Prague is the biggest and most well-known city of the Czech Republic. As good as it is, I’ve been told there are many other beautiful locations in this modestly-sized country that are worth my time and Czech crowns. The first excursion out of the capital was to a nearby castle in a village called Karlstejn.
Karlstejn’s picturesque castle is located a 45 minute train ride to the southwest of Prague’s centre. It isn’t possible to see the 14th Century masterpiece from the rudimentary train station, however. Bring your hiking boots.
We happened to visit during Karlstejn’s weekend wine festival. As mentioned before, this is the time of year when the special Czech wine known locally as Burčák is harvested and sold nationwide. This final weekend of September, amongst a stunning background of leaves beginning to turn the colours of fire, was chosen as Karlstejn’s harvesting time.
The result of this was simply that small glasses of pale red and yellowy-white wine were available at every turn. Having drank a reasonable amount the evening before, I wasn’t in the mood to sample any of them, but plenty of others more than made up for my abstinence.
Instead, we resorted to hiking up, down and around the castle. The guided tour required to enter the most inner chambers of the castle itself seemed extortionate when part of me wanted to be under a duvet, so we didn’t see much of the structure’s interior. What we did see in the courtyard, however, was a belly dancer and a man playing with knives. I haven’t been here long, but I’m not convinced that these activities were commonplace during Karlstejn’s heyday. Or ever in the Czech Republic. The girl must have been frozen as well, so a commendable effort on her part.
Karlstejn’s landmark sits high atop a mound, overlooking a forest of light evergreens and changing deciduous trees. Prague is a lot greener than other places I’ve lived, but it was still nice to get away from the relative hustle and bustle and listen to the nearby stream gently gliding along over smooth pebbles.
So in sum, a nice is not overly spectacular Gothic castle that makes for a pleasant day trip from Prague. Even if castles and history aren’t your thing, you can at least go for the burčák or the belly dancers!
Love you all