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Getting around

Part 2: Stramberk, Rožnov pod Radhoštem, Olomouc, Kromeríž, Litomysl, Bouzov

2.6: Krakow -> Stramberk -> Roznov pod Radhostem -> Olomouc
3.6: Olomouc -> Kromeríz -> Olomouc
4.6: Olomouc -> Litomysl -> Bouzov -> Olomouc
5.6: Olomouc -> Lednice -> Valtice -> Mikulov -> Dolni Dunajovice
6.6: Dolni Dunajovice -> Znojmo -> Vranov nad Dyjí castle -> Telc
7.6: Telc -> Jindrichuv Hradec -> Ceský Krumlov
8.6: Ceský Krumlov -> Holasovice -> Hluboká nad Vltavou -> Ceské Budejovice -> Ceský Krumlov
9.6: Ceský Krumlov -> Munich

2.6: Krakow -> Štramberk -> Rožnov pod Radhoštěm -> Olomouc
Hotel Milotel, Olomouc. Actually this hotel is in Preroc, 6 km from the centre of Olomouc. 91 Euro for a small apartment with two bedrooms and place for two adults and two kids (breakfast included). Old communist era building. The elevator has been renewed, but the toilets are old. Room has everything except a fridge and A/C (perhaps it is difficult to sleep here in summer if it gets hot). Adequate furniture (cupboard for the clothes, one in each bedroom, two chairs and a table. Quiet location in the middle of nowhere, near something which looks like a power station. Fast WLAN in the rooms included in the room rate.
Weather: overcast in Krakow when we leave, then the sky opens up and we have mostly sunshine in Czechia.

In the morning when we check out the issue with the room is settled. We don't have to pay for an additional room, but they charge us the difference between a room rate booked through booking.com and the walk-in rate (at least so they say - we pay an extra 70 zloty and the matter is settled). Quite reasonable people, probably the hotel manager understood it is not good to have angry customers.

We manage to leave by 10:30am. We proceed quite speedily towards the Czech republic and Stramberk. The roads are mostly in a good to very good state. Some roadworks are ongoing every now and then (motorway is being modernised). Overall my fear of finding broken roads full of holes turns out to be unfounded. In this part of the country the infrastructure is very good.

By 1:15pm we are in Stramberk (refueling stop in Krakow, otherwise we have been driving non-stop).

Stramberk is a beautiful mountain village, in a breathtaking setting in the Wallachian mountains. Especially the historic square at the centre of the old town is picturesque.

We park in this square and go to a restaurant. Since we have no Czech money we ask if we can pay by credit card. Answer is no. Can we pay with Euro? Answer is again no. Do they know where we can find an ATM? No again.

We walk out and ask some people if they know where an ATM is. Nobody knows, strange. Besides, few people seem able to speak English or another language here. Curiously, the few people who can speak a second language, speak German. Probably this is because there are many tourists like us who come from Germany or Austria.

In any case we settle the cash problem by asking at the tourist information. There is one ATM 10 minutes from here. I take the car, get the cash, and when I'm back a local policeman prohibits me to drive again into the old square because I'm not staying in the hotel there. I drive out, park on the street outside. The same policeman shows up, this time in his car and tells me this parking is only for residents. There is a parking for outside people 1km from here. So I drive away and finally manage to leave the car somewhere where there isn't this policeman.

We then have lunch in the Sipka hotel. Very good food, and quite reasonably priced. Then while Shirley shops around a bit, I climb on the tower (25 Koruny ticket) overlooking the village. Great views of the surrounding areas.

At 3:40pm we drive to Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, arriving there at 4:20pm. There we visit an open air museum with traditional Wallachian houses and buildings. Very scenic place, in a nice forest setting, suitable for kids.

At 5pm this place closes but we are still in until 5:15pm (and I almost get locked into a traditional house I was visiting). At 5:20pm we drive to Olomouc, stopping at a Tesco mall for some groceries and some dinner. We reach the hotel at 7:30pm.

Women in this part of the Czech republic seem way more attractive than women in Poland. In fact I see lots of attractive women here, and they dress also well. The infrastructure in Czechia is quite good and overall you get the impression that this part of the country is very well maintained. Cars on the streets are of good level, mostly modern. No ancient or communist era cars on the streets. This seems to be a well-off, prosperous country, where people have a good living standard.

We settle in the hotel and at 8:30pm I drive into town for some blue hour shots of Olomouc. There is a classical music concert on the Horni Namesti square on this Saturday evening, with opera singers performing. The Horni Namesti square is quite impressive. You wouldn't believe that a small city has such a monumental central square, or perhaps Olomouc is not such a small city.

3.6: Olomouc -> Kroměříž -> Olomouc
Hotel Milotel, Olomouc. Today we hear that the room service only works from Monday to Friday and on weekends nobody cleans the room. Poor performance for a hotel charging 91 Euro/night.
Weather: in the morning overcast, then the sky opens up while we are in Kromeriz, strong sun and hot (well, not that hot, perhaps the temperature climbs to 23-24°C, but hot under the sun). Then at 4pm it starts raining in Olomouc.

