At last, we arrived at the day I’d been eagerly anticipating, Tuesday, October 3rd. One of the reasons we decided to visit the Czech Republic is because October 3rd isn’t a holiday there. German holidays are great if you’re German, because you get a day off work. But if you’re not German, it usually means a lot of things are closed. Our hotel was closed, after all. They said it was due to a lack of staff, and I believe that’s true. But I also think it was because of German Unity Day, which is, of course, a big deal and should be celebrated.
I’m old enough to remember when there were two Germanys. I even wrote about East and West Germany when I was in the sixth grade, having been shocked to find out that the country was then divided. What can I say? We had no Internet in those days, so I spent a lot of time playing outside instead of surfing the Web, learning new things about the world. I don’t know that today’s kids have it better than we did in the 1980s, but they sure do seem to be more articulate and world savvy.
Of course, forty years ago, when I was eleven years old, I had no way of knowing that in just six years, the Berlin Wall would start to crumble. Bill was actually in Germany when it happened, and every time we go to the Czech Republic, he tells me at least once about how he used to guard the German border and mess with the sometimes female Czech border guards. 😉
We packed up our bags, enjoyed the leftover croissants and juice, and Bill got some cappuccinos to go from the bakery. Once we were all set, we loaded up the car and dropped the room key in the mailbox, where the proprietors had told us to leave it. I was kind of glad to be on the way to Czechia, although overall, we enjoyed Hotel La Casa. The people who run the hotel are very nice. I hope they get some new colleagues soon, so they can get back to being fully functioning.
Our drive to Cesky Krumlov would take several fun filled hours. I can’t say that the drive was particularly exciting, although it was quite pretty in some areas. Bill and I are pretty familiar with the German part of the drive, since the beginning of it is the same way one would go to Austria, Slovenia, Italy, or other points southeast from Stuttgart. We broke up the trip by stopping at a pretty awesome truck stop, where I had a really delicious chicken burger and Bill had a Pfännle, which is hard to describe. Luckily, I have photos.
After lunch, we were back on the Autobahn. We had no need to stop at a Rastplatz, because Bill had gotten an electronic “vignette” for the car. This is a cool new thing the Czechs are doing, making it possible to pay to use their highways without having to put stickers on the car. I hope the rest of Europe follows suit. He had pre-paid for the electronic vignette to last for our full time in Czechia– about a week or so.
The countryside on the way to Cesky Krumlov was as beautiful as I remembered it, as the roads were as loaded with potholes. There’s a definite drop off in road quality as one exits Germany. Here in Germany, we have constant road construction projects, but very few shitty roads. In Czechia, it seemed the opposite was true. Our route took us through some scenic areas, albeit with a few aggressive drivers on our tail. Below are some photos I took of the landscape as we headed east toward our destination.
I had pretty vague memories of Cesky Krumlov, as the last time we were there was on my birthday in 2008. It happened to be during their Five Petalled Rose Festival, and everyone was dressed in medieval garb. They had medieval games, too. I seem to remember we parked in a dirt lot near the town after visiting the old town of nearby Cesky Budjovice, where Czech Bud is made. I remember climbing the castle tower, seeing the bears, and noticing how pretty the town was.
Arriving there in 2023 was surprising, as they had parking lots designed for tourists and busses. We had booked two nights at the delightful Monastery Garden, a small lodge near the castle gate. The manager had helpfully sent me instructions on where to park and how to find the place. Unfortunately, we had a lot of trouble finding “P2”, the parking area where we were instructed to park. We finally ended up parking at the bus station and walking into the town to find the Monastery Garden, which we did after about twenty or thirty minutes of searching. Below are a few first looks of the beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov.
As we were checking in, Bill realized that one of his colleagues was also there. They had just spent a week working together in Bavaria. She had her aunt, uncle, and mom with her, and I got the sense that maybe she was delighted to see us. Bill called her by name as I went to get us checked in by the very friendly and English speaking receptionist.
Cesky Krumlov is a very charming medieval town, recognized by UNESCO. Very limited driving is allowed in the town, and you have to pay a fee to legally do so, even just to drop off luggage. Bill paid for the permit to drive into the town, but ended up just parking in P2, once he found it, and trucking in our luggage. Poor guy. He’s such a mensch.
We booked Room 6, which was one of their “Signature Suites”. It was a very large room, beautifully decorated, with a very cool looking armoire with a door that opened into the bathroom. The bathroom had a clawfoot tub, with a handheld shower sprayer. The place also had an “honesty bar” in the lobby, where guests could help themselves to food and beverages and just report what they had the next day. The lobby is also where they serve their incredible breakfasts that are as beautifully presented as they are delicious. Below are some photos from Room 6.
After we settled in, we started trying to plug in our various electronics. This was when we realized that using a typical adapter doesn’t work in the Czech Republic. Every outlet has a metal post that sticks up. Fortunately, I have a bunch of electronics with European specs, making it possible for Bill to connect his phone and get charged via my laptop computer. The whole time we were traveling, he kept saying he wanted to stop in an electronics store and find a new adapter. He never did, though.
Finally, once we got the electronics sorted, we headed out in search of dinner. I believe this might have been the only night. we went to a restaurant for dinner, which surprised me. I guess we’re just getting old. In the evenings, we were usually not hungry and too tired to go out for an evening repast. So we’d watch TV, drink wine, and eat snacks. It probably saved us money and calories, to some extent.
The place we visited was called Papa’s, and it served very typical heavy Czech fare. I had a duck leg with gravy and heavy dumplings. Bill had pork with a mustard sauce and dumplings. We both had beer. The food was pretty filling. I can never eat more than one dumpling, at most, but they usually give you at least two. I think there were four on the dishes we ordered! We were too full to consider having dessert, so after we ate, we walked around a bit more and stopped at a bar called Apotheka, which used to be an apothecary (druggist). There, we had several interesting designer cocktails. It was a nice way to cap off the evening, even if we did drop quite a few Czech crowns there.
When we got back to where we were staying, Bill’s colleague and family members were at the big breakfast table playing cards. We stopped to chat with them for a few minutes, but I got the sense we were crashing a private party from the older folk. Bill’s colleague, by contrast, seemed eager to chat with us some more. I can’t say I blame her! As much as I love my family, the idea of traveling with them makes me a bit weak in the knees. I might do okay with my mom, if she was more up to traveling. She’s pretty low maintenance.
Anyway, aside from a rather adventurous “shower” in the fancy bathtub, everything was in order for our night’s slumber. We went to bed and rested up for our big, active day in Cesky Krumlov.
More on that in the next post!