Monday, February 7, 2011

Ceske Krumlov in the snows...on a quiet Saturday

It was a lovely, sunshine-filled Saturday morning. We arose, feasted on Eggs Benedict (earlier posting) for brunch and then thought we'd head westward to the sleepy Medieval village of  Ceske Krumlov (25 km away) to see the Schwarzenberg's summer castle in the snows (remember there are many castles around here; the Schwarzenbergs used the Hluboka Castle as their fall hunting 'cabin'--see 25 December posting). We visited Ceske Krumlov late last year (see September posting) when the Vltava River was still quite high from the August rains and many people were boating along the river through the city....which was filled with tourists!  Today, however, it should be noticeably quieter with many locals and a only few tourists soaking up the ambience of a colorful, sleepy Castle.
We approach the towering walls of the castle, with the dormant tree trunks covered with evergreen ivy, Hedera helix. Solitary sentinels frozen at attention (well, actually listing a bit!).

We cross the swift running moat...fortunately the draw bridge was down and welcomed us across...the water would have been a bit too cold to venture through,

and then pass through the elaborate, multi-storied Romanesque aquaduct entrance, framing the skies
From the inside of the wall, you can see the immense Castle walls which were carefully built into the rock towers.
As we near the Vltava River and the small bridge crossing (left below),
the gorgeous rose-colored Tower of the Castle is resplendent across the skies!
The Vltava River rushes madly through the Medieval village, having worn down the hillsides to this lower level.

We stop and listen to the mighty rush of waters passing us...on their way to Prague, through Ceske Budejovice, and then to the North Sea. Mark thinks great thoughts...

while Neil smugly delights in not having to collect Phalaris along the river today!
It is an awe-inspiring view...this Castle!
We wend our way through the tiny streets, over the rough cobblestones
and stop to admire, once again, the numerous examples of true 'graffiti' in the walls of this old building:

Around every bend and turn, the rose-colored Castle Tower provides a majestic focal point
then to the Town Square...rather quiet and solemn in the winter sunshine!
We admire the numerous buildings facing the square, with all of their various facades, designs, and paintings.
On the top of the hill, St. Vitis Church dances across the sky. We did a St. Vitis dance there last fall!
More intriguing paintings on the walls of the buildings around the Square.

Mark wanted to visit the Wax Museum (which we'll do next time)....since the sunshine was glorious we thought we'd visit this after sunset.
Maybe you'd like to rent a flat here in the Square and wave to the visitors every day?
At this restaurace (restaurant), which boasts signage of the Castle Tower,
we gaze at the many ornamentations placed into the wrought iron protectants around the windows. Here ancient silverware wards off any recipe thieves,
while many small, empty bottles festoon another;
Ah, and the village winemaker posts his wares,
while the effects of the Cocktail Bar are already taking hold!

Then, as we round the bend, once again the glorious Castle Tower beckons us to the hilltop.
On the way up the steep climb to the castle, children play with the rotating ladies outside this restaurace. Then, of course, Mark has to try his hand at it as well!

After climbing the hill towards the Castle, we were famished. It was now ~1530 in the afternoon. So, we  stopped in for a light lunch at Restaurace Terasa. Sitting over the Vltava River so we could watch it rush by, we were delighted to have a visit from the two Chefs who announced (in Czech) that they were our neighbors at Antonina Barcala in Ceske Budejovice and that, in our honor for visiting the Restaurace Terasa, lunch would be 'on the house'! We were extremely pleased, but very surprised!
We dined on on Garlic Soup (Neil) and Beef Soup (Mark), followed by Hluboka fish (Mark) and wild boar (Neil). Absolutely divine fare! We'll happily return for another visit...
As we leave the Restaurace and cross over the Vltava River, the Castle Tower picks up the evening far red light
even making the bare tree skeletons shimmer in the warmth.
A truly spectacular visit to one of our favorite Castles in the Czech Republic. Do come and see it for yourselves...delight will be yours!

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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