Friday, June 1, 2012

Canoes, Puppets, Trdelnik & Mead

24 May

For our second day in Cesky Krumlov, we decided to start the day with a canoe down the Vltava River that runs through the middle of the town. I read before we left that it was a popular activity and Daniel reinforced that during our drive.

He explained there are a lot of camp sites placed along the river, and people are able to row between campsites, set up camp for the night, then move on the next day. Some companies offer arrangements where they have everything you need at the campsite, so all you need with you as you row is yourself, a wallet, and perhaps some clothes. Alternatively you can be relatively self-sufficient and take your own tents, food etc in your boat. Daniel told us you used to be able to pull up and camp wherever you like, and while you still can, they are trying to discourage it and encourage people to stay in camp grounds.

Obviously we couldn't do a multi-day rowing trip, but we ended up choosing a one-hour trip through the town itself. The companies will either drop you off elsewhere and you row back, or you leave from the town and they will pick you up. Other popular trips are to be taken up river and you row back to the landing (about 1 to 2 hours) or to leave from the landing in town and row to a town downriver (about 3 to 4 hours).

I wasn't keen to take up most of the day with the rowing trip, but André wanted to row through the town itself, something we couldn't really do with the 1 to 2 hour trip because the landing place in town was before you got a chance to go through most of the town or past the castle. So we just went with the short town row. It was very enjoyable though and didn't require much work because the river flows quite smoothly. For people who come from upriver, there are a few little weirs which have little canals built beside them for the boats to traverse the weir. Those are mostly upriver from where we left though, so we didn't go through any of those. There would normally be one for us to go through, but it was being reconstructed so we had to get out, carry the canoe below the weir, then get back in the water. The day before we watched a group try to take their 6-person raft over the weir itself which ended pretty disastrously (getting stuck, people falling out backwards, hitting rocks, filling up with water etc). But we and the two guys nearby who were watching it happen were all laughing (the American blokes thought it was hysterical). What's worse is that they did this straight after they saw a raft of their friends get stuck doing the same thing! André and I bet they were either American or Australian. While we were eating dinner at the hospoda, the same group turned up to the hostel next door, returning from their rafting trip, and it was all we could do to stop ourselves bursting out laughing when we heard their Australian accents. Yup.

So, we went rowing the next morning with nowhere near the same amount of trouble. Afterwards we did a bit of souvenir shopping and visited a puppet museum where we also got to play with a few traditional marionettes. We found some wine called 'André', so obviously we had to buy a bottle of that, and we had lunch at Deli 99, linked with Hospoda 99 and the Hostel 99 next door! While shopping we decided we needed to have another trdelnik, but this time we had one with chocolate. As well as having sugar and cinnamon on the outside, the inside was coated with a nutella-like chocolate spread (but not too hazelnutty so I didn't mind it). André also had some mead, which he quite liked. Before dinner we walked up behind the castle to see the castle gardens which we didn't get to see the day before. It was a combination of manicured flower beds and tall forest trees, ending with a large pond covered in lilies with ducks. André was especially excited when he spotted a squirrel in the gardens, a much darker variety than we saw in London.

All up, we decided we very much liked Cesky Krumlov. It had great food, interesting history, entertaining culture and activities and overall, very cheap!

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