The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
June 8 - Cesky Krumlov
Reluctantly we said goodbye to St. Gilgen and headed north toward the Czech Republic. It is amazing how quickly we get comfortable in a place and don't want to leave. The route to the autobahn took us through Mondsee, site of the church where Maria's wedding was held in the movie, The Sound of Music. As long as we were so close, we made a brief detour to check it out.
The Austrian autobahns are just like most other four-lane highways, except that people generally drive faster. The speed limit is 130 km/hr, close to 80 mph, but even at that speed there are folks just blowing by you! What keeps it all a bit more sane is that people only travel in the left lane long enough to pass. Eventually we turned north toward the Czech border and the road went back to two lanes. Not a big problem as there was hardly any traffic. I was struck by the fact that there is no four-lane road connection between major cities in Austria and Prague, probably due to the years of isolation behind the Iron Curtain.
Crossing the border into the Czech Republic was definitely a culture shift. Austria appears clean, busy and prosperous while CZ seems a bit dusty and struggling. There was one interesting feature that we did not see on the way out of the country a few weeks ago. About every 100 yards along the road from the border there is a prostitute standing by the side of the road! (That is purely a value judgement on our parts since they were not holding out any signs, but they were relatively attractive young women, dressed provacatively and standing there alone. A few were discussing something with gentlemen pulled over in their cars and there seemed to be an unusual number of motels along the way with names like Lucky!) This goes on for perhaps ten miles. I am not sure who the clientele might be or how brisk business is, but there certainly appears to be some action!
Our destination is Cesky Krumlov, a historic city in South Bohemia. We didn't know quite what to expect but we had seen it written up as one of the six most culturally significant cities in the country and we wanted to see a little more of the area than just Prague. What a treat it turned out to be! The town is dominated by the castle, parts of which date from the late 1200s. The old town area where we are staying is a wonderfully manageable size and while there is a parking lot full of tour busses on the other side of the castle, the streets have not been mobbed. The shopping is superb and we made a serious dent in the inventory of a shop selling Czech crystal, enough so that we will have to drive over there tomorrow to pick it up. It was too heavy to carry back to the room.
We are staying in a recently renovated building on the river that dates from the 1500s. The room is huge with a telephone, TV and a great shower! Life is good in Cesky Krumlov! We had lunch at a traditional Czech restaurant in the old town, just to get re-oriented to the country. Dinner was at a place called Papa's Living Restaurant, a name that immediately helped them stand out from the rest of the pack. Curious, we checked it out. Here is the copy from the front of their menu (offered in Czech, German and English):
It is our pleasure to welcome you to "Papa's Living Restaurant" in Cesky Krumlov. The history of Cesky Krumlov is, besides others, also a witness of meeting people as well as various cultures. You are guests in the restaurant which was conceived in correspondence with this tradition. It is a concept of so-called "Living Restaurant," the place which lives, the place which offers something more than only gastronomy. It is our effort to please you not only by delicious dishes, but also informal attendance and pleasant communication. We want you to feel like calling on friends and to enjoy yourself freely. The restaurant staff wishes you much pleasant experience.
On the Road to Cesky Krumlov
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