Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Gypsy Devils in Krumlov



After leading three tours of the Czech Republic I was due a break and my husband came over from the UK to make sure I took it. To help us Cesky Krumlov held its annual St Wenceslas Celebration. The town square was filled with a craft and food market and a large stage.

On the first evening of the celebrations, despite not being dressed for the drop in evening temperature with the sudden arrival of Autumn, we found ourselves transfixed by a performance by the Ciganski Diabli (Gypsy Devils) who give a gypsy flourish to adaptations of some well-known classical music.

The local Roma population was out in force for these wonderful ambassadors for gypsy musical virtousity. The younger members were at the front with their reversed baseball caps, whilst senior members stood or sat behind. They were joined in their enjoyment by a large number of other Krumlov residents and some foreigners such as ourselves and a group of Japanese who watched for a while before moving away. We might have been freezing (you could see your breath), but we weren't going anywhere until the last note had been played and the audience had risen to its feet to applaud.

If you want to know more about the group, visit their website on www.gypsydevils.com.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Walking around the World

I walked around the World on Thursday and it only took me three-and-a-half hours (it would have taken three but I stopped in a pub for a drink and an ice cream). The secret to this feat is the fact that a pond near to Trebon is called Svet, which translates as "world".

I was researching a possible walk for a short walking tour for a client and this was one on my list of possibles. It is now a definite. It is a wonderful walk, which with the exception on mountain scenery (it is in fact a very level walk) encompasses nearly every type of Czech landscape you can find. In just over 12 kilometres you walk alongside a lake/fishpond, past reedbeds filled with birds and brilliant jewel-like dragonflies, enter a protected woodland with its peatbogs and rare flowers, go through traditional farmland and flowermeadows and a forest with bilberry and cranberry plants, and finally through parkland. Along the walk are information boards about the animals (eg otters, edible and tree frogs), birds (eg ospreys and kingfishers) and plants (eg venus flytrap, mosses, and grass of parnasus) that thrive in the different habitats, as well as information about fishponds, traditional vernacular architecture and the formation of peatbogs.

It was a blissful walk: not too demanding, educational, and varied. Even the weather was perfect - sun, but not too hot with a slight breeze. I recommend it to you.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Views

One of the things I miss in the Czech Republic is the British habit of placing laybys at viewpoints. There are many places where I would love to stop the car and take a photo or at least not risk driving the car into an oncoming lorry because I was too busy looking at the wonderful view. But that is not to say that the Czechs do not love views or indeed have their own approach to appreciating them.

All across the Republic you will find lookout towers - not for sighting approaching foes or shooting deer (although there are deer hunting towers everywhere) but for admiring the view. One of the best is on top of Libin Hill near Prachatice. I took a taxi to the carpark and then climbed the two kilometres to the summit, paid my 10 crown entrance fee and climbed the 120 steps to the top of the tower. And what a view there was to be had from it - a 360 degree survey of the Sumava Forest, Budejovice plain and even beyond to Germany and Austria. Here are some of the photos I took there.




Then I descended both the tower and the hill, taking the medieval saltway the Golden Trail back to the ancient town of Prachatice.

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