Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Castle Pernštejn

One of the things on our 'to do' list for the Czech Republic was visit castle Pernštejn. We had found a campground nearby and rode the 15 km mountain road to the castle. The campground owner had sort of warned us about the castle. 'It isn't very big or pretty' he had said and 1,5 hours would be all we needed. As we tend to photograph a lot, we usually take a bit more time… But even if not then there would be enough to see in the area, we figured. 

The lady cashier informed us that we could only see the castle with a guide… I hate that. If I want a guide then I'll pay for one, but I don't like having it shoved down my throat. Mike and I were already thinking F-this and wanted to turn around, but Jeanette was keen on seeing it… and thus we paid for the guided tour. 

A 20-something year old female in a fluorescent pink jacket turned out to be the guide. A guide that only spoke Czech… or so we thought. I had assumed that, as the guided tour turned out to be in Czech only! Very friendly towards foreigners… we weren't the only foreigners there by the way. To make it even worse; when we wanted to take a photograph she explained to us in perfect English that we were not allowed to make photographs…! She was thus capable of giving a guided tour in English, but simply couldn't be bothered. In Mexico we had been on a few guided tours, tours which had been in Spanish but also English. I explained to the lady that we had paid for a guided tour, a tour that was useless to us as it was in Czech only and now were also refused to take photographs… this was a pointless exercise  for us now and I wanted to return to the gate for a refund. You should have paid 50 kroner extra for taking photographs she said…

I was gobsmacked. When we bought the tickets I had my camera in my hand. My camera is not a small compact, it's quite big and hard to explain that the cashier could have missed it. Yet she hadn't told us anything about an extra 50 kroner for taking photos. I asked if I could pay the extra 50 kroner to her but she refused. If we wanted to take photos, she said, you have to go back to the entry gate and pay there, but we weren't allowed to leave the tour and pay for it. 

For one and a half hours we were stuck with this Czech rattling guide in fluorescent pink who didn't even seem remotely interested in her audience. She simply rattled her text and then turned to her mobile phone. The sign at the entry of the castle explicitly forbid the use of mobile phones in the castle, yet she was texting all the time while supposedly conducting a tour. Non of the people in the group were even remotely interested in what she said either.

Mike and I had enough after 20 minutes and asked the guide if we could leave as she was simply wasting our time. She said we couldn't as the door was locked… What? I said, what about safety? What happens if a fire starts… we can't get out? In the end she was right though as the door was indeed securely locked.

Quite honestly we could have perhaps made photographs of the interior without her knowing it but because of the unfriendly way this all went, we didn't even want to photograph it anymore. You see there is no other explanation possible than greed about charging extra for photos. It's not real smart either because if all the people that visit the castle take photographs and show them to others, then they might quite possibly say 'hey, that's nice… I like to see that!'

Mike and I decided that we really need to make that post called 'the bastards that ripped us of'. Pernštejn will most certainly be on it. Still, if the lady cashier had asked us to pay extra for photographs, would it have been any different. Well… no! The tour would have still been in Czech only, there is a small booklet that gives a sort of summary but doesn't even explain half of what the guide did. There is however something else that makes us say 'give this castle a miss' It's the complete fabrication and pretence that this is all authentic. It isn't. Firstly we have serious doubts about the plasterer that 'repaired' the outside. We think he is Russian and used to built nondescript atomic bunkers or something. The result is that the outside doesn't match the inside at all. We have seen a few castles before and in various countries, non of which needed a guide by the way, but this castle is a mismatch just about everywhere you look.

Walking back to the motorcycles I noticed a sign with the parking fees. Turns out 3 motorcycles pay just as much as a full size touring coach for parking… the bastards that ripped us off.