Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Back to Austria – 29 August 2010

Leaving Cesky Krumlov we moved a little northeast to Cesky Budejovice as we thought we needed to fill in some time before our next intended stop although this proved to be a faulty assumption. Budjovicr translates as Budwies and the Budvar (Budweiser) brewery is nearby.

We had just walked into one of Europe's largest town squares when some of Europe's largest raindrops began to fall so we retired to a cafe for our morning coffee while the heavens opened. The downpour did not last long so we set off to explore the square and the rest of the town. However, it was only a temporary lull so we beat a hasty retreat to the car and headed south towards the sun and the Austrian border.

Just a little north of the Austrian border is the town of Vyssi Brod and the Rozmberk nad Vltavou Castle. The Rosenberg (Rozmberk) family were related to the family that owned Cesky Krumlov and at one stage when the male line died out, the same family owned both of these castles and estates.

The Buquoy family turned a number of rooms into a “museum” in the 1900s and the tour of this area is supplemented with a tour of the staterooms in another part of the castle and a climb to the top of the “English” tower.

It is most interesting that the locals copied the English styles while the English were busily emulating the French who were probably copying the Italians who .... What is it about the grass on the other side of the fence?

Having spent our last Czech krona it was time to slip back into the Euro zone and take a look at Freistadt, a little south of the border. Although founded in 1220, most of that which remains in today's charmingly compact historic Altstadt was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. We decided to stay here for the night and did the city walk through the old quarter, again dodging the rain showers.

With the walk completed and the sky clear and blue we had just enough time to retrace our inbound route back towards the boarder and Kershbaum where a small section of the horse-drawn railway remains in working order. We arrived just as they were about to finish for the day but in time to see them move the horse from one end of the coach to the other, there being no “front” or “back” and take the horse and carriage back to the museum.

This railway which originally ran 120km from Linz to Cesky Budejovice, was the first ever railway in Continental Europe. Now only fragments of the original tracks from1828 remain but the coach was been beautifully restored or maintained and the coachmen were wonderfully decked out in their period costumes.

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