April 29, 2017

Three European Festivals during June

Now that we are mid-way through Spring, its time to look forward to Summer! With summer comes warmer and longer days which brings people outside. While everyone is enjoying leisurely bike rides, picnics and the wonderful fruit and vegetables that only summer brings, Festivals start happening too!

And in Europe there are an abundance of Festivals.

Today I’ll introduce you to 3 Unique Festivals taking place during June.

 

First we’ll head to the Czech Republic where we’ll get to experience history over the Summer Solstice weekend.

Royal grandstand at Five Petalled Rose Celebration Cesky KrumlovCrowds at Cesky Krumlov's Five Petalled Rose Celebration

Cesky Krumlov, known as one of the Czech Republic’s prettiest towns, is full of Renaissance era buildings, cafes, pubs and a wonderful castle. This Bohemian village is also home to the Five-Petalled Rose Celebration which takes place each year over the Summer Solstice. This festival will take you back to the Renaissance when the town was ruled by the Lords of Rosenberg. Enjoy taking a step back in time as you watch Knight’s tournaments, enjoy medieval music, wander craft fairs and meet the famous people from Cesky Krumlov’s history! The Five-Petalled Rose Celebration takes place June 21-13, 2013.

Welcoming Royalty at Royal Silvering of Kutna Hora Czech RepublicKnights on horseback Royal Silvering of Kutna Hora Czech Republic

Medieval Kutna Hora relives its history every year during June. You’ll be whisked back 600 years during the Gothic Royal Silvering in Kutna Hora. Welcome King Wenceslas IV and Queen Sophia of Bavaria while watching Knights ride into town, jousting tournaments and dancing to Gothic music. Later take part in the Silver Mass at the lovely Cathedral of St. Barbara. The Royal Silvering in Kutna Hora will bring history alive to all those in attendance and takes place June 22-23, 2013.

Battle of Wine in Haro La Rioja SpainCelebrating the Spanish Wine Battle Haro Spain

For the last festival we’ll head to Spain for the La Batalla del Vino or the Spanish Wine Battle! In northern Spain is the Rioja wine region and the town of Haro where every June 29th there is a battle.This isn’t a normal battle but you will want to be armed! Attire for the battle is white adorned with a traditional red scarf tied around your neck. Your morning will start with a group climb up the Cliffs of Bilibio for mass and then all kinds of crazy gets going. Armed with squirt guns, super soakers or bottles filled with wine, attendees start squirting everyone! Then around noon, the wine soaked group makes its way to the center of town for more celebrating and maybe a Bull fight, if you’re so inclined!  Make sure you bring a change of clothes!

 

Would you attend one of these Festivals?

 


Photos of both festivals in Czech Republic are used courtesy of Czech Tourism.
Photos of Spanish Wine Battle by bigSus on wikipedia

European Dreaming in 2013

Now that the pages of the calendar have slipped into a new year, it’s the time of year to reflect back and dream forward (and start back to the gym!).  I’m not going to rehash the places I visited in Europe during 2012 but just need to say, if you’ve not been to Germany you must put it on your list for this year.  Make sure to cover the touristy areas such as Munich, Ludwig’s Castles and the Rhine River but also leave time to explore the country’s lesser known jewels as this is where Germany shines!

Make sure you visit those small Bavarian villages, be amazed by the wines Germany offers, taste beer  fresh from the keg, follow Luther’s footsteps into Erfurt and beyond, travel along the many scenic routes like the Romantic Road, explore the beaches of the Baltic and North Sea for a taste of sea side Germany and don’t forget the diamonds in the rough that were once part of East Germany.

But now that we’re a few days into January, I’m dreaming of my travels in 2013. I have not made any travel plans yet but I am dreaming of where I’d most like to go and have narrowed down my list to these 5 areas.

Canoeing Dordogne River France

Dordogne by Jos Dielis, on Flickr

Dordogne Valley France

Small villages, rivers, canoes, hot air balloons, wine and prehistoric history all combine to make the Dordogne Valley call to me. I could see myself spending time driving from village to village enjoying the lovely markets, wines and cuisine along the way.  Adding in days lazing in a canoe along the Dordogne river or visiting the national parks and gardens.  There are many castles and churches to be visited  too!

