Leaving Nurenburg to head to the Czech Coutryside, I was excited as I recalled the things I loved about Prague: goulash and beer. I was hoping to experience good food, good beer and awesome scenery. One out of three ain’t bad!!
Hint: Here is a picture of our view from our room in Cesky Krumlov:
So yes, let’s get the disappointments out of the way: food, beer and endless rain. It didn’t spoil the trip by any means, but it was a letdown. That’s not to say every meal or every beer was bad, it just wasn’t as spectacular as Prague.
Our first stop, after hours of small villages and windy roads was Trebon-our homebase for two nights. Trebon had a quaint town center, beautiful green parks and a lake. It’s known for its peat spas but we didn’t try them out. Since we spent the morning in Nurenberg, we didn’t arrive in Trebon until late afternoon and decided we would do a quick walk around town and find dinner. We ended up at little local place called Na Rozmberske Baste and since the specialty of this region was fish, both of us got local fish covered in delicious sauce. I’m fairly certain I got pike or carp, but I can’t quite recall.
Cultural observation: elderly gentleman sitting at a table across from us got up to smoke over by the door entrance. We thought this was odd until Dan had to take Nathan outside (he didn’t quite last the whole meal). Once the toddler was out of sight, the gentleman lit up at his table. He was kind enough to smoke away from our child even though it was a smoking restaurant. I was really impressed by this.
The next day, we decided to head out of Trebon and see Trebic and Telc-both about an hour or so from Trebon. We read that Trebic was known for its wonderful main square. But mostly, we were going because it has the largest intact Jewish Ghetto in the country. People live there today, but it has not been updated or restored-it’s been left as a sort of tribute since only ten Jewish people survived the Holocaust in this town.
*A little history from Rick Steves: The Jewish population was at its peak in the 19th Century with 1500 people. This neighborhood is protected by the government and is now mostly inhabited by Romas.
There is the Front Synogoue, Rear Synogogue and the Jewish Cemetary to visit. We didn’t plan our time well and arrived around 12:30 on a Saturday. We didn’t realize that the whole town basically shuts down after noon. We had not eaten lunch-thinking we would eat in town once we arrived-and spent about 45 minutes searching for a place to eat. We ended up at one place in the Jewish quarter (pretty sure the only place), and it ended up being decent.
Lunch took longer than expected and it was almost 3PM by the time we finished! This was a lesson to us-try to plan in advance and read about the town you’re visiting in advance to find out if things close on a particular day.
We headed to the Rear Synagogue to tour, only to be told that an event was starting in 15 minutes and they weren’t doing any more tours. Fail! The Front Synagogue was closed. The cemetery was a 25-minute hike up a hill. Oh and I neglected to mention that prior to lunch Nathan had a massive meltdown in the Jewish Quarter. While we were scrambling to find our hungry child food, he was screaming and crying. We also weren’t impressed with the “wonderful main square.” We found it boring and uninspiring. So we decided to call it in. We were spent. Trebic just wasn’t our town. We left Trebic feeling unsatisfied and headed to Telc, hoping for a better outcome.
Telc was monumentally different from Trebic! We walked towards the main square and heard loud music, only to arrive to a show being put on by the locals. It was some sort of girls twirling contest. They had a DJ, awards, costumes-and we saw them doing various dances. The square was STUNNING. It was lined with gabled colorful buildings that looked like they stepped out of a 13th century story. According to Rick Steves, there isn’t a single building younger than 300 years old. There was a castle at the end of the square, which you could hike to the top for stunning views-but by the time we walked over there-it was closing for the day!
We didn’t mind though, we were taking in the fun cultural event happening and we just watched and strolled around the square. We took pictures and soaked it in. We didn’t visit any sites or learn anything historical-we just watched. Thankfully, Nathan was enjoying the dance show from his stroller and seemed to be bobbing his head along and laughing to the music. We seemed to salvage the afternoon.
Since lunch was so late and long, we weren’t ready for another meal, so we headed back to Trebon and decided we would eat another meal there. After the 40 minute drive back we let Nathan unwind in the room for a bit before heading into another restaurant scenario with a toddler (always a mystery which Nathan we will get!)
Being indecisive, we picked the first place we walked by, which was a mistake in retrospect. There were no English menus (which happens from time to time) but man is the Czech language hard! The poor waitress spoke very little English and was sort of able to help us. I wasn’t quite sure what I ordered-but it took over 45 minutes for the food to arrive. After ordering and about 25 minutes into our wait, we started noticing that most people were drinking and not eating. And it was so smoky! Nathan started getting antsy and wanted to run around the place and we were all hungry. The mood was set for disaster. Luckily I had beer!! When the food finally did arrive-I had some sort of turkey that looked like a steak-no turkey I have ever seen looked like this, so I was really not sure what I was even eating. But it was fatty and plain and I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough. Dan had some kind of fried fish and I thought it was super fishy but he liked it. Nathan had plain chicken and potatoes and he wasn’t too interested in it.
