A Travellerspoint blog

Discovering Cesky Krumlov

Getting acquainted

sunny 30 °C

Almost took the wrong direction at the train station, some helpful locals know that I am heading to Prague so they pointed me the right way.
I spent the first night in Krumlov House. It was a well run little hostel that is determine to help you feel right at home. And indeed it was home away from home. The direction given to the hostel was very detailed and I had no problems at all finding the hostel. It was getting really warm and sunny and starts to feel like an actual summer. Finally sweat freely after a week in the republic.
Cesky Krumlov is beautiful and the first impression was good.
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Sadly, the town is overrun by tourists, amazingly even the Thais are here. Ever since the word about this gem spread around the continent. UNESCO ratings propelled the fame higher. Amidst all the hype, this town is still worth a visit or even a stopover. Besides, the structures were well preserved and the river surrounding the town made it more picturesque.
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I love castles. Naturally I visited the castle at the first given opportunity. First stop is CK's castle museum. I had gotten smarter after the episode in Praha's Museum and invested in an audio guide. Climbed up the highest tower in the town after museum tour to get a great view of the town.
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Walked around the castle area, explored the gardens, hills and strolled around the river.
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And there's some leisure anglers
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Nice fountains too
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When the day trippers left in the evening, Cesky Krumlov became more pleasant minus all the chatters. I rented a bicycle and wander around the town (found out that I am horrifically out of shape too, physical demands is rather high as this town is very hilly.)
Made friends and found a Spanish teacher in the hostel, had a musical night, exchanging stories till late night :)

Posted by canglingy 05:53 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged landscapes castles museum sightseeing Comments (0)

Karlstejn

Drawn by the magnificence of the Chapel of the Holy Cross

sunny 21 °C

The taxi from Loket to town cost a bomb. Well, I had to save precious time and I wouldn't want to miss the connection to Praha. Anyway, watched "17 again" on the way back and that movie made me think about the life I had live.
Random tourist asked me for directions in Prague, I must have started behaving like the locals. Hmmm. Got to Karlstejn from Prague's main train station.
From Karlstejn's train station, the walk to my hotel was tiring, 2 miles of uphill walking and thank God I my backpack wasn't too heavy.
The time saving effort in Loket rewards tremendously as I managed to get two tours of the castle in the same afternoon. (I can get to Cesky Krumlov a day earlier :))
This castle is huge and oversees the little support town that mainly survives with souvenirs and restaurants. I couldn't get the whole castle in a picture, so hopefully the pictures will give a little glimpse of the structure.
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And the little support town :)
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This castle is also one of the legacies of the faith I have inherited. It's original purpose was to be a spiritual retreat center for Charles the fourth. Looking at the huge castle, this is the largest spiritual retreat I had ever seen. The emperor commissioned the building and there's a distinct three levels that signify hell, earthly dominion and heavenly rule. There were wall paintings from the book of Revelations showing the events of the apocalypse woman, these 14th Century paintings were well preserved so I can actually look at the details carefully. While I was staring at the wall, I thought about the similarity between Christianity today with the Christianity of the Dark Ages. During that age, there were unrest, wars, huge natural disasters, plagues and pretty much all the unhappiness that one could think about. So people start to fixate on the teachings of end times and quite a number of artistic works from this time depicted end times scenes. I think we are somehow in a similar situation today and some of us too, are quite obsessed with end times teachings.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was a beauty. This room is carefully preserved by controlling the moisture and pressure. This room represents Christ's Kingdom as described in Revelations, there were precious stones, portraits of saints and the room was surrounded by a crown of thorns signifying the suffering of Jesus Christ. At the very top of all the heroes of faith is their ultimate commander in chief, the Lamb of God. I felt as though I am on holy ground inside this chapel and I was amazed by the piety of the builders, they left no names for themselves, all their lives spent working, creating a legacy and rich heritage to be passed on to us, the future generation. I respected them and of course, the emperor.
I wonder, when the future generations look at my generation, will they also marveled at the heritages we created and passed on to them?
Sadly no pictures of the interior of the castle could be taken, so it was all imprinted in my memory.

