Catching the last light at Hluboka castle.
In October of 2006, mbala and I flew to Germany and took a train to CZ to visit his family and tour a bit of his home country. It was my first time in Europe (and out of North America), along with an absolutely amazing trip! I was especially impressed by the old architecture - the United States has a lot of beautiful places, but nothing so far in the human past like Europe does - old castles, cities, villages. Prague itself was absolutely amazing!
Red rooftops of Prague.
Looking down at the city from the top of Prague Cathedral.
St. Vitus’s Cathedral in Prague (also known as Wenceslas Cathedral).
My humble pictures don't begin to capture the immensity of these towering glass windows. For reference, the tower is about 288 feet high... which is about 28 stories high. The amount of detail and art in the church is breathtaking. And the gothic architecture on the outside... just wow.
Sculpture garden in Prague.
Tons of gargoyles everywhere, so cool!
Hluboka castle was one of the castles we toured (there are a huge amount of them in the Czech Republic, you basically trip over them everywhere you go).
mbala and I outside the entrance.
Antlers, antlers, antlers!
The castle was founded in the 13th century (around 1250) and continued construction for hundreds of years - mixing renaissance, baroque, tudor gothic, and romantic period architecture.
We were unfortunately not allowed to take photos inside the castle - but it was a really amazing place, full of grand libraries, armories, paintings, and all the things you would expect to find inside such a beautiful palace.
This is a different place, the Ohrada hunting chateau - a once funtional lodge that is now a museum. It has antler furniture galore, giant fur pelt rugs, and hunting trophies galore. Including a European bison and (yeah!) wild boar.
Ceské Budjovice town square. Budjovice (Budweiss in German) is the original home of 'Budweiser' - the real Czech version and not the American copycat. :)
Outside St. Barbara’s church at night in Kutná Hora. This is the area near the Bone Cathedral (Ossuary) - we didn't get there on this trip since we were in town too late - but the next post I make will have photos of our tour there!
Another night shot of the church.
Downtown Kutná Hora at night.
View looking down at Ceský Krumlov – a historical heritage town.
One thing so different in Europe is the intricate design on every building.
Amazing architecture in Ceský Krumlov.
Entrance area to Ceský Krumlov.
You can see how the natural stone and the stonework blend together. I love it!
Typical street in Ceský Krumlov – complete with tourists, restaurants, and the museum of torture.
Cesky Krumlov was a treat – it is a historical town that was restored and made into a sort of everyday festival – full of restaurants, art galleries, craft shops, and lots of beautiful sights to see.
**Interesting note: Where else in the world do you find a moat that instead of water… is full of bears. Yes, a bear moat. Enough said. Czechia awesome.
Just a really awesome picture Mbala captured of city wildlife.
More exotic city denizen!
And concluding this first trip picture post - a beautiful scene at the shore of a man-made lake between towns.
Most of these photos are courtesy of mbala, though I took a few. They are back from before we had our Nikon camera so we were just using my little old point and click.
One thing I really noticed about going to Europe - there is so much green! For some reason I figured all of Europe looked like Venice (concrete and city as far as the eye can see) - when we flew into Germany there were thick, dense forests everywhere.
Awesome things: Good public transport everywhere. AAaaagh the bread - the most amazing bread everywhere, every morning. Markets with bread sections like you wouldn't find even in the most posh American stores. Amazing food, Little villages where people know each other and have a central pub/restaurant in town as a local hangout.
Spoiled American things: Pay bathrooms - suck. Huge portions and no such thing as a doggie bag - evil! Super limited vegetable types and food ingredients - I wanted to cook for the family but found it really difficult because of the lack of... even the most basic things I was used to (canned beans, soup base/gravy mix, most vegetable varieties, lots of things we take for granted here are quite exotic or unfindable there). NO tap water! No plain water at all - only nasty tonic water or expensive bottled beverages. Beer is cheaper than water or soda... but I'm not a beer drinker (I know, a blasphemy being in CZ).
All in all it was an awesome and unforgettable trip. I was thrilled to meet Mbala's family for the first time and get a tour of not only the 'popular' places, but a slice of the country and real Czech life as well.
Next post : Part Deux (including the Ossuary!)