Monday, December 19, 2011

Český Krumlov

After Prague we headed to our next stop, Český Krumlov. However, we wanted to break up the drive so we decided to have lunch at Karlstein Castle on the way. It's a hidden castle in the mountains and it is gorgeous. You can't take cars to Karlstein Castle. Instead you have to walk up this old windy road with lots of little shops selling trinkets, antiques, and of course, food. It wasn't as busy as I thought it would be. Apparently it's not as popular as Prague ... yet. 

 the view of the castle from the windy road below.

the windy road with all the shops & cafes (from the castle turret wall). 

 the kids up on the castle wall.

Anyway, after walking all the the way up to the castle and buying our tour tickets, we realized that the tour wasn't for 3 1/2 more hours.  Apparently we had some communication problems with the teller because we didn't realize that the castle was reserved for a wedding that morning so the soonest we could get in for the tour would have been 1:30 pm, so we bagged that, got a refund, and just wandered around the outside of the castle. Then we walked back down and stopped to have an early lunch at a little outdoor cafe. It was a deliciously HUGE meal and one of the most affordable.


Eating lunch and meeting a knight.

After Karlstein Castle we headed into Český Krumlov. This little town is so picturesque. In my mind it's the Czech Republic's version of Germany's "Rothenburg ob der tauber." We checked into our apartment which was right in the heart of the old city next to the castle, then we explored for about an hour or so until the sun went down. 

The city is almost completely surrounded by a river. Here is just one of the many cute bridge scenes.



This is the back of the castle. The aqueduct bridge/walkway takes you from the palace gardens to the palace itself. It is a HUGE palace and it's so amazing how it was built out of the mountain rock itself. There are some amazing caverns inside that we got to walk around in. They currently house an art exhibition, but the art was totally lame. The dungeon caverns themselves though were so beautiful and impressive.


the view from upper castle wall.

After all that walking we were getting hungry. So we treated ourselves to a trdelnik (a cylindrical pastry rolled in cinnamon & sugar, sugar & almonds, or both). These are made all over the Czech republic and they are so yummy!


The next day we went to the castle and took a tour through some of the rooms. This castle is split into 5 tours depending on what you want to see - yep, it's just huge. And it's not cheap. We took the smallest tour (the least amount of rooms) and it was well over $60 for the 4 of us. And it lasted less than 45 minutes. But it was worth it. Berlin loved seeing the very large and impressive gold carriage. It's just what she imagined Cinderella riding in to the ball. Here is the courtyard where our tour started. Love the painted walls.

The castle also has a moat filled with...bears! Yep, they have 3 bears in the moat and the kids had so much fun watching them. The palace was also filled with an impressive amount of bear skin rugs all over the floors.


This is the view from the other side of the bride. You can tell by that blue sky that we had amazing weather that day. It was perfect!

Afterwards we ate lunch at the biergarten at the bottom of the castle wall, then we walked around and let the kids play on the playground, and we explored the palace gardens. Berlin loved all the flowers and kept asking me to take her picture ... usually she hates it when I take her picture! This fountain with all the frogs was especially fun.


I love the cobblestone streets! Wish we had more of them in the states.

We had hoped to take one of these barge trips, but by the time we found our way to the rental place, it was closing and they were only doing tours for large, private groups since their official season was closed. Oh well.

The kids were pretty bummed about not being able to do the barge ride so we decided to have dessert for dinner! First, we took the kids down to the playground on the waters edge. After playing and working up an appetite, we got dessert. The kids each chose a decadent chocolate cake while Ryan and I chose apple pastry with ice-cream. Best dinner ever! And we were happy once again :)

The next leg of our trip took us into Salzburg, Austria. Those pics coming soon.

No comments: