Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Eastern Europe: Rest Day in Cesky Krumlov, CZ

Cesky Krumlov (Czech Crooker River) is a tourist town, after Prague the second most visited town in the Czech Republic. The sharp bend in the Vltava (same river as in Prague) provides a natural mote site which has been a choice spot for eons.  Celtic tribes first settled here a century before Christ.  Then came Germanic tribes. The Slavic tribes arrived in the ninth century.  The Rozmberks – Bohemia’s top noble family – ran the city from 1302 to 1602.  The 16th century was the city’s golden age, when Cesky Krumlov hosted artists, scientists, and alchemists from all over Europe.  In 1602 the Rozmberks ran out of money and sold their territory to the Habsburgs. After that the town was 75% German – until 1945 when most Germans were expelled.  The town did not fare well under Hitler or the communists but upon independence in 1992 the town began a revival.  This continues today, financed largely by the European Union.  You won’t find a Czech-xit here, the Czech love the EU. Today the city is primarily houses, 300 I think, all from the 13th to 15th centuries.  Cesky Krumlov has never been invaded of bombed.  The photo on the left is in he town square.
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We went on a walking tour this morning led by Karolina, an extremely knowledgeable guide who has a knack for explaining history in an understanding manner.  She’s one of the best guides we’ve ever had.
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Brenda and I went on a tour of the Cesky Krumlov castle, the largest in the Czech Republic.  I wasn’t impressed with the castle or the tour guide. Just like the other day, no photos were allowed although I managed to sneak in two (below) one in the chapel and one in the ballroom. And then John Harvey snuck a picture of the gold plated chariot, used only once (to take presents to the pope).
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We were hoping to do laundry today.  Although the sole place was closed for the season, he opened for us. We typically carry three kits so only have to do laundry every three days.
AVE 2Our Czech guides are wonderful. I mentioned the other day how we navigate via GPS.  But we have another, somewhat more reliable method – following arrows painted on the roads by the AVE guides.
Martin, on the left, is an economics major at the University of Prague; this is his first bike tour.  He assists Milada as a guide. At happy hour each night he becomes the expert on the Czech Republic, describing and answering our questions on everything from the geography to customs to economics to politics.
AVE 1Henry drives the support vehicle. But, when you’re not looking, he’ll be filling your water bottle or leaving a snack on your bike. He seems to always know where my bike is and anything it needs (like I left my navigation system on it last ight.)  He’s always smiling. Although he doesn’t speak much English, he and I have formed a bond over red wine.
Milada is the leader and is responsible for everything: the routes, route marking, hotels, meals, etc.  She doesn’t miss a thing administratively and is a very strong cyclist.  You couldn’t ask for a better leader.  If there is a decision or an option, she discusses it with me. Things are running very smoothly.

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