Adare Manor Ireland

Adare Manor Ireland by Jerzy Strzelecki

Ireland

When I think of Ireland I see green rolling hills, smiling people, lochs, fog, turbulent oceans, pubs, beer and music…  and castles waiting to tuck me in at night! Along with general sight seeing, I’d most like to enjoy evenings in those famous Irish pubs drinking the local brew while humming to wonderful Irish music.  I’m not a huge whiskey fan but I would enjoy touring a whiskey factory and sampling this distilled wonder.  I’ve always thought I’d probably like whiskey if I was drinking it in Ireland J Besides this, I’d love to drive around the country gazing at the scenery and learning about her history while spending of my nights in some of the many bed and breakfasts that dot the countryside (when I’m not staying in a castle, of course!).

Karlovy Vary Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary Czech Republic by Bobak Ha'Eri

Czech Republic

I’ll admit it, pictures and movies talk to me!  So as I was watching “The Last Holiday” before Christmas I was reminded of how much I’d love to visit Karlovy Vary and even stay at the Hotel Pupp! But that would just be a start to my visit of the Czech Republic.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without visiting Prague but I really want to visit the areas outside the capital city.  Plzen for its beer would definitely be on the itinerary along with the castles, forests, gorges, mountains, caves, architecture and history that Bohemia and Moravia are known for!

Dolomites in Sud Tirol Italy

Dolomites in Sud Tirol Italy by Alesvp

Sud Tirol Italy

I’m a mountain girl and those gorgeous and jagged peaks of the Dolomites have beckoned me for years. I would love to stand in an amazing green meadow surrounded by the soaring mountains.  Of course, I’d also love to sample the local wine, enjoy the cuisine, learn about the history and legends and visit the small villages that sit so cozily at the foot of the Dolomite’s.  There will also be time for a little hiking which would only make the trip complete.

Berchtesgaden Germany

Berchtesgaden Germany by Eric Sorenson

Germany

You didn’t think I could make a potential travel list without including spots in Germany did you 🙂 There really is so much of this country I haven’t been to but I think I’d really love to travel along the Alpine Road into Prien visiting Chiemsee, Berchtesgaden and any number of small lovely villages along the way.  Or maybe I should finally break down and visit those lovely Christmas markets!

Boy this is going to be a tough decision!

 

What are you European travel dreams for 2013?

Europe’s Natural Monuments

While traveling we all visit monuments erected to honor those who have helped shape our history, but sometimes it is the world’s Natural Monuments that leave us speechless.

I am no spelunker but I am intrigued by caves and the underground world created by a Karst landscape.

A Karst is a unique landscape formed by the weathering of water soluble rock like Limestone, Marble and Dolomite. Rain water trickles down through openings in the rock and over time erodes the rock creating passages. Some of the larger passages we know as caves or caverns. Obviously this process takes eons to develop but it is this process that makes the beauty that lies beneath the ground.

Skocjan Caves Slovenia

Skocjan Caves Slovenia by Jabbi

The Karst landscape is identified by a lack of surface streams and a network of openings below the surface. The openings can be sinkholes, disappearing stream, springs and even caves. This fragile ecosystem is home to many plants, bacteria, fish and spiders that flourish in a dark and static world.

Domica Cave near Slovakia and Hungary

Domica Cave by jojo

It is estimated that 10% of the Earth is composed of a Karst landscape and although it is the underground wonders that we are most familiar with, I’m sure you would recognize some of the above ground Karst landscapes too!

El Torcal near Malaga Spain

El Torcal near Malaga Spain by Jakub Botwicz

Karst Landscape Minerve France

Karst Landscape Minerve France by Hugo Soria

Here are a few below the surface natural wonders you might want to visit while wandering through Europe.

Moravian Karst
Moravia is a well known part of the Czech Republic but this natural beauty sits in 120 square kilometers of landscape that includes caves, caverns, underground lakes and rivers. There are 4 caves that are open to the public but the Macocha Gorge is the most famous. The gorge is over 500 feet deep and includes 2 ponds and the Punkva River which runs underground for part of its journey. During your visit to the caves you can explore both on foot and by boat and you will be thrilled by the beauty and serenity of the cave which includes many stalactites and stalagmites. There is even a chair lift to the top of the gorge allowing amazing views across the landscape.