We leave the hotel around 10:45am for Kromeriz and arrive there at 11:30am. The roads are a mix of motorway, intercity roads and roads through cities. All roads are in a good to very good condition, allowing speedy travelling.

Kromeriz surprises me because there is way more to see than just the Archbishop's Palace. The entire historic centre of the city contains beautiful buildings, the main market square and the pleasure garden are picturesque. It's surprising that a small city of 29000 inhabitants has so much historic heritage. The pleasure garden is suitable for kids, because the hedges are like a maze where kids can hide and play.

It would be possible to spend the entire day in Kromeriz, but at 2pm we drive back to Olomouc. There we have a lunch at 3pm in the Chinese restaurant overlooking the Horni Namesti square. The concert stage and all other stuff there was yesterday has already been dismantled. Given the amount of stuff there was yesterday I would have thought they were going to keep it for several days.

When we get out of the restaurant at 4pm it has started raining. Since Natasha is a bit sick we drive back to the hotel.

In the evening between 9pm and 10pm I'm back in town (Horni Namesti, central square) for some photography. The entire square and in fact the entire historic centre is a desert. Almost no people around. What a contrast compared to yesterday. The locals must be serious people who work hard and in the evenings go sleeping early.

4.6: Olomouc -> Litomysl -> Bouzov -> Olomouc
Hotel Milotel, Olomouc. Today we figure out that this hotel is used mostly by workers and people on a business trip (not so many tourists). The breakfast switches from buffet style to ŕ la carte. Our room still hasn't been made/cleaned, it seems that there is no house-keeping. The shower is good (lots of water, enough temperature and pressure) and the breakfast is good as well.
Weather: really a mixed bag today. It has rained during the night, it's fresh in the morning, overcast. Some light rain during the afternoon, overcast the whole day, except around 2pm when the sky opens up a bit. Fresh, temperatures below 20°C.

We leave the hotel around 10:40am and drive to Litomysl, planning to visit the castle which is a UNESCO world heritage site. After a brief refueling stop the trip proceeds smoothly. The road is a combination of motorway and intercity road, all in good conditions (smooth paved surfaces, no sharp curves). Little driving across towns.

We arrive at the castle shortly after 12pm noon. Unpleasant surprise, as it turns out that the castle is closed on Mondays and only (part of) the park is accessible. In addition, the castle is undergoing renovations and to top it all the sky is overcast. Not the best time to come and visit the Litomysl castle.

Still, the castle is impressive. It's actually more of a palace with beautiful walls and an impressive roof. What a piece of art. Even nicer than the Loire valley castles, although these can't be compared because the architectural styles are different.

We manage to get into the castle (somebody has left the door open and climb up the staircase. But that's it, because all doors are locked. So we walk down the road to the main market square of Litomysl town. Long rectangular square, with beautiful house facades on it. Very, very picturesque.

We spend the next couple of hours shopping around and having lunch in a Chinese restaurant. After this lunch Shirley decides not to have again lunch in a KFC or a Chinese restaurant. We've been relying too much on them in this trip. It's time to try something different. The bill totals 611 crowns (24 Euro) for three dishes (kids share one dish) + drinks. Cheaper than what you would pay in Germany, but not that much cheaper.

The cost of living seems to be somewhat lower than in Germany (perhaps 30% or so), but not that much lower. From a development and living standard point of view the Czech republic seems to be almost on par with Germany. The infrastructure is very good and goods you can buy in the shops are mostly high quality.

At 3:20pm we start driving to Bouzov castle. Initially we track back the good road we used to get to Litomysl. Lots of heavy trucks, which you can sometimes overtake, but not all of them. They should convert this road to two lanes on each side. Then we take a side road and suddenly the road gets very bad. Narrow, lots of tight curves, very poor surface.

We pass by small towns which seem deserted. No people on the streets. The bad weather may play a role, but probably it's also so that this region is depopulated.

We arrive at Bouzov castle at 4:15pm. The castle is closed, perhaps because it is Monday. I wonder why the castles in Czechia all close on Mondays. Some renovation work ongoing here as well. From outside you can see that the castle is very nice. It's the Neuschwanstein type of castle, like in the fairy tales. Good preservation state. Nice setup, surrounded by a forested park.

We spend an hour in the park, walking around the castle. It's good for the kids, who spend the time discovering the nature and playing around a bit. It finally stops raining and the kids find a black and yellow salamander.

At 5:15pm we drive back towards Olomouc. Shortly before 6pm we spot a big mall, the Olomouc city shopping complex near Olomouc, and stop there for shopping and dinner.

The Olomouc city shopping complex consists of the Globus hypermarket, where you can buy everything from clothes, furniture to fresh food and groceries, and a real shopping mall on two levels with many shops and a food court on the upper level. Everything is very modern and clean. Plenty of stuff to buy, good choice of merchandise.

It's 8:30pm when we finally leave the mall and head back to the hotel.

Copyright 2012 Alfred Molon