Český Krumlov, Pilsen & Kutná Hora,
Danny tells me this morning he thinks he has a reaction to beer and he should stop drinking it for a while, or at least try to cut back. We'll see how this goes.
It was a short drive to Český Krumlov, a major tourist hot spot. It was another small town but we must have passed at least 20 large tour groups during the day. I would guess that there were five times more visitors than residents, and the congestion became frustrating after a while. Crowds aside, the town as a whole was stunning. It looked best from a distance, overlooking the town and odd-shaped castle from above. The blue skies finally appeared for us today, making everything seem a little more charming. The centre square was uninspiring, but the maze of streets around it were fascinating. Although they were full of souvenir shops and cafes, there was a cool, medieval feel about them. Some of the souvenirs were actually decent too – lots of handmade objects, as well as Bohemia crystal (at exorbitant prices). Our only purchase was a wooden nut cracker that Danny had been searching for. We also tried mead (a hot, fermented honey drink), but both of us decided it was not our favourite alcoholic beverage.
The middle of the castle consisted of courtyards that we were free to wander through. The highlight was the views out the sides of the castle walls, over the town and river. The lowlight was seeing bears stuck in a pit that was far too small to house any animals. We weren't sure why anyone would offer this as a tourist attraction. On our way up the Castle Tower we passed a man wearing a Carlton AFL hat, which I thought was awesome. I almost went to high five him, but he probably would have thought I was a crazy person. Overall the town was fantastic, but it would have been better early in the morning or later in the evening to escape the thousands of other tourists.
After Český Krumlov it was on to Pilsen, home of pilsner. Unsurprisingly, Danny made a beeline straight to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. Not to join a tour, but to sample their one and only beer and browse their store. He came out with a stubbie holder, the first one we've seen in Europe, although it was definitely one of the more boring stubbie holders we own. Afterwards we both took a quick walk around the large main square and surrounding streets, admiring the beautiful buildings we did not expect to find in this beer town. On one street we stumbled upon a SkipPie cafe that specialises in “authentic” Australian pies. None of the pictures on the window looked like a Four'n Twenty. We were genuinely upset that it wasn't open, because we absolutely would have polished off a couple for nostalgia's sake.
We were tossing up whether to head out to a beer spa (literally a bathtub full of heated beer) that supposedly had some sort of beneficial properties, but decided it was too expensive and too cheesy. Instead we drove to Kutná Hora, arriving late at night but finding a public car park to stop for the night. On the drive we passed a mammoth cathedral lit up against the dark sky, so we ventured in by foot to take a closer look. The Gothic church was bathed in soft, warm lights, as was the statue-lined walkway leading up to it. The entire area had a spooky feel to it, which was a fitting prelude to what would see tomorrow.
The next morning we headed straight for Sedlec Ossuary, a Roman Catholic chapel in the middle of a cemetery. The interior of the church was our primary reason for visiting this town, as it was decorated by a woodcarver in the 18th century with thousands of human skeletons. The bones were arranged decoratively, forming wall features, a coat of arms, even a gigantic bone chandelier. The latter was made using at least one of every bone in the human body. It has been predicted that bones from over 40,000 people have been used, which is a frightening thought. It was an eerie setting, but fascinating at the same time. I couldn't tell you what the attraction was to this place yet we spent quite a bit of our morning here, inspecting the bizarre handiwork. We weren't going to forget this chapel any time soon.