Moravian Karst Czech Republic

Moravian Karst by YuKengShih, on Flickr

Skocjan Caves
These UNESCO listed caves are part of an amazing limestone plateau that is full of stunning caves and tunnels near the tiny village of Skocjan in Slovenia. The landscape has been carved over time by the Reka River which actually disappears underground near Skocjan and reappears 27 miles away. While underground, the river carves through rock leaving behind amazing scenery! Near the exit you will hear the rushing river from below and see the huge Murmuring Cave, which is actually the largest underground canyon.

Škocjan Caves Slovenia by Ramon

Škocjan Caves by Ramon

Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
Located near the border of Hungary and Slovakia is another UNESCO listed site that is also the most explored Karst area in Europe. To date, there have been 712 caves identified including an Ice cave and one known as the Fairy Tale cave. This area shows both tropical and glacial climatic affects which allows for an even greater variety of wonders! The caves in this area offer a glimpse into evolution, archeology and local cultures. The Baradla-Domica Cave system actually connects Hungary and Slovakia and is home to the world’s highest stalagmites!

Domica Cave near Hungary and Slovakia

Domica Cave by Jojo

All these caves are beautiful, distinctive and breathtaking. Touring them will leave you marveling at these Natural Monuments!

What Natural Monuments do you enjoy?

 

Italy, Czech Republic & Craft Beer

Craft beers come from small independent brewers and are shaking up the beer world.  Their desire is to make a great beer using traditional ingredients while at the same time creating very different tastes and sensations.  Since last week was Craft Brewers Week in the US I thought it only fitting to take a look at the Craft Beer craze that is crossing the oceans into Europe!

Beer Italy Czech Republic Europe

by MicroCosmi, on Flickr

Here are two countries, Italy and Czech Republic, that are feeling the affects of the Craft Brew sensation.

Italy

I know, Italy is known for its wine but it is also becoming known for its beer.  In fact, over the last few years craft breweries in Italy have grown tenfold! So next time you’re in Italy you might just want to stop by a few brew pubs to get in on all the action.

Tipopils Italian Craft Beer

Tipopils by mediaviking, on Flickr

  • Sitting 60 km south of Turin is tiny Piozzo.  Making quite a stir in the craft beer world is Birrificio Le Baladin where the beers do not necessarily hold to normal beer protocols.  Try a Nora which is flavored with myrrh and ginger or maybe their unusual barleywine.
  • Moving to the Lake Como area is Lurago Marinone and the Birrificio Italiano, the oldest craft brewery in Italy.  Besides the standard brews, this brewery is famous for its unfiltered Pilsner known as Tipopils.  Tasting this cloudy pilsner is a must if you’re in the area.
  • If sours are your favorite then you must stop by Birrificio Torrechiara!  Although the brewery is known for its wine barrel-aged beers it is the Panil Bariqueé Sour which has made it famous.  If you’re in Parma, this is another “must have” beer!

Czech Republic

While Pilsner and Budweiser are king in the Czech Republic it is the craft brew that is making the most noise today!  Yes the number of taps is growing in the Czech Republic.

Berounský medvěd Czech Republic Beer

Berounský Medvěd by jagro

  • Near Plzen is Modrá Hvezda Dobrany.  This small independent brewery has a long history of beer making.  Beer has been brewed here since 1378 but this brewery didn’t enter the craft brewing world until 1998.  Those in Dobrany say the water here is better than in Plzen and we all know “It’s the water”!
  • A short train ride from Prague takes you to Berounský Medvĕd home to small craft brewery offering superb unfiltered beer, tours and food.  The beer tradition at Berounský dates back to 1295.  Beer was brewed here until 1978 and after a 20 year hiatus, Mrs. Mayer reopened the brewery that is today known for its good beer!
  • Southwest of Prague is Pivovarsky Dvůr Chýnů a young brewery known for its unfiltered and unpasteurized beer.  Well known by beer lovers, Pivovarsky Dvůr Chýnů not only offers a light and Amber beer but their Ale and Ginger beer are also a favorite.

    Czech Republic Beer

    Czech Republic Beer by Podzemnik

 

What are your favorite craft beers you’ve found in Europe?

Moravia: Exploring the Czech Republic

In recent years, the Czech Republic has become a major tourist destination and rightly so!  Prague has become the number one stop for tourists to the republic but should you stop there?  That answer is No, there are many other areas to discover of equal interest.

One of these regions is Moravia.

