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Czech Republic

Český Krumlov- Vienna

Having arrived in the quaint Medieval town of Český Krumlov, I was deposited in the main bus terminal, or what really was a collection of bus shelters in a park. This was totally fine as the walk to the brilliant Hostel Krumlov House was a mere 800m. Somehow I managed to miss the road it was on, which considering the town consisted of only about 3 1/2 roads, was a bit of a rookie move on my part. Error rectified I was checked into my villa. What a sweet little abode, with the choice of three beds, a kitchenette, with a duelling canopy of vines outside my door, it was a blissful arrival. Furthermore, the light was hitting that sweet spot just before dusk when, with a clear sky, it seems to set alight the botanical foliage in a fierce display of spectral wonder. We headed out for a stroll around the town, which was a very small place and did about 3 laps of the entire area. Really, it was a postcard moment around every corner. As it is Autumn, the trees were in a magnificent state. It was even more impressive than the endless Birch trees in Siberia. The town has a fairly strong flowing river running through the centre of town, which is spread across both sides of the steep valley. There is a pretty amazing castle built along one side of the valley, with the river forming a natural defence. It did appear as if it was in a prime position strategically, which is probably no coincidence.

So as the sun set and the temperature started to drop to zero, we headed out to grab some food. For the life of me I can't remember where we ate, but I'm sure it was delicious?! The next day was a slow start as we cooked up bacon and eggs from the local co-op and made the most of the facilities on over. It's always a joy beyond belief when after travelling for so long you actually get a chance to prepare your own food. Job done, we had a day of circumnavigating the entire town at least another 20 times and I took close to a million photos, which I havn't really done so far. We pretty much had the entire town to ourselves, except for the residents of Beijing who had decided to turn up with their ever present umbrellas in some kind of flash mob. Luckily it was the low season, as apparently this town doubles during summer from 20,000 to around 40,000. On an unrelated note, strangely there were some brown bears in a small enclosure under one of the entrances to the castle. This must be a remanent of the ruling family, as the emblem of the town and a lot of coats-of-arms had bears as the motif.

As this day was the night of New Zealand v. unlucky team we sussed out a awesome place to watch the game. Gorillas Rock Bar was the place, and as we had worded up the ageing rock owner as soon as the bar opened we had control of the remote. Luckily, as having set up camp a few hours prior to kick off, the joint rapidly filled to bursting point with assorted locals all in need of their early week drinks and hard rock fix. We drank a lot. It was cheap. In fact, it was pretty awesome all up. Especially when a really wasted guy rocked out massively in both air-guitar and air-drum. He was ace.

So this was pretty much Cesky. A beautiful place to visit for a few days, especially when the leaves are changing. Next stop was Vienna. The trip was pretty uneventful except for when getting dropped off at my 'hostel', the shuttlebus driver scrapped a parked car. I gave him a small tip, so hopefully he wasn't out of pocket too much. My digs were essentially in a semi illegal bording house in an apartment block. The kind of place you read about when there is a fire and all the inhabitants die because of poor emergency procedures. But the owner was nice, having ascertained my surname was Kidd preceded to call me Mr. Peter Pan. A few times I felt like I was working for her as well because she kept leaving when other guests were due to arrive and would ask me to let them in and give them keys. She also had a clarinet lesson in the kitchen/ living/ common area. I think she also ran a laundry service as there seemed to be a crap load of washing in disproportunate quantity to the four people staying there. She was lovely though. Vienna was a little bit of a ride off, as we arrived on Sunday when absolutely nothing was open.

In fact it was great, as the next day we did a wine tasting/ ride day trip along the Danube. It was a full day and the weather briefly cleared so we had the only day of clear, sunniness in the three days we were in Vienna. It felt great to get out amongst the country side, leisurely cycling alongside the river, through vineyards and apple orchards. Really great. Learn't a fair bit about this important wine producing region in Vienna. I promptly forgot most of it after tasting the strongly alcoholic apricot schnapps that is an Austrian specialty. I think I also had some at PPE, or something similar. we also had Sturm, which is only available at this stage of the wine harvest/ production cycle. It is still fermenting grape juice from the first press. Mmmmmm, tasted like lightly sparkling grape juice. Only has an alcohol content of <5%. Fantastic.

Currently writing this on my way to Grunau im Amtal, which is a small village in the mountains on the way to Salzburg. Should be a nice escape from the big city's which are starting to get a little annoying. There are only so many churches and museums you can go to before getting a little jaded. The churches in St. Petersburg will be very hard to top in my opinion. But that's cool.

Side note, the station at Vienna had both free wifi for regular passengers as well as specifically for refugees and an online refugee information site.

It is also time to respond to some comments.

