriced.
It’s a charming medieval village set in what feels like the middle of nowhere (about a 3 hour bus ride from Prague). There’s a river that winds through the town, on which you can raft or kayak in the summer months, but don’t bother trying to orient yourself based on the river as you will get lost following its many twists and turns. However, as our hostel host told us when we first arrived “getting lost is just part of the experience here.”
It doesn’t take much aimless wandering before you stumble across the castle, which includes one of my favorite attractions of the city. Back in the days when the castle was still in use, the mote surrounding it was stocked with bears for protection, rather than water. The bears are still there just for nostalgia, although they are well-fed, slow-moving, and don’t look like they’d really give a rip if you fell into their mote. That happens to be my favorite kind of bear.
The town itself is pretty small, but it’s surrounded by rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, with enough hiking trails to explore for weeks on end. We even went horseback riding one afternoon. Getting to the horse stables was about a 30-minute hike, literally uphill both ways. Scott’s a pro with the horses, but this was my first time.
Much to my relief, I was able to get on my horse (Monte) without incident. Then our instructor started explaining how I was to get the horse to go, stop, turn, etc. I had a brief moment of panic when it occurred to me, “oh my gosh, I have to drive this horse.” For some reason I expected him to be like the horses at the fair that only walk in a circle so they always know exactly where to go without my help. Luckily, I was pretty much right. In fact, there wasn’t much I could do to affect Monte’s decisions, which was probably in both our best interests. We all sauntered through some beautiful meadows and forests for a while, then returned safely to the stable. It was a great experience, despite the fact that I am allergic to dust, hay, and I think, horses.
Another real treat for us was getting to eat 3 real meals per day. This is rare when we travel, but Cesky Krumlov is one of the jewels of Europe that is still reasonably priced. Perhaps another reason people come for 2 days and stay for 2 weeks. Hostel Krumlov (which I highly recommend) made great recommendations for restaurants and activities, and we also met some really cool people there, so we stayed busy (and full) the entire time… even if some times we were just busy doing nothing. It really is the kind of place where you can wander around the same streets over and over, or just sit down and relax, and never grow tired of its charm. I don’t think my words are even doing it justice. You just have to go experience it for yourself.