Located in the eastern part of the country, Moravia is known as the quieter and more “real” Czech Republic.  The region is full of quaint villages, lush green vineyards, history, outdoor activities and has held on to its traditions.

Brno Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul Moravia Czech Republic

Brno Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul by Millenium187

Below are 5 reasons to include Moravia in your itinerary of the Czech Republic:

  • Castles & Chateaux

There are more than 2,000 Castles and Chateaux in the Czech Republic and Moravia has more than its fair share.  Among these are medieval Helfstyn Castle with its imposing walls and setting above the Becva river; gothic Buchlov Castle; lavish baroque Kromeriz Castle was built in 17th century and includes must see gardens ;  Slavkov Chateau was the site of a famous victory for Napoleon at Austerlitz; and gothic Lednice Chateau whose grounds include an English style park and a Temple of Apollo.

Lednice Chateau Moravia Czech Republic

Lednice Chateau by Zp

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens Moravia Czech Republic

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

  • Wine

Wine is up and coming in the Czech Republic and Moravia produces the vast majority of it.  Most notably known for its dry white wines the reds are coming up.  There are many wine festivals held during the harvest time with the largest held in Znojmo, Mikulov, Brno and Melnik.  Twelfth century Valtice Castle houses the Czech Republic’s National Wine Center where you can enjoy tasting some of the best wines produced in the country.

Valtice Castle Moravia Czech Republic

Valtice Castle courtesy of Czech Republic

 

  • Towns & Villages

The towns and villages of Moravia include thousand years of history and were once the stomping grounds of the Liechtenstein’s.  Visiting the towns and villages of Moravia will help you understand the long and varied history of the region.  One of the most ancient towns is Znojmo where you can see wall paintings in the Romanesque Chapel of St. Catherine.  Telc is known as one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic and is listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Olomouc has long been a cultural center and is full of cobblestoned streets, stately cathedrals and grand palaces.  Mikulov offers history, architectural wonders and nature.

Telc Moravia Czech Republic

Telc courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

 

  • Tradition

The diverse folk customs can still be found in Moravia, in fact, they have seemed to flourish.  During travels, visitors will come across people in tradition clothing as well as many folk festivals including Easter, music, Gypsy Song and Kings Ride festivals.

Moravian Costumes Czech Republic

Moravian Costumes Czech Republic by Jialiang Gao

 

  • Outdoor Activities

Moravia is full of beautiful and varied natural wonders.  These include many trails for bikers or hikers, parks, gardens, lakes, rivers as well as caves and chasms. The Litovel Morava Natural Park is best explored by bike as its trails are smooth and wide.  In the Jesenik Mountains adventurers will find waterfalls and the eerie Hill of Crosses.  Those wanting to explore the underworld, sights include Javoricko caves and Karst caverns.

Moravian Karst Czech Republic

Moravian Karst courtesy of Czech Republic Tourist Bureau

 

Yes, there are a lot of reasons to visit Moravia! Whether you want history, architecture, wine, nature or castles and chateaux you will find it here.  The one thing you won’t find are the crowds of PragueLife is a little slower in Moravia.

 

Would you visit Moravia while in the Czech Republic?

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

5 Cities To Take a Walk In

While I am in Europe I am hoping to take a few new walking tours and will share them with you when I get back.  For now, lets dig a little deeper into the archives and discover walking tours in 5 European cities!

A fairly recent new love of mine is walking tours. My love for walking tours began when my daughter went off to college and I needed to get out of my empty nest! Since I live in the San Francisco bay area, my husband and I headed off and enjoyed a fantastic walking tour of Nob Hill. Since then I have enjoyed many walking tours and look forward to new walking adventures in any city I visit.

To me, a walking tour allows you to really get to know a neighborhood at a much slower pace. I feel the amount of area covered is more limited allowing for a more in depth look into the subject of the walk. I have found the guides to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject. You can find walking tours in larger cities covering a vast range of topics – some are even free!

So to inspire you to walk a bit, I picked 5 European cities to begin a list of walking tour companies. Guides from all companies listed are from all walks of life (no pun intended) including historians, literary experts, art historians, performers and authors. Most of the tours listed do not require reservations, however, some do have minimums so look for this when deciding on the tour you will enjoy.

