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Like a Fantasy Layered Cake: Cesky Krumlov

Day 3 of the Danube Cruise

semi-overcast 14 °C

So glad that I "Czech-ed off " this must-see UNESCO destination list. Český Krumlov... hmmm...sounds like a dessert name or even like the name of a crook. Pesky Český Krumlov . Sounds like him...

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Well, evoking good thoughts... this is such a delightful village city in the Czech Republic , close to the German border and just over an hour away from Austria's Linz and the Danube. For the cruise, Český Krumlov was my check-mark choice for shore excursion off Amalea. Despite a very tempting alternative excursion to Salzburg, Austria, C.K. just intrigued me more. So, no sing-songy, cultural Sound of Music tour for me this time. "Sorry, Salzburg. Next time..."

The hills "were alive" with the sound of serenity in the environs of Český Krumlov. The road to get to this Bohemian town was quite winding. However, nerves were not too rattled while zig-zagging Vtlava river. View through the coach window were stunning! Next time in this neck of the woods, it would be fun to canoe, in the fairly calm waters.

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State Castle was the main draw here. Such eye candy- or, moreover, delectable, a multi-tiered colored cake served for a kid's birthday part. It was yellow, orange, green, some red and blue all over on its structures. What a scrumptious complex, erected on the rock promontory sculpted by the Vltava from the southern side and by Polečnice stream from the north. The best part to savor- the Gothic-Renaissance inspired Castle Tower, which resembles a Florentine landmark. Gotta love the ode to the Italian once again!

Now, the Český Krumlov's castle area is lovely and all- but it's tourist galore (or shall I say, tourist sore? Reminder to travel-loving self: Don't come back here in the summer. Add hot season swelter and this destination would become more of a pain. Though it was not Venice crowded, it was plenty packed in the midst of the afternoon during my autumn visit.

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Roaming away from the tower, the tour guide (a stern yet affable Czech lady) steered me and my excursion companions to the lesser beaten pathway of the town artist with a concentration of galleries. Quite noticeable in the artist corridor and throughout the main castle stretch are "oddball" installations many with the "limb" motif. Why the Czech artistic fetish with hands and feet ? Further investigation needed...

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My take away: A chunk of Český Krumlov's cake with all of its crumbs (or "krums" in this case)

Try a Czech honey cake , similar to the one I had at an underground C.K cafe.
http://www.czechcookbook.com/honey-cake-recipe-medovnik/

Posted by Marinarena 11:03 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged castles prague cesky_krumlov town castle czech czech_republic tourist_attraction Comments (0)

Gaga for Praha

Pre-cruise in Prague

semi-overcast 17 °C

Emerging as a mega European destination, Prague, Czech Republic was the first stop of my official Danube Cruise trip.

  • **Note: The Danube river does not actually touch the city of Prague, rather, the Vltava, flows through here. However, Prague serves as the major city of interest for pre-land ventures of Danube cruise itinerary.

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Prague (locally known as Praha) lives up to persistent travel industry world bruhaha. Yes, it's high tourism is getting pigeon-like annoying and the traffic is especially crazy in Staré Mesto (old town). Tip: Go off season as I did, autumn season or perhaps any point from April- May would do to avoid crowds and the bitter cold temps.

Praise for Prague is strong especially coming from architecture aficionados, eclectic foodies and those who admire what is deemed offbeat.
Czech ( "Check" ) me as all these types aforementioned.

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Cornucopia of arch-awesome style: Prague flairis present from one ulice (street) to another: from the Gothic ( as in the Astronomical Clock), to the Romanesque (Basilica of St George) to the Baroque (Strahov Monastery) and other styles constructed all throughout the city. It was worth taking several minutes of figuring out to pay for a Metro to arrive to New Town attraction, ultra modern Dancing House. This whimsical, curvy architectural masterpiece by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry is all the more mesmerizing to ogle up close.

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Food & drink wise: Beer (pivo) is considered like a meal here. Prague people are passionate and proud about their pivo. Best thing here it's very cheap in most areas- about 1 euro a pint (about 26 koruna). Prague people are also partial to eating meat. Pork knuckle is good grubbin' . Goulash is also popular on traditional food menus. Vegetarians don't have to fret though. Thanks to Prague's international appeal, there are many restaurant choices for vegging out, especially Asian options. Here's the thing: Try to avoid indulging in over-hyped street food staple, trdelnik. Yes, the cake-on-a-stick does smell good, like fresh donuts. No, it's not a true Czech sweet. Save your koruna on it. Be Czech authentic and don't give in to tourist-trappy tendencies.

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Offbeat stuff: Prague is peculiar as hell. One realizes before long that the city has a great sense of humor about itself. Quirkiness pops up all about town. Let's see: there are the Yellow Penquins molds along Charles River; creepy, giant, robot-y Babies on Praha parade and the downright vulgar/ hilarious sculpture display outside Kafta Museum of two peeing males (latter two sculpture creations by avant garde artist David Cerny). An amusing aspect to Prague and Czech Rep is the love of puppetry. Handmade marionettes— goofy and ghoulish looking figures— are featured in about every souvenir shop in town. City graffiti works here are on the remarkable side, not utterly inane spray displays. The Lennon Wall , a dedicated to beloved Beatle John Lennon and a symbol of freedom and hope , is a well-noted city point of intrigue. One would think Prague takes itself seriously with its stately looking institutions - but then you seen all the Thai Massage parlors that seem to outnumber Czech cafes.

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My take away: if an entree item, Prague would be a porky Praha sandwich- a hot dripping, meaty slab of indulgence. And of course, it would be complemented with pivo.

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Posted by Marinarena 15:09 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague beer capital europe czech praha vltava czech_republic pivo citylife bohemia czech_rep charles_river Comments (0)

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