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Discovering Krkonoše National Park, The Czech Republic

I have visited this National Park several times and, having lived in the Czech Republic for more than a decade, thought I knew what to expect of it. But a recent family trip proved to me how wrong I was.

Located along the northern Czech border with Poland, the Krkonoše National Park is one of the most famous and popular in this country. Containing the countries highest peak, Sněžka, it has a stunning collection of ski resorts, hiking and walking trails, as well as beautiful nature everywhere you look.

Now, I am not much of a hiker, my dodgy knees make me wary of getting too high as coming down is a jarring experience. Due to this I have never been to the peak of the highest mountain, so I had never experienced the difference in nature which the higher reaches of this mountain range contain. But a recent family trip, and a small improvement in my fitness, recently changed that.

We still did not visit the peak itself but stayed in a small skiing village, called Rokytnice nad Jizerou, for one week and enjoyed day trips in the surrounding mountains. Now they may not have been the highest, but they were high enough. And since our holiday took place during the recent European heat wave, it was fairly hard work every day. Hard work, but so satisfying. Physical exercise, beautiful nature and plenty of fresh air.

As I said, it was a family trip and we were all kitted out with our Camelbaks. Carrying 9 litres of water, between us, just about covered our needs for the day. But the best item we carried had to be our micro towels, nice and cooling when wet, they proved to have great recuperative powers, for both the children as well as my wife and I.

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So what is so different about the nature? At the higher altitudes, the dense pine forests disappear and are replaced by sparse Scandinavian style nature. Low-growing trees, which look more like bushes, and space. There is much more space, if you can get away from the crowds. But that is relatively easy. There are some very popular trails, like going to the source of the Elbe, or Labe in the Czech language. But if you take a different route back you will be on your own in no time.

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There are also many mountain chalets located throughout this area. Places to stop, take a break and buy some food and drink. If you are Czech this will probably mean a beer, but until I finish the day I stick to the water myself. Some of these chalets can be surprisingly large and offer a bit of fun for the kids too, they never lack in energy of course.

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At the end of the week, I was happy to get home and rest my legs. But this was definitely one of the most enjoyable holidays I have had. A special mention should go to Hotel Helena, where we stayed. Returning there every day, where the kids could keep jumping and playing and my wife and I could collapse for a while, was a pleasure. This small hotel has good facilities and the food was excellent. Breakfast, a snack for the day and dinner were all included in the price. There was plenty of it and every meal was delicious. Oh and, of course, the beer was cold and refreshing too. Even more so than dipping your toes in one of the local streams.

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© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Running! Who Me?

Running? Me? Really? Come on! Yes, really! It’s only the beginning, but, at least, I have begun. Inspired by my sister to join the Couch to 5k challenge. I’d never heard of it before, but when I did, something clicked and I was out of the door within a couple of hours.

If you don’t know it, the idea is that you follow a 9-week training plan and go from being a couch potato to being able to run 5 kilometres. That’s the target, and a target is what I need to get me off my backside.

So far, I have just completed Week 1. That’s 3 walks/runs of 30 minutes each. Day 1 was painful, Day 2 was agony, Day 3 hurt but…Eureka! I recovered quickly and had a great feeling at the end.

So now I get a couple of days off and it’s on to Week 2, which doesn’t look too scary. I already know I can do it. And that seems to be the great thing about this idea. It hurts, but it’s a slow build up. I know it will get much harder, believe me the idea that I could run 5k is still very far fetched for me, but I have to focus on the now.

And right now, it feels great and I’m actually looking forward to my next run. Me? Who would have believed it?

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© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

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