Cesky Krumlov: Rain and Road Trip

3 Oct

view along the river in Cesky Krumlov

At the end of my first week of work I went to Prague for a one-day training session (because I had missed the training since I got the job so last minute). By that time I had already taught four days of classes, but it was helpful anyways to review some of the highlights of the method we’re supposed to be using and to get some new ideas. It was only me and one other teacher, a girl from Australia, but it was nice to meet some more Wattsenglish people seeing as up to that point I knew exactly two teachers (my coworkers in Karlovy Vary). It also turns out that one of the girls who was helping with the training (she taught in Prague last year and is teaching there again this year) went to Mary Washington. She is actually a few years younger than me but we had fun talking about campus and Fredericksburg (ahh memorieeeesss).

Anyways, that Friday night I stayed in Prague because my roommate Jessica, some of her friends she met at training, and I made plans to go to Cesky Krumlov, a small town in the south of the country. In order to get to Cesky Krumlov (or to most places in the country) from Karlovy Vary you have to go through Prague. So it didn’t make sense for me to go back home to KV for one night and turn around and come back to Prague. Initially we were going to take the bus or train to Cesky Krumlov, but many of the buses were sold out and the timetables weren’t working out in our favor. I could easily get a ride from Prague because Jackie and Lisa, the two girls who were going with us, were getting a ride with Jackie’s coordinator and they were stopping in Prague to pick someone up from the train station. As you might recall, I mentioned in an earlier post that we have a company car in KV that we use to get to classes during the week. Jessica asked my boss if we were allowed to take the company car for personal use, and much to our surprise we are allowed to “rent” the company car and pay for the mileage. So Jessica and her friend John (who was still visiting from England) “rented” the company car and drove down to Cesky Krumlov and met us there on Saturday.

the girls in the rain: Jessica, me, Jackie and Lisa

When Jackie, Lisa, and I arrived in Cesky Krumlov the first order of business was food. We found a nice Italian restaurant and had some delicious pastas and yummy desserts (they know how to do strudels here in CR). Then we had to get a map and find our hostel, which we did with few problems.

The problems arose only when we found the hostel. The hostel was a bit run down and the woman spoke almost no English. Which might have been okay, except they didn’t have our reservation. So it was impossible to explain that two more of our friends were coming and they had the booking with them. She kept asking for the booking, and we kept trying to explain that our friends were coming with the paper. At one point she literally tossed a Czech/English dictionary at us so we could look up what we wanted to say. That got us nowhere. Finally she called someone who spoke English and had access to their reservation system and put them on the phone with us. They said there was no reservation for 5 people under our name. We might have still stayed there if the woman had offered us a room, but instead in a few English words she told us to go back to the city center and find the tourist information office.

We went to the tourist office (twice actually) and stopped at a bunch of hostels and pensions asking if they had room for 5 people. A few places had room for 4, but not 5. Well worst case, we joked, someone could sleep in the car (either the smallest person, because the car is tiny, or the most drunk person at the end of the night because they wouldn’t notice the difference until they woke up). We continued to schlep around town with our bags, thankfully it’s a small town. I had my large backpack with me and my computer in it so my shoulders were starting to lose it after the first hour. I was also wearing new flats that were not built for walking around for hours on end and were starting to give my pinky toes blisters (I suppose that is my own fault not breaking them in first). But eventually we found a pension that had a room that was normally for 4, but they would put an extra bed in there for a small fee. It ended up being a very cute pension and our booking included breakfast – score!

finally we found a place to stay...

The proprietor of the pension was this cute old Czech man who talked to us for about 5 minutes in German until he realized we were staring at him with blank faces. “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” he asked. We laughed, “ummm no. English?”  He didn’t know much English, but made so much more of an effort than the woman at the first hostel to communicate with us. He used a lot of gestures and hand motions to show what he was talking about and we pretty much figured it out.

We were really lucky in that the weekend we chose to come to Cesky Krumlov there was a St. Wenceslas festival taking place. In the main square there was stage for traditional Czech dance and music performances. People were walking around in all sorts of costumes (presumably for their dance troops).

band playing on the stage at the Wenceslas festival

There were also a ton of food and craft tents. I got a delicious block of cheese that was similar to parmesean and a tasty, tasty potato pancake. We also sampled some hot wine and bercak, this carbonated sweet wine that I’m pretty sure is made in people’s bathtubs. I’m led to believe this because it is sold in unlabeled 2 liter bottles and on the way home we passed a few random bercak stands on the side of the road. There would literally be a person chilling under a little tent with a sign advertising their bercak. So from what I understand it’s not something you buy at stores, but only from people who make it at home.

Saturday evening, after walking around the festival in the square we had pizza and some shots of Becherovka, the herbal liquor that is actually made in Karlovy Vary.  We went to a few more bars but we were all pretty tired by around 11:30pm so we called it a night.

the tower of the castle

Sunday morning we got up, had breakfast then went to see the castle, the main attraction in Cesky Krumlov. The weather was still crummy, not as rainy as Saturday but still very overcast. But despite the weather, the views from the castle tower were gorgeous! We also walked around the castle gardens, which again were beautiful. Please check out the link on my Photos page for more photos from the castle and gardens. Cesky Krumlov is truly a beautiful place, and I can only imagine how much prettier it would be in nice weather.

In the afternoon Jessica, John, and I hopped in our little red Hyundai and drove back to KV. I drove (since Jess had driven there on Saturday) and it was actually a very pleasant ride. Some very nice scenery and a little detour through Pilsen made for a nice first Czech road trip. Luckily the rain held off as well so it was nice driving weather (if cloudy).

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