The magic of my visit to Český Krumlov began during the journey towards it. From České Budějovice, a large industrial city best known for giving its name to Budweiser beer, a little toy-like train carried me through pine forests reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel’s.
Upon arrival, I was quickly caught up in the fairytale theme and I checked into the gnome-like accommodation of the Pension ve Věži, situated in a 15th century fort tower on the edge of town. The rustic, round room (and the plush, downy bedding, I discovered later) provided charmingly old-fashioned comfort.
The gorgeous town of Český Krumlov itself maintained my dream that I had stepped into a storybook. Nestled into a river bend like an embrace, it consisted of cobbled streets, jagged roof lines and curved facades, terracotta tiles and a calm light that bathed it all.
The castle stood tall and commanded its surrounds in the regal way that a castle should. Its iconic tower spire was decorated in pinks and coppery green and housed four bells. The castle grounds contained numerous courtyards, gardens and pavilions. Most notably (to me) was the Castle Baroque Theatre, which contained 18th century machinery that was virtually unique in its surviving state. It wasn’t the machinery but the detailed decor that impressed me, however. So pretty!
In spite of the divine historical architecture and fairytale atmosphere, the highlight of my short visit to Český Krumlov was the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, a gallery of the artist’s works in a high-vaulted space with exposed beams. Egon Schiele had lived in Český Krumlov, his mother’s birthplace, for ten years before being expelled from the town due to his lifestyle, which was perceived as lascivious. I had already been a fan of Schiele’s angular portraiture and lanky nudes, but I was moved to learn about the difficulties he faced as an artist and that the Spanish Flu cut short his life at age 28.
Český Krumlov contained various museums to cater to a variety of interests and I did peruse the Regional Museum but, sadly, I missed Fairytale House, which featured scenes from favourite traditional tales.
This quaint Czech town already comprised so many ingredients of a bedtime story, and even while walking its stony streets I was imagining how I would dream about it in years to come.
Now, whenever I reminisce about my visit, I sigh wistfully and think “Aaah, Český Krumlov!”