Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Luv in Krumlov

I know...I Know. It is a cheesy title and I am going pink with embarrassment as I type this, but there is absolutely no other way to describe our time in this wonderful medieval city. There are romantic towns and then there are ROMANTIC towns. With its stunning castle casting beautiful shadows in the Vltava river while it snakes around the town in a perfect "S" shape, it is no wonder that this town falls in the second category. The enchanting little town is full of delightful little shops and restaurants, art galleries, narrow cobble stone streets, pedestrian bridges and most of all - wonderful people. The town is a splendid example of life in the slow lane. There is no rush to do anything....actually there is not much to do here. As Rick Steves would say " There are no 5-star attractions,but the town itself is a 5 star attraction". All I remember doing here is walking hand in hand, people watching and having long luxurious meals by the Vltava river.

We took the 11:00 AM bus from Prague. It was a beautiful drive through the Czech countryside. Spring was at its best and we passed through acres and acres of yellow mustard flowers. The video coach bus was showing a Czech movie with English subtitles. As I dosed in and out of sleep, one thing I noticed was that the leading lady Dubrakova was in the SAME dress for the entire length of the movie...even after she accidentally falls in a ditch! Czech cinema must not have the budgets of Bollywood. As I mentioned in previous reports, I did not make any reservations for the last 6 days of our 13 day trip. We showed up at the tourist office with no reservations. Only problem was that they didn't have any rooms in the old town, so we stayed up the hill in a small pension. Pension Vishaharad was a clean and simple bed & breakfast in a residential area. It was a 1/2 mile walk to the city center, which was actually nice because we had great views of the town from up there. We originally booked the room for one night, but an hour after we walked into the town, we were bowled over by the beauty of the place and decided to stay another night. We walked over to the city center and had a late lunch/snack of pizza and chocolate crepes (I can give up lunch, but can NEVER give up dessert when I am on vacation).

We walked around the town, did some window shopping and just when the light was going down, settled at a vegetarian restaurant called Laibon that was highly recommended in the guide book. We had a long 3 hour dinner. Our table was outdoor, right beside the river. While waiting for the food to come, I actually went down and cooled my feet in the water- oh what fun it is to put tired feet in cold running water!!. - A lone duck was trying to swim upstream, but the current was too much, so it flew up. A few minutes later we saw the same duck float downstream without putting up a fight! We had a huge basket of pakodas (that's was international food) and chips and salsa and guacamole for appetizers and a huge bowl of vegetarian chili for main course. We took our time and ate very slowly watching the sun set behind the castle. As it became darker, the castle lights came on and transformed the place into magic land. We did not have our tripod, so took this night shot with a point-and-shoot Canon while balancing it on a stack of coins (told you...we had a lot of free time). Dessert was chocolate cake and homemade ice cream. We took the other two night shots on the way back to the pension.

We spent the morning walking around the town, visiting churches and heritage buildings. We had a brunch in a bistro - nothing special. We walked around for a little bit and went to another restaurant for dessert -
ice cream folded in a warm chocolate crepe floating in mild blueberry sauce and drizzled with powdered sugar...ummm.
Vam: There is not much to do here, but I love it. Should we stay another night or move on?
Saru: I love it too.What is the hurry?
Vam: Yeah...Let's stay here and savor the place. You know, I don't understand how people can do day trips to this place. 3-4 hrs is just not enough to get a feel for this place. It is just not enough to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the town and the culture here.
Saru: uh-huh
Vam: You know....I also don't understand how people go on whirlwind Europe tours - 7 countries in 10 days etc. What can they see that way? They will just be shuttling between airports and train stations. You need to make the leap from being a tourist to a traveler and get a feel for life in foreign countries - their food, their history, and their way of life. That way, you might take back something with you and make your life better.
Saru: Vam.....It seems to have slipped your mind that we are doing 4 countries in 13 days....So, are we tourists or travelers?
Vam (counting): Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Austria. OMG....that is true. I completely lost track. Shit!! I am a freaking tourist!! What the hell was I thinking? Oh Man!! I am one of them? think I am one of them?
No, you are not one of them. You are a giant snob! Forget the philosophy and have fun.

I don't know if I am a tourist or a traveler, but I certainly took inspiration from their laid back lifestyle and changed mine after we moved back to India. Simple things give me more joy now than they ever did in my life before and for that I am really glad I went to Cesky Krumlov.

