Bank holiday escape to the Bohemian Paradise

With a name like Bohemian Paradise, this national park had a lot to live up to.  Promising mythical castles, towering trees and gargantuan sandstone pillars, it sounded just the kind of flamboyant weekend break I craved.  Casting off my work suit, I set off to follow in the footsteps of song writers and poets on a gloriously Bohemian Bank holiday get-away to  the Czech Republic.

close up of a house in the Czech Republic

The Bohemian Paradise, Czech Republic

Situated 100 kilometres from Prague, our adventure started at the 14th century Trosky Castle. Balanced on two volcanic plugs, named Panna (Virgin) and Baba (old woman), the teetering twin towers glower across the fertile valleys of Bohemia.

Trosky Castle, the Bohemian Paradise

Trosky Castle, the Bohemian Paradise

Mincing up the winding, stone staircase, I puff my way up  Panna to take in panoramic views across a patchwork of green fields and miniature toy villages.  It is said that there is a network of underground cellars and escape routes under the castle grounds.  As I glance at the towers’ menacing shadow, I wonder what tales they could tell.

views from Trosky Castle, the Bohemian Paradise

Views from Trosky Castle, the Bohemian Paradise

Our next stop is the elaborate chateau, Hruba Skala. Originally a Gothic castle founded in the 13th century, the original chiselled well, staircase and remnants of stairs blend imperceptibly into the imposing façade of this 19th century Renaissance chateau.

Hruba Skala, a Renaissance Chateau in the Bohemian Paradise

Hruba Skala, the Bohemian Paradise

Now transformed into a high end hotel and spa, members of the public can still sneak in for a peak at the stunning courtyard and viewing tower.  Also worth checking out is the chateau’s amazing display of quirky public art – my favourite item being this charming bike.

Bike ornamentation on the outside facade of Hruba Skala in the Bohemian Paradise

bike statue at Hruba Skala, the Bohemian Paradise

Descending from the chateau, we waltz into Sound of Music-style meadows where blowsy clouds of cherry blossom create snowstorms of confetti wherever we walk.

spring blossom in the Bohemian Paradise National Park

close up of cherry blossom in the Bohemian Paradise national park

 

The faint smell of wood smoke lingers in the air as we pass rustic chalets with quirky features such as this rather Bohemian-looking tea cup fence.

tea cup fence in the Bohemian Paradise

tea cup fence in the Bohemian Paradise

Delving deeper into the woods, we come across an ornamental lake and the imaginatively named “pub in the woods”.  Consisting of a shack with low-slung wooden tables and a fierce heater belching out 30 hot air – it’s a bit like dining in a Swedish sauna.  Managing to devour some weighty dumplings and stew before narrowly avoiding passing out, we lurch gratefully back into the open air.

dumplings and stew, the pub in the woods in the Bohemian Paradise

dumplings and stew, the pub in the woods in the Bohemian Paradise

Emerging from several miles of shady trees, we descend into what feels like the earth’s epicentre.   “Rock City” as it’s affectionately known is a fairy tale land of gigantic sandstone skyscrapers towering 55 metres tall.  All that’s missing is an appearance from the Big Friendly Giant.

giant sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

giant sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

Walking in the shadow of these bruisers, we squeeze into a network of caves and cavernous passageways where I feel in imminent danger of being wedged into forever.  Craning our necks up to the dizzying pillars appearing between the passageways, we spot the tiny figures of intrepid climbers sunning themselves on teetering razor edges – seemingly without a care in the world.

mountainers climbing sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

mountaineers on sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

Attracting climbers from across the planet, rock city is viewed as one of the best mountain climbing locations in Europe.

mountaineers on sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

mountaineers on sandstone pillars in the Bohemian Paradise

Once safely out of the caves with all limbs intact, we head to the park’s most popular viewing point at Hlavatice.  Lumbering up the metal staircase, we’re rewarded with jaw-dropping views across to Hruba Skala which rises up like a fairy tale kingdom against the gigantic pillars of the Ještěď-Kozákov and the Jizerské hory Mountains,

view of Hruba Skala from Hlavatice, Bohemian Paradise

view of Hruba Skala from Hlavatice, Bohemian Paradise

Making our way back through this amazing landscape, I reflect on a bank holiday weekend break that has truly been larger than life. Should you be seeking a magical escape from your everyday environment, the Bohemian Paradise won’t disappoint.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *