For the past few weeks I’ve been traveling around Europe with one of my tour groups. A couple of days ago, I got to visit the only “new” destination for me in my summer travels. One of the drawbacks of being a “tour guide” is that you go to the same locations all the time. Yes, Paris is wonderful and Rome is a “must see” city, but sometimes it gets old walking the same streets, the same route, and talking about the same sights. I know, it’s hard to understand unless you’ve done it. At any rate, my point is I finally got to go to a new destination and experience the fun of actually exploring Europe!
Český Krumlov is a delightful little fairy-tale town situated in a sharp crook of the Vltava (Moldau) River. I think that during the forty years Czechoslovakia was under communist rule, this little town was blighted and forgotten. Now since the middle 1990’s, it has become a big vacation destination for Germans, Austrians, and Czechs.
My group and I arrived in in town about one o’clock. I was driving and had no GPS guidance system in the Czech Republic, so we were going by the old-fashion method of using a map! We made it to the town center with no problem, but then we had to find and drive to our “pension” located on the riverbank in a pedestrian-only zone. Natalie, my navigator, and I tried it for a little bit, but soon decided it was a lost cause to drive around blindly hoping to run across the pension. So I stopped, looked at our map, then got out and went to a taxi sitting just a few meters away. I asked in English, since I can’t speak Czech, if the taxi driver knew where our pension was located. The driver spoke pretty good English and began with directions that sounded something like this, “One bridge, go left, then one bridge, go left, then go, three bridge, and go.” So, I understood the directions perfectly and asked, “Can you drive and I follow?” Then I made a driver steering motion and pointed to him. Success, we both understood! I got in my van. He took off. I followed.
Everything was ok until the road got narrow. Natalie started to have visions of our 2007 adventure in Arcos, Spain. She made me stop when it looked like the road would peter out. Natalie got out, hopped in the cab, and we waited. In a couple of minutes she came walking back, got back in the van and said, “Let’s go”. So off we went down a small cobbled lane with only inches clearance on either side of the van.
Well, we made it the “Pension U Matesa and Labyrint” and there was plenty of room to park next door too. Relief! We piled out of the van, Natalie got our room keys, and another adventure began.