We have so many options open to us that it becomes quite confusing deciding which direction to head. North, South , East or West ? We can head East to the Balkans and keep going for a couple of thousand k’s and hit Moscow. South to Greece but we know we need to be in UK 1st August for MOT.
So decision eventually made to see some of the Czech Republic !
Since the fall of communism in 1989 the country, especially Prague has evolved into one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations.
Prague was the only European city that was not bombed in WW11… Rumour has it that Hitler wanted it as Europe’s cultural capital.
So maybe we’ll work our way there after drifting around places hopefully a little more authentic Czech. When Czechoslovakia was split in 1989 it was then divided effectively into two Countries.. Czech Republic and Slovakia ((we may try to get to Slovakia, time permitting).
So after hours pouring over maps and checking distances and travel blogs etc, we are off to explore the South Bohemia region and a little of Movaria. Firstly, we found a wonderful campsite to base ourselves for a few days. Camping Chvalsiny delivered big time from the moment we arrived. It was run by a lovely Dutch family and it was their 20th anniversary of the sites opening. Unknown to us , they were throwing a party the day we arrived and everyone was invited to help celebrate. And it would be very rude not to join the celebrations.A complimentary fabulous bbq, complete with roasted piglet, mmm … no, not a piglet , it was a damned big pig, all 85 Kilos of him! Well, we think it was a he. Drinks and live music included. To round things off they included a Complimentary pitch for the first night too! We Had a great night amongst lots of Dutch and a couple of Germans .. a great way to start what is hopefully going to be a wonderful week in the Czech Republic.
A lazy morning followed and Al was able to watch, live from Australia, the state of origin NSW v QLD ..unfortunately QLD lost the series and Australia have been unceremoniously knocked out of the World Cup so we are of course barracking for England..
we came here was to visit Cesky Kromlov a UNESCO world heritage City,, more like a town really. They describe it as a mini Prague ..Oh think of fairytale castles, ( well one anyway) cobbled streets, gorgeous little bars and restaurants. Picture postcard settings, again ! Of course it’s all very touristy, but I guess that’s what we are.. It was just gorgeous ! But the down side was, it was so crowded. After the match had finished we rode into the centre which was a leisurely 9 Km’s way from our site. Perfect timing as the Five Petalled Rose Celebrations were on. The spirit of the Renaissance is brought back to life for three days with medieval music, street plays, craft fairs etc. On the final day it ends, with a wonderful procession of knights on horseback, medieval bands and folk dressed up in the medieval attire. As well as the local “Official” parade, three quarters of the Asian tourists who come to watch were also dressed in the attire! We did get a good giggle watching.. Bless them they were having fun and did look lovely.
Czech cuisine is not particularly noted for the health conscious. Some of the offerings at the festival were a dead set heart attack waiting to happen.
.It’s quite a compact town, split in two with a river and they say it takes just twenty 20 minutes to go from one side to the other. much longer though if you walk around the perimeter, and explore all the nooks and crannies. How anyone could just spend twenty minutes here I don’t know. Surely no one does.lots of colour and charm everywhere..
.a light refreshment before cycling back to our site. The long way ! A lot more inclines and on some pretty rough ground , through forests and woodlands…more like blooming mountain biking at times but worth it . Another great ride.this pic below was an old outdoor theatre, on a local chateau’s land which we passed through on our way back.The weather was all over the place during our time here, while most parts of Europe and even the the UK were experiencing hot weather, some days here it was really chilly and we had lots of rain too. Next day was a home day as the rain was smashing down. Time for some reading , housework , cleaning out cupboards etc … I had the urge to do some baking , but alas I have no muffin tins or the like ..good job really ,we didn’t need it ! So slippers on , out came the jumpers from the back of our cupboards and it was lovely to just snuggle up to chill and watch a movie or two.
A clear day followed so we decided to explore further afield and took Pinot out for the day . The country side around here is lovely. We were not expecting it to be as pretty as it was.. rolling hills abound and it’s so green (should be though with all the rain ).We drove through avenues lined on both sides with apple trees but when we saw the cherry trees for the first time I was delighted. So you can imagine Al Pal leaning out of his drivers window, hazard lights flashing, picking cherries for me …. morning tea over and a tummy full of cherries it was time to visit Holasovice.