House of Parliament London

House of Parliament London by cookipediachef, on Flickr

London:

London Walks is a company offering many walking tours covering the neighborhoods of London. Their tours include: The Secrets of Westminster Abbey (From Opus Dei & Death’s Palace to The Da Vinci Code), The Beatles ‘In My Life’ Walk, The Hidden Pubs of Old London Town, Ghosts Gaslight & Guinness, and The Blitz – London at War. There is no need to book ahead and most walking tours are priced at 8£ (about $15). The biggest problem with this company is which tour to choose??

Eiffel Tower Paris France

Eiffel Tower

Paris :

Paris Walks offers many walking tours covering many of the wonderful neighborhoods Paris is so famous for. You could enjoy The Medieval Latin Quarter, The French Revolution, a Fashion Walk, the Village of Montmartre, Hemingway’s Paris or even a Chocolate walking tour! Again, the cost for these walking tours is quite reasonable at 12 € (about $16). Sign me up for the Chocolate tour! Is there a better way to enjoy chocolate and work off the calories at the same time?

Prague Czech Republic

Prague by photojenni, on Flickr

Prague:

Learn about all that makes Prague famous by taking one of these walking tours from Prague Walks: Prague Castle Walk, Jewish Prague, Ghost Walk, Pubs of the Old Town and the Best of Prague, which also includes lunch and a river cruise. Prices range from 300 czk to 890 czk (from $17 to $50 for the Best of Prague). A few of these tours have minimums so be sure to check their website for more details. For you early risers, they offer a Good Morning Walk where you will be able to enjoy Prague before the crowds are even up!

 

Brandenburg Gate Berlin Germany

Brandenburg Gate Berlin by Bernt Rostad, on Flickr

Berlin:

Original Berlin Walks offers tours that help you discover Berlin and its storied history. You may decide to choose one of these tours: Discover Berlin Tour, Infamous Third Reich Sites, Jewish Life in Berlin and Nest of Spies Tours. These tours are 12 € ($16). While looking at their website, I noticed their guides list their favorite restaurants which I think is a real bonus. . . local recommendations can’t be beat!

Marienplatz Munich Germany

Marienplatz Munich by JoeDuck, on Flickr

Munich:

Munich Walk Tours offers a unique way to learn about Munich and its history and culture. Walking tours include: Bavarian Food Tasting & Viktualienmarkt, Haunted Munich Ghost Tour, Beer and Brewery Tour (you are in Munich!), Hitler’s Munich (aka Third Reich Tour) and The City Walk & English Garden tour. These tours range in price from 12 €22 € ($16-$30). Munich Walk Tours also offer a couple bike riding tours, which is my next “adventure” to tackle.

There you have it, 5 cities 5 different walking tour companies. Try one, you won’t be disappointed. This list is not complete and inclusion here does not mean an endorsement is being made.

I do, however, suggest you venture out and walk a bit. . .


Have you taken a walking tour?

Which walking tour would you most like to enjoy??

The 6 EST’s of Europe

What is the largest, longest or biggest in Europe?  Come on a journey with us to find out the best-EST and most-EST that Europe has to offer.

Largest Castle – Prague Castle

In fact, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world and not just Europe.  Dating back to 870, the castle is home to the Bohemian crown jewels, the National Gallery, Toy Museum, Czech history museum and a gallery displaying the history of the castle.  Over the years, the castle has been remodeled and, therefore, you will find representations of every architectural style including Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral and Romanesque Basilica of St. George.  No visit to Prague is complete without taking a tour of the castle or spending time in one of its many museums.

Prague Castle Czech Republic

Prague Castle by Adam Zivner

Tallest Mountain – Mount Elbrus

At 18,510 feet this inactive volcano stands above the rest in this part of the Urals.  Located near the Georgian border, Mt Elbrus’ permanent ice cap feeds 22 glaciers which in turn feed into the Baksan, Kuban and Malka rivers.  Legend has it, this is the place where Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock!  This mountaineering area will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Mt Elbrus and the Caucasus Mountains

Mt Elbrus by Jialiang Gao

Largest City – Moscow, Russia

The capital of Russia was first mentioned in 1147 and is the most northern city to have a population of over 10 million people.  Sitting along the banks of the Moskva River, Moscow has seen the history of Russia play out before its very eyes.  To say that Russia’s history has been stormy is an understatement but Moscow has been the capital through the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Tsardom of Russia, Soviet Union and today’s Russia.  With the fall of the Iron Curtain Moscow has become quite a tourist destination and no one does not recognize the famous architectural style, the Onion Dome.  Sites to be seen include 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Red Square and the Kremlin, a zoo, museums, art galleries, 96 parks, 18 gardens and the world famous ballet.  One of Moscow’s newest claim to fame is it has the most billionaires (79) than anywhere else beating out NYC!