In the afternoon, we went up the castle. While it is an imposing and handsome building from outside, it was not all that great inside. The only impressive room was the Rennaisance room with paintings that had a three dimensional look. The best part of the castle tour was to be able to climb the steps and get to the clock tower. Views from up there and the castle gardens were excellent.

We had another long and excellent dinner that night in an Italian restaurant. I had an interesting Czech dessert – ovocne knedliking (don't even bother pronouncing it)- fruit dumpling sprinkled with curd cheese (cheese tasted liked khoa from a new mother-cow’s milk). On the way to the pension, we took this picture.Next morning we left for Hallstatt, Austria which was another beautiful place.

To read more about our trip browse these links:


  1. WOW! This place looks so beautiful!!! I love the way everyone is just hanging out in the square having a nice time.

    And I can't believe you balanced the camera on a pile of coins! That is too much. I must say the pics of the castle with the Canon supershot are as good as the ones with the digital SLR :)

  2. Wow! as usual you post made me experience the town.

  3. Lovely pictures, taken in golden evening light. Sounds like an idyllic place.

  4. No comments please. Just let me enjoy the images :)

  5. Vamsee,
    Lovely post, superb pictures and a nice philosophy of taking it easy!

  6. Vamsee - I have been looking at your post for a long time yesterday night and finally after having savored every moment I m ready to comment...

    I m so envious of you both, this is such awesome vacation and I loved reading every minute of it.

    I can't image going on a 13 day vacation with no reservations for half the trip, its incredible...

    I still cannot get over that 3 hour long dinner. WOW

    And that 7 countries in 10 days Vs 4 countries in 13 days is a cool debate too.

    Vamsee, Pl. stop describing desserts the way you have done, my mouth is still watering as I m writing this comment.

    And Saru - Stunning images pal, the last one deserves to be printed and framed.

    I think you guys should participate in the GDC, there's still time and thanks for your vote. Appreciate it...Thomas

  7. Hi Vamsee !! Nice to see you after a long time..This is an excellent post..I really loved the beautiful shots of buildings..Thanks for sharing the beauty..Do check my another blog also i.e.Unseen Rajasthan

  8. Lovely Pics and love the narration. I actually came back and read it again before commenting . Sometimes laid back vacations are so much fun than running around places. I am still learning to try to do that - unsuccessfully !

    Also loved ur description of the dinner ... by the riverside. Very very vivid and can picture it as a lovely one :)

    The first pic - is the photo of a picture right? I think it is.


  9. Hi fellow travelista - you are not a tourist! They are not able to write such brilliant pieces because they don't TAKE time for observations, even if they WOULD have the time:) (a bit confusing, eh:) And even if you were a bit in a hurry - you knew where to spend time. Come to think of it - not all traveler who think they are, are travel-explorers. I spent 4 month backpacking in SOA and met a whole lot of fellow travelers who didn't spend more than one day in one place.
    Anyway, as always, I enjoy your excellent writing and Saru's amazing pictures!

  10. yours is the first blog i visited in days and what a treat..there are so many things I want to say..stunning sights and great writing..4 countries in 13 days ..ummm..makes me go nostalgic..though I didnt visit these countries..

  11. Superb virtual tour. Thank you so much for sharing. It indeed is breathtaking :)

    Slow and Beautiful — Snail

  12. Hi Vamsee !! These are some really wonderful and lovely images.Really appreciate the beauty..Thanks for sharing and sorry for commenting so late but now i am back...See you soon. !!Unseen Rajasthan

  13. Oh my oh my! I'm hypnotised by the pictures and your wonderful narration. You guys not only make a good team for my travel hungry eyes, but I also like your philosophy of travel. btw, who cares if you are travelers or tourists? These are just terms for people to chew on. (I do it too!) :)

  14. There's a surprise for you. Click here to get it :)

  15. Some very beautifully captured shots!

  16. Ahhh!! This is the kind of vacation I would like to take once in a while - my birding holidays are usually more hectic than my daily life!! What a picture-postcard town! I was so reminded of Sicily!! What is it about European towns that they just make life slow down like that? The pics are a total treat!! And I just loved your conversation!! Super post, giant snob!! :))))