You really need to have a purpose in life
After an overnight stop in Regensburg we drove on to Cesky Krumlov, arriving around 1pm (very early for us!). Like Bern and Strasbourg, Krumlov snuggles into the bend of a river. A high rocky embankment is topped by a massive baroque palace and blocks the way into the old city. You walk under a massive archway that supports part of the palace and boom! You’re in the middle of the old city. The river positively tears around the outskirts of the old town and is popular with kayakers. It was stinking hot and we planned to go kayaking in the afternoon, but never actually made it. We wandered into the old town and found the imaginatively named Travellers Hostel. It had been recommended to us in Warsaw but proved a little less appealing in reality.
Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful town but extremely small. The river, the gorge and the rocky cliff have all conspired to protect the old city from modern development - it’s quite unsuitable for cars - but it also constrains the size of the place. Within a couple of hours we’d completely covered the whole town and even the palace gardens. That night we had traditional Czech food in an old restaurant and mohitos out by the old bridge.
We had originally planned to stay a couple of days but as we’d seen everything in the town in one afternoon, including the Jawa motorcycle museum (much to Shelly’s delight!) we decided it was time to push on to Cesky Budovice. Budovice is only about 60 kms from Krumlov and is the home of the famous Budweiser beer - not the American sh*t, the real Czech Budweiser (there is a long running international lawsuit over use of the name). Our primary reason for visiting Budovice was to do the brewery tour, but we almost immediately ran into a hiccup. Upon presenting ourselves at the recommended pension we were told that it was full and that because there was some major event in town almost all the hotels were full. Hmmm! We had a little time to kill before the brewery tour so decided to head into the centre of town to sightsee and perhaps find alternative accommodation. When we reached the town square though it became apparent that our turn of fortune was actually for the best as Budovice was actually a pretty awful town. The centre square was pretty but outside of that it was pretty grim and Soviet and there was nothing else to see. We decided that after the tour we’d push on to the home of Budovice’s brewering rival, Pilsen.
The Budweiser tour was very good and we did get to try their product.
It was only a relatively short drive to Plzen and we managed to secure a good, cheap apartment right on the main square. Plzen is famous as the home of pilsner beer. We were a week early for the Pilsner Urquell festival but there was a free concert in the church square so we settled in with a couple of beers and enjoyed the evening.
The next day we wandered around the very small old city; like Krumlov and Budovice it was no more than about six blocks square (although the surrounding new city is sprawling). We decided not to do a second brewery tour but took a walking tour of the underground. Beneath the old city are miles of tunnels that were once used for brewing and storing beer, but it was a bit boring. And that was enough of the Czech Republic. It was only a short drive to the German border, but we had a very long drive to Berlin ahead.