Red Square Moscow Russia

Red Square Moscow by Christophe Meneboeuf

Northernest City – Hammerfest & Honningsvag, Norway

Seems there is a little disagreement on what constitutes a city which is why there are 2 claimants to the most northern city in Europe.  Norwegian law says that to be a city there needs to be a population of at least 5,000 people.  Hammerfest is south of Honningsvag but Hammerfest is the only one that meets the city population requirements.  Both cities are important fishing and hunting areas with histories dating to prehistoric time.  Strange as it may seem for the most northern city, but the ocean off Honningsvag is ice free!  Hammerfest has a huge migration of reindeer during the summer.

Hammerfest Norway

Hammerfest Norway by Clemensfranz

Honningsvåg Norway

Honningsvåg Norway by Luca Boldrini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longest River – Volga

Ending in the Caspian Sea, this 2,194 mile long river skirts its way through Central Russia after its humble beginning in the Valdai Hills about 200 miles south east of St. Petersburg.  Even though the Volga freezes for most of its length for 3 months of the year, it has played a very important role in the movement of people from Asia to Europe during decades past.  The Volga estuary, the largest in Europe, is the center of the caviar industry and home to many species of animals including pelicans, flamingos, lotuses and beaver.  The river has also endured many wars, much strife by its people, pollution and the destruction of towns to make way for dams.  As with other great rivers of the world, if only they could talk the stories we would hear!

Volga River Russia

Volga River by Evgeny Pavlov

Oldest Amusement Park – Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens is in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark and was opened on August 15, 1843.  At this time it was actually outside the city limits but as the city grew the park became one of its central points and is right next to Copenhagen’s central station.  Legend says that Walt Disney decided to build Disneyland after visiting Tivoli.  The park is best known for its wooden roller coast, which was built in 1914, but today has many other modern roller coasters containing loop-to-loops and zero-G’s.  Inside this beautiful park there are performing art theaters, including one dedicated to Pantomime, concert areas, parades and gardens.  The park is spectacular at night where it sparkles under the many lights.

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen Denmark

Tivoli Gardens by Tbmurray

 

These are few of the -ests of Europe.  I’m sure there are many more.

What other -ests or do you know?

Cesky Krumlov – I Want to Go There!

Have you ever seen a picture and said to yourself  “I have to go there!”?  I have and Cesky Krumlov is one of those places.

Cesky Krumlov View Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov View by Marjolein Knuit

Surrounded by rolling hills and the Vltava River, Cesky Krumlov’s cobblestone streets wind past centuries old townhomes, inns, shops, and cafes.  The fact that this charming city has kept its medieval character is one of the reasons it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Cesky Krumlov Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov by 風Mark, on Flickr

But is Cesky Krumlov more than just a pretty picture?

Here are ten things to do in Cesky Krumlov that might entice you to visit, if a pretty face isn’t enough.

  1. Beer!  You knew this was coming, right?  The Czech Republic is known for its beer and Cesky Krumlov is no exception.  With a brewing history dating back to the 1300’s you can find good beer here and even a brewery.  The Eggenberg Brewery is the beer making center of Cesky Krumlov and also offers tours, tastings and more!
  2. The Vltava River winds its way through Cesky Krumlov and offers many opportunities for enjoyment.  You could enjoy a tour on the river floating on a wooden raft while experiencing a unique perspective of the city. Other options include aimlessly floating around on an inner tube or being more adventurous by canoeing down the river.  It doesn’t matter which way you spend time on the river, it’s just important that you do!

    Cesky Krumlov Czech Republic

    Vltava River by rakugo, on Flickr

  3. Enjoy a Myth and Legend night tour of the city.  Discover some of the myths, legends and mysteries that haunt Cesky Krumlov.  Listen as you pass the castle tower and you will hear its story.  Visit sites where witches were burned and alchemists lived.
  4. St. Vitus Church is a Gothic beauty that dates to the 15th century.  Sitting on a knoll created by the river, it is one of the main features of the city.  Maybe you can even catch a concert of classical music or climb the tower for one of the best views of the city!