Overall, I would say this was our worst day-Telc was the silver lining in an otherwise bad day. Poor planning, short tempers and a bored kid. However, little to no rain that day!
The next day we spent half the morning in Trebon so we could enjoy the town, see the lake and let Nathan run around the beautiful park (and chase the Peacocks that were running free). He loved this activity-yelling PEACOCKS at the top of his lungs (Yes, the peacock got that close to Dan!).
We found the most amazing treat too-they were flat circle wafers, cooked on a machine that looked like a crepe machine. We both got vanilla flavored and it was outstanding.
I was looking forward to Cesky Krumlov the most because I knew it was a medieval town surrounded by a river. I wanted to canoe and river raft and have a vacation right out of a brochure-but I’m with a toddler and its pouring rain. So we went for a Rick Steves walk of the town, after trying out this amazing treat. Cinnamon rolled bread-cooked right before your eyes. We had this three times-it was that good.
Cesky Krumlov has an interesting history during WWII. The town was inhabited by Germans prior to WWII, so Hitler claimed the region. Americans liberated the town and three million Germans were displaced-so the town became a ghost town, partially inhabited by Romas (Thanks Rick Steves for the history). Between 1945-1989, Communism took over and the town became severely polluted. The buildings around the town were built up to be big communist buildings-but the center remained untouched. In the 1990’s, tourists discovered the town and the economy started booming and the pollution disappeared (along with Communism)-it’s the second biggest toured city in the Czech Republic.
The town is filled with cobblestone streets and winding roads. I loved how beautiful it was-even though it was filled with tourists! We had lunch at a wonderful vegetarian place with the friendliest waiter I’ve ever encountered. He was very interested in chatting with Nathan-and found him hilarious!
After lunch we took our Rick Steves walking tour to see all the sites. Here are a few pictures:
Playing in the rain:
It was super cold and windy and a little rainy, so after our walk we went back to the room for a break. We had this gorgeous patio right on the river-but it was so chilly out we didn’t want to be out there! It was such a shame.
Dinner was fascinating. The Tavern of the Two Marys serves unique Czech cuisine-all food is based on medieval bohemian life. Basically the whole menu is millet, buckwheat and meats. The owners were so friendly and helpful and the ambience was perfect-but the food was so bland and strange. Maybe my pallet just isn’t used to this, but corn cheese millet was not very flavorful! Dan went with pheasant and thought it was gamey-Nathan’s various food allergies made this place difficult, so he basically ate a potato pancake and we crossed our fingers.
Cabbage soup with flowers in it:
The next day was just as cold and rainy but we were determined to see the sites and give Nathan something fun to do-sitting in the stroller while Mom and Dad read the history of a town is not that exciting for him! We went to a puppet museum with a puppet show you could put on yourself, a chalkboard a slide and crayons. Nathan could have stayed there all day!
During his nap we took a hike to see the town from high up-through slippery grass and rain that was a fun little exercise!! But the views were worth it!
I don’t remember lunch but dinner was amazing! Restaurant Barbakan had two things we needed: good beer and free wifi. Nathan was getting very bored with eating out everyday and as expected for a two year old-didn’t want to sit through long meals. This place is known for its open fire cooking, which on the menu warns could take 30 minutes. We were nervous about Nathan but when we discovered free wifi….out came the ipad for Nathan’s favorite pastime: YouTube.
Nathan has a bit of a YouTube addiction, and we had been without wifi for two weeks before we left for this vacation. I played his favorite video and he was so excited “We got YouTube mommy!” that it was his best meal yet! Judge away….but we had a peaceful meal!!!
The food was as good as the wifi and I had a honey and brie appetizer followed by a delicious cranberry chicken. Dan had ordered a meat dish but the waiter put it in wrong, and not wanting to wait another 30 minutes, Dan ended up eating his dish and loving it. It was some type of meat stuffed with cheese and vegetables. But the best part for me: Czech Mead. I had two glasses of this sweet wine and beer combination. I imagined myself in a tavern in Westeros drinking this fine beverage. (Nerd Alert).
On our way out of town the next morning we visited the Castle. We didn’t want to take Nathan on the full hour long tour-although I love seeing how people lived during medieval times, the slow group tour was not something for a 2 year old. So we opted to run through the small Castle Museum (there was a skeleton and when I told Nathan it was a ghost from Haunted Mansion he was so excited he wanted to go back when we were finished). Yep, definitely our kid.
We hiked to the top and saw these beautiful views:
We also got a look at the bear pits in the moat that still have three bears. Nathan was a big fan of the bears!
After the bear pits-we were on our way home! Of course, our last day it was sunny and 70 all day and we spent six hours in the car, but you can’t win ‘em all right? However, Arizona has 356 days of sun, so after 17 years of desert living, I am actually quite fine with rain.
We just finished planning our next trip-France! We will be headed to the Loire Valley to drink wine and visit a Chateau or two followed by Nathan’s first trip to Disneyland Paris. Stay tuned!