The beauty of Czech

Saturday 1 to Monday 3 July

One of the most popular destinations in the Czech Republic is Český Krumlov. It is close enough to Prague and has an outstanding castle set high on a rock – everyone’s dream of a romantic castle. And the crowds came to see it. There were locals and people from all over the world. Selfies are still huge, and as a result the dress sense seems to have improved – guys in tidy shorts and shirts, girls in pretty dresses with lots of makeup. Its a far cry from travelling in ragged jeans and sneakers when photos were not nearly as clear.

We toured the castle, climbed the steps of the tower to get a view of the city and ambled through the museum, which had an interesting interpretation of life of the noble Schwarzenberg family who used this as one of their many residences.

The gardens were beautiful – formally laid out with hedgerows, massive trees and flowerbeds.

The other big attraction in Český Krumlov is the Vltava River, and there were many rubber rafts floating down the river with an assortment of good-natured, well-imbibed occupants.

We had already seen the amazing skies in this part of the world – looming greys overtaken by bright blues, quicker than you can raise an umbrella. So our challenge was capturing the perfect image with the perfect light.

While the streets were busy during the day, there were very few people about in the evening. As the tourist crowds left the city to return to their comfortable dwellings many miles away, we found ourselves investigating an old style restaurant on the river. We were treated to an amazing platter of meat and dumplings and some decent wines and beers.

As we wandered back to our hotel we were drawn to a restaurant where music was playing. What a treat – a local piano accordion player was keeping the clientele lively with his music. They were singling along and dancing. It was a very jolly end to our long exhausting day.

For the beauty of the city, our accommodation was disappointing. We had enormous trouble with internet at the hotel on all of our devices, only reaching Google, gmail, Wikipedia but not to linked URLs and apps. It became a problem when I couldn’t use internet banking to transfer money from a savings account to a working account. The hotel then insisted that we should pay cash for our accommodation – this is really the first time we have been asked for cash and we can only assume that they are not a legitimate tax paying business.

We decided to make a detour en route to our next stop at Kutna Hora, at a small town called Telč which is renowned for it’s colourful square.

It is a tiny town, worthy of a lunch stop. The houses around the square are colourful and enhanced by the church at the top end and the castle at the bottom end. After lunch (or a coffee for Bruce) we took a walk around the pretty palace gardens.

As usual the sun and the clouds played a game of hide and seek, challenging our photography.

The detour also forced us off main roads and onto country roads in what Bruce calls slow-fast driving, as you are obliged to slow down when travelling through the villages.  These villages can be just a kilometer apart, making a slow but interesting journey.