08/17/2016 - 08/18/2016
The original plan was to stop in Telč on the way from Olomouc to Prague, but we ran out of time. Fortunately it wasn't a major detour from our route to Český Krumlov, so we didn't have to miss it. The star attraction of the small village is the town square, which is surrounded by houses many of whose facades are decorated in the Renaissance style of sgraffito. Other houses display Gothic or Baroque facades. The overall effect is very striking and unique.
Here are more photos and information about Telč.
Not wanting to limit ourselves to the main attraction, we took a short walk outside the main tourist area. The old town is surrounded by ponds on three sides, the remnants of the ancient moat. Aside from that, there wasn't much to the town. The other good thing about our detour to Telč was that it took us through a beautiful area of forest and lakes where wealthy Czechs seemed to have their summer homes.
The only good thing about leaving Prague was that we still had Český Krumlov ahead of us. The old town packed into a couple of polypoid twists of the serpentine Vltava River is legendary for its medieval beauty. The city has one of the more interesting layouts I've ever seen, a linear arrangement of tiny peninsulas connected by bridges.
After settling into our Airbnb in neighboring Kájov, we drove to the town and found our way to the P3 lot. We walked through Městský Park, an attractive green space, and crossed the bridge to the Old Town. The layout of the Old Town roughly approximated three concentric rings with the narrow streets ascending to the main square Náměstí Svornosti in the center. The town continues to rise into the isthmus of the peninsula with the Baroque St Vitus Church occupying the highest point. We struck out hunting for a table at one of the highly rated restaurants in the Old Town and eventually had to choose the lesser of evils in the main square. We managed a decent dinner at our subterranean choice, even though it seemed to have all the markings of a tourist trap.
Thursday morning we made sure we were at Krčma Markéta as soon as it opened for lunch. This restaurant at the edge of the Castle Garden was generally acknowledged to be the best in Český Krumlov. It was interesting to see the meat being grilled on an open flame but aside from that we couldn't figure out what made the place distinctive.
The Castle Garden was colorful and well-maintained, with a large lily pond at the western end. We walked around for a while but couldn't find the castle that went with the garden. The only way out by foot seemed to drop down into the Old Town and I didn't want to have to push the strollers back up a steep hill. Instead we retrieved the SUV and returned to our old friend the P3 outdoor lot.
Walking through Městský Park, we could see rows of beautiful houses on the opposite side of the Vltava as well as kayakers paddling in the shadow of St Vitus Church.
We crossed the river into the Old Town and soon found ourselves in the main square once again. In the light of day the appealing colors and outlines of the buildings lining the square were much more apparent.
It wasn't long before we came to another bridge, this time crossing from the north side of the Old Town to the castle area. Here we could finally see the massive Český Krumlov Castle looming above us. As we entered the castle we passed the brightly-colored six-story tower, constructed in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. We could see people moving around in the observation deck of the tower but decided that wasn't for us.
We weren't sorry to have passed by the tower, as the views of the Old Town from the castle ramparts were spectacular. There was a bit of a competition for the best vantage point, with views of both the castle tower and St. Vitus Church, but we were able to negotiate a few seconds for an unobstructed photo.
We didn't tour the inside of the castle but we did get to see this magnificent trompe de l'oeil decoration of one of the inner courtyards.
Czechia was the last new country of our trip, but we still had a couple more days in Germany and we intended to make the most of them. It was time to get back on the road to Bavaria.