Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cesky Krumlov, the cute little town from your fairytale books

I keep writing about past things and I know I have a bit of catch up to do but just know that I'm really enjoying my trip! I will stick a few catch up pieces here and there in the mix but really what I think most people want to hear about it what I'm doing right now. I'll go back to Prague later - the city deserves a proper entry! It can be overwhelming because when I think about what I want to write about I usually have tons of pictures that I want to post with it. Uploading, editing and posting those takes time. I'm glad I'm able to work but it does take up a lot of my "free time".

Right now I'm in Cesky Krumlov, a small town a few hours South of Prague in Bohemia. It's very much like a mini-Prague. The streets are all cobblestone and the road is narrow. You have to have a special permit to drive here so cars are rare to see. There is really only one main road that leads to the City Center and I haven't made it there yet because I was rightfully exhausted when I arrived. My last day in Prague was filled with an amazing person I met! (more on that later though!)

I found a really inexpensive pension here which is pretty much a B&B that serves you breakfast to your room. I woke up today with this huge vegetarian breakfast!

My yummy breakfast

They gave you a choice of what you wanted for breakfast so I had requested no meat because I just can't keep eating it. It feels really unhealthy to eat as much meat as Europeans do. The breakfast was huge! 2 mini-baguette breads (they are extremely popular here and only 2.5 czk koruna's, which is about 12 cents a piece), a glass of orange juice, green tea, 3 types of cheese (edam, munster and an impostor Brie), jam, butter, yogurt and a banana. Yum!

Anyways, today I am going to walk around and explore the town and the castle. There are only about 14,000 residents here so it's very small. The town is essentially nestled in a pocket of the Vltava River (the same one in Prague) so it's very cozy and friendly. Last night I walked down the street to find the vegetarian restaurant and took a few pictures. Here is a view of the street:

Narrow Streets

Most of the town looks like this. I came to the bridge and took a few pictures of the river and part of the castle.

Cesky Krumlov

A view to the main part of the town (where I'm heading today):

A view of river and castle:

Cesky Krumlov

Next to Prague, Cesky has the biggest Castle in the Czech Republic. Pretty much so far that I've seen there is a town, some places to stay, restaurants, a few shops a beautiful river and a castle.

I found a yummy vegetarian restaurant and stopped in to get a bite to eat, read and relax. The menu was really awesome and inexpensive. 200 koruna's = $10 USD. Most of the food there was much less.

Laibon, vegetarian restaurant menu

They had seats by the river both covered and uncovered and I chose to sit here, with this pretty view.

View from Laibon in Cesky Krumlov

After living in a city it's so peaceful and nice to just sit by a river and watch the time go by. The sun came out at one point and I snapped this gorgeous view of the castle (on left). Did I mention where I was sitting I could see a full view of the castle and hear the clock chime? It felt pretty romantic.

Cesky Krumlov Castle!

The owner was really, really nice. We chatted about Portland, Montreal, Cesky Krumlov and tourism (which he loves as it's not too many people really, only in summer months), the book I was reading, food, and Upstate New York. He had heard that the Czech Landscape is similar to upstate NY and I had to agree, it really is for the most part. There aren't any huge mountains but compared to the Cascades no mountains really seem huge to me anymore. The countryside here has a lot of cute villages, lakes and rolling hills.

These are some pictures I took on the way into Prague:

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

It is very similar to upstate NY. Maybe that is why I feel really comfortable here.

After my roasted veggie chili he brought me a complimentary pot of tea. I asked for the bill after that as I had already been there about 1 1/2 hours and read a good 100 pages in my new book but he instead brought me a nice hot glass of mead and we chatted some more. He started to get busy as people came in and after the mead he brought me a glass of hot mulled wine. And then another. It was really sweet and I couldn't tell if maybe he was just really nice or slightly interested. He told me he really enjoyed talking to me and apologized that he was so busy. Around 9:45 and my 3rd glass of wine I thanked him again and told him I had to leave to get to bed. I had told him the night before I hadn't slept much. He added up the bill and it was 158 koruna's. That's like $6. He wouldn't take any tip or extra $ and told me everything was a gift. He wished me well and I stumbled back through the safe quiet streets to my room and fell asleep. What a night! I would like to go back because the food was excellent but I am worried he will think I am coming back for free drinks. I do know that he wanted to keep talking to me and it was great talking to someone who knew so much about the world.

There are many people I run into on this trip that stereotype America and haven't heard of Oregon. I understand why we have the stereotype but it's upsetting sometimes which is why I usually tell people I'm from Portland, Oregon... except about 70% of the people I run into look at me funny until I tell them United States. I suppose I don't know all of the countries in the world but I know of many and could probably place them in a fairly accurate spot on the map. 50 states is a lot though. Everyone knows New York but that has another stereotype attached so I don't say I'm from there either. Hell, I don't know where I'm really from. I've spent the longest in New York but this year is my 6th in Oregon so it's catching up.

I only have a day here and it's already 12:30 (where did the time go??) so I'm going to head out and explore the town and the castle. So far everyone I've met is really friendly and in some ways this town reminds me of Saranac Lake. Sometimes I miss living in a small town and other times I am really glad I don't know everyone where I live. It's sure great to go back and visit though.

And finally I'd like to comment on the weather. So far I've gotten really lucky with rain. There's only been a couple rainy days on my trip and those have already been the days I had planned to take it easy. I hope mentioning this isn't bad luck! The restaurant owner, David, told me that they hadn't had sun in weeks and last night when the sun shone through and the sky was a beautiful blue everyone was in awe. Today it's about 62F and it's sunny! I've been monitoring the weather in Vienna too because Monday I planned to go on a grape gazing tour. It's a day long trip for 49 euros and you bike through the Vienna countryside, drink wine and then have a nice BBQ by the river. Sounds amazing. The weather has been nasty in Vienna but this coming Monday? It is projected to be 74 and sunny. The gods are smiling down on me! :)

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