To the Cambridge clan, glad to hear that the important orders of business have been sorted out. I'm getting excited to see the little rambunctious J and stop constantly moving and just have some chill out time with her! I may also head to Wales prior to Iceland, depending on the finalists in the RWC. It has been great travelling whilst it has been on, as when I did my solo stint in 2006 the soccer world cup was on and it gives an alternative activity to look forward to. Sorting out optimal viewing conditions is also, sometimes, a bit of a mission. Travelling around with, and as an honoury Kiwi is good because eventually we may have to have an epic night where my true colours come out. Considering I may move to Wellington, this is not as simple decision as one would think?!

Yes, it may be time when I actually do something challenging in my life for once instead of just thinking about it.

Mum, sorry about that really brief phone call, but was great to hear a familiar voice. I think you'll have a fantastic time over here. And now that I've been for a cycle for the first time in about 10years, may join you on some adventures down the Cam, perchance.

Also, things I have lost so far; an SD card with photos of my time in Amsterdam and my laundry bag so now just using a plastic bag which smells like death.

I was going to respond to some other comments, but I might look out the window for a bit :)

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Posted by kidd1200 07:47 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prog Power Europe- Prague

From Metal to Medieval

Having met up the Norwegians, it was a mass rednezvous at Schipol to join the exodus to Eindhoven then on to Venlo and finally Baarlo. The cup truly over floweth during these 4-5 days at Prog Power. It started flowing on the train trip from Amsterdam and was only punctuated by sleeping, breakfast and, well not much else. The exodus was a bit of a baptism into the family that is the ProgPower audience. The hilarious personalities were evident right from the start and they didn't let up all weekend. Thankfully there were a few other first timers, who more than likely will return again much like everyone else does.

Castle de Brock was a pretty impressive place to stay, complete with a moat, peacocks, giant courtyard, magical fairies who would clean up all the empty beer cans every night and thankfully free wifi. As Shani had said, this was a much better place to experience a range of amazing, at times cheap, staggeringly broad variety of alcohol from all over Europe than Oktoberfest. There were people from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Dubai, England, Ireland, France, Columbia by way of Canada and a small number of Australians. All the Europeans bought their best drinks from their delightful countries. So quite the experience and that's just the alcohol side of things. Everyone was super friendly and went out of their way to make the newbies feel welcome. Truly a top festival that felt like hanging out with family. Which for me was literally true.

Music I hear you ask, yes there was quite a bit of it actually. I was exposed to some fresh sounds which is always a good thing. Definitely will be listening to Until Rain, Myrath and especially Exeens...........so the education was worth it. I also missed a lot of the bands, as I wanted to continue watching the Rugby. Pretty sure no one really held it against me, because for some people the festival was just as much of a social event as anything else. I most definitely would want to go again, and as an opportunity to see a small town in the Netherlands glad I didn't pass it up. A lot more could be said about it, but sometimes it's best to keep certain experiences to yourself!

So after nursing a very sore head back to Amsterdam, I checked back into the hostel I was staying at and went to pick up my laundry. I had deposited said bag of smelliness at the laundry about 5 days beforehand, intending to pick it up the next morning before heading to Baarlo. This was not to be and despite returning all this time later, with no receipt the Indian laundry wallah managed to find it and kindly gave it back. So now I was back in action. Strangely Dan and Sarah had arrived that night so miraculously managed to walk into them seconds after my phone turned too cactus at our poorly organised meeting point. Quite lucky. We swapped some stories and grabbed a meal. I had what could be described as an interesting walk home, having gotten vaguely lost. At night every single canal looks the same. But I made it back. The next morning I made a snap decision to head to Prague, as the thought of kicking around Amsterdam solo style for another day seemed a bit beyond my abilities. So a quick flight to Prague it was.

This was also another step in the ongoing series of 'how many cities in Europe can I meet up with Emma in". I was also eager to head back East as the cheapness was a drawcard. Prague, a pretty sweet place. I do prefer Krakow at this stage as it Is a little smaller and the quality of graffiti is definitely at a more advanced level. Prague seemed to have a lot more tagging as opposed to your bigger mural/ wall pieces. But hey, I'm cool with that having no skills myself. It is quite the historical town, with a very interesting history. The Czech's also appear to be proud of their history and some important players throughout European history have been from Prague. Kafka for instance. Well, some bigger players to do with the Roman Catholic Church such as the Huseites and the early Protestant movements that pre-dated Luther. Some beautiful old buildings, one of the oldest University's, Mozart premiered here as well. Good stuff. If you can remember it!

Good beer as well. We did head out to Kutna Hora, which was the old silver mining city back in the olden days. It is also home to the Bone Chapel, which is a chapel with a lot of human bones decorating it. Bizarre. Kinda cool, not as creepy as the Kuntzkamer Museum in St. Petersburg. The town itself was well worth the visit, giving us a taste of our next destination. The smallish Medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, about 3 hours south of Prague. I'm pretty excited about this place and not just because I have a deluxe villa with ensuite, kitchenette and presumably a bed.

Writing this on that bus trip, just tried to upload a video from the Trans Siberian leg of the train trip, but because I added some sick audio track to it got removed. Stupid IP.

Can't we all just share everything?

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Posted by kidd1200 04:18 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

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