I could have spent a long time in Prague and there were some major things we didn’t get to (all the historical sites from the new parts of town and the communist period, for example) but midway through our third day there we took a series of increasingly ramshackle trains to the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov.
Cesky Krumlov is a mostly preserved historic town that has a nice castle, a beautifully quaint little downtown, and gurgling river that snakes around it. The city is often compared to Rottenburg in Germany, but with fewer tourists and more charm (I’ve never been to Rottenburg, but Laura has so she could compare them better).
Getting out of the big city was really nice. Though Cesky Krumlov is pretty touristy in it’s own right, the trains we took also didn’t get us there until the late afternoon when many people were leaving. By the time we checked into Pension Lobo where we decided to stay for the night (1200 krona for the nicest room on our trip) the streets were already pretty clear and most of the souvenier stores were already closing.
We came to the city to wander its historic streets, so that’s what we did. First we explored the main area of the city, which is situated on small isthmus created by a horeshore in the river. Like many places in Europe, the streets are old, winding, and cobbled. However in this case there is no modern architecture mixed in. In other words, the city itself is a kind of well preserved museum of historic, medieval Europe.
After we walked around for a while, we decided to see the castle. On the opposite side of the river from the old town center, the castle was built on top of impossing granite cliffs. Though tours of the interior had ended, we were still able to walk around the impressive grounds and courtyards. We even got the guy at the French-style gardens to let us in for a few minutes, even though they were supposed to be closing. Probably the best thing about visiting the castle was the view it gave us of the town. From the castle’s soaring stone bridges we could see the entire town encircled by the river. It was like looking down on an idyllic model village.
When we got back into town we ate dinner and then continued to explore the twisting streets. I think because Prague’s old town was so big I kept thinking that there were new streets to find and other things to see. For some reason, however, we weren’t finding them and no matter where we went, we eventually ended up back in the main square or near the church.
Eventually, Laura pointed out that we had actually explored every street in the main part of the old town. I was skeptical, but eventually I conceeded that the city was really just that small. We branched out and explored some of the outlying parts of the city (passing along the way a local band’s tribute concert to the Red Hot Chilie Peppers, which we didn’t attended but kind of wanted to). Then we headed back to the pension and went to sleep.