104 – There is more to us than beer, girls…and Prague

Hello everyone. I have spent the last few months pissing you guys off by writing posts from most exotic places, so the time is up for giving a little publicity to my own country.

ruins of Hazmburg

People often ask me what my favourite country was. I always give the same answer: there is none. Picking one would be stupid, short-sighted and utterly useless. There is something beautiful, something worth seeing or doing in every single one and you could spend months, even years, in one place and not see it all. Same goes for the Czech Republic. We have Prague, of course, and that would be enough to make any traveller happy, but should you get tired of the crowds, paying 3 euros for a beer and eating crap sweets from street stalls, just get out! It’s a safe country, abandoning the beaten path is always fun, and even though english may not be widely spread outside of the capital, you will be absolutely fine. Man up, if I managed to communicate in Mongolia and China, you can get around in Central Europe, easily.

View over Central Czech Highlands from Hazmburg

I will write a post about Prague, soon. Mainly because first time in 6 years, I spent more time there than a few hours stopover when flying home for Christmas, and I have seen how much it changed since I lived there. But, as I hint in the title, about the Capital some other time. Given the country’s recent communist history, people were not allowed to travel abroad for 40 years, therefore internal tourism was the only thing available to most people. Hiking is extremely popular, there are trails literally everywhere, clearly marked and perfectly maintained. Whichever direction you pick, you will find an estate, a medieval castle, a national reserve, a mountain range.

View over the Czech Midlands from Hazmburg, with sacred mountain Rip in the distance.

This time, let’s go north from Prague. If you take the D8 motorway heading towards Dresden, you will pass through Central Czech Highlands, a mountain range of volcanic origin, say the Andes in mini-miniature and geologically way older. The region is nowadays a protected natural reserve (there are wild lilies and irises, among other flora), you can cycle around, hike to the peaks od long-extinct volcanos or visit ruins of many medieval castles.

All the photographs were taken around the ruins of Hazmburg castle (built mid-14th century). It is a pleasant 3 km walk from the village of Klapy (where you can leave your car) to the hilltop, from where you can admire magnificent views over the Central Highlands and the surrounding countryside. A little bonus: the prominent hill is nowadays surrounded by vineyards belonging to  Johann W estate (named in honor of Johann Wolfgang Goethe). The wine region of Bohemia is the oldest in the Czech Republic (dating back to mid-14th century) and one of the northernmost in Europe. Try their Blauer Portugieser rosé, it’s fresh, mineral and has a surprising character somehow unexpected this far north. The winery wisely runs a refreshment stand just by the trail that leads to the castle. Stopping there during on your way down is advisable. Cheers.

PS: the women is an excellent reason to visit Czech Republic. Because we are the best.




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