The country of forests, castle ruins, hospitality, awesome food and quality beer! Not to mention, homeland for some my favourite writers and composers.
That's how my girlfriend Flora describes my home. She came to visit me this summer and have been here in the hearth of Europe couple times already. So today I am giving you my friends the opportunity to read her view and tips about my home ;). Pictures added from my archives. :D
I will introduce you to some parts of the Czech Republic, because I have been several times, and I love the country so much!
This summer I have been twice, and the first time I visited was very adventurous. I hitchhiked with a Hungarian pal from Tallinn, all the way to Prague, for meeting up with Ondra and my best childhood buddy.
I have seen Prague, which is definitely one of the most beautiful European cities to visit. It has countless museums, beautiful old architecture (The Old Town) and many great pubs to indulge in Central European food. However the historic part is usually very crowded, so I would advise anybody who visits the Czech capital to look up less touristy times, when the city is not extremely busy. Unfortunately on most summer days, you can’t even move a meter around the Clock Tower on Staroměstské náměstí. What is very great in Prague, is that the old town and the castle are connected by the famous Charles bridge, so the whole historic part could be visited on foot.
Don’t forget to purchase and enjoy a trdelnik along the way. This infamous Czech dessert is actually Hungarian (probably Romanians and Slovaks could join this discussion) but the Czechs took it and made it even better with ice cream, strawberries and pudding. I am so mad they stole it, because it is sooo good.
I must step in here :D. I don't believe that we are too happy about having Trdelnik all over Prague. As you can see in the video by awsome Honest Prague Guide.. we have much more sweets that are actually Czech ones.
Other culinary joys you should try are the half&half beer, which is half blonde half dark, the meat dishes (only order with knedlik! because you can’t get that anywhere else) and the halušky (which are actually from Slovakia).
When my friend who I stayed with, and Ondra were working or studying, I went to the city alone. I worked out at the Letna area, which is a perfect refuge for those wanting to do sports, chill in the shade of trees, or to grab a beer with a view. You can see the whole city from here, up above, not to mention the hike from the Vltava side is a quite nice cardio!
The non-touristy things I would recommend doing is visiting the Zoo and the castle, Trojský Zámek, next to it. The Zoo is one of the nicest I have ever visited, has a bunch of very interesting and unique animals (giant salamander for example) and is not overcrowded, however Ondra simply thinks I was lucky. The hills of the zoo and the castle offer a magnificent view to the city of Prague.
In addition to that, I would recommend the park called Divoká Šárka, which is also located on the northern part. This place offers a great view of some natural hills and cliffs, a nice small day hike, in addition to that, there are hardly any people. If you visit the capital, have a look for free programs, concert and performances.
My favourite part in the country is the Czech nature and the countryside, the castles, which are literally everywhere. When I was 16, my family did a roadtrip around the country, and wherever we would go, there was a historic place hidden.
Ondra and I have spend most of our first holiday at the national park České Švýcarsko, which is a magnificent place. I felt like I am in a fairy tale! Small wooden cottages, vast forests, spruce, hills and mountains everywhere… I woke up to the sound of the little creek next to our accommodation, only to have some homemade biscuits for breakfast, enjoy the sunshine, and go on a walk, picking wild blue and strawberries. We have done smaller and bigger hikes to the mountains of the park, I have seen some amazing canyons and beautiful waterfalls, we have biked to hills and to a reservoir.
The national park stretches along the Czech-German border, and is a great place for the lovers of outdoors, because it offers a wide variety of activities. The best part was of course, that I had a local guide, and we shared a wonderful time in the forests.
In addition to that, the region, Ústecky Kraj, offers some other things to do. Decin, the city closest to the national park is very beautiful and greatly renovated, definitely worth a half day visit, especially if you are planning on doing some hiking in the park, because most buses go through Decin. From there we went to Hřensko, which, as the name suggests, is a border town between Germany and the Czech Republic.
Then we hiked up to the second biggest natural stone arch in the world! Unfortunately some parts of the trail was very crowded, but the view compensated for all. Deep, curvy canyons and the sight of endless forests soothed my soul, weary from the crowd. On the top, there is a beautiful hunting cabin which used to be a holiday destination of wealthy noblemen.
There is a zoo in Ustí nad Labem, Decin and Chomutov as well, we visited the latter. Chomutov was great, because we both love animals, and they seemed pretty content there (except the poor bear, which was in the center, never hidden from the happy, loud children). Even though I know that zoos probably make most of their income from kids’ tickets, I feel like children should be banned, they barely ever respect the animals, moreover they break the peaceful silent atmosphere a zoo could provide.
The other thing I loved in Chomutov is the crystal clear lake, where we had a great time after. All in all, my advice would be, do road trips, visit the nature of the Czech Republic in the summertime, don’t let your children bother the animals, and go for a couple of days to Prague in the fall.