Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stepping back in time

Just a quick update from the beautiful town of Český Krumlov, in southern Bohemia. We're spending the night here before moving on to Vienna (Wien), Austria tomorrow morning. The weather here has been less than pleasant- cold and rainy all day long- but that simply can't dampen the striking setting that we've found ourselves in. A UNESCO World Heritage site, all of the buildings here in Český Krumlov are from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The castle that gives the town its name is absolutely stunning. It is incredibly well preserved, and imagining people from another era living here is easy enough to do, particularly because we arived during Slavnosti, the Five-Petaled Rose Celebrations that commemorate the Rosenburg family that once maintained control of the region. It's sort of like a Renaissance Fair, with the addition of a spectacular backdrop. The palace here is unbelievable. There are still bears guarding the moats, and it has been restored- when necessary- quite comprehensively. It was an interesting contrast to what we saw earlier in the day: Hrad Dívčí Kámen, or Maiden Stone Castle, which simply consists of ruins overlooking the Vltava River. I, personally, love ruins. In many cases, I almost prefer them (although seeing such a well preserved castle as Český Krumlov is a rare treat). Some people gripe about climbing so far- it was almost a mile hike, up steep and slippery rocks in the cold and rain- especially to just see crumbling piles of rocks. But as most of you know (cough- Kate), it takes more than distance, weather, and danger to deter me from such adventures! I loved it. We didn't stay long, because even I agreed that the weather was miserable. After we left the ruins, we ate a late lunch at a wonderful pizzeria here, toured the castle, and then were set free again. I have another scarf now- a plain dove gray that I know I'll get a lot of use out of, especially since it's light enough to wear with just a t-shirt on warmer days. We endured the rain to do some serious exploring, then came back to the hotel for a quick nap. Dinner was in the main square- garlic soup in a bread bowl for about $2.25. It was filling and delicious like no other. After watching some belly dancing, listening to music, and adventuring around some more, we caught the fire parade (yes, my inner pyro was quite pleased). We had planned to watch the fire show as well, and then stay out to watch fireworks, but we were all soaked to the bone and frigid. Instead, I'm watching them through my window right now. Not a bad way to end the day!The ruins from a distance
This town is jaw-dropping.
With friends on some very artsy steps- we got one of our new visiting professors to take this for us! She's very sweet, and will be teaching my Political Film and Novel of Europe class, which I'm very excited about!
With the castle and some of the town in the background
The Vltava at night
A juggler at the Fire Parade!


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