I had a partly-drafted post about Cesky Krumlov and our last couple of days in Prague, but I waited too long and Laura's pictures are a lot like the ones I was going to post, so I'm narrowing it down to a few. Here's a map of Cesky Krumlov. See how the river defines the village? You can also see the castle on the north side of the river, at the top of the picture. It's a village of ancient thick-walled stone buildings crammed into the bend of the river and organized around the central square that you can see on the map. The "streets" are really cobble-stoned footpaths, so narrow that no cars are allowed on most of them. You can drive into the square just long enough to unload your luggage, but must then take your car away to park it outside the village.
When we went rafting, we got into our rafts outside the village on the south side, below the limits of the map. We floated happily down the river and around the oxbow, stopped to play for a while on a sandy little beach by the castle. There, Ollie used a raft paddle to dig a hole where she buried a water-worn broken shard of a blue glass bottle in the sand, explaining, "Maybe if I plant it will grow two more glass bottles!"
Speaking of romantic photos of couples taken from behind, here are Jason and Laura crossing the bridge on our last night in Prague. I put this in a previous post, but it was buried near the end and I like it so much that I can't resist posting it again.
A rainy evening in the Cesky Krumlov square.
A view of Cesky Krumlov's jumbled rooftops through a peephole in the castle wall.
Just as Laura did, I snuck a photo of the Baroque Theater in the Cesky Krumlov castle right before the guide told us not to take any pictures. What a totally cool place. It's one of the last surviving Baroque theaters in Europe -- because all of the lighting for stage and audience came from candles, most of them burned down shortly after they were built. But by an accident of history, this one was used only briefly and then locked up and left untouched, full of all its nearly-new props, scripts, backdrops and costumes, until historians discovered and resurrected it. We saw the winches, pullies and ropes under the stage that were used to move the various stage sets in and out from the sides of the stage. Props also came up through trap doors - see the fountain in front? - and the waves in the back rocked up and down separately to create the look of a true ocean. It was the CGI of its time and just as much of a radical departure. Rob and I, along with another tourist, got to operate the sound-effects machines below the stage that created the sound of a storm. The other tourist spun a cylinder of cloth that rubbed on a drum to make the wail of the wind, Rob drove a geared wooden wheel over a board to make a convincing rumble of thunder and I spun a wooden drum full of pebbles to make the rain sound. Such fun!
On an entirely different subject, before we went to Cesky Krumlov, we visited the Lobkowicz Palace, a privately-owned chateau containing the Lobkowicz family's astonishing collection of art, armor, furniture, musical scripts and fascinating memorabilia. The part I loved was the music. Earlier members of this family used their wealth to sponsor the artists and composers of their time -- including a prince who was the patron of Beethoven. Under the prince's sponsorship, Beethoven composed his symphonies, and some of them are now on display in the palace, with his hand-written annotations. Amazing to think that the music might not exist if not for the fabulous wealth and generosity of this long-ago prince who's now mostly forgotten.
Such a great trip. I've been home more than a month and am still thinking about it. I hope it won't be too many years until I can go back!