Saturday, July 14, 2012
Rock walls dusty, almost chalky to the touch, a fresh piney smell in the air, water gently gurgling, rippling, birdsong and wind, the soft thud of my feet padding on cool damp earth, dappled sunlight through the trees, a grey sliver of a snake slipping away into a bush, the Pravčická Brána soaring over my head, the laughter of children in the distance, limestone cliffs like giants from a forgotten myth, a helmeted cyclist whirring by suddenly and down deep into the woods, the sweet crunch of an apple eaten under a tree, the sharp, almost metallic air in a dim rock cave, a cool foamy beer to reward the burning in my thighs. České Švýcarsko was joy.
Stay at Decin or Ceske Kamenice, both accessible by train. From Decin, take bus 434 from the train station to Hrensko (an easy access point to the national park), timetables are available at the tourist office located at the town's castle (the Zamek). You could also walk from Decin to Hrensko - buy a proper map; look here for routes. I didn't like mine so I abandoned it for the bus.
I didn't like my hotel in Decin much so no recommendations there.
In Decin, visit the Zamek and have crepes at Na Ceste that helps train the disabled for jobs. Go to Restaurace Ouplav for the usual Czech meals but done with a much lighter hand, and great service.
Life will be quiet if you don't speak German or Czech.