After a short train and a two hour shuttle trip (during which we sat silently as the drivers yabbered in Czech), we arrived at a dubious looking hotel perched over Cesky Krumlov in the south of the Czech Republic. Said hotel turned out to be fine inside (anywhere with free wifi is always more appealing) and the UNESCO World Heritage area below it would turn out to be very memorable.
We arrived late afternoon, and after the group had withdrawn some Czech dosh we walked down our road to the old town. The little cobbled streets and colorful buildings sucked us in instantly as we got our bearings with the group leader. There was a small amount of time before dinner, so the group split up with Alex and I choosing to pay the small fee to climb up the castle tower to get an aerial perspective of the town as the sun went down. The first night was capped off with a hilarious group dinner, including birthday cake for one of the ladies.
The next morning we were booked onto a rafting trip. A river (the Vtlava) winds its way through the Cesky old town, making rafting or canoeing the most popular leisure activity. There were all shapes, sizes and levels of seriousness taking to the river when we arrived at the launching site 15kms away from the town. Dividing into three rafts and handed our paddles, Alex and I set off with three Aussies into the chilly shallows.
Fortunately, we made a pretty good team. Alex chose not to show off his paddling skills and took the (all important) job of steering at the back, while the weaker of us paddled and drifted along. The best bits about the river were the ‘raft-up’ bars, which sold the locally popular mojito, and the man made chutes which created rapids for us to tackle along the way. They provided a good thrill on what was an otherwise tame waterway. It was great to get out and do something different, and fortunately our crew were all still speaking to each other at the end…
The food and drink stalls in Cesky were great, as were the restaurants. The local sweet rolled and toasted bread was pretty tempting, along with the market stalls of freshly cooked paper cones of potatoes which had been shaved into chips on what looked like a milkshake machine stick. Alex demo’d an entire cone of these in minutes, while I was distracted by the lady who had made her own slabs of peanut brittle, coconut ice and also had the hugest wheels of cheese I’d ever seen.
The chip guy
The second night we dined by the river in a very cool little place. Alex went for the big plate of ‘Bohemian feast’, which had a wide array of meat and various forms of potato or dumpling. Very tasty by all accounts. After seeing the state of the river we had traveled down that day, I’m not too sure why I chose that night to order rosemary baked trout. The tiny whole fish that stared back at me made me doubt both its legality and edibility, but once I got into it and searched my way through the bones it was pretty tasty. It was the second birthday of the trip for another of the Aussie ladies, so more singing and cake was dished out at the end.
The following morning, Alex (most enamored by Cesky and attempting to become a photography guru) got up at sparrow’s fart to snap more pics before we headed off on a public bus to Prague. The results were well-worth his early alarm clock, as hiking to the other end of the town got shots of the buildings under great light, as well as the lack of tourists at that hour. He was stoked.