On our second day in Cesky Krumlov – a tiny village three hours south of Prague – we decided to go rafting on the Vltava River. The Vltava runs through the heart of Cesky with cafes and bars lining the banks. Renting a two-person raft was extremely easy and inexpensive (like so much in the Czech Republic).
We vigorously prepared for our journey by ensuring we had enough cans of Czech beer, and were dropped off at our starting point by a man who didn’t speak a word of English. He silently gave us our raft, paddles and life jackets, pointed to the river, and said “you go there” (pretty obvious since we were basically standing in the water). I immediately thought how this “protocol” would never fly in the United States, as you’d probably have to go through a half hour safety session before the actual rafting began.
After some skilled maneuvering, we dragged our raft into the water, shimmied in, and began our relaxing ride down the river. The landscape was completely lush and green. We (mostly Andrew) paddled along, opened up a couple beers, and enjoyed the complete silence of the river. After a while we came upon the first of several riverside bars.
A makeshift bar was set up right on the banks of the river, serving beers, mojitos, and caipirinhas to-go. The previous peace and quiet evolved into pulsing foreign techno as we pulled up on the rocks and hopped out for a couple drinks with our fellow rafters. For the second time I thought ‘This would absolutely never happen in the U.S.’ while I watched rafters wobbly climb back into their boats. With a little more liquid courage, we set off down the river again and within a few minutes, we came upon our first “weir,” (dam).
The woman at the rental place had casually mentioned we’d come upon a few, but didn’t really elaborate beyond that. As we approached, we first heard the rushing water and saw the steep slope second. There were multiple paths down the weir, but only one was safe for rafting. The sign with directions was written in Czech, which was a huge help. Luckily there was also a big arrow pointing one way, so we figured that was probably the way to go. People were sitting on the edges of the banks yelling “Ahoy” to the rafters as they went down the steep slope. Finally it was our turn and as we approached the narrow edge (with no official safety person overseeing), gripping onto our to-go beers, I was totally wow-ed by just how different, and awesome, this place really was.