Off-Season Week in Bohemia, Part 4 — Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Fountain at town center of Cesky Krumlov

Fountain at town center of Cesky Krumlov

This is the fourth installment in a five-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Bohemia with Insight Vacations. Check out Part 1Part 2 and Part 3, and then stay tuned for Part 5 tomorrow.

If you’re in the Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov is a must-do town. I’m grateful Insight Vacations had this magical UNESCO World Heritage site on the itinerary. Cesky Krumlov is often a day trip for tourists and rarely a place to stay overnight, but in Insight Tours’ unique and off-beat fashion we were booked in Hotel Růže, a 16th-century Jesuit dormitory overlooking the Vltava River, which bisects the village. Every room was different; mine had an ancient prayer bench under the iron-rimmed window that swung out, giving a view to the bend of the Vltava, the park across the river and clear blue skies above. It wasn’t hard for me to envision a monk at the bench saying his morning prayers and being grateful for all God had given him. Some of my fellow travelers had antique throne-style chairs incorporated with a modern toilet. History and whimsy down to the core.

The Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov

The Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov

The town’s focal point is its 13-century castle that, through the course of time, was home to the South Bohemia ruling families the Vitkovicis, the Schwarzenbergs and most notably the Royal Hapbsburgs, among others. Our local expert guide was a wealth of information about the historic site and left no question unanswered. There was an aloofness about him that made me feel like he was the real Czech deal, though we did get him to smile a few times.

The Cesky Krumlov Opera House

The Cesky Krumlov Opera House

The State Castle of Český Krumlov still feels lived-in, and touring through it was like walking back in time. I believe we all walked away with some fascinating history and side stories. Our guide did a great job with a short amount of time, and created an excellent Cliff Notes version of the deep history of this fairytale-like town. The Castle Theater is a particular eyegasm treat of pastels and gild. It is in working condition and currently used for opera and other productions.

Worth the wait: a warm trdelnik pastry

Worth the wait: a warm trdelník pastry

Tip: The trdelník is a cheap, sweet, bready piece of wonderful. You’ll find stands in several Bohemian cities, but I knew they had to be good in Cesky Krumlov when a team of Russian folk dancers was lined up outside of the local trdelník maker. It was worth the wait.

Night at the Cesky Krumlov Castle

Night at the Cesky Krumlov Castle

The town closes early and there aren’t a lot of tourists in the evenings to give the locals reason to keep their businesses open late, but it is a perfect venue for a night walk or ghost hunt. Much of the castle grounds are left open and you’re free to stroll through them—and there’s a very spooky Bram Stoker feel to them at night.

Tip: If you’re on the Insight tour, make sure to ask the local expert about ghost stories. There are plenty.

Biking the Cesky Krumlov forest

Biking the Cesky Krumlov forest

The romance of Cesky Krumlov is punctuated by the surrounding dense rolling woodland that gives a traveler the chance to break from the usual tourist to-dos and get time in nature. Some of us chose the option to mountain bike through the Bohemian forest. Our expert leader for the bike ride was a chemistry and physics teacher from a local school who spoke English beautifully and not only made sure none us of perished on the bike ride, but also answered countless questions about the area. The bike rental company he works for, Vltava Sport Service, also has river trips, which I will definitely do the next time I visit Cesky Krumlov.

Tip: If you’re a Renaissance Faire nerdling as I am, there’s an annual Five Petalled Rose celebration in Cesky Krumlov usually held in June, where the town comes alive in the times of the Renaissance.

Golden carriage in Cesky Krumlov Castle

Golden carriage in Cesky Krumlov Castle

This is the fourth installment in a five-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Bohemia with Insight Vacations. Check out Part 1Part 2 and Part 3, and then stay tuned for Part 5 tomorrow.

 

 

About Cynthia Cunniff

Cynthia Cunniff’s writing background spans magazine editorial, travel blogging, marketing and PR. She’s a graduate of the creative writing program at CSU Long Beach and went on to UCLA to further her writing skills. Growing up as a military dependent, she lived in several foreign countries and areas of the US. Post college she returned to international living and resided in London for close to a decade, where she took advantage of proximity to the rest of Europe and traveled extensively. She currently lives in the beautiful South Bay of Los Angeles, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram @localpathworld.

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