Fairy tales alive - imperfectly
Continuing on with my ridiculous romantic notions of Bohemian Czech forests, such feelings were only enhanced when we discovered the beautiful, the enchanting, the magical Cesky Krumlov.
My habit of reading lovely romantic stories set in faraway lands had produced my desire to go galloping through the Bohemian forest...only to almost break my neck. Having recovered from such an alarming escapade intact, I was thwarted again in any hopes of returning to solid ground when we discovered the most wonderful town straight out of my overactive imagination. Cesky Krumlov is set in Bohemia's deep southern forest along a meandering bend in the Vltava river. Towering above this adorable town is a Gothic 13th Century castle with Renaissance and Baroque elements. 'Sigh' This is ALL fairy-tale, I was in heaven!
The castle is actually the second largest castle in the Czech Republic after the Prague Castle, so we split our visit to Cesky Krumlov into two days. We'd discovered that it's always better to tackle travel with our crazy brood into small manageable chunks! This has become so ingrained in us now, we see and discover places very slowly. When I hear about other tourists or travelers racing around 10 different cities in a week I feel so stressed out just at the thought. We had learnt to slow down and savour what the experience would bring and enjoy the little things. Well, mostly, unless the baby was squawking or the kids were fighting, then there was little savouring going on and more yelling and bribing of ice-cream, but we were doing our best to find a flow.
1. Cesky Krumlov: the most adorable tiny medieval city in the whole wide world!!!
This is the place where you expect the Gingerbread man to streak across your path, or Hansel and Gretel to stumble out of the forest. It would be quite natural for a King to pass by in his royal chariot while waving at Puss-in-boots, or perhaps a dragon will fly past the castle turret.
There are puppets and wooden toys, a beautiful baroque theatre with all the trimmings and cobblestone paths leading to restaurants cooking delicious food in stone ovens. Puppet shows, sunshine, quirky shops, a sparkling blue river with canoes slowly making their way towards the ancient Abbey...in September, Cesky Krumlov is pure magic.
We started off on the right foot. I had wonderful ideas of my kids emerging from our travels abroad as fantastic map readers. I also had grandiose dreams of them becoming brilliant at playing the guitar, like little Von Trapp kids, we would play and sing together all around Europe and everyone would be so impressed with us when we returned, and we would go in talent shows together, and we would bond and be musical...and...and...I am so ridiculous. Of course that never happened. There will be more in the future about the guitars that we dragged around the continent.
Anyway, family travel really is a good chance for kids to learn all sorts of practical skills. I still wholeheartedly advocate worldschooling as the way to achieve this, but again, we were always executing my grand ideas so imperfectly. Yes they looked at a map for about two minutes, and then they got distracted arguing or commenting on the state of their hunger (my kids are always starving to death...). Probably map reading skills would be more effectively taught one-on-one, or at least to a group without a noisy baby and where the kids aren't about to keel over and die from hunger. (Not really, I promise I am constantly feeding my kids, they just eat so much!!) But despite all our inherent imperfections, we soldier on trying to make the most out of our crazy wonderful life.
So truthfully I will say this; that we tried to read a map together, and then we set out for the wonderful city of my dreams.