After a few days in Prague we thought it would be good idea to try traveling as a family by train a bit before we do one of our bigger trips outside of the Czech Republic.
We saw some tours going to some towns outside of Prague and all of them were a bit pricy at $300-$400 for a private driver. Not really bad when you realize the time involved, but, I know we could get it done for much cheaper on our own. After a bit of research we found a town that was about 3 hours from Prague that is a Unesco world heritage site. 20 minutes later, after practically breaking my laptop, I got the Czech Railway website to finally accept my credit card and booked our tickets to Český Krumlov for roughly $70. Not bad for 6 of us in our own private train compartment.
The next day we woke early as our train left at about 8am.
The girls were up, dressed and out the door walking to the metro by 7am. We exited our stop, and after some unclear directions, thanks google maps, that tried to get us to run over a 6 lane highway, we found the tunnel that brought brought us to the front door of Prague’s main rail station. The old station actually sits on top of the new station which made it feel like you were taking a time warp on the escalator to the future. Once underneath, we found our ticker board and located our train, which seemed to trigger the immediate need for a couple of my girls to find a bathroom.
Travel certainly tries its best to teach us patience and to just go with it.
Throw little kids in to the mix with travel and you just need to assume that your best laid plans need to be cut up with pieces removed for emergency bathroom breaks and food breaks(even though they chose not to go to the bathroom or eat just 5 minutes prior), skinned knees, and their legs beginning to suddenly fail to function, even though they will hit the playground running just a half hour later. I still wouldn’t change it for the world as this family time is what it’s all about!
After a bit of a panic of trying to figure out what platform our train was coming to, we made it onto our train ready for our 3 hour journey towards Český Krumlov. We had reserved a 6 seat cabin, which was perfect for us, except for the two people who were already sitting in our seats that even after showing them our reserved tickets refused to leave. After getting a ticket agent and the stink eye, they finally moved to somewhere else and we settled in for our 3 hour ride through the country. Erika and Lua were both asleep in a matter of moments and the girls were entertaining themselves between iPads and drawing.
Upon arrival, we figured out were downtown was and made the 15 minute walk downhill towards old city. Within a few minutes of walking, we started to see the peaks of the castle, which was the predominate architectural feature of the town. The entire town was picturesque and in a very beautiful setting. Once we got through the old town gates, it was time to find some food and a bathroom…again.
We pulled up our trusty Trip Advisor app and it told us of a place called Papa’s living restaurant, which was sitting right on the river in the middle of town. They had famous ribs, or so it said right there on their menu, so I gave it a go. Girls were back to schnitzel and Lua with some pasta. Overall it was a pretty decent meal and it was a great location.
After lunch we started working towards old city square.
While crossing a the old wooden bridge we ran into an older gentleman playing a big hand cranked music box. The girls were very interested in it and for a small tip he allowed each of my girls a few cranks. Once done with that, we made it into old city square which had the plague monument in the middle of it. Even though the monument represented a dark time, it was a nice monument in a pretty setting, slightly overrun by asian tourists.
A few shots there and it was time to head up to the castle and do some exploring.
After passing through the Red Gates we saw a big brown bear under the bridge that we needed to cross to get to the first courtyard. It was contained, and apparently there is a long connection of bears with the royalty in this region, which we came to find out on our castle tour. The bear was feasting on a pile of what looked like cabbage and carrots, which led my youngest to ask why he was eating lettuce. I told her that he must be a vegetarian, which my youngest must have thought was a very interesting fact as she went up to every person who came to see the bear and informed them of the bears dietary choice.
Inside the first courtyard we had the main palace on one end and the huge castle tower on the other end. We new the girls would enjoy the tower, which also had a small museum attached, and they were not disappointed. It was a pretty good climb up, but it allowed us to get 360 degrees of views around the entire town. It was well worth the small price of admission.
Our return train ride did require a transfer, which caused a minor panic attack when all the adults passed out only to have me awaken to what I though was our transfer station disappearing into the distance. Luckily I was wrong and a quick sprint down a set of stairs, a quick read over the ticker board, and back up to another platform, we were on our final train back to Prague.
Overall we had a fantastic time in Český Krumlov and although I wish we had made our return train just a bit later, I do believe a day trip is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of this town.
Heading to a food festival tomorrow and getting ready for our trip to Krakow.