First day in Krumlov

Wishing everybody a good Monday evening 🙂

There’s still lots of people in Krumlov, day or night. The best way to tell is by how tame the birds are. One pleasant surprise is that there are no pigeons here, but lots of swallows and other small birds, some of which are so tame that they’ll join you for breakfast just like our friend in the photographs.

We walked through a large part of Krumlov, including places full of tourists and side streets where people really live. You can recognize the main tourist zone by how well-maintained it is. The places where tourists go are clean and in good repair. But go around the corner and you’ll find crumbling plaster and overflowing containers – or empty ones with trash scattered all around.

Historic Krumlov is either full of shops with things and prices not intended for ordinary residents, or there are Vietnamese shops and bars. I went looking for a butcher, baker and greengrocer – shops where I can go shopping without having to go to the Lidl or another supermarket outside town.

There’s no outdoor markets selling seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Some of the streets look like something from the Silk Road, where you feel like you don’t belong. It’s a good experience to see what it’s like when everybody looks at you because you look different from all the others.

But it is true that things here are a little different. So far, we’ve mostly seen tourists from Asia who are excited to be here, who take up every free space, and who act like everything around them is just part of some big outdoor museum. No matter what kind of “normal” thing you do – playing with children, nursing, reading newspapers, talking with friends, eating outdoors on a bench in front of your house, drawing with chalk – they take your picture, come right into the middle of your activity, and often get so close you feel like they’re going to bathe you 🙂 One day is enough to see why locals don’t go out much and aren’t seen much around town.

All this hustle and bustle make my head buzz and makes me angry that you can barely do anything in public without feeling like a monkey in a zoo.

On the other hand, everybody we talked to today grumbles about the tourists – one might even say that they disdain them – but at the same time they accommodate them and pander to them in absolutely everything. In the luxury shops, they even have Asian sales staff who speak their language. The shop owners have such icy expressions that you dare not look in the window. And there is no communication among the locals, for instance stopping on the street or chatting – amongst themselves or among the store clerks in front of the shop.

Everybody we talked to complained that the city has forgotten its original inhabitants. Tourists with a rental car from Prague get special permission to enter the downtown, locals who park in front of their house to unload their shopping immediately have the police on their case.

There are beautiful places in town, but few public ones because many of them are like VIP zones belonging to the bed-and-breakfasts. Once you leave the confines of the historical center, then you begin to discover normal Krumlov. There are still beautiful historical houses and streets, but you can find a seamstress, a hair salon, a newsstand and an electronics shop, plus ordinary people you won’t see downtown because they have no reason to go there.

We’ve put in a lot of kilometers on foot today. 🙂 More news tomorrow.