Thursday 28th Aug.
We arrived late in the afternoon in Pisek and negotiated our way to the car park which Ewout had found on one of his many information resources. It was a sunny afternoon and many people were out and about and the car park was mostly full so we had to then have a look at an alternate plan. After looking at my Osmand app we could see another large car park close by and decided to check it out. We were in luck and it was mostly empty, so decided it was a good place to park and settle for the night. We had our dinner in the camper and then decided to take a walk into the town to see where the Tourist info centre was and get an idea of how big the town was. Walking up towards the river we could hear blues music and after crossing the bridge found it was coming from the castle/town hall area and decided to investigate. Finding a bar and a pizza café in the area with a live band playing we thought it would be nice to sit and listen to the music while having a drink, so that is what we did. It was a nice atmosphere, sitting in the courtyard which was also part of an old brewery, enjoy our drinks and listen to the blues; a pleasant way to get to know a town. We had a short wander after our drinks through the town square and then headed back to “home” as it had been a busy enough day and were feeling ready to call it a night.
After our usual breakfast, muesli for Jenny and toast for Ewout, we headed back into town. We crossed the oldest stone bridge in the Czech Republic built in the late 13th Century and restored after the floods of 2002 which is a national cultural monument. We found our way back to the Town hall and Tourist information office where we obtained a booklet with a map and information about the town’s most interesting features.
Map in hand and a route planned we set off on our discovery tour, first the Castle and museum, which for a small entrance fee we had a very enjoyable and educational wander through the many rooms. The displays were narrated in Czech but they gave us a booklet that explained most things in English. We spent a good hour or two in the Castle museum and found that we were ready to have some coffee and started on the rest of the walking tour, stopping at a small bakery/café for a coffee for refreshment.
The rest of the walk took us to the fortified walls of the town, past churches, beautifully decorated buildings and many statues and fountains. We had a great time exploring some of the back streets and eventually finished up back at the main square. Deciding not to linger longer in the town for lunch we walked back to the camper and decided to get on the road to our next stop, Karlstejn.
We decided that it was time to stay in a campground and there was one very close to Karlstejn, so we set the gps to our destination and headed onto the motorway in the direction it was guiding us. Unfortunately plans don’t always work out as smoothly as we would like and we found as we got close to our destination the roadworkers were at it again. Problem was the initial detour signs didn’t continue and we found ourselves doubling back and eventually crossing a very narrow bridge across the river, through some small back streets and eventually finding a main road along which we finally made it to the campsite. Soon after arriving the rain had started so it time to settle in and cosy up in the camper for the rest of the afternoon.
Lucky for us we woke to a nice fine day and so it was a perfect time to visit Karlstejn Castle, a large Gothic castle founded 1348 AD by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures. We moved the camper to the car park at the bottom of the hill and opted to take the horse carriage ride up and had an enjoyable journey to near the entrance to the castle.
We walked the last steep slope up to the castle gates and found the courtyard filled with visitors. The line for the tickets was quite long but we got on the end and soon were able to buy our tickets for the English tour for 1.35 pm. We had about an hour to wait so walked back down the road when to our surprise there was a sudden heavy downpour and we had to seek shelter under the awning of a souvenir shop. Spotting the eatery next door we made a quick decision to make our way into the establishment and found a nice dry place to wait out the rain shower and have something to eat. It ended up being a good decision and so we had a nice lunch inside a very atmospheric pub which would not have looked out of place in a mediaeval movie.
Lunch done we then made our way back to the castle and for our tour. The tour was great, a small group of 11 and the tour guide made it very interesting, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside of the castle so thanks to google images we will put up a couple to give and idea of what we saw.
Tour done we wandered down the road again, in full sunshine, back to the car park and the motorhome. The car park was quite busy, obviously a lot of visitors to the castle, but also the restaurants and café’s close by as well as a sports complex next door. When it finally quietened down we moved across the car park to near the river and eventually when everyone had gone we had a quiet night alone in the car park.