This is the 13th in a series of blog posts about our epic trip to Germany and the Czech Republic in search of food, castles, and of course beer. My travel companions included my wife Sarajo (Sj for short), as well as Jim and Lori Stroner. Jim is a seasoned beer geek (and part owner of Tin Whisker’s Brewing in St. Paul) as well as a great photographer. He did most of the organizational work for the trip, so he gets extra kudos! Our hero’s journey continues now with day 13…
Jim and I woke up way too early this fine day to take pictures of the nearby castle before hoards of tourists settled on it like flies on… Well we got up early. With only the odd cleaning crew or biker zipping by we really had our run of the castle grounds and took many a picture.
We ended up back at our Pension Danny (hotel) for breakfast, which was a little disappointing. Sunny D instead of orange juice and instant powdered coffee were not on a par with our other places on this trip. At least the place was right in the old town and just blocks from the castle.
Wandering the city, we took in the medieval splendor: walking on cobblestones, marveling at decorative ironwork and doors, looking into shops selling everything from crystal to touristy junk. Restaurants and sweet shops put off a plethora of amazing aromas. As the morning advanced the streets became crowded with tourists, many in tour groups.
Cesky Krumlov Castle
The castle is a huge sprawling complex including stables, gardens, a baroque theater, fountains, and more. There are actually several different tours of the grounds and it could take days to really see everything. We took one of the interior tours and got to see some really interesting art, furnishings, and views. We also got a pretty extensive history lesson, which started to really seal together the stories and history we had been getting throughout the trip so far. We couldn’t take pictures of the inside, but we got some exterior and rampart shots.
Jim had organized an English tour of the Baroque Theater that was part of the castle complex. This was really interesting and we got to see the very old sound machines (thunder, rain, wind) and were amazed at the ability of the quick-change sets for that time period. And we couldn’t take pictures so you will have to take my word for it!
After our tours we wandered more about town, looking for cool doors and shops. We got Sj a really cool necklace made of garnets and moldovite at one of the jewelry shops. Jim and I looked at a few antique shops hoping for beer signs, but the only ones we found were pretty beat up or too big to get home easily. We noticed a lot of store proprietors would follow up around the shops and watch us like hawks so we didn’t steal anything. I’m not sure if this was because we were American or if they’ve just had too many things walk off in the past.
Krumlov Brewery (Old Eggenberg Brewery)
We did find the one brewery in town, which was formerly the Eggenberg Brewery but had recently been bought and renamed the Krumlov Brewery (or Pivovar). A lot of the signs were still for the old brewery so we were a bit confused at first but figured it out. The light colored lager was pretty good with just a hint of diacetyl (a common finding in many of the Czech lagers we had). The unfiltered lager had more of this butter flavor and was harder to handle. The dark was actually pretty smoky and I’m not sure if it was meant to be like that or not!
After a filling lunch we headed back to the castle to find the gardens and walked a lot of uphill cobbles! Thanks Sj! After this I tried a trdnlnek: a traditional pastry formed into a tube and coated in nuts and cinnamon sugar. It was wonderful but the yellowjackets were swarming me as I tried to finish it quick!
We ended up having dinner along the river at Bolero and relaxing with a couple more beers. This had been a long day of walking and touristing, but nice in that we didn’t need to get the car out and drive anywhere. As darkness came across the city we moved from spot to spot to take some night photography, having scoped things out on our daytime wanders.
We ended the night at one of the few bars that was open late, a place that specialized in cocktails. Here we tried an assortment of Czech specialties including several flavors of Becherovka (and herbal liqueur that tasted of allspice) and Slivovice (a rocket-fuel distilled from plums). Lori–usually our teetotaler–decided this was her chance to dance with the green fairy and had a shot of absinth! Go big or go home I guess! Properly fueled for sleep we walked a block or so back to our hotel and went to bed.
Breweries visited: 25
Bierkellers visited: 7
Cities visited: 25
Brewery Museums: 3
Torture Museums: 1
Lori dancing with the green fairy: 1
Really high places that Eric is terrified of: 5
Mileage walked today: 7.4