We'll be based in Munich and have a car to explore. We've been to Innsbruck & Salzburg in the past and I thought about taking a drive to the CZ as we've never been. From what I see, it will be 3 1/2 hours roughly to Prague but that is not a "must see". Is there anywhere else closer to the border that would be a nice place to visit and still say we've "been to the Czech Republic"? Let me put it this way - when we were in Heidelberg last, we were out and decided to go up Luxembourg just to say we'd been! We only hit a town on the border (it was also a rainy day) but hey, we've got that on our list now. Thanks!
Go to Cesky Krumlov.
My suggestion is better if done going to CR from Nürnberg when you want to see a border town. That's Cheb. If you have more time to drive further than that, then I suggest Plzen. Went there in 2001 as a day trip from Nürnberg, one reason was to see the American Monument (within walking distance from the train station) dedicated to Patton's Third Army for liberating Pilsen.
On the map Cesky Krumlov (CK) looks like the obvious answer, but it takes more than 3 hours to get there, and the last part of the route is tiring. Cheb, which was also mentioned, is actually closer to Munich than CK, and because you mostly drive on the Autobahn you only need ~2:30h. CK is cuter, but Cheb (or Eger in the past) is historically a bit more interesting.... and less crowded.
I'll definitely look into Cheb. Thanks!
I'm confused about the suggestion about Nurnberg. We'll be based in Munich so I'm not sure how Nurnberg ties in.
I did see Cesky Krumlov listed on the board as being a good place to visit but it was 3.5 hours also when I mapped it out. We're not opposed to driving a little longer but was just hoping there was something a bit closer. But, my husband is a big fan of the Autobahn so I'm sure our time may be a little quicker. ;)
Yes, Cheb is also a good choice. Historic square with a colorful Spalicek (group of buildings) at the square. Marianske Lazne (the second most famous spa town of C.R.) is nearby - less than 20 miles. Frantiskovy Lazne (the third most famous) is just about 3 miles from Cheb.
I only mention Nürnberg in that it is easier to get to and closer to Cheb than Munich is. Since you're based in Munich, that would require more driving to reach Cheb, and it is a border town not just geographically, ie, being just over the border but also in the cold war days the town served as such. The train from Nürnberg stopped at Cheb where the Czech border guards and dogs too would check the train thoroughly.
That's what I saw in July 1973 at Cheb, (in that central European heat), the train stopped at the Cheb station for over half an hour, guards came on to check your passport and visa, making sure that photo was attached to the visa stamped in your passport. Meanwhile, other armed guards, (couldn't tell what type of rifles they were slinging) with the dogs were running along side of the trains, sniffing and looking underneath.
The guards were slinging Scorpion also known as SA-61 made in Czechoslovakia. Also North Vietnamese officers were armed with it (and probably many others).
Thanks for the information. That was the only time I saw armed Czech border guards.... on the platform at Cheb train station, when train windows could be opened and we passengers were leaning out.
BTW: historically this region is quite interesting and significant for the history of the 20th century. This was the so called "Sudetenland", the region of Bohemia where the German minority lived. In 1938 the German Nazis annexed it from Czechoslovakia, and after 1945 the Czech Commies expelled the Germans. So, while the Czech majority of Plzen, a enclave within the Sudetenland with 70 or 80% Czechs, felt liberated by Patton's Third Army, the German majority in the surroundings soon had rather mixed feelings.
Loket is on my list to see the next time. It has some similarities with Cesky Krumlov. It's the town on the hill, on its summit there is a castle and the river Ohre makes an arch around it. It is only about 7 miles from Karlovy Vary. By the way Plzen was not in Sudetenland but very close to it, practically on its border. But it was still in so called Protektorat Boehmen und Maehren. That was what was left of Czechoslovakia after Hitler cut the parts off and also Poland took part of Silesia but had it for less than two years. Slovakia became a puppet state of nazi Germany.That era (and other) is well described in the book Prague Winter by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
When you go to Plzen today (well, it was in 2001 for me), the book store display windows show books with Patton's and his liberation of Pilsen. You get the feeling that Patton and the US Army are viewed quite favourably for what did in Pilsen, such as the conspicous American Monument.
I would have thought the Sudeten Germans in Böhmen and Mähren, instead of having mixed feelings, would have welcomed the timely arrival of the US Third Army until it was ordered to halt, ie, not to advance beyond Pilsen. That's only an assumption.