Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov is a 14th Century historic small town in Southern Bohemia (Western Czech Republic) along the banks of the Vltava River. Arguably the most beautiful urban setting in the country, it rivals Prague in gorgeous architecture and the feeling of antiquity, European charm. We spent a little less than 24 hours here, after hiking around the Maiden’s Castle. We checked into the quaintest and most vintage hotel/bed and breakfast, filled with decorations of old sewing machines, rusty old clocks, and artfully peeling wooden chairs. It was adorable. We got bread, cheese, and apples at the grocery store and ate our lunch overlooking the river in the crisp fall atmosphere. We explored the quintessential twisting cobblestone streets lined with kávarnas (coffee shops), knihkupectvís (book stores), and small welcoming restaurants.

We then had a tour of the Český Krumlov Castle, owned previously by both the Eggenbergs and the Schwartzenbergs (Noble families ruling during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The castle was arranged with all original furnishings that were displayed as very close to historical reality as possible, which was very realistic since they had detailed records of the appearance of the rooms. The royalty, luxury of the castle. The paintings, the intricate and ornate furnaces in each room, the frescos in the courtyard, the stately wooden furniture, the delicate glassware. It was all incredible. We saw the ballroom and the theater within – both were awe-inspiring and trance inducing. To grasp that people actually lived here and used these facilities in such luxury is wholly captivating.

Afterwards the town was explored more. I tried homemade mead (not a fan) and gingerbread, I enjoyed some espresso, bought postcards, spent way too long in a bookstore, watched crêpes being made, wandered aimlessly around the gurgling river and through alleyways and side streets, bought lavender essential oil at an apothecary, and people-watched in the square. We laughed as large groups of Asian tourists posed with their infamous peace signs while four teenagery local teenagers photobombed their pictures.

We had dinner at Pivovar Eggenberg, a local brewery. Traditional Czech fare (neck of pork, sauerkraut, potato dumplings) and lots of beer. Our tour guide from the castle met us there and after dinner busted out the guitar and serenaded us with American classics. He was from Florida, and his rendition of “Country Roads” had us all appreciating our home in America. The acoustic tunes carried on on our walk through the town back to the hotel. It was such a cool experience filling the quiet, dark streets with soft melodies and a handful of harmonizing voices. Everyone we passed loved it.

Český Krumlov is so quaint, so peaceful, so slow. Despite this, there’s always things going on. It reminds me of Ann Arbor – the best of both worlds – small town vibes with lots of entertainment to be found. I really enjoyed it, and hope to come back during the Christmas season.

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