Today we met all the people on the VBT bike trip, 20 total, when we met at 8:30 in the hotel lounge with the VBT representative, Barbara. We hopped on a bus and were transferred to Cesky Krumlov in the south of Czech Republic, about a 3 hour drive, our driver made it in 2 1/2 hours including a pit stop. We were met by our VBT leaders Petr and Hana who took us to the Hotel Bellevue where we checked into our rooms. We had some time on our own to enjoy lunch by the river at Papa’s restaurant and explored the town. Cesky Krumlov is a unique UNESCO World Heritage town in Bohemia, built at the curve of the River Vltava and dripping with medieval authenticity. Then we met at 3:00 with Petr for a safety and bike fitting session followed by a warm-up ride through the town and into the countryside for 9 miles. We love our e-bikes and had fun riding the short 9 miles before heading back to the hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner. Click on thumbnail to view image
Day 2-Morning Tour of Cesky Krumlov
After a delicious breakfast, we met our local guide, “Stan the Man”, who took us on a walking tour of the old town and an introduced us to Czech life. He was a teacher who gave up teaching to become a tour guide and he was wonderful. We went to the historic town center, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 along with the historic Prague castle district. Stan pointed out that most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through the 17th centuries; the towns structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. We visited the Roman Catholic St Vitus Church, built around 1400, and is after the castle, the second architectural landmark of the town. Then we stopped at the viewpoint overlooking Cesky Krumlov and took lots of photos of the town from this great vantage point. Click on thumbnail to view image
Day 2 Ride
Today we rode through the Bohemian countryside for a total of 37 km. First, we took a shuttle to Holasovice, a uniquely preserved village that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its typical Baroque farm houses. The village was deserted after the Second World War, allowing its medieval plan and vernacular buildings in the rural Baroque style to remain intact. It was restored and repopulated from 1990, and was designated a UNESCO site in 1998. We spent time walking through this village marveling at the Baroque architecture, with no one in sight, we were the only people there, no other tourists. Then we mounted our steeds and headed out into the Bohemian countryside along deserted country roads for miles. We stopped for lunch in Plav, a tranquil Czech village on the banks of a small river, at a farmhouse where the owner cooked a local feast for us hungry riders. We also bought bike jerseys that she sold for our VBT trip of Prague to Vienna. After lunch we rode the short 12.6 km to the town of Stekre where we waited for the van to pick us up and take us back to Cesky Krumlov. Click on thumbnail to view image
Day 2-Castle Tour
We returned by taxi to Cesky Krumlov and our hotel. After a nice shower we headed out, despite the rain, to explore the narrow cobbled streets of the town and to visit the town’s gem, the Rosenberg family chateau, the Cesky Krumlov Castle. When the Lords of Krumlov, who founded the Gothic castle in 1253, died out in 1302, their relatives the Rosenbergs inherited the castle. For 300 years, (1302 – 1602) Cesky Krumlov was the residence of the Lords of Rosenberg, one of the most powerful aristocratic families in Bohemia. We were able to take an English speaking tour through the Castle, no photography allowed, much to Bob’s disappointment. However, he did manage to sneak one photo of the Golden Carriage, owned by the Eggenbergs, who gained ownership of the castle in 1622 – 1719. Their son, Johann Anton I, had the Golden Carriage made for his diplomatic journey to the Vatican in 1638. As we went on the tour we saw several bear skins in various rooms throughout the castle. There is an almost 300 years long tradition of bear-keeping in the castle.
The history of bear-keeping at Cesky Krumlov Castle goes back to the 16th century, bears have been kept in the bear moat since 1707. When we left the castle crossing the bridge over the bear moat we stopped to take a look down and sure enough there was a bear in the moat. then we went out to the Gardens over a bridge with beautiful views of the town and the Vltava River. That evening we stopped in a nice pub for a drink before going out for dinner on our own. Bob and I found a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of old town.The town of Cesky Krumlov, dominated by a monumental castle and chateau, makes you feel like you’ve travelled to another century. There are few towns that have kept their medieval and Renaissance character and a specific atmosphere of tranquility. This town was definitely a highlight of our trip. Click on thumbnail to view image