Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today was a fairy tale...

...except I didn't wear a dress and there was no guy in a dark grey t-shirt (reference the song by TSwift if you aren't getting it). Today was my fairy tale tour of the Czech Republic. Unfortunately we didn't get to go inside any of the castles, but the outsides were enough. We started the day early, eating a quick bite of breakfast and then packing up the car. I got to meet Iva's friend Honza on the way out (it was his apartment that we were staying in for the first two nights).

The first castle we came to was only about 30 minutes away from Praha (Prague). It was in a quaint little village in the hills, and it was quite a walk up to it. Karlstejn is the name of the castle and it is up on a very steep hill (for protection from invaders, of course).

The next thing we did was stop by to visit a friend of Iva's named Ondra (spelling is probably wrong here) at his summer home. We stayed probably for an hour or so, and he gave us some coffee and butter cookies to nibble on while we visited. The view from his back yard was breathtaking! I wish I'd had my camera with to take pictures, but, alas, I forgot it. The village where his summer home is located in on a hill and it overlooks other little villages and several serene ponds (here they're called lakes, but to us they would be ponds). Oh, and there were sheep. LOL! Before we left he recommended another castle nearby, so we decided to check it out.

This castle was called Blatna, and it is the setting of a popular Czech fairy tale.I don't quite remember the fairy tale, so I can't tell it, but the castle itself was beautiful! It was one of the smaller castles, and it was in the middle of town instead of up on a hill. It was surrounded by a small river (really I think it was a mote) and out back there was a lovely garden/forrest area that was FILLED with small deer! It was incredible! They weren't scared by people at all, and they even ate out of our palms. Ondra had given us some old bread, cherries, and a pear to feed to them. There were also several male peacocks on the property. They were gorgeous! We enjoyed some time feeding the deer, and were joined by a british family, a grandmother and her two small grandchildren (boy and girl, probably 4 and 2 years old respectively). They were precious!

When we left Blatna, we headed to White Castle. No, not the burger joint, but a castle we referred to as the White Castle. Its proper name is actually Hluboka, but I can't pronounce that so it will forever be the White Castle. In the front of the castle was a goreous rose garden full of pink and red roses and statues. Out in front of the main entrance gate is an awesome telephone booth too.

Cesky Krumlov was the next castle we came to, and it was also in a city. This whole city had amazing views all around. It was a lovely castle and, of course, came with a lovely cathedral. 

Our final stop of the day was to a cute little town called Trebon. We were going there to see not only their local castle, but also one of the only mausoleums in the Czech Republic, if not Europe. The Schwarzenberg Family was a powerful and wealthy family, I think of nobility, in the Czech Republic. They decided they wanted to have a building to bury their family in, so they built a beautiful mini-chapel-looking thing out in the middle of the woods near a lake. It was a little creepy trying to find this thing, because it was dusk, out in the woods, and we were two women who were walking alone along this dirt road alongside a lake. It was a little like being in a horror movie, but without the horrible ending. No creepy guys jumped out at us, thankfully.  
One of the things I love most about this country is the gorgeous countryside. We drove through a ton of back roads and the views from every way were green and luscious fields with villages in between. I took a few pictures, but they just don’t do it justice. The other thing that I love a great deal about Europe, in general, is the sheer number of castles. As you have read, I was able to visit like 4 or 5 castles in one day. There are SO MANY CASTLES! Castles on hills, castles in towns, castles on islands in the middle of lakes, castles that serve as fortresses, castles that serve as medieval bachelor pads, ruins of castles, castles everywhere! It is quite fascinating.
After a day of castles, we drove through the Czech countryside to Iva’s grandparents house to stay the night. Their house is super cute and made of two apartments, the lower one of which was where we stayed. We didn’t get there until around 11pm or 12am, so we saved the visiting for the morning time. 

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