Short Trip to Cesky Crumlov

Cesky Crumlov

Czech Republic

Febuary 2013


This was my 3rd visit to Czechoslovakia. Or as this area is now known, The Czech Republic.

They are now part of the Schengen agreement and no passport was required at the German/Czech border. The currency is still Crowns (Koruna) but Euros seemed acceptable almost everywhere we went.

We hired a car at Europcar in Burghausen. They have a few restrictions on which ex-East Block countries we can travel to but luckily the Czech Rep was allowed.

So off we went, heading for Cesky Crumlov, a small Czech town east of Passau. The journey took a comfortable 3 or 4 hours. En route we stopped at a ski slope near the border village of Phillipsreut to do some sledding. Then we hopped back in the car and an hour later we arrived at our destination.


Cesky Crumlov is a truly beautiful fairy tale town of 15000. Somehow it puts me in mind of a blend of Annecy and Regensburg. There are canals, winding, cobbled streets and a very impressive castle. The Vltava River snakes in and out of it all, making it very easy for a beginner to become disoriented.

Apparently rafting on the river is the thing to do in Summer.


The castle is an architectural oddity. It looks like the Romans started it. Then the Germans took over. Then the Czechs decorated it. If you see it, you’ll know what I mean.


We booked into the very reasonably priced Pension Rosa and paid 48 Euros for a triple room with breakfast. It was simple but cosy. (No doubt hotel prices rise in summer.) From the pension, we were just a short stroll to the town centre.

The old town comprises almost exclusively of 3 kinds of businesses: accommodations, restaurants, and souvenier shops. If you wish to buy an exclusive item such as a loaf of bread, then you may be challenged. Having said that, I must admit it was nice to be spoiled by a myriad choice of places to eat without tramping all over town getting exasperated.

That afternoon we snacked in the old town at the Zapa Café which had a kids play room in the back and smoking in the front.

On the Friday evening we ate at the Don Julius, a colourful restaurant with some interesting 3-D décor and some quirky phallic paintings (mouse trap vaginas, inflated condom noses and beer tap willies). It also had a model train that choo choo-ed around the ceiling on request. Ronan liked that. Food was pretty good too.

We looked in on a few other promising food places including an underground restaurant called The Catacombs that boasted of the greatest grill plates ever. It was on (or under) the main square. It looked very inviting but we’d just had a munchie so we declined. We also looked in on The Gorilla bar too which was almost next door to our pension room. This joint looked like the local heavy rock, hippy, punk, hang-out: full of gorillas but not exactly swinging. Menu was probably banana based. My kind of place.


The town’s atmosphere feels somewhat funky and bohemian. I bet the nightlife is fairly wild in summer. There seems to be a terrace or beer garden squeezed into every available nook and cranny. Alternative is the norm. I’d assume busking would be crazy in Summer. In fact I bet it would have been good in winter though I didn’t see anybody busking. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was regulated or “verboden”.

I hope the town can survive its inevitable further gentrification.

In my opinion, both Annecy and Regensburg have suffered from being put in the World Heritage Spotlight. Their old towns’ pedestrian traffic is now as crammed and claustrophobic as a congregation shuffling out a church. I’m sure it’s all good for business. It just always seems a shame.

Regensburg always had a great bar and restaurant scene (for personal use) but now the town seems to cater less to the locals and more to a generic tourist trade. Disappointing.

Last time I was there, I kept getting tangled up in guided tours.


And then there’s Annecy. Often described as a quaint medieval town in the French Alps.

Annecy’s tourism is extreme. It’s every man for himself. I don’t even know where to start. It’s become like a runaway Disney exhibit. Annecy’s biggest congestion problem really stemmed from the fact that though the Vielle Ville was beautiful to behold, there really wasn’t anything to do. Tourists wandered aimlessly in thousands up and down the streets but nothing ever happened. It was as if they were waiting for the Running of the Bulls or something. But it never materialised. The only evening entertainment was provided by street performers. There would be an act of some sort every 30 metres. Each act caused its own traffic jam. I doubt the old town had enough terraces and chairs to hold all the potential customers.


Meanwhile back in Cesky Crumlov…….

On Saturday morning after a great continental breakfast which actually had hot coffee, we wandered around town and up to the castle. We bought some trinkets and climbed the tower for a great view.

Other interesting corners in the town centre were the Mirror Maze (funny), the English Book Store (closed) and what seemed to be a museum of coffee containers (Free entry).

That was pretty much our trip.


But before we left town, me and Ronan played a rendition of “Heilan’ laddie” in the Pension courtyard. I played the ukulele and he played his “bloc flot”(recorder). Hil captured it on film. Ronan wasn’t too keen on the idea so I think it qualified as the world record shortest, fastest version ever.

Well that covers the music section.

Actually now that I think on it, down by one of the bridges near the castle there was a small antiques shop. Inside they had quite a collection of old instruments. There were several ancient looking violins looking very used but well cared for. Some were a very rich dark chocolate colour. That’s how far my intimate knowledge of rare violins goes. “Mmmm, nice colour!” There was a double bass too and a bizarre collection of dusty mandolin influenced instruments. They also had various accordions. All good for pub decorations but I don’t know if they were playable.


I’ve heard tell that Cesky Crumlov is a mad-house of swarming tourists in summer. Our Febuary visit was relatively calm though there was still a lively buzz in the air. I guess buzzing beats swarming.

All in all it was a short but pleasant weekend. Very uncomplicated.


On the way home we were pulled over by a smiling drunken policeman who fined us for going too slow. He actually turned out to be someone in a Fasching costume collecting funds for the village Fasching party. All the traffic was getting stopped by people in fancy dress. We donated all our small change for the cause. I guess Fasching in the Czech Republic is a week later than in Germany. It must be the time zone.