Problem in Karlstejn, Czech Republic

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Jul 15, 2019
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#1
We recently spent our vacation traveling to Europe and the Czech Republic. We had a wonderful time until our final day in that country. We had decided to explore one or two of the smaller towns outside of Prague. We wanted to visit the town of Karlstejn and the castle located there. What a mistake that was! It ruined our day and our vacation. While all the road signs pointed out the directions to the castle, by following those signs (and our GPS), we were pulled over at the foot of the castle driveway by the Czech police for driving on a road they said we should not be on. We explained we did not know that but the Czech officer scolded us for not heeding the “no entry” sign and showed us a photograph of the sign we supposedly ignored. It was written in Czech and had no symbols that would have given us any indication that we should not be there. We apologized and explained that we didn’t know we were not supposed to be on that road. He asked for our passport and grunted when he saw we were from the U.S. He fined us about $28 (25 euros) which had to be paid immediately and in cash but he said the fine could have been even higher. When we asked where we could park to visit the castle, we were told the parking area was about 2 km away. Every car that came down that road - and they came every minute or two- was pulled over and ticketed. Oddly, when we left after paying the fine, we never saw the sign that the officer insisted we had passed. And apparently neither did the Czechs, Italians, Germans, or any other car that was pulled over and fined. And after driving for at least 5 km, we never saw any other parking area. We decided to leave that town and not go back. This really left a bad taste in our mouths for visiting what we thought would be the beautiful Czech countryside. I would like to notify the proper authority in the Czech Republic and see if this was the scam it seemed to be. Any help would be appreciated.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Things like this happen throughout the world. Italy is famous for no drive zones where even pick up of rental cars are located and that you are ticketed in.

If you rent a car in a foreign country you are responsible for doing all your research about where you are going. Just as we in the US have road signs in English and we don’t care if you don’t read or understand it, the same goes in other countries. They answer to their residents, not Americans traveling in their country. You are responsible for figuring out road signs, not the reverse. Can it be a scam? It seems like a case of taking advantage of tourists.

Did you contact the US Embassy about this? They might be able to assist.

I hope that the fine was minor but it shouldn’t ruin an entire vacation.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#3
This sounds like a local policeman(or one pretending to be one) making some extra money. It may have been a scam, but a fairly minor one in the overall picture. There may have been no sign; or one that was put up for a few hours and then taken down by the "policeman". But these things happen. Be careful driving in the Southern US where speed traps and speeding tickets often support the municipal budgets.

You should reflect on your overall trip and realize that there is no reason for this episode to ruin your trip. Foreign travel has more unpredictability than remaining in the US (although US travel has its own issues as these forums can attest to).
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
This was NOT a scam. There is no reason to contact any embassy or government. You were not allowed and neither were the others.

The official website for the castle says that the parking is 2 km away, that the city is pedestrian only no cars or bikes and that driving close up to the castle is only allowed with disabled permits and that there is regular municipal police enforcement.

https://www.hrad-karlstejn.cz/en#mobile-nav

I have attached screenshots.

Instead of accusing people of shakedowns or scams it is better to research the issue — even better to do it before getting into a car and having a problem.
 

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Mar 17, 2015
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#6
We were just there this past December and it is not a scam so much as a hold over from the communist days. The reason for the far away parking is so that locals can have jobs using the horse drawn carriage up and down the hill. Other locals will actually call the cops to give the tickets out. This was told to us by our tour guide. He managed to drop us off at the top of the hill by the castle, but we then walked back down to meet him. He said the locals would call the cops on anyone using the road, as it was a no entry zone. Sorry you had to experience this, but a scam it is not.
 
Jul 15, 2019
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#8
I looked at the location you describe "at the foot of the castle driveway" on Google Street View (link) and there does seem to be a "No vehicle traffic" sign. It's the sign with an empty red circle. The google street view is from 2011 so it's possible it's not there now for whatever reason.

View attachment 2713
I looked at the location you describe "at the foot of the castle driveway" on Google Street View (link) and there does seem to be a "No vehicle traffic" sign. It's the sign with an empty red circle. The google street view is from 2011 so it's possible it's not there now for whatever reason.

View attachment 2713
Thanks for the information but there was no indication that the road we were on was a “no vehicular traffic” road. The officer showed us a photograph of the sign he said was posted. It showed no international symbol and when we looked for that sign when we left, it was not there. A Czech car was also pulled over by the officer. If there had been a sign in the Czech language, I think he would have known what it meant. We have driven all over Europe and are familiar with the road signs. We were following not only our GPS navigator but the numerous Czech signs guiding us to the castle and down the road we were supposedly not supposed to be on. I have contacted the embassy but have not yet received a reply. By the way, the sign in the attached photo shows that no vehicular traffic was allowed up the driveway. That is something we understood. But there was no such sign on the road. In fact, you can see a red car parked there on the side of the street. That area was reserved parking for employees. And it did not ruin our vacation, just the morning. My reason for posting this was in the hope of contacting someone to see if this was a scam.