Interestingly, this castle was never conquered despite not being built as a military fortress initially. During the siege of the Hussites, dead man barrel were used and those couldn't break the castle either. This spiritual center truly was blessed by divine protection.

Oh btw, Karlstejn Castle knows how to give a warm welcome.
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I walked around the quiet little town and castle grounds in the evening. Really enjoyed the silence after the day tourists left. This majestic castle and it's chapel truly left a mark today.
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Posted by canglingy 05:47 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged castles Comments (0)

Film Festival and Castle

Venturing deeper into local stories and culture

rain 16 °C

Hotel Goethe served good breakfast. Loket castle was open to the public today, naturally I went in to explore the castle before going to town for the international film festival. Loket castle is actually quite significant throughout the ages. It has served as a stronghold, converted into political prison and is of strategic importance especially during the age of kings. The tombstones and the archaeological findings on display are very interesting. The prison and the torture chamber, equipped with audio samples of cries of pain and sounds of torture instruments, feels more like a freak dungeon that scares little children rather than just an exhibition. The mood is indeed there as the exhibition is actually inside the dungeon. The gruesome deaths depicted is quite graphic.
So, I will not put any pictures of those here.
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It was drizzling the entire morning. The rain feels gentle and clean and I love to stroll in this weather :)
Tried to figure out a way to get to Karlovy Vary for the film festival at noon. Turns out that public buses only runs at 12 hours interval, waiting would not be possible, I walked out of the main town of Loket and started hunting for those small little rural train station. Got the timetable and tickets with great difficulty and thankfully some kind stranger helped me out when I am supposed to change trains midway (or I would have went to nowhere). Wandered around the outskirts of KV before heading into the actual town for the festival.
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Managed to catch some indie films, I watched Transformers recently and compared to these low budget films, Transformers sucked because it was so empty in contrast. Played around in a few exhibition booth (Sony, Audi) and decide to get back to Loket to spend my last evening there.
Before that, another picture (lovely people make the extra effort to arrange flowers in public squares)
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The journey back was creative. Today was a public holiday and thanks to my ignorance, public transport ends their service at 3pm. Had to walk, hitchhike and get on those really old trains to get all the way back to Loket. It was unpredictable, I had fun. There's also a random couple that I met along the way that actually understood English. They gave some really helpful pointers and thanks to these guys, I didn't get lost ;)
Booked a taxi for tomorrow for my travel back to KV because I'd need to avoid the hassle of unpredictable public transport in this area :)
My last evening in Loket was a quiet one. I walked along the river and then up a hill, enjoying the view as the sun sets. I realized that this could be a great place of solitude if I need one in the future.

Posted by canglingy 21:06 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged trains castles sightseeing travelling performing_arts Comments (0)

Going North

Falling in love with Loket

semi-overcast 16 °C

I left Prague today knowing that I will miss this city a lot. I got to know about Student Agency (a bus company) from a Chinese professor that I am staying with. The ride is really good, well exceeded my expectations of a bus ride. Reason being the seats are spacious, there's channels of movies and musics to keep you entertained throughout the comfortable bus ride, complimentary newspaper and magazine plus a variety drinks. On top of all of this, it is rather cheap :)
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The countryside is scenic
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Got dropped off a Karlovy Vary and had to find a way to Loket. When I open my mouth and start speaking, I realized that the general level of comprehension for English is very low here, perhaps even more so in the small town of Loket. Because I still don't speak Czech ;) German has become the survival tool (With whatever little German that I know and making a butchery of the language) Also found out that I couldn't fully comprehend the bus schedule, and it looks like bus service to smaller towns from Karlovy Vary is infrequent. The bus driver didn't understand English and I "switched on" the mixed up German mode.

