When spoilt for choice it is sometimes difficult to decide. Such was the case in trying to decide which of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful towns to visit next. In my research I read a review that said Loket was best viewed during the summer. So there my decision was made; reinforced by the fact that we were experiencing especially hot weather and the mountains should be cooler.
While we were primarily looking for forests and river banks in order to cool down this town also provides plentiful history to soak up. The castle dates back to the 12th century and like all castles still standing has been re-modelled many times. I have been in a lot of castles over the years but none as extensive as this one. For a mere 3 Euro entrance fee you can wander from wing to wing and floor to floor; that includes extensive exhibitions and a very elaborate torture chamber. Certainly not the most elegant of furnishing and displays since the castle has only been recently re-opened after serving as a regional prison for many years.
For those with a literary interest Johann Wolfgang Goethe visited the town many times and it was here on his 74th birthday that he fell in love with a 19 year old girl. An affair that not only spawned a lot of gossip but several pieces of literature as well.
A couple weeks before our visit the local news was that Richard Gere gave the town a once over and liked what he saw. He was quoted as saying the local beer was possibly the best he had ever tasted. So of course I had to try it (of course, I would have anyway). Yes it was quite good, as was the steak dinner I had at the brew pub, St. Florian. I was quite impressed that the working brewery was right there in the same room.
The next morning we set out to find the train station for our afternoon departure. Since it was on the river bank we continued on and did a nearly complete circle around the town. It was a delightful walk through parks, residential areas and semi-wilderness along rock cliffs and ended with a swinging foot bridge back into town. Since it was time for our regular coffee and cake we headed for the recommended Galerie Cafe. We now recommend it as well; it should be listed as a major site rather than a mere cafe because the décor and the art create an utterly enjoyable atmosphere.
Loket is one of the rare towns we have seen that has a good web site that is kept up to date: http://www.loket.cz/ They host such diverse offerings as an opera festival and the Czech National Motocross — both crowds we purposely avoided. The drawback is there are no directions on how to get to the town by public transport. The train takes 4 1/4 hours or more depending upon which round about route you chose. The bus to nearby Karlovy Vary is scheduled for 2 1/4 hours so we took that, intending to make a local bus connection, which it turned out no longer existed. So after much consternation and walking around we did catch another bus that took us to the edge of Loket but no signs how to get up the hill into town.
All this on a very hot day so we were very glad that we enjoyed this place enough that we kept thinking of friends that we could bring here. I once heard that the ugliest part of the human body was the elbow (loket in Czech). It certainly does not apply to towns surrounded by rivers.
Most photos by Karin