Tuesday, August 24
I checked the forecast and it was supposed to rain in Prague, so we decided to take a road trip to Cesky Krumlov, which my parents and a few friends had recommended seeing. We were on the road around 10:30am and after about 10 mins of wondering why the GPS was taking us the wrong way down one way streets and avoiding main roads, we finally remembered we’d put in on pedestrian mode. Oops. (The same thing happened to us in Paris a few years ago… You’d think we’d learn, although this time it took me 10 mins to remember instead of 40…)
Anyway, driving through the Czech countryside really reminds me of northern IL. It’s very green, lots of trees and fields, rolling hills. Definitely reminded me of home, which made me like the Czech Republic even more.
The ride would have been very enjoyable if it hadn’t been for Abbie screaming at the top of her lungs for about 90% of the way there…. Man! I don’t know how to get her to stop screaming and she drives me absolutely NUTS when she does it. I’m going to invest in a very good set of earplugs very soon. And there was lots of farm equipment on the highway, which slowed us down quite a bit too. The drive took us over 2.5 hours and by the time we got there I was half deaf, had a headache, had to pee really bad and just edgy. Ick.
Driving into town, it looked a little run down and sketchy on the outskirts, but the historical downtown area is beautiful. It’s a very quaint, picturesque little town, with narrow winding streets and a river weaving through it. There’s a painted castle up on top of the hill that we wanted to tour, but it was a guided hour long tour and there was no way Abbie was going to go for that. So we skipped it and just went up in the tower instead. The town is a world heritage site and it is directly in the center of a triangle created by Prague, Munich and Vienna.
Construction of the town began in the late 13th century and most of the architecture in the town dates from the 14th – 17th centuries. The castle is the 2nd largest in the Czech Republic. The only one larger than it is the Prague castle. “The Illusionist” and “Hostel” were filmed in this little town.
We ate lunch as soon as we got to Cesky at this neat little restaurant. I had grilled pork tenderloin medallions that were AMAZING and Mark had this beef goulash, which is available most places over here too. He said it was good also.
We wandered around the little town, looking for thank you gifts for the friends watching our dogs, and we watched the many kayakers on the river. We hiked up to the castle (which isn’t really a “hike”, but it was mostly uphill and tiring since Abbie isn’t a feather and neither was the backpack) and decided to climb the tower to enjoy the views, only to realize that we didn’t have the cash for the 30 czk/each entrance fee. So we spent the next 20 mins looking all over this tiny town for an ATM and finally found one all the way back down the hill and most of the way up another hill… Go figure. After we got money we walked all the way back up to the tower and then hiked all the way up the tower. You can definitely tell this more “eastern Europe-ish” because the stairs up the tower probably wouldn’t have passed American standards. Mark had to be pretty careful since Abbie was on his back and the doorways were pretty short considering you were going up and down stairs. He had to watch and make sure she cleared the doorway before he stood up. The views from the top were worth it though.
After that we checked out a few more stores and looked at the bears that were in the mote of the castle and then checked out the church in the town. We let Abbie walk back to the car so she could burn off some energy and it worked some because she slept for about an hour or so on the way back home.
We got back to Prague around 7pm and back to our apartment around 7:45ish because we took our time walking back and Mark got a kielbasa sandwich and I bought a few more souvenirs for friends.
Wednesday, August 25
We decided to check out the Prague castle today. We also decided to try to figure out the public transportation system since the castle is up on a big hill and I didn’t feel like hiking up there. (That actually would have been a hike.)
It was pretty easy to read the tram map and figure out which direction we needed to go, but we had NO clue where to buy the tickets at. So we just jumped on the tram and rode it 2 stops before Mark got freaked out that we were going to get caught without a ticket and decided to get off. I didn’t see anyone else on the tram with a ticket either though, but we read that plain clothed people come around and randomly check at times and if you’re caught without a ticket you get a big fine. We only had to walk a few blocks (uphill) to get to the castle so it wasn’t a big deal.
We decided to do the self guided short audio tour of the castle. They said that should take about 2 hours and the longer one could take up to 4. It was 550czk each (22Euros) and we got these little wands that we typed numbers in to to listen to the descriptions of things.
We started off in the cathedral. It was huge, as most cathedrals are, and very ornate. I tried to listen to all of the descriptions in the cathedral, but some of them were pretty long and Abbie was getting screamy again (NOT a good thing when you’re in a cathedral…..) so I rushed through part of it. I managed to take a bunch of pictures though.
We let Abbie run around the courtyard area after we got out of the cathedral. She had fun running around and saying “Ciao, ciao!” to anyone who would look at her. She ran up to a group of Asian girls and waved to them and they all ooo’d and aah’d over her and then asked to take a picture with her. We’ve had at least 4-5 people (not all on this trip) ask to take pictures of Abbie when we were in touristy areas. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not, or why they’re wanting to take her picture, but I guess it’s kinda funny. The Asian girls were cute with her though and they all love it when she blows them kisses. She can be quite the little flirt.
Next we toured part of the actual castle, which was really pretty neat, and had great views of downtown Prague, and then another chapel. Mark really wanted to see the Golden Lane, which was in the castle, but it was closed for reconstruction. Bummer.
We went back to the apartment for lunch and Abbie’s (and our) nap, and then headed out across Charles Bridge again to the Little Quarter part of town. We walked through this big park by the river and Abbie had a good time waving and blowing kisses to everyone and watching dogs run around. We did a little more souvenir shopping and then headed to the Museum of Torture. That was pretty interesting, but not very big and kind of gruesome. Abbie was getting pretty impatient so we had to rush through the last floor of it, but we did see everything so that was good. We ate at TGIFriday’s for dinner. It’s amazing how you crave anything American when you live overseas. The food was pretty good, although I was freezing because we were sitting outside and there was a stiff breeze coming down the narrow street and blowing in my face. They had little blankets on the chairs, but mine wasn’t doing much good. I survived though. Abbie had her first experience with crayons (or “crowns” as Elyse calls them), and she had fun scribbling all over anything she could get them to write on, and throwing the crayons all over the place…