First impression of Loket, this place is like a place from the fairy tales. It was peaceful, picturesque, and rather secluded from the world outside. Now I understood why Goethe loves this small town. The central area of Loket is surrounded by the river of Ohre and Loket castle stood proudly on top of the hill in the centre. I was happy I chose to come here. Pictures will describe it better :)
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I attempted to check in at Goethe Hotel (a bit pricey for the ones on a tight budget but this is a good hotel), my German was very rusty so I had a bit of communication issues. Have to resort to a little bit of signing, haha. Was very satisfied with my room.
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It was almost evening after I settled in, I went out for a stroll along the river and a small hike around the hill area. It was relaxing and really refreshing. I had time to think and daydream at the same time.
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Here are some of the gems I found while walking around.
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Found myself loving this place more as I made further discoveries on foot. Had an actual home cooked dish for dinner, felt at peace and at ease, haven't experienced this in quite some time.

Posted by canglingy 21:21 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged landscapes trees travelling Comments (0)

Zoo and Museum

Starting to encounter language barrier ;)

rain 14 °C

Decided to check out the locations of the train station and the main bus terminal first thing in the morning. I do not wish to be stuck in a last minute panicky moment when I cannot find those terminal tomorrow :)
I have heard good stuff about the zoo and I didn't want to miss it so I head to the outer regions of Prague. This zoo turns out to be a gem, the animals habitat is carefully constructed and the visitors can experience the different habitats directly, some like the rainforest have higher temperature and some like the twilight zone is in permanent darkness with just a little light to light up the paths. The visitors will walk on actual forest like path which makes the entire experience seems quite realistic. I like the polar bears a lot and watching them playing around and swim has been a joy.
Here's some pictures of the zoo.
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And you can get up close and personal with some of the more docile animals.
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And well, for me, the only annoying aspect is that there are no signs/explanations in English, luckily I have managed to learn the more important words like "exit" and "entrance"
Below is a sample of the animal descriptions, I couldn't understand a word, so I spent most of the time just staring at the animals like a kid ;)
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This zoo is very good for walks too
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Being in a non-touristic area like the Prague Zoo (It is actually quite obvious when none of the signs are in English) There are people that start to talk to me in Czech. Most of the time I couldn't make out what they were saying but now the feeling of being in a foreign land starts to sink in more :) Because you will feel foreign when you couldn't communicate with the other person.

I went back to town and into the national museum (another grand building in Prague)
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I assumed that the museum will at least have some English description so I opted not to pay for the audio guide. Being a cheapskate kinda ruin the museum exploration as there were scarcely any descriptions in English. So most of the exhibition couldn't really be understood. But by this time I am also quite informed about Czech history and also the legends of the city. So I could follow the interactive activities.
Geologist or lover of rocks will love this museum as they have one of the largest collection of pretty rocks I have ever seen.
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And I, being a biology student before, went to stare at the preserved specimens and skeletal frames. The way the exhibition is arranged is also dropping subtle hints like *cough* evolution is the real deal *cough* haha. Most I believe, after going through one round of these European Natural History Museums will probably come to this conclusion unless they have been active advocate of an alternate theory.
I spent the entire afternoon at the museum. I still prefer the Singapore National Museum because I can relate to it more and savor the entire experience.
But nonetheless, the museum is pretty good. Bought a strings concert ticket at the museum tonight and head out for the dinner.

Stopped by and looked at some random guy protesting while grabbing a shot with the museum :)
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Had a very meaty dinner that the locals call the Czech Variety Dish at the Wencleslas Restaurant.
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This restaurant enjoyed a good reputation in the area, famous Czech personality dine here during certain occasion. WIth that being said, the price is also very reasonable. Plus, there's a fire show and reenactment of the story of St. Wencleslas outside the restaurant every 15 minutes or so.
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Dining at the restaurant is nice experience indeed.
The Strings Concert after dinner was quite good. The concert is held at the staircases of the museum, so it was quite different than the usual concert hall.
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When you listened carefully and allowed yourself to be sucked into the music, you will hear the pride and loyalty of a Czech to his nation. It was a good night out.

Posted by canglingy 05:37 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged zoo museum performing_arts Comments (0)

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