Things like this happen throughout the world. Italy is famous for no drive zones where even pick up of rental cars are located and that you are ticketed in.

If you rent a car in a foreign country you are responsible for doing all your research about where you are going. Just as we in the US have road signs in English and we don’t care if you don’t read or understand it, the same goes in other countries. They answer to their residents, not Americans traveling in their country. You are responsible for figuring out road signs, not the reverse. Can it be a scam? It seems like a case of taking advantage of tourists.

Did you contact the US Embassy about this? They might be able to assist.

I hope that the fine was minor but it shouldn’t ruin an entire vacation.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#9
Not to pile on here, but the street is clearly marked.

One of the perils of driving in a foreign country are that road markings and signs may not be what you are used to. The security guard is correct, the fine could have been higher. Or you could have totaled your car if you ran into a bollard.

karlstejn 01.jpg
 
Jul 15, 2019
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#10
I don’t know where you are finding these photos but they are not from the streets we were traveling on. Your picture shows a sign that clearly demonstrates it is a pedestrian zone. The road we were on was nothing like the one you’ve pictured It was wider and had numerouse signs pointing out the direction to the castle.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#12
The website for the castle clearly has information about the parking.

I’d take a fairly inexpensive learning lesson about researching carefully when you are driving in a foreign country. You are responsible for ensuring you adhere to the rules of the municipality. The castle information couldn’t be more clear.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
GPS often has incomplete information. Just because there are signs pointing to a place does not mean that one is authorized to drive there.

The embassy is going to tell you to respect local traffic laws— and the complaint is a waste of their time.

The castle website clearly tells one what is legal. The fact that other Czechs got cited means that there are others not bothering to do the most basic research.

Just accept this as an inexpensive learning lesson and move on.

It was not a scam.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#14
As others have said, it isn't as much about having the actual signage but knowing what is permitted.

There are plenty of residential areas in the United States that don't have any/enough Speed Limit signs, but it is the standard here that speed limits in residential zones are no more than 25mph. One cannot just say 'there is no sign' and expect to get out of a speeding ticket. You have to know...
 
Jul 15, 2019
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#17
I was just posting the problem and asking for help to see if this was a scam. (Read the last sentence of my post.) It was a frightening experience. The $28 did not ruin our trip. The experience ruined our morning. Comparing this to driving on a road sith an unposted speed limit because there was no sign is not the same as driving along a road and following signs to a destination only to discover that you shouldn’t have followed those road signs. The photograph the officer showed us did not exist on any of the roads we took. I thought I could get some helpful advice on this blog . Apparently, I was wrong.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#18
I am sorry you were scared by the experience, I imagine getting pulled over was quite alarming. Especially given that you did not see the sign or maybe the sign was gone. However, it is not a scam. I am not sure there is much we can do here, as this is just part of trips sometimes. Like I said, our driver said he had been pulled over more than once for not following the laws.
I am not sure it is worth trying to fight this ticket from across the globe. If you have proof that there was no sign (time and date stamped photos), then you may be able to get it waived, but I do not know the Czech appeals process for tickets. I do not think this is worthy of the embassy's time, but you may feel different.
 
Jul 15, 2019
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#19
Thank you, Tanya, for you kind response. Yes, it was frightening. We had simply planned on politely asking for directions to a parking area. But instead, we were pulled over and the officer gruffly wanted our passport. We had no idea what was going on or what the problem was. There were absolutely no signs along the road except for arrows pointing out the directions to the castle, and we followed them. A simple sign indicating that no vehicular traffic was permitted would have sufficed but there were none. I had no expectations of a refund. I just wanted to warn others and ask if this was a scam. Thanks again for your kind response.
 
Oct 2, 2017
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#20
To be fair, in your first post you did write “It ruined our day and our vacation.” And I think you did receive advice here, which was to let it go, as there is really no evidence of a scam or other nefarious activity happening. It just probably wasn’t the advice you’d hoped for.

Your trip sounds as if it was lovely and I hope you are able to focus on those positive memories and write this off as a fairly simple and ultimately relatively painless mistake. I could see myself making the same sort of mistake and being upset or embarrassed in the moment and even later, but in the end turning in to just another travel anecdote.
 
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