Friday, June 13, 2008

Rožmberk, Southern Bohemia

Voyage upon life's sea
To yourself be true
And, whatever your lot may be
Paddle your own canoe
-Sarah Bolton
We needed to get out of town for the weekend. V left it up to me where to go.

I really wanted to do a little canoeing. I strongly considered Český Krumlov, but decided it might be too booked up, and we might not get on the river on short notice. I had similar concerns about places on the Sazava River, near Prague.

Instead, I chose Rožmberk, a favorite hideaway for us, 30 minutes south of Krumlov by car, near the Austrian border. It's about three hours from Prague. We've been a number of times.It's a tiny town and was pretty empty on a Saturday. Granted, the weather had turned spotty.

I should also note that this was the town that football forgot. There was no Prima TV reception, so I couldn't watch any Euro 2008 matches.

Anyway, this is not a place to party too hard (except perhaps at the one local bordello). It's a place to relax.

Just a couple of days ahead, I was able to book us the cheapest room -- just 900 CZK -- at the Hotel and Restaurant U Martina.We had a view of Rožmberk's down-at-the-heels, but picturesque castle. The poor man's Krumlov, if you will.Rožmberk's sits on a big bend in the Vltava River, which runs up all the way to Prague.

We ate a lot of our meals on the patio behind U Martinu.It's right on the river, and there's a great view of the castle from there. I enjoyed it while eating my eggs and bacon.There's also a good-looking, stone-walled dining room inside.On our first night, V had the koleno (pork knee). She liked it, but I thought it was dull and lacked flavor.I had a simple klobasa with mustard and horseradish. Nothing too special.We finished with pancakes and jam. They were great. All too often, they come to the table cold and tough. These were freshly made and must have traveled quickly from the pan to our table.I should add, though, that we had them again the next day, and they weren't as good.

Next to U Martinu, there is a little shack where we spent part of an evening once sitting by the river drinking beer and eating little snacks.The next day, we took a five minute walk outside of town.

We went to a recommended restaurant, Rybářská Bašta.

There is also a wonderful view of the castle and river from there, but from a different and very pleasing angle.

You can watch the people going by on their boats.We started sitting outside, but lightning and rain kicked up, so we moved inside.V started with fish soup. It was a very Czech version with fish roe, and she absolutely loved it. She said it reminded her of soup she had when she was younger.I had the roe deer in a cranberry sauce with fries(220 CZK). The meat was very tasty with a smoky flavor.It did have a lot of gristle, but it had been pounded so hard that it was not bad. The sauce was quite sweet. The fries were good.

V had river pike. She thought it was good. I thought it was a bit dry and bony.On our last day, we ate at U Martinu again. V had very greasy potato pancakes. She said the grease tasted old.I ordered the pork schnitzel, but got a chicken schnitzel. Which was funny because that was what I wanted but didn't see it on the menu. Anyway, it was good, though the breading flaked off with each bite.We walked around the town at night. The rain had brought out armies of snails.

They fascinated V, who is a big escargots fan, and she just had to play with them.We finally got some canoe time on Sunday, when the weather was better. It is possible to go from Rožmberk up to Český Krumlov. We've done it before, and it takes 4-6 hours.

We wanted a shorter trip, so we had the canoe rental shop drive us about 10 kilometers south to Vyšší Brod. There is a famous monastery there.

It took us less than two hours to make it back up to Rožmberk. Part of the fun is stopping along the way for beer and/or sausages.Generally, the food is nothing to write home about. But it was good to get in some nature, and it is far from the most expensive weekend you can spend outside of Prague. I think the canoe rental cost, which included the ride south, cost around 600 CZK for everything.

Paddling our own canoe past some beautiful nature really helped to clear our heads and replenish the spirits.

I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

Great post... brought me back good memories. we have done part of that trip for the past two years, from Vyssy Brod to Krumlov on the canoes stopping along the way in different campings... we always eat the big meals at the same rest. which is were you were.. and I have the exact same opinion. not bad! .. although it seems a bit chilly still to be on the river...

joanh said...

wow.. looks very beautiful.

the pancakes do look good.. it's too bad when you eat something good and it's not as good the next day!