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3 Weeks in East-Central Europe: Part 4: Castle Hluboka, Divci Kamen, and Cesky Krumlov

Parts 1 -3 of my trip report can be found here:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/3-weeks-in-east-central-europe-part-1-budapest
here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/3-weeks-in-east-central-europe-part-2-vienna
and here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/3-weeks-in-east-central-europe-part-3-prague

On Day 16, we had breakfast and checked out of the Questenberk. Our shuttle to Cesky Krumlov, Lobo Shuttle, arrived right on time. We booked a private shuttle, because we wanted to make a couple of stops at castles en route. When we made the request, we asked the shuttle company for suggestions for stops, and of their suggestions, we chose Castle Hluboka and Divci Kamen.

Traffic was heavy leaving Prague, so it was almost 11 am by the time we arrived at Castle Hluboka. Pavel, our driver, dropped us off at the bottom of the walkway to the castle and we arranged to meet back at that spot at 12:30. We walked up the very steep hill to the castle and were rewarded with the sight of the prettiest “little” fairy tale castle we’d ever seen. It had the requisite towers and crenellations, and there was a lovely flower garden in front.

Inside the courtyard, we noticed a lot of deer heads mounted on the wall, some of them mossy with age. Plaques indicated the date they were killed and who killed them. We climbed the tower to see the fabulous views of the surrounding countryside, and on the way, there were dozens more mounted deer heads. We surmised that this must be the castle of Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. ;^)

We were delighted with this stop, because the castle was such a storybook cliché.

We met Pavel right on time and rode further along, almost to Cesky Krumlov. We took a side road and Pavel stopped in a small parking lot that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. He led us to a sign and showed us the markings we must follow in order to find our way to Divci Kamen, and then he turned back and walked toward the parking lot. Because of this, we thought he would wait for us at the shuttle, although I thought he did say something about coming along. Off we set. The sky was threatening, and there was thunder rumbling in the distance. I was worried about being caught in the woods in a thunderstorm, so I hurried. We went past some farms on one side, with the woods on the other, and then went deeper into the woods. The path was rougher here, with some obstacles, but I was motoring along, intent on getting to Divci Kamen before the storm. After a while, we heard a sound behind us, and there was Pavel. We laughed and apologized for not realizing he was behind us before. We all continued, and then Pavel stopped and showed us a point where we could see Divci Kamen. What a sight! On a hill is a brooding and romantic ruin of an 11th century stone castle that was ruined in the 12th century (I think). We continued toward it and arrived about 10 minutes later. We paid our admission and were allowed unfettered access to the ruin. There were only a handful of other people there, and a few goats climbing around the ruin. We loved it. This was like nothing we had ever seen before, and it was interesting to imagine what the castle must have been like before it was ruined.

When we left the ruin, we walked back along a paved pathway to the parking lot. This afforded us different views of the ruin and the countryside. Gorgeous!

We got back to the shuttle without getting rained on. The storm had passed us by, and in short order we arrived at Cesky Krumlov, not far from Divci Kamen.

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We checked into our accommodation—Pension Lobo. The pension and the shuttle were part of the same business, and we got a discount at the pension for using the shuttle. It was simple, but comfortable and clean. We got settled, and I looked for a place to put our papers—our itinerary and documents for our accommodations in Salzburg and Munich, and our train tickets from Salzburg and Munich. (I had printed them in Vienna—which turned out to be a mistake.) I was going to put my passport with them, but changed my mind and kept it in my purse, which was fortunate.

We set off to explore Cesky Krumlov. Just inside the castle gates, we stopped for lunch—a sort of sauerkraut and sausage dish that we ate at a picnic table on the patio. Then we walked up to the castle gates. What a picturesque castle with its round, painted tower. We crossed over the moat and saw the bear in the moat (poor thing). We did not tour inside the castle then, as it was nearly closing time, but we walked along the wall (where there was a bridal couple having photos taken—another of many we saw on that trip), and from there we could see the river that loops around the old town, and we could see people in canoes and dinghies on the river and hear them laughing and squealing as they travelled down the ramps beside the weirs. It looked like fun, and if we’d had more time in Cesky Krumlov, we probably would have tried it. We walked through the castle gardens, and then followed the wall around and down into the old town where we poked around the old town, enjoying its character (and avant-garde sculptures). We saw people eating on a deck that jutted out over a canal in the old town and decided to have dinner at that restaurant: Na Ostrove. (I’ve heard that Cesky Krumlov is known as the Venice of the Czech Republic because of the river and canals.). We had venison (it seemed in keeping with the theme of the day), and it was delicious.

So, we ate over the water, with a view of the castle tower, while the sun went down. We walked back near our pension but turned to walk across the bridge into the old town and take in the views of the gates and the castle from there. We then went to our pension and had a great sleep, tired from a wonderful and exhausting day.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the pension. It was okay, but could not compare to the breakfasts at our hotel in Prague, of course. We walked the short distance to the castle and did a tour of the tower and some other rooms. Very nice! We stopped for gelato at a little sidewalk cafe, and a fat cricket sat on top of the doorway and chirped at us and watched us the whole time. I swear he was trying to tell me something. (Jiminy, was that you?) We returned to our pension and checked out, and Pavel arrived to drive us to Salzburg.