The morning air is crisp and cool this month, and apples, pumpkins, and new wine has been appearing at the Saturday farmer’s market. Outside of Prague, the hillsides are a mix of brilliant reds and soft yellows, and the slanting light creates long shadows across newly mown hay fields. This past weekend we ventured SE of Prague, towards rolling hills and the village of Karlstein, which lies just below Karlstein Castle. We had been on this route earlier in the year, in March, and the previously cold and wintry hills were now hazy with color. Tall, elegant Czech manors, white village churches, and occasional small forests rushed past the windows of the train, and after passing the town of Beroun, we arrived and began a walk through the village. Karlstein is set back about a half mile from the train station, and one first walks past several restaurants and then across a wide bridge spanning a tributary of the Vltava. Bright cottages line the river on the north side, and opposite an immense open field is bordered by another line of houses. We stopped for a leisurely meal at a local restaurant, a refurbished farmhouse with brick walls and ceiling, low beams. and a warm stove set in the center of the open area. Amazing beer, delicious dishes, and quirky furnishings tempted us to simply stay and enjoy the warmth for a few hours, but we decided to press on and explore the town and castle. Once across the bridge, we were passed by a long line of antique motorcars, complete with drivers and accompanying ladies in period dress, including stylish motoring hats. These cars were headed towards a car show near Prague, after stopping for photos with locals. The main street in Karlstein begins just after the bridge and follows the curve of the hillside, winding along past traditional cottages, open air bistros, and curiosity shops (and the ubiquitous gelato stands, of course). Towards the end of the village, a smaller trail branches off, and the path steepens, curving more sharply through overhanging trees. A few minutes walk, and one is inside the castle gates. A large courtyard stretches out before a slate-roofed main building, and staircases lead from here up to the top wall of the castle. From various vantage points, one can look down over the courtyard, across the village spread out below, or past the nearest hilltop to the land beyond, where dark rows of trees trace out the boundaries of bright green fields. A stand of trees in the valley below is decorated with ivy which turns a deep crimson in the fall, and the splash of color stands out against the dark green of the branches of the other trees. After exploring the castle, we head back down, wandering slowly through the village. The air is filled with the hum of varying accents and the scent of the apple trees set a little back from the main street. We stop for gelato at the edge of town, and walk across the bridge, stopping to admire the views upriver and down. Back at the station, we board a return train and head back to Prague. The air outside is colder now, and the warmth of the train lulls us into semi-wakefulness, basking in the warm glow of the memories made today.