After dropping Dan at the Prague airport on Monday, October 22nd, Mom and I hit the highway towards České Budějovice, famous for the original Budweiser beer. We found parking, walked into the old town centre and along the river where we found a Café in the sun. We grabbed the last table as some people were just leaving and ordered two Budweiser Budvar’s and some nuts. We enjoyed the break, sunshine, and people watching, but soon had to go as our meter was going to run out and we needed to get to our final destination for the evening, Český Krumlov.
We hopped back in the car and soon arrived at the Bellevue Hotel in the centre of Český Krumlov. I dropped the car at a nearby parking lot as the area we were staying was a pedestrianized zone. We checked in, got a map, as well as some recommendations for dinner. We set out on foot around 7:00pm and checked the first place in the main square, however, they were fully booked for another 1.5 hours. So we headed for the 2nd recommendation, Na Louzi. It was a lovely little place and the tables looked full, but we ventured inside anyways. They asked if we had a reservation (which we did not) and they told us they were also fully booked. Disappointed, we were about to head for the door when they asked if we were only two and then proceeded to sit us with another couple. We ordered the house wine and, for dinner, Mom had the chicken and I the fish. After a while, the couple next to us started making conversation – but in German. I had to put the very little German I did know to good use. We had a few good laughs and found out that they had driven from Dresden and had two daughters at home. We then said our goodbyes and headed back to our hotel’s cellar where we had another glass of wine before hitting the hay.
The next morning, we had breakfast and then headed back on foot into town. Our first stop was the Krumlov Castle. We walked uphill to the castle gates and were very surprised to find a sign that read “do not feed the bears”. We looked over the side and were shocked to see a real live bear there. Upon further research, it seems that bears have been kept in the bear moat since 1707. We pressed on to get some amazing views of the city, then onwards to the castle gardens and eventually out of the palace grounds. We found our way back over the river to the town centre, stopping at the St.Vitus Church, and eventually finding a cellar to have a local Eggenberg Bier.
We then picked up our luggage, grabbed the car, and hit the open road again to Linz, famous for the Linzer Torte. We found out there was a particular café called Jindrak that was famous for this specialty so we put the Plus City location into our GPS. It was actually a mall location, which likely was not as amazing as the original, but it was packed with people and we still had to wait for a table. We both got a coffee and slice of the famous cake. It was the perfect stop before making our way to Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we would be spending the next two nights.
We arrived at 6:30pm and parked outside the centre as this town was also car-free. We hopped on the hotel shuttle bus which took us to the Seewirt Zauner Gasthof. We went for dinner at the hotel restaurant – I had the local lake fish and Mom went for the schnitzel. After dinner, we went for a short walk outside in the town and noticed a few drops of rain.
We awoke to pouring rain. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. But with only one night left in Hallstatt, we had to brave the elements. We headed down the main street and popped in and out of the shops to browse as well as keep dry and warm. By lunch time, we were frozen to the bone so we stopped for some gluhwein and then some chanterelle mushroom soup at the nearby Heritage Hotel. After lunch, we walked up to the nearby Catholic Parish Church and cemetery grounds. Being a rainy day, we had some afternoon tea in the room and then played a few games of crib during happy hour. That evening, we returned to the Heritage Hotel for dinner. This time I went for the schnitzel and mom the Char fish.
We checked out of the hotel in the morning and were happy to see the weather had significantly improved. We decided to visit one of the local tourist attractions, Salzwelten. We rode the funicular up the mountain and walked up the hill to the start of the salt mine tour not really sure what to expect. I think Mom was worried about steps and the potential incline and I was worried about being claustrophobic, but we pressed on. The salt mines were dark, but we went down hill most of the way, including two optional wooden slides you could ride down…we opted for the stairs. Eventually, we took a very steep train up and out of the mines. We walked backed down to the Skywalk for some pictures and had a bite of lunch outside at the Restaurant Rudolfsturm overlooking the lake and mountains. A beautiful picturesque view before leaving Hallstatt.