Goodbye to the Czech Republic

Having spent a week up in the mountains in Czech Republic, it’s a shame to go… Especially as we finally got snow! In the next valley along, there was enough of the stuff to even ski, which we did for the full day today. Now back to the chalet for a brief rest, and then on home to the warm and mild UK. All in all, it’s been a wonderful visit: plenty of museums and an outing to Prague, as well as walking around the local area. So to say goodbye, here are a few photos from the last brief walk I took yesterday:

The landscape was a rather sombre one, with lots of dead browns and damp greys and some fog over the mountains, but personally I like these miserable views. I find them calming and powerful, and full of a mysterious and underappreciated beauty. During my walk, however, the cloud cover briefly tore, and I got the chance to experiment with camera settings while photographing the gentle sunset.

I feel that these photos are a nice note to finish on. It’s a shame about the lack of photos from today, but I fell over a little too often to risk taking a camera onto the slope!

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Last walk of 2015

New Year’s Eve is always a big deal for our family and friends, which means that there’s a LOT of food – almost like a second Christmas in a week! So we decided to pre-emptively burn some calories with a bracing 4 hour walk around the local area.

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The last day of 2015 dawned bright and clear… and bitterly cold

As we headed towards the forest, we could see the snow cannons trying in vain to rescue the local “ski resort” reputation: it’s been a general outdoor holiday rather than a skiing holiday for everyone here.

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Not giving up hope

Even without any snow though, the forest was still extremely beautiful and an absolute wonder to walk through.

About a third of the way along our route, an impromptu stop occurred, as we stopped to examine a stream with the most fantastic ice formations I have ever seen: water spray and droplets froze onto already existing ice, creating globular structures.

But of course, it being almost January, we saw some more traditional icicles too. It was very exciting, actually, as the UK is too warm to permit them from forming, but temperature is certainly not a problem in the Czech Republic (did I mention it was very cold today?).

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At the end of our journey, we had a potful of hot Czech garlic soup Česnečka waiting for us, which was perfect for a warm up, and gave us the much needed morale boost to start preparing food for the celebrations.

I hope you all have a great New Year!

A day out in Prague

Visiting new places is always so exciting! Especially when that new place is as beautiful as Prague. The weather today was perfect for a day out, too: bright and sunny, if a little on the freezing side!

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A cold winter’s day in Prague

However, the Christmas Markets were still going, which meant that at every square we were surrounded with amazing smells of cinnamon, chocolate, hot wine, roasting meats… But ruling over all was the scent of trdelnik – a Czech sweet bread, coated in sugar and cinnamon, twisted round a pole to form a tube and cooked over an open fire. Unfortunately, they were all eaten too quickly for me to get a photo!

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The ‘Christmas’ Market, always popular with frozen tourists!

Indeed, the spirit of Christmas seemed still present there, especially in the dedicated glass Christmas tree ornament shops: the Czech Republic is historically an area renowned for its glasswork and was the main rival of Venice for a long, long time.

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Bubbles of pure Christmas spirit
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A more universal souvenir: a tealight holder to match the baubles

Of course, our route also led us past the medieval clock, the Charles bridge and the breathtaking Gothic cathedral, the last being the most memorable for me: Gothic is hands-down my favourite architectural style. Just look at that ornate stonework!

Another photo of the cathedral captured a steampunk-esque discrepancy in technology:

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Out of context, it looks like a part of a steampunk film set!

Finally, hungry and tired, we headed to a restaurant… where the waiters were trains!

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Bringing the drinks

And as I say goodbye and head off to bed for a well-deserved rest after this excursion, I leave you with another view of Prague as the sun was beginning to set.

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