Český Krumlov

This is the 6th destination on our Western Slavic Countries itinerary as described in that Travel Planning post.

We departed Olomouc by car, selecting the longest route available on google maps because I wanted to experience the most scenic drive possible. It was a cloudless, sunny Thursday morning as we departed central Olomouc. We started the drive on a highway for the first hour or so. And then we went on two lane country roads.

The first half was through wide open, large farmland with no trees in sight. It looked like corporate farms because they were so expansive. But about halfway through the trip we were on lonely two lane country roads. Sometimes so tight that it didn’t seem like two cars could have passed by. The terrain got hillier, and eventually the roads were tree-lined with beautiful vistas. The scenery with no vehicles either in front or behind us made for a wonderful driving experience.

 

Arrival

Cesky Krumlov is a picture-postcard pretty little town, and it’s definitely a tourist destination. With only a two and half hour bus trip from Prague, Cesky Krumlov is heavily visited by day tripping tourists.

Driving the BMW into town presented a problem or two. The roads were very  narrow and finding parking – even to move the luggage into the apartment, was problematic. Once again I was convinced that having a larger vehicle in Europe, especially in villages like this, was not a good idea. The roads were tight and narrow, with parking at a premium, and people driving aggressively. So I had to be on my guard in this tiny little town.

 

Settling in

The apartment was very centrally located on Ulica Latran, the main street through the little town. I could tell just from arrival that there was going to be some street noise at night because we were on the main drag through town. But this was expected, and  the central location outweighed the inconvenience of a little noise. The apartment was in fabulous shape, as advertised. It was a cute little place suitable for two people, and possibly a third adult, or a couple of children.

 

Discovery Trek

Cesky Krumlov radiates out from its large castle, with some of the castle complex dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle is visible from most parts of town, guarding over it, and keeping it safe. The town is situated on 2 oxbows on the Vltava River, and is easily walkable end to end, criss-crossing the main streets on each oxbow in 1 hour – it’s that small.

However, just walking around Cesky Krumlov, at a very leisurely pace, taking it all in, I could see why so many tourists descend upon it for day trips. The little town was like a set from a Disney movie. It didn’t seem possible for one little place to have been so filled with charm.

 

The Vltava River flows through Cesky Krumlov, bringing a flotilla of holiday makers – most pass through, but some stop at the many restaurants along the water to grab lunch and get dry. The scene of water-borne merry-makers added to the carnival-like atmosphere brought on by the tour bus day trippers.

 

And as I spent more time in Cesky Krumlov, I realized that the density of tourism made it feel like I was actually at a Disney park. All signage was in multiple languages, as were all menus at restaurants. Tourists arrived at points of interest in herds – about a bus-sized herd most of the time. I was reminded of the last time I visited Disney World in Florida. We continued exploration of the little town on our second day, meandering our way through Cesky Krumlov with the strategy of avoiding the tour group throngs.

 

 

Food Scene

Restaurace Bolero

This was a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the river, and we watched the recreational “floaters” drift by.

Grilled sausage and a salad. It doesn’t get any simpler or tastier. They do have an extensive menu, but we were interested in what passes for lighter fare. Service was fast and efficient. Very nice first stop in Cesky Krumlov!

 

Restaurace Konvice

This restaurant was difficult to find because Google Maps had it mislocated, and had to ask twice for directions. The terrace has only six tables with views of the castle tower and the church over the red rooftops in the foreground, only 3 with really good views. Worth arriving early to get a nice terrace view table.

Roasted brown trout, parslied potatoes, mixed salad, carrot cake for dessert. Because it was roasted, the trout could have had crispier skin. It was however tender and juicy. A leisurely setting with a great view, good service, and value. The prices were reasonable for Cesky Krumlov.

 

Restaurace Babylon

This place is situated right along the river with a view of one of the main churches, and you can hear the bells ringing right from the waterfront tables where we were sitting. Lovely scenery on the water, watching all of the holidaymakers raft down the river, with ducks and fish right below us.  My wife loves to feed the fish and ducks, so there’s always a little scenery to be enjoyed. The menu is simple and it was a good value in hyper touristy CK.

Zander (Asian game fish imported to parts of Central Europe) with potatoes and greens, salad and grilled veggies. Tried a local pilsner style beer, Eggenberg (33 czk!), very good. The cuisine was basic, but well prepared, good service, excellent value, and the views couldn’t be beat.

 

We liked this place so much that we decided to come back a second time for dinner. We wanted to have grilled pork knuckle for our last dinner in the Czech Republic. It speaks volumes about the quality of the service and the food. Dinner was hearty and very good. I can’t believe this place isn’t rated higher on Tripadviser.

 

Restaurant Griechenbeisl

We had dinner here when staying in Vienna overnight to catch the return flight the following day. This restaurant claims to have been in operation since 1447. Our experience here was very good. The service was excellent, in spite of the fact that they were very busy. Service went with on with Germanic efficiency. We ordered herb encrusted fillet of char, risotto with pak choi, and grilled, skewered prawns with coconut-ginger orange sauce pasta.

 

Zum Basilisken

We had a late lunch here when staying in Vienna overnight to catch the flight out the following day. This restaurant received horrific reviews on Tripadvisor, especially from people that didn’t know they’d be charged for items offered on the table upon arrival which weren’t ordered.

Clear beef soup with liver dumplings, Viennese scallop with roast potatoes, and apple strudel for dessert. The soup was served so hot that it was not immediately edible, but it was delicious with patience. The Wienerschnitzel was was served piping, and it  was fresh and delicious. My only complaint about this restaurant was that the beer was a bit flat.

 

Vienna Overnight

We stayed a single night in Vienna to accommodate the first leg of our return flight, which was scheduled early. We stayed in the center of town within easy walking distance to restaurants, and a short Uber ride to the airport. The two restaurants we tried while in Vienna were very good, and highly recommended, although ordering a beer didn’t work well for me at one of them – details in the Food Scene section.

We did a mini discovery trek in Vienna, about a six mile walk along the river, then returned back towards our apartment with dinner along the way. It was more exercise than anything else, as the scenery was rather big-city ordinary where we were staying.

 

Epilogue

Cesky Krumlov was by far the least immersive traveling experience of the Western Slavic Countries Itinerary. The Tour Bus Day-Trippers from Prague, and Vienna descended on this little town in herds and hordes, making it feel more like a trip to a large amusement park, rather than a picture-perfect village surrounding a grand castle – with history that dates back to the 13th century. It was very interesting, particularly around the Vltava River – but about as immersive as an outing to Disneyland with thousands of adolescents.

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