Today we visited two castles outside of Prague – Krivoklat and Karlstejn.
We started the day taking a standing-room-only express train to Beroun, where we transferred to a small, loud motorcar train that took us to Krivoklat. This train runs once every two hours, so we were very happy to see it waiting for us at Beroun when our express train arrived 10 minutes late. The walk from the train station to the Krivoklat was a nice 10-15 minute stroll through a small, sleepy village.
Once at the castle, we found there were no English tours leaving in (at least) the next three hours, so we opted to go on a Czech tour (190 crowns per person). They gave us English translations of a normal tour for the first half of the tour – but we were pretty lost for the second half. On our 30-person tour, there was only one other couple who didn’t know Czech, but it seems they had come with a friend who did. In general, most people at the castle seemed to be Czechs on a day trip or a long weekend. It was nice, yet disorienting, to be at a tourist spot that was not catering to foreigners. We had lunch at the castle, saw an impromptu bird show (it was sad how the ropes the birds were on were leas than 5 feet long – which meant they could only fly during the shows) in the castle courtyard. We also saw an exhibit where parents could pay 60 crowns ($3) for their kids to shoot 6 arrows with a pretty cool crossbow. Our first thought was ‘this would never fly in America’. And then we made sure to stay out of range when a ~5 year old boy was being taught to shoot it!
After leaving the castle, we hurried back to the train station as a storm was approaching. We took time to get some 10 crown ($0.50) ice cream cone though – a third of what it would have cost us at most stands in Prague city center. We then took the motorcar train back to Beroun, where we transferred to a train going a few stops to Karlstejn. Once at Karlstejn, we walked about 30 minutes along a road by the traintracks, over a bridge, and along a steep uphill with shops to get to the castle. It was well marked all the way, but you could just follow the masses. At the castle, we signed up for an English Tour II (which the website claimed you could only buy online and usually sells out due to popularity). Tour II cost 300 crowns/$15 for adults and 200 crowns/$10 for certified students (like Katie).
Our tour group ended up only containing 5 people – us, 2 Italians, and a Canadian (although the website claimed Tour II groups could have up to 15 people). Our tour guide was a girl who had never led an English tour before – so her English was a bit weak and she was really self-conscious about it. However, she was understandable, although a few of her sentences were weirdly structured. Overall, it was a good tour, and we would recommend it. The interiors of the castle seen in Tour II were beautiful, and indeed it is a beautiful castle outside. As we were approaching it, we got so many amazing views of the castle.
Upon leaving the castle, we went on a ‘1 hour’ hike recommended by Rick Steves to Srbsko. This hike meandered through forest (oftentimes near a stream), meadow, and city street for 6km. Much of the trail was muddy and/or steep. However, it was very nice to get away from the crowds and hike for a few hours. Upon reaching the center of Srbsko, we had dinner at a local pub. Seriously, all the other people in the restaurant seemed to be locals. The food was good and inexpensive, as was the beer. We ended the day by taking a nice local train back to Prague.
Train entrance to Prague train station.
Small, loud motorcar train that took us from Beroun to Krivoklat.
Our guide at Krivoklat Castle.
Rural land around Krivoklat, seen from Krivoklat Castle.
Village of Krivoklat, seen from Krivoklat Castle.
Katie eating ice cream on the walk back to the Krivoklat train station.
Picture of Katie and JT while at Karlstejn Castle.
Katie at Karlstejn Castle.
The beginning of the 6km path from Karlstejn Castle to Srbsko.
Parts of the path from Karlstejn Castle to Srbsko were pretty muddy.
Overall, the path from Karlstejn Castle to Srbsko was well marked, with both large signs like this and with trail markings on trees.