About that Castle…

imageCesky Krumlov is a lovely medieval town perched on the top of a high hill, filled with restaurants, shops, and a castle with a story, which I now know.

The castle was built around 1250 by the Rosenbergs, who lived there for about 600 years till the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II took a fancy to it.  I’m sure there were lots of battles and other really important historical events connected with the castle, but the story that I liked the most was about the Rosenberg son who married for love, against the wishes of his father.  That marriage was annulled, so that son could make a more appropriate match, one that came with a large dowry.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of a delay in the payment of the dowry, so son (whose name escapes me, but I’ll bet you don’t care either) sent his blushing bride home.  It took about 10 years, numerous bake sales and car washes for the family to come up with the requisite sum.  By the time the two love birds got together, Mrs. Rosenburg was getting on in years.  She consulted a priest or some other magical power fellow, so when she gave birth at age 42, it was declared a miracle, resulting in canonization of the miracle worker.  (No, not the husband, the magical fellow).  Personally, I think if anyone should have been canonized, it should have been Mrs. Rosenburg, for putting up with that nonsense.  I had a good look at The Lord of the manor, and let me tell you, he was no prize. If I had been sent home, I would have stayed there and used the dowry money to travel. But maybe that’s just me.

The view from the castle is spectacular, well worth the climb up the hill.

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos IN the castle, so I’ll have to describe the coat of arms of one of the later families, who moved in when the Hapsburgs tired of it. Picture a severed head, sporting a fu Manchu mustache dangling at an angle, with a black bird pecking at his eyes. That’s because the Schwartzenbergs defeated the Turks and the grateful emperor rewarded them with that stunning visual.

After much wandering, discussions, and menu viewing, the biker chicks decided to dine at our hotel. We had drinks and appetizers on the terrace, then moved inside for dinner once it got cold.

Karen, Beth and Susan
Karen, Beth and Susan

 

Diane and Karen

Diane and Karen

On our last day in Cesky Krumlov, we took a train part way through the forest, then biked across what was once the iron curtain, so of course we took advantage of the photo op.
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Our Last Day in the Czech Republic

 

My friends and sisters would be shocked. I’m on my SECOND beer! No, not my second beer today–my second beer in three days–but still. Plus, I’m drinking alone, although in my mind, I am with YOU, my blogging buddies. That counts, right?

What’s next? Smoking cigarettes?

Drinking beer again?
Drinking beer again?

Our group is meeting our guide in an hour for a tour of the Cesky Krumlov castle, so I decided this is the perfect time to hang in an outdoor cafe. It’s relatively near our meeting spot and equipped with wifi. Who could ask for anything more?

Unlike the good ol USA, in the Czech Republic, cafés don’t rush you and the servers don’t circle around,trying to get you to spend more money. I’m the only one here who is not speaking Czech, so I suspect I had the good fortune to stumble into a place that only the locals patronize. Sometimes having a lousy sense of direction turns out to be a good thing.

But I am indeed on a bike trip, and ride we did this morning.  Here’s proof.  The two Karens and Susan are doing their Czech imitation, while I am flashing my “American smile”. That actually is a term here in the Czech Republic. Hana, our guide, explains that the Czech don’t smile much, so to them, we Americans appear always to be grinning broadly. And why not? When THEY see us, we are on vacation, enjoying their beautiful country.

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The Czech countryside is lovely, with lots of rolling hills, farmland and woods. One of those rolling hills today was a KILLER. I made it halfway and walked the rest of the way to the top, as did many in our group. But at least we tried.

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This cow was just BEGGING to have her photo taken.
This cow was just BEGGING to have her photo taken.

We had a wonderful lunch at a home in the little town of Plav.

Tom, one of the four men in our group (out of twenty participants) took a little spin on the tractor, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to back it into the “garage”. A wise decision on his part.

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About half of us decided to get back to Cesky Krumlov via 4 wheels instead of 2,  so we’d have time to explore (or blog and drink beer).

I don’t know anything yet about the castle that dominates the skyline, other than that a bear lives in what I imagine was once the moat.

Bet you thought I was kidding about the bear.
Bet you thought I was kidding about the bear.

Tomorrow morning, we will take a train to Passau, Germany and will spend the rest of the day riding there. At some point there WILL be a quiz and the usual historical stuff, but for now, I’m just experiencing the culture of the country, where Pilsner was invented, and Budweiser got its start.

Three Days in Prague

Three days in Prague were not nearly enough.  Such a beautiful, interesting city deserves a return trip, but next time it will be with Mike.  That’s why I intentionally didn’t do the historical things that I know he’d enjoy.  For example, although we did visit the castle complex, we didn’t take a tour.  Instead, we did a quick circuit around the exterior, content to enjoy the panoramic view.

Although we received tram passes as part of our Vermont Bike Trip package, we used leg power to get to the castle.  ALL the way up…ALL those stairs, just like his majesty’s subjects must have done, in the days of old.

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And what a warm welcome they received!  Check out the entrance to the palace.

This fine fellow is on the left of the entrance.
This fine fellow is on the left of the entrance.

And it his guy is on the right.
And this guy is on the right.
Do you think Charles IV was a bit ambivalent about guests?  Perhaps he wanted to make sure they didn’t wear out their welcome?

We skipped the art and the churches, only stopping to see the throne room.

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Only kidding…

that’s actually my bathroom at our hotel in Cesky Krumlov.  Hotel Ruze was once a Jesuit school, which doesn’t explain the choice of plumbing fixtures, it just explains some of the guests.

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So, we now have left Prague, had our first bike ride (which started out on narrow, winding, cobblestone streets and included more than one big hill), enjoyed meeting our biking companions during a champagne reception and finished a magnificent dinner in a little cavern.  Time to call it a night!