So we’ve just come back from the most lovely 2 nights in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic and I’m getting quite sad (but also excited) thinking that that was probably our last time away just the two of us. Although, I did think that during the last one and we ended up going away again, so who knows! It was a last minute trip; only booking the car and hotel about a week before. We stayed at Hotel Bellevue, which was perfect and had a wonderful buffet breakfast, so we were able to last a good while each morning before feeling hungry again. We rented a car and got upgraded to a beast of a vehicle and left Vienna for the 3 hour drive to Český Krumlov.
The drive itself was fantastic and beautifully scenic. We have only really driven south of Vienna previously, and received views of mountain ranges on the way down to Slovenia and Italy. This time, it was completely different and we were treated to endless meadows and long roads through little towns and sleepy villages, and deep, dark forests. Upon arrival, we had been told many times how small Český Krumlov was and it really is. However, there are so many things to do here.
Because we arrived early afternoon, we simply dropped our luggage off and headed straight for some goulash for lunch on the river-side and then to the castle. Český Krumlov has one of the biggest castle complexes in Europe and as such, the town is a UNESCO World Heritage sight. It felt like we had taken a step back in time. To explore the castle grounds was free and we were able to join the vast number of Chinese tourists and their selfie sticks in exploring the delicately pruned castle gardens and look out to spectacular views of the town from up high. We paid a small price to climb 162 steps up to the highest point of the castle, which again, offered great scenery. You can also take a tour of inside the castle but we refrained from doing this as we’re crap at joining tour groups and I tend to need a pee every half hour at the moment. However, they offered discount for students, teachers, old people, etc, so bring some sort of ID if you’re any of these.
We ate at Nonna Gina’s Pizzeria, which had been recommended on a few blogs I had read before, and we were pleasantly satisfied with our first Czech Pizza. They had a lovely outdoor seating area as well and it would be wise to reserve beforehand, especially in the summer months.
We woke up early the next day to enjoy our nice brekkie and then head firstly to one of Český Krumlov's two Escape Rooms; this one called ‘The Alchemist’s Secrets’. This was my first Escape Room and I honestly had no idea what to expect. Mike had done a few but never with just two people before. It was Medieval themed and we were dressed in prison outfits and taken to a very dark prison cell and shackled to the floor. It was so much fun and, whilst I won’t give any more spoilers away, we managed to get out within 59 minutes and came away feeling both frustrated at occasional moments during the time, but mainly pretty damn proud of our code breaking skills!
In the afternoon, we rented an inflatable canoe that I had reserved easily online the day before from Malacek Rafting Tours. We started at Český Krumlov and floated easily down the river until we arrived at U Milana- about 3.5 miles away. He had told us it would probably take us about 1 and a half hours, but we seemed to do it in 50 minutes. Probably because of my dragon boat training in Hong Kong... It was very easy with a few rapids to contend with, which made for a slightly splashy trip. However, the journey down the Vltava River was stunning and we were often completely alone in the sunshine. My only regret is that we didn’t go further or bring some drinks and snacks with us. When we pulled over at the banks of U Milana, we arrived at a sort of alfresco BBQ/pub in the middle of the forest. It was busy with mainly Czech men in wet-suits drinking beer and eating sausages from the BBQ. We got some strange looks as we dragged our canoe up the bank. I think it may have been because I was nearly 8 months pregnant in a pink dress… After a drink and a sausage, we were picked up by the company and driven back to Český Krumlov.
Back in town, we decided to have a look around the Museum of Torture in the main square. It was a bit like the London Dungeons, complete with wax works of 15th century witches being burned, women in rusty chastity belts, heads on spikes, men being whipped and sawn in half, etc, with candles and sounds of groaning in the background for added effect. It was quite interesting, although I would imagine pretty scary for children! We were the only ones in there and there were certain points that I thought Baby might come out early, especially when Mike would run off and leave me with a groaning man with a hot poker up his bum.
For dinner, we ate at Satlava Tavern, which had been recommended to me. Again, this was worth booking before as it was a bit of a hotspot for tourists. We found that, actually, most eating and drinking places were touristy and we weren’t sure whether there were that many ‘local’ places to be found after all. Satlava was fantastic and we were lead through cavernous passages to our table that was overlooked by suits of armour, candles and bear skins hanging on the wall. It was all meat from the BBQ that we walked past in the entrance and our mouths were dripping by the time our food arrived. We devoured pork ribs and lamb chops and washed it down with beer. And tap water for me.
Our final evening was spent watching the sun set on the town along the river-side joined by thousands of dandelion seeds dancing through the air. This really was the most beautiful town in Eastern Europe I have ever visited. There is so much history here and stories to be told. So many menus in the restaurants and bars had a page dedicated to what was originally here hundreds of years ago. We felt that we managed to do and see a lot but there was obviously more fun to be had- so many activities could be done here including segwaying, horse riding, longer kayaking and canoeing trips, etc. We were very happy with our one and half days and drove back to Vienna feeling very happy, also at how darn cheap the whole trip had been!