Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic: Much Needed R&R

I was supposed to be on a bus out of town the next morning, but I had hoped to extend my stay in CK for another couple days. Why? It was cheap, laid-back, pretty and friendly. I’m not sure there are any more convincing reasons out there.

However a very rude person at the information center (for an information center, they were staffed by the least informative people on Earth), told me that I could not change my bus ticket there, that I’d have to go to Cesky Budejovice, a town 25 km away. She said that maybe I could call them, and ended the conversation there.

I considered calling them, but opted to just drop it. I had my fun, it’s time to move on. And yes, the effort of having to use a foreign payphone to call a bus company, the operator of which may or may not speak english, and change a ticket was just way too much trouble.

I woke up early that Monday to get some sunrise shots of the town. Unfortunately, a thick layer of fog hung around it like smoke in a bar. I went up to the Gardens and saw the town’s workers getting started with their day, at a very unenviable job.

But from the high vantage point of the gardens, I did catch a very eerie shot of the church.

After wasting some time at the hostel, surfing the web and lazing around the dining room, I returned to the gardens, lay on a bench under a tree and listened to music and read.

Later that night, I went back to Antre to get some pictures of the castle from their balcony. I remembered there was a lookout point just 50 meters down the road that might provide a better angle, so I asked the bartender if they do takeaway beers. “You mean bottle?” he asked, and held up a very fancy bottle of beer. “How much?” It proved to be way to expensive, and I found out there was a cheaper option: a large “frat party-style” plastic cup. I took my Beer To Go and got some pictures of yet another castle at night. I’m thinking about doing a Castles of Europe At Night calendar …

As I was chatting with some of the other guests at the hostel I realized I had run out of beer. Then I remembered something Cam had told me about the bar next door. I grabbed one of the earthenware pitchers off the shelf and walked to the small pub that sat next to the hostel. Immediately after walking inside I was led down a narrow and dark set of stairs to a small pub with only a few customers. A large group sat to the right of the stairs finishing their dinner. Another group sat to the left, in front of the bar. The air was thick with smoke and as I approached the bar, one of the chatting women at the table got up and walked behind. I pointed to the pitcher and started telling her that I was staying next door when she interjected, “Oh, hostel, hostel.”

She filled up the pitcher and charged me the equivalent of two beers, a little less than two euros. She let the tap run for a while then pulled it close and walked away to chat with her friends. I was confused. I kept eyeing my watch, worried that my pizza would set fire to the hostel I had grown to love so much. She went back to the tap after a minute or so and let it run for a little while longer. Then she stopped again.

Finally, she returned to the tap and touched the back of her palm to the top of the pitcher. At last, I understood. She was making sure that the pitcher was full of beer, not head. I was impressed. Any other bartender in a locals-only pub confronted by a backpacker would’ve given you 1 euro of beer and 1 euro of foam.

I ran next door just in time to slide the pizza out of the oven. As I ate my dinner and drank my beer, I talked to Jane, an Aussie traveler from Melbourne. We started talking about my time in Australia and soon I found myself sharing stories I hadn’t told in a long time, like Ouse, the pub in Sheffield and how I ended up in Wanaka.

We continued the conversation in the room as I packed and were soon joined by one of the group of three girls who shared the dorm. She was extremely young, just out of high school, and the three of them (one of them was probably her sister) were on a trip before starting university. I was amazed at how people so young could make this kind of a trip, but then remembered that I tried to do it myself almost 10 years ago.

I finished packing and went to sleep, not looking forward to my trip to Berlin the next day.

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