A small pretty and simple historic village listed as a UNESCO Site.getting a park here was extremely difficult … not .. I think we and a handful of other tourists were the only ones there. It had a very calming serene feel to the place.There are only 23 houses here, formed in a rectangle with a village pond in the middle, and a couple of lovely restaurants. After the Second World War the village was abandoned and stood deserted under the communist regime until 1990 when people starting moving in and restoring what were once farm houses. Behind lots of these houses are plots of land which are still used for farming . The artwork on the facades here is known as South Bohemia Folk Baroque.after wandering around the village, which did not take long we where intrigued to see a sign for Holasovice Stonehenge …how interesting .first impressions , why had we not heard of this place , then we read the history, the stones were placed there in 2008 ! no wonder Al Pal has a strange look on his face . A local family with plenty of money giving back to village in tourism which is a good thing. I thought it was a lovely little spot we stumbled upon, even if a tad artificial.After our history lesson for the day we made our way to Ceske Budejovice capital city of South Bohemia. Not a huge amount of sight seeing here .but it does have one of Europe’s largest squares , a beautiful three spired town hall and is home to the Czech Budvar beer , more commonly known as Czech Budweiser . The Budweiser trademark dispute is an ongoing series of legal disputes between the CzechRepublic and the US who also claim the origin rights . .a sleepy river with a few strange characters .and some lovely architecture .another great day.
Chvalsiny is just a 2 minute walk from our campsite.This is not a tourist destination by any means .In its day we were sure it would have been very grand . Not much has been spent on it in a while but there is quite a bit of restoration work going on, here and there which is good.Another rainy day followed so we chilled once more .it looks like we are the only ones on this site . The other 30 or so vans were all parked close together like Browns cows! Why would you do that when you have the opportunity to be alone where you can have some space and play a little music and not disturb the neighbors. We could not have parked any further from the main amenities if we had tried . Up on the terraces was like being on acreage, away from the folks below . Wild deer and Hare’s were so close by but were always too quick to capture them in a pic. Plus we had a wonderful view too. Just meant you had to take a cut lunch and compass for a coffee!
On the road again , a quick coffee stop in Cesky Krumlov one last time ..before arriving in beautiful TelcHey guess what ! It’s another UNESCO site . Thank you very much another gem of a place , the town square , just beautiful.On the border between Bohemia and Moravia , surrounded by parklands and ponds it was wonderful wandering around here. Most of the houses here were built in Renaissance style after a fire levelled the town in 1530.another Chateau above.
A 14th century castle and a few art galleries and museums to visit.
This great little coffee shop served the best coffee and Al found some new wheels .another one to try.and it was so quiet ...Of course between all the lovely countryside and pretty towns and villages it is not all like this and the signs of yesteryear and all the years of communism are still a reminder how tough it must have been.
we saw a few villages completely deserted and left in ruins . We saw no flashy cars on the road. An idea below of the villages we passed through , loads of farming machinery on the roads as it was hay making season and the odd little vehicle, clearly not with an emissions certificate !Making our way to Mikulov we came across these stunning sunflower fields . Al was actually stopping so I could snip more bunches of cherries from the trees, when we turned into this road and saw these fields. I was getting stressed , pick cherries or pose in the sunflower fields 😂 with scissors still in hand , I posed and then picked the cherries … 😂.Al Pal tryIng the goods.From Sunflowers, Cherry trees , Wheat fields and Corn we were then amongst the vineyards of the Czech wine region of South Movaria...and ready to visit the beautiful town of Mikulov , and there was lots to love here.
While our camp site at lake Palava was a different story, and what a palava it was ! from the peace and serenity on our last gorgeous site it was a stark contrast here . Lordy Lordy ! Where are we ? It was like entering hill billie country all that was missing was the sound of dueling banjos from the movie Deliverance😂 the pitch we were given was next to a huge gang of a family all in tents , kiddies running around half naked, the men whooping down the beer, flame throwing sticks from the fire pit , noise, lots of noise ! Al Pal and I said come on let’s go to the bar /restaurant /mess room 😂 and have a drink ourselves . Mmm ..we sat inside because outside was like inhaling 20 fags a minute.. ( the fire and all the smoking) the dining room was … different and bare … the menu was on the wall and this pic is Al trying to understand the translation by this lovely girl. The food we ordered sounded really nice 😂 and you can imagine it really wasn’t.But the people here were extremely warm and friendly . Even when we were checking out next morning at 8.45 am the men were at the bar having their vodka shots and beer ! Trying out their English and wishing us a safe trip , along with a few toothless smiles ! Bless em they really were lovely people.
This was another favourite .
Described in some research as a romantic getaway. Lots of gorgeous little restaurants, cafes, bakeries and deli’s. Being in the very heart of the wine region it’s easy to see why.
The beautiful town square...The chateau was originally built in 1249, in the 16th century another family had it reconstructed after afire in 1729. In 1945 during the retreat of the German army the chateau was burnt to the foundation and was reconstructed in 1950. It is home now to the regional museum .One of the many cellar doors in town. The lovely lady here where we were ordered, no insisted upon to try tiny tastings of a few different wines. Well I did anyway … it was only 10.00 am I came out a bit light headed. The alcohol level for driving here is zero ! Just fancied a bowl of Vegetable soup which was the soup of the day . First taste and I knew this was not just a veggie soup, it had prawns in it ! As those of you know my reaction to shellfish , I was horrified… any way an exorcist moment averted she kindly replaced it with a lovely lentil and chorizo soup and a humble apology. ...Yes, thank you, we did indeed love Mikulov !Love to all xx