Český Krumlov is a little town, nestled in the hills in the southern region of the Czech Republic. It’s about halfway between Prague and Vienna, and was therefore the perfect interlude between the two big cities I visited during my Easter sojourn. It’s popular with tourists because it’s pretty, has fresh air, nice countryside, cute little shops, and a big castle atop a cliff face.
It was popular with me for three reasons.
1. Krumlov House. Was one of the cosiest hostels I’ve ever stayed in. The beds were comfy, the decor was rustic but spotlessly clean, everything was eco-friendly, the living room was decked out with lounge chairs, board games, puzzles and books, and the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful.
2. U Dwai Maryi (The 2 Marys). Was recommended to me by the hostel, and I liked it so much I went there twice. It’s a traditional bohemian restaurant which specialises in medieval cuisine such as mead, gruel, and smoked meats. Although I wasn’t about to go and fight a crusade, it was cold and I did do a lot of walking, so the cheap and hearty meals were ideal. The comprehensive menu features an interesting ‘history of Czech cuisine’, and a guide to the health and nutritional benefits of the herbs and grains used in the Middle Ages. The only disappointment was that the cabbage, potato and daisy soup didn’t come with any daisies because they were out of season. But the idea has piqued my interest and I think I’ll attempt my own version as soon as spring comes.
3. The Egon Scheile Museum. For me a trip to a just about anywhere just isn’t complete without some kind of art and culture fix. Although Scheile was Austrian, his mother was born in Český Krumlov, and the artist took refuge there for a few years while he tried to escape the claustrophobia of city life. These days Egon Scheile is a touristic drawcard for the town, although at the time when he lived there, the people weren’t quite so appreciative of his presence. He was scorned for living in sin with his mistress and for using young girls as models. Eventually they denounced him for ‘violating public morality’; the police raided his home, seized his artworks, and arrested him. He spent a total of 25 days in custody and imprisonment, which turned out to be one of his most prolific drawing periods. Scheile later died of Spanish flu at the age of 28, along with his pregnant wife. He left behind a remarkable body of work for someone so young, in terms of both volume and maturity. I guess people just worked harder and grew up faster those days.
Aside from a lot of trudging up and down hills and trying not to slip on the ice/snow/wet cobblestones, I didn’t do much more of note in Český Krumlov. I’m afraid to say that the castle was (again) a bit of a letdown; it looked great from a distance, but close up, the facade was gaudily painted. I guess I’ve become spoilt from having the Alcazar of Segovia in walking distance – bright yellow fake sandstone bricks don’t just cut it for me anymore. Fortunately the way the castle was built up/on/in a cliff face was very impressive.
And the Scheile Museum Cafe had domed ceilings and a delicious poppyseed slice.