Where in the world were we?
We’d barely scratched the surface of Prague, but our time there was short (too short!) so off we went on a day trip. In this land of umlauts, carons and alarming strings of consonants (here I attempt to imagine a Czech game of Scrabble…) we would have been perpetually confused if it were not for the generally impressive English language skills of its inhabitants.
Luckily for us, Vilma, our private guide from the PragueWalker tour company (they come highly recommended by Rick Steves), had mad English skills, a winsome manner and a sweeping knowledge of Czech history and geopolitics.
She collected us from our hotel lobby, bundled us into a sedan and off we went into the Bohemian countryside. Uncharted territory! So far from home! I peered out the window as the miles passed, and it slowly dawned on me: it looked exactly like Ohio! Well, maybe a little less green than Ohio; Vilma explained that the Czech Republic was in the throes of a drought, thus the fields and fields of dried husks from the failed corn crop.
Our destination was Česky Krumlov, a famed thirteenth century village and UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Bohemia. In my research for our trip I’d read somewhere that it was a must-see; that the town and the castle were the inspiration for the early happily-ever-after animated Disney films. And, as it is with fairy-tale villages, this one was a bit out of the way. The downside of a day trip to Česky Krumlov was the nearly five hours total in the car; the upside was Vilma’s thoroughly prepared tutorial on all things Czech.
Upon our arrival, we toured the castle garden (nice, but not world-class), got a peek at the dizzyingly (as in vertigo-inducing!) strange Soviet-era revolving theatre:
and then, our first glimpse of the village and the castle. It is truly enchanting!
And, while I had some difficulty understanding the castle tour guide and his explanation of the succession of owners (Rosenbergs, Eggenbergs, Schwarzenbergs…) the rooms we beheld were magnificent, indeed. No photography permitted inside the castle, but I found a few on the official web site:
The Masquerade Hall, with its eighteenth-century trompe l’oeil paintings by Josef Lederer, was the finale of the tour and my favorite room:
Due to time constraints, we missed out on the highly-regarded tour of the castle’s Baroque Theatre:
Which leaves us with a reason to return – Vilma showed us the lovely Hotel Rûže, which is just steps from the castle, overlooking the Vltava River. Ah, well, maybe next time…
Instead, we re-traced our route through the Ohioan landscape back to Prague, arriving in time to make our dinner reservation at the lovely Kampa Park restaurant with its fabulous view of the Charles Bridge. It was a perfect fairy-tale ending to our day!