Cesky Krumlov was lucky. While it suffered a season of Communism, the Communists never had enough money to modernize the place. So when they were kicked out in 1989, all Cesky Krumlov needed was a little TLC. Tourists discovered it in the early 1990’s and the rest is history.
Entering the Time Warp
As I mentioned before, our wonderful guide was a native Krumlovite. He grew up there and had an abiding love for his lovely little town. We had disembarked our bus up in the castle gardens and seen a couple of lovely vistas from the castle grounds, but this charming blue, onion-domed church was our first taste of Krumlov proper.
The pace of our tour slowed down as the guide shared the highlights of his town, including his favorite places to eat and stories about his friends. I’ve toured with guides that turned this dialog into an “ain’t-I-great” soliloquy, but the charming citizen of Krumlov did not fall into that trap. His stories were all about the wonders in his favorite town.
By the way, while it is tempting to call it a village, rather than a town, it got a city charter somewhere along the way. They would probably be insulted because that I was calling it a town instead of a city, but I want you to get the feel of the place, even if my terminology is not technically correct.
On Our Own
We wandered along quaint little streets until we reached the town square, where our guide released us to our own reconnaissance. Our little group of cruise buddies hotfooted it back to our guide’s favorite restaurant and enjoyed a delightful lunch with generous quaffs of Czech beer.
Then we headed out for shopping. EEEK! The prices were astronomical. I strolled into a handbag store and hurried out with my tail between my legs. While I’m not great at currency conversion, I do know enough to figure out when I’ve wandered into a triple digit zone. The cheapest handbag I could find was very comfortably in that triple digit zone and while my friends are certainly worth that much, I can’t afford it.
There were dozens of establishments featuring souvenirs – you know the kind, t-shirts and tea towels emblazoned with screen-printed images – but that wasn’t what I was looking for. Finally, I found a store with darling little gingerbread Christmas ornaments. I almost bought them out and was thrilled with my find, but unfortunately I lost them somewhere along the way. I was broken-hearted because they were hand-made and seriously darling.
Had I anticipated the expenditure, I would have bought up some amber jewelry. Every other store on the winding streets is an amber jeweler and I loved most of their wares. My bestie loves amber and I desperately wanted to find something for her, but in a town where a small cloth clutch costs about $200, you can imagine what the amber cost. Still, the prices were not unreasonable, so if you go, budget for the amber and shop until you drop!
Suddenly It Was Time to Go
For the final half hour or so, we abandoned our cruise buddies, because I was still desperately on the hunt for gifts. All of sudden we looked at our watch and realized we had to leave – right then. That’s when we figured out we were lost and Cesky Krumlov no longer felt like a quaint village, but more like the city they prided themselves on being. Our panic only lasted a short while, but that was long enough. They’d warned us they would leave us if we weren’t on time.
We strolled back through the town, up a path around the castle and there our buses were waiting for us. The drive back to the boat seemed longer than the trip to the Czech town, because we were hoping enough time would be left to check out Linz before dinner.
We did make it back early enough and I’ll share that with you next week, but for now, enjoy all these pictures from Cesky Krumlov.