Sunday, 1 February 2015

Five unsung gems of Europe - Part 1

I don't profess to be the most knowledgeable world traveller, but over the past ten years, I have managed to pick up and learn of a few smaller and less well known  places that have delighted us! In keeping with our usual do our own thing itinerary using buses and trains throughout Europe, we have discovered the best tips come from locals and young people travelling cheaply, many a good time also had in passing - especially on "eat streets" and open air eating places!

Kayakers on the Vitava River

My first selection is Czechy Krumlov, a beautifully preserved medieval city on the Vitava River about an hour's train ride from Prague in the Czech Republic. It has a very large castle complex that dates back to the 13th century, overlooking the narrow alleyways of the village itself. The ornate ceilings and decorations take your breath away as you process through a chapel and onto large rooms typical of the biggest castles in Europe. It has a working stage machinery in a theatre that is one of the few operating still in the world. From here, you proceed down to the plentiful restaurants, cafes, even the Eggenberg brewery below and wander through the many interesting book and art shops.

View from the castle walls of the city.

After  a wonderful lunch in a very medieval, that is, suitably candle-lit!- restaurant, we were able to wander around before catching the bus and train back to Prague. You can watch from the bank, the kayakers fording the small rapids on the river that winds through the city, and investigate the churches and shops further. There are many festivals held here each year and the medieval tournaments , opera and summer music festivities would be well worth checking out!

Beside the Vitava River.

My tip: my advice is to stay the night, as we didn't and have regretted it ever since!

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