My train stops on the border town of Mikulov in South Moravia, and as I step out onto the platform, I am treated to the distinctive beauty of a Czech castle town: red terracotta roofs, twisted cobblestone streets, and an imposing 13th-century castle set against the backdrop of rolling hills and the outline of a distant mountain range.
But the normally sleepy town is abuzz this beautiful September weekend. It’s the annual Palavske vinobrani, a weekend-long wine festival that transforms the usually sleepy town into a big wild street party. And even first-time festival-goers like me know: where wine flows, merriment follows. Continue reading “South Moravia – revelry and relaxation in the Czech Republic’s wine region”
From its medieval castle to its meandering cobbled alleys, Cesky Krumlov is the stuff of fairytales. Until now, it remains one of my favorite destinations in the world – and definitely worth more than a day trip from Prague.
You can easily spend two to three days in Cesky Krumlov. The first day will most likely be spent staring at the beautiful town square from the castle tower, pinching yourself in disbelief at just how amazingly gorgeous the old town is. Visiting the town’s top sights will take a day or two, while the enchanting Blansky forest surrounding the old town is worth a couple of days of short, relatively easy hikes.
If you’re still thinking if an overnight trip to Cesky Krumlov is worth it, you should definitely go for it. On my first visit, I originally planned to stay just for 3 days. I ended up extending my stay – and still I wished I stayed longer.
So skip the day trip and go for at least an overnight trip. Once you get there, you’ll know what I mean. In the meantime, here’s where to stay in Cesky Krumlov. Book early – Cesky Krumlov’s not quite Prague yet in terms of tourist density, but it’s getting pretty close now that this romantic medieval town’s “secret” is out.
Continue reading “Where to stay in Cesky Krumlov – the best hotels for a magical stay”
“Prague won’t let you go, the little mother has claws,” so said Franz Kafka, the capital’s most famous son.
And while Franz Kafka obviously had a deeper connection with the city, travelers to Prague can’t help but feel the same way to some degree. Prague never gets old and it never goes out of style or season.
There’s always something new going on in Prague – be it a new row of restaurants, a new edgy café in an up-and-coming neighborhood, or a new quirky art installation. But at the same time, the old is splendidly preserved, the centuries’ worth of Gothic, Romantic, and Baroque architecture still standing proudly even after world wars, fires, and natural calamities.
All these led to the Prague of today: a city that goes from medieval to modern, conventional to quirky, historic to hipster, and sacred to scandalous in a few blocks.
So it goes that your experiences in Prague can depend heavily on which neighborhood you choose to spend your days and nights. Whether you’re up for a crash course in European history and arts or you’re here for the beer, there’s a lovely Prague district that won’t let you go. Continue reading “Where to stay in Prague – neighborhood guide and best accommodations”
Have you ever had one of those crazy fantasies where you are the king or queen of a medieval kingdom? That the land is at peace, your subjects adore you and there isn’t a brewing coup or an impending invasion? And more importantly: that the person with whom you are betrothed is actually your secret childhood love and not some stranger you had to strategically marry?
Pardon the flight of ideas – it’s easy to get lost in a web of absurd medieval fantasies when you’re looking down on the old town of Cesky Krumlov from the castle tower. Continue reading “Cesky Krumlov travel guide – a trip to the Czech Republic’s magnificent fairy-tale town”
It started with the smell of roast pig.
As we walked down the meandering pathway from our pension to the old town, I stopped in my tracks. The sweet smell of garlic, herbs, and smoke wafted from a window, bringing with it the memories of fiestas, weddings, and summers spent with cousins and grandparents in the countryside. Roast pig had always been the star of every happy occasion, and now it heralded another one. Giddy with excitement, I declared to my boyfriend even before I set foot into the old town: “I love Cesky Krumlov!”
Continue reading “Love at first sight – falling hard for Cesky Krumlov’s charms”
Here’s a place that’s NOT in most Central European itineraries: South Moravia. In fact, you may not even have heard of it.
But if you’re planning a holiday to the Prague-Vienna-Budapest triad, you’ll want to check out this beautiful region that’s right smack in the middle of your Central European itinerary. Take 5 minutes to check out the 10 best things to do in South Moravia here – and you might just have to make room for it in your holiday. Continue reading “10 best things to do in South Moravia, Czech Republic’s wine region”
On our last night in Cesky Krumlov, we came back from hiking around the Blansky Forest to an empty old town. Having hiked more than 20 kilometers, we were in need of some food but found most of the establishments were already closed and few people were out walking along the lamppost-lit cobblestone streets.
We checked the time – barely 8 PM. What was wrong with people? Granted, it was a Sunday, but still, this was Cesky Krumlov! How can they be sleeping?
Continue reading “What’s Your Travel Superpower?”
My most vivid travel memories always involve food.
I first visited the Czech Republic in 2014. I went around the old town and the castle complex, took a hundred photos along Charles Bridge, and waited for the astronomical clock’s hourly Apostles’ march. But of all these wonderful and historic things in Prague, there’s one thing I remember the most: the smell of cinnamon.
I remember watching the rows of trdelnik grilling in a little stall to the side of the old town square, the crystals of sugar caramelizing further with each turn of the rolled dough, letting out that irresistible smell of burnt sugar. I remember getting my hands on one that was indulgently topped with vanilla ice cream despite the cool weather. I remember biting into the doughy exterior, the cinnamon flavor and caramel mixing perfectly with the soft ice cream.
Continue reading “Cooking Czech cuisine at home”
Here’s how the typical Central European travel itinerary goes: you spend a few days in Prague with several early morning attempts to take pictures at the Charles Bridge, board a train to Vienna where you blitz through the many historical churches and museums, maybe even spend an evening at the opera and have a slice of sachertorte, then take another train to Budapest, where you fill your camera with more crowded pictures of the Fisherman’s Bastion. By the end of this trip, you hardly remember anything and you just want to collapse in bed and take another vacation.
I get it. For most of us non-European travelers, Europe is this shiny, star-studded continent filled with some of the world’s best, most romantic, most historical – most superlative – cities in the world that we just want to cram our itineraries and see ALL. OF. THEM. The lack of borders and ease of movement is also mind-blowing for most of us that we get a little bit (or a lot) trigger-happy when planning our trips.
But here’s a radical suggestion: take it slow. Instead of rushing from one country to the next, take some time to really explore a place. While capital cities like Prague and Vienna are, of course, must-visits for first-time travelers, you can make your trip a lot more interesting with stop-overs to the little towns in between. You’ll establish a deeper connection with the places you visit, gain a better understanding of the culture, and have a more fulfilling holiday experience.
Continue reading “Driving from Prague to Vienna, slowly through Czech Republic’s scenic south”
When you’re on holiday, you get to have the most indulgent dilemmas of all.
Like: “Should we wake up early tomorrow to catch the sunrise and take gorgeous morning pictures of the lakeside? Or sleep in and cuddle on our impossibly snug and cozy queen bed?”
If you’re in the Czech Republic or planning to visit soon, you’re probably agonizing: “Where should I go after Prague?”
While the popular answer may be the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov or the spa town of Karlovy Vary, let me invite you to a cool alternative city break: Brno, the capital of South Moravia.
Continue reading “Best things to do in Brno – essential sights and where to eat, drink, and stay”