July 1st, 2016 in Trips, Trails, & Tours
I must share with you a hiking experience I had while visiting dear friends in the Czech Republic. Northeast of Prague about an hour and a half drive is the area called Cesky Raj or Czech Paradise. It is well known for hiking, rock climbing and biking. I have visited many times and find every experience I have there exciting and unique. We set off on a typical hike on a sunny, summer day. We began climbing through the forest with the sun shining through the trees, winding up to a ridge. As we neared the top we began to see rock formations through the trees until we were hiking through huge sandstone rock towers with names such as the Sphinx, Lighthouse, Fender…a rock climbing mecca. It has rained the day before this hike and as a result no climbing is allowed for 3 days until the sandstone dries out. It would disintegrate if climbed on when wet. This is a strict climbing rule in this rock climbing paradise that all enthusiasts respect.
We are hiking along when we see a car parked at a trailhead. It is a Trabant, a car built in East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s. The car has a plastic body and runs on two cylinders so you have to mix the gas and oil to drive the car…similar to a chain saw!
We hike on and in the distance we suddenly see a beautiful castle. This is typical of high points in the Czech Republic where castles were built in areas with huge views to protect the area. The castle is Waldstein. It is where my friends Jirka and Katka were married and where Don stood with them as best man. It is just beyond this castle were we stop for lunch…here in the middle of nowhere there is Pivo!…Czech beer of course. There is an old structure where you can buy food and as always the wonderful beer the Czech Republic is known for. The beer is cheaper in a restaurant than soft drinks or bottled water!
We wander along the top of the ridge with huge views and lookouts over the rock formations with farmland in the distance. Many families are hiking or biking along the way. At the far end of the ridge we come to another castle called Hospoda V Hradu. There is a wonderful restaurant here where we had a memorable dinner with our Czech Family during our first visit 15 years ago.
As we walk through this castle area we suddenly turn off and drop steeply down into a slot canyon! We call it the mouse hole. It is a steep drop creating a clever shortcut towards our car. As we drop down we walk through the canyon where we can touch both walls at the same time.
Then we notice strange artistic mobiles hanging in the trees. Fake bee hives. Fire pits with large animals roasting. Flags flapping in the breeze. It is very strange….a movie set in the middle of our hike as we descend through the rocks. They are filming a documentary on Celtic History here in the Cesky Raj! Not what we expected.
We reach the car at the end of our loop hike. Just hiking through the beautiful Czech Forest would be enough, but as you can tell this is a land of deep beauty, ancient history and many surprises!