    St. Vitus Church Cesky Krumlov Czech Republic

    St. Vitus Church by Totya

  5. The Torture Museum is situated in the cellars of the town hall.  This museum displays devices of torture, wax figures and unique depictions of a witch burning and execution by sword.  Interesting but maybe not for everyone. . .
  6. The Graphite Mine is located a little outside town but is a fun excursion.  Dressed as miners including miner’s lamp, you travel into the mine to learn all there is to know about this mine which has been in existence since the 18th century.
  7. Krumlov Castle is the 2nd largest castle in the Czech Republic.  This castle has everything an upstanding castle should have – towers, theaters, gardens, Renaissance balcony, Chapel, portraits, Royal apartments and a moat!  Enjoy one or all of the tours offered of this amazing dramatic series of structures overlooking the town.

    Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

    Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

  8. Marionette, Wax and Regional Museums along with the  Fairy Tale House offer all those young at heart a chance to learn a bit about the different personalities of Bohemia, enjoy historical marionettes and puppets as well as learn more about the history that has made Cesky Krumlov so wonderful.
  9. Hike up to Mount Klet for outstanding views of the city and countryside from the highest point in this part of Bohemia.  Your hike begins at the rail station climbing up to the lookout tower where you will find a restaurant and observatory full of telescopes.
  10. Walk around Cesky Krumlov’s many hills, squares and alleyways which beckon you to discover the charm of the city.  Along the way you will explore the hidden nooks discovering its treasures.  This is where you will  experience the real Cesky Krumlov.

 

Is Cesky Krumlov just a pretty face?

Tell me about a picture that beacons you?

Historic Castles in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has been a country only since 1993 when the ancient lands of Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia were combined as one. Since then millions have traveled to this area learning about the country so long kept hidden.

With a history dating back over 1,000 years, the Czech Republic boasts many UNESCO World Heritage sites, a large number of architectural and historical attractions, natural parks, medieval towns and beautiful villages.  This varied landscape has been home to Kings, European rulers, artists, and scholars.

These influential people have left their mark on the Czech Republic’s history in many ways.  Visitors can, in part, relive this history through the castles they left behind.  Today we will explore 5 castles dotting the Czech countryside.

Kost Castle Czech Republic

Kost Castle

Kost Castle

Gothic Kost is located in the “Bohemian Paradise” region which is known for its astonishing landscape and historical monuments.  Kost castle is one of the best preserved castles in the Czech Republic.  This castle is different because is it was built down in a meadow and not on top of a hill but doesn’t mean it lacked the ability to defend itself.  Part of its “charm” is its very own medieval torture chamber complete with guillotine, rack, stocks wheels and thumbscrews.

Karlstejn Castle Czech Republic

Karlstejn Castle

Karlestejn Castle

Founded in 1348 by the Czech King and Roman Emperor, Charles IV, this is one of the best symbols of the Czech Kingdom remaining.  Karlstejn castle was the home of the crown jewels and many relics important to the state. The castle defenses were challenged many times and many times they held.  Karlstejn has also been remodeled to add in both Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Krivoklat Castle Czech Republic

Krivoklat Castle

Krivoklat Castle

Another Gothic castle with an exciting history.  Originally built in the 13th century as a hunting castle, Krivoklat was a prison during the 16th century, burned down in the 16th century and was restored during the 19th.  During your visit, you will see a library containing many historical manuscripts, a display of hunting weapons, Gothic paintings and an exhibit of torture devices.

Cesky Sternberk Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Sternberk Castle

Cesky Sternberk

This Gothic beauty was built in 1241 and has been part of the noble family Sternberk for years.  Medieval Cesky Sternberk sits high on a cliff over looking the Sazava River.  The fortifications and towers reflect the medieval beginnings but the interior has been remodeled to the early Baroque style.  This castle offers a very interesting exploration of castle living.

Spilberk Castle Czech Republic

Spilberk Castle

Spilberk

This 13th century royal castle was modified to a Baroque fortress during the 17th and 18th centuries.  A very interesting aspect of Spilberk’s history is that during the Hapsburg rule, it was the most feared prison in the monarchy.  Today the “jail of nations” is home to the Brno museum offering exhibits of the history of the castle and city.  Visitors can also tour prison cells.

 

 

Have you been to any of these castles?

Which one would you like to visit?