We left the beautiful country of Poland and entered a new one; Czech Republic. A long drive over the border we arrived at a small place called Dolní Benešov and free camped there for a night thanks to park4night. Very near was the city of Olomouc which I would highly recommend. We first took a trip to the aquapark which was needed after so much time away from swimming (my brother especially). The park had everything from slides to jacuzzis and we spent a few hours splashing about.
The city itself was beautiful with its pastel coloured buildings, flowers penetrating the golden insides of churches, grand baroque fountains and Olomouc’s Astronomical Clock. Cheese is made here and if you’re a fan this comes near the top! The streets were mostly empty of locals and of tourists but instead of feeling eerie it felt peaceful; a strong contrast to what a city usually feels like and as we would find out, a massive contrast to Prague.
Moravian Karst is a national park not far from Olomouc so many tourists tend to take day trips here, even though you could spend several days here. A free camping spot in the biggest and most significant karst region in the country was perfect and the spot couldn’t be more so, being in the centre of all attractions and walks (including roughly 1100 caverns and gorges). The trees stood tall and close, shadowing the ground with their magnificence.
It seemed the seasons had caught up with us as we found ourselves in autumn, burning yellow, red and orange creeping along and encompassing the remains of greenery. Although summer is my favourite, autumn is stunning as it is able to make death seem strangely beautiful; which I suppose it is in a way.
A walk up (or a cable car-which we also did) through the forests takes you to a viewing point where you can admire the Macocha Gorge- a sinkhole at about 138.7 meters deep, making it the deepest of its kind in Central Europe.
Punkva caves are definitely worth the visit, even if you’ve seen an endless amount of them like we have. The tour guide -ours happened to be stressed which only added to the amusement- takes you inside the caves by foot at the beginning, to admire the grand stalactites and stalagmites that appeared to rule the caves, and control the lakes within.
Before taking the boat we found ourselves at the bottom of the sinkhole altering our perspective. The boat met us half way through the trip and took us the rest of the way, travelling on the underground river, stopping at certain intervals. The caves were so low we had to dodge walls and overhangs so as not to bang our heads as the boat sped.
Another free camping spot in Seč broke up our travelling distance to our next destination; Kutná Hora. The town is home to St Barbara’s Church which is one of the most famous Gothic churches in central Europe and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. I can understand why it is famous but overall it is most definitely not the first place you must go when visiting, that job goes to the Ossuary. Sedlec Ossuary is a Roman Catholic chapel and is estimated to contain skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have been placed within the chapel to form artistically arranged decorations. A chandelier of bones hangs from the ceiling (containing one of every bone in the human body), skulls drape the vaults and bones shape coats of arms. It maybe doesn’t sound the most appealing of places to some but if it’s anything it’s fascinating, intriguing and very much like autumn itself; strangely beautiful.
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic and the historical capital of Bohemia. The historic centre itself is a UNESCO world heritage site. The train into the city from our campsite took about 40 minutes.
Naturally, we had all been looking forward to this stunning city but unfortunately it didn’t live up to our expectations; perhaps that is because it is so highly rated.
Autumn was crisp under the blazing sun as trams turned ever corner, pandas danced under bubbles in the town square and tourists desperately tried to get the perfect selfie.
Even though it was early October it was swarming with tourists from all over the world. So chaotic that the main attractions (which were situated all over the city) were barely visible and the place itself became suffocated. The astronomical clock was the same as the one we had seen a few days before in Olomouc, but rather than appreciating it and viewing it we were stuck with hundreds of tourists fit into the Old town Square waiting for the clock to chime.
Charles bridge stretches over the Vltava river with its many baroque styled statue replicas towering over artists and musicians.
The bridge takes you directly from Prague castle to the old town and adjacent areas, making it an important connection in older times.
In Prague, beggars must bow at all times with their hands out but I found it dehumanising and uncomfortable.
The John Lennon wall might not sound thrilling but I would recommend having a quick look as it’s not far from the main streets (and Charles Bridge) and the area surrounding it is full of quirky graffiti from around that time.
Although we did not go inside Prague castle, the view from the top is stunning and really gives a good perspective of the city.