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Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Where?

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We knew we wanted to see more of the Czech Republic other than just the tourist hub of Prague, so Nick decided to do some research, which basically amounted to logging onto the Czech Tourist Board website seeing a picture of Cesky Krumlov Castle and decided we were staying there. Cesky Krumlov is tiny and so beautiful it is frequently used as a film location, most famously for being the setting of the gory horror film Hostel (even though in the film they claim it is Slovakia). So two hours on the poshest coach you have ever seen (it was like being on a plane with your own touchscreen TV with films, games etc and free hot drinks!) we arrived and within minutes of walking through the UNESCO World Heritage protected town we knew we had made the right decision!

We checked straight into our hostel; Hostel Skippy (http://www.hostelskippy.webs.com) which was lovely, although slightly odd as it was more of a guesthouse than a hostel as the owner lived there too so at times it felt like you were invading her home. She was lovely though and so helpful giving advice on where to go and what to do. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the narrow cobbled streets, over the bridges, watching people rafting on the river and getting our bearings. We also took the stroll up to the Castle which sits perched on a hill top over-looking the town. It is one of the largest Medieval castles in Europe (second only to Prague's!) and unfortunately has 3 smelly, depressed looking bears living in it's tiny moat for no real reason.

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The kitchen in our hostel was tiny (not really a kitchen at all with just a hob and sink), so we decided to eat out as it was so cheap. After walking around we found a really nice looking (and very busy) restaurant http://www.satlava.cz/page.php?sectid=satlava&artid=1&lang=en&mode=normalwhere everything was cooked over the open fire pit. The food was beautiful, I had lamb chops with amazing potato pancakes and Nick had 1KG of pork knuckle - the thing was huge but delicious cooked to perfection (I of course stole a chunk)! All this and 2 pints for only £16 (500 Koruna). We then took a late night stroll around the town which is even more beautiful at night when it is all lit up.

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The next day we did a walking tour (as is becoming customary when visiting a new town). Our guide was a native of Cesky Krumlov which was really nice as she was very knowledgeable. The town is small so there wasn't lots of walking but the history and the buildings were fascinating. The town apparently only became the glorious old town it is today just 23 years ago. You could purchase one of the 3 story buildings in a prime location for only €1000 + a lot of maintenance. Today you will have to pay €400,000 for the same property. In renovating the houses they discovered some hidden gems like frescos and sgraffito work behind layers of plaster and so once all the buildings were finished a beautiful town re-emerged.

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After the tour we ate out for lunch instead of the usual homemade ham and cheese sandwiches we have become used to and then did a little mooching around, finding "the hostel" from Hostel, which is actually an old monastery and trying Trdelník a traditional cake, sweet pastry with chocolate in the centre (not healthy). Finally we had to return back to the hostel to do some much needed booking of accommodation for our next stop Bratislava. Later that evening we again treated ourselves to a meal out before enjoying another evening walk in the moon light.

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Our final morning was spent packing, checking out and treating ourselves (again) to food, this time with a proper breakfast for once! Then it was time to make our way to the bus station to catch another Student Agency Bus back to Prague, then a connecting one to Bratislava, Slovakia.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:01 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague, Czech Republic

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After catching up with some sleep on our flight from Milan after our night in the airport we were both feeling much better. From the airport it took us nearly two hours to make it to our hostel; Hostel Lipa (http://www.hostellipa.com/index.php?xSET=lang&xLANG=2), but it was worth it. We had opted from a private room, which was huge and full of vintage, mismatching furniture (as was the whole hostel) and it had a really nice relaxed feel as it was so small. The owner Michael was great, giving free maps, advice on where to go, what to eat etc.

As usual after a quick trip to the supermarket and being amazed at how far out money would stretch (our normal bill of £20 came to £7!!) we headed of to make the most of the rest of the afternoon. We walked the twenty minutes into the Historic Old Town wandering through quaint streets to the Old Town Square where we saw the famous, if not slightly disappointing Astronomical Clock (frequently voted the most overrated Tourist Attraction in Europe). From there we headed to Charles Bridge (where we accidentally lost each other for 10 minuets as it was so crowded!) and then spent the rest of the day exploring, getting our bearings before our lack of sleep the night before started to catch up with us so we caught a tram (very unlike us!), back to hostel.

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Our hostel owner Michael had recommended the pub underneath the hostel as a good place to get some cheap, traditional Czech food, so we thought it was the easiest option and ended up having a platter of various meats, potato pancakes, breads with mustard and horseradish (and obviously a couple of litres of Czech beer!) all for the bargain price of £17!!. After some serious meat sweats, both of us were flagging, so it was an early night!

The next morning we were up early and had decided to do another Sandaman's Free Walking Tour (http://www.newpraguetours.com) as we had enjoyed the ones is Brussels, Munich and Dacau so much. Our guide was Michael, a German born, raised in England now living in the Czech Republic who was fantastic giving us so much information in our 3 hour tour around the city explaining the history of Prauge and of the Czech Republic, the 30 Years War, the Velvet Revolution and the Prague Spring, as well as telling lots of jokes along the way! Plus he even enlighten that Astronomical Clock though on first impressions unimpressive was a genius in it's workings. Not only telling you what Zodiac month you are in but, the cycle of the moon, the position of the sun relative to the earth and when the sunsets.

The tour was so good we ended up staying on for his tour of Prague Castle straight afterwards just as the heavens opened, our guide continued on even with out an umbrella or waterproofs. The Castle is the largest medieval castle in the world and is truly colossal, hence this tour too was 3 hours long. As well as the castle we went to the Strahov Monastic Brewery and tasted there unique beer called St Norbett's, I was very tempted to keep the bottle as it was cool but transporting it may have been difficult. By the end of the tour we were extremely wet, even in our waterproof jackets, but now we knew about the fascinating history of Prague and the Czech Republic, the rise and fall (and apparent re-rise) of communism, the meaning of defenestration and how to say the letter Ř.

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Our final morning was spent packing and making our way to the Bus Station at the other side of the city to catch our swanky coach to Cesky Krumlov.

TIP: Ladies if you are ever in Prague and have to use a public toilet (which you will always have to pay for 16p!), remember to pick up some toilet roll from the counter as there won't be in any in the cubicle!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

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