Monday, May 24, 2010

Hiking the Sázava River in Central Bohemia

I had used several times as I started my empty nest vagabonding adventure for accommodations, but it was while I was back in America, I discovered I wasn't utilizing all of the wonderful parts of the site. So  I joined several groups related to where I was living and took part in the events that people organized. What a wonderful way to meet fabulous people immediately in a new location. Each person had an adventure tale to share!

Now back in the Czech Republic, I joined the group on Couchsurfing dedicated to hiking Bohemia and signed up for a hiking adventure organized by a lovely young Muscovite studying for her Ph.D. in the Czech Republic. Natalie, or Tashka to use her Russian diminutive, had gone kayaking along the Sázava River in Central Bohemia the week before and wanted to hike the Posázavská stezka (trail along the Sázava River) this week.

We took a train about an hour south from Prague (24 km) to Kamenný Přívoz; Tashka knew all the tricks for booking at the lowest cost such as group discounts and buying the ticket from the last station out of Prague rather than from the center (a Prague metro pass covers everything in the city).  For our tickets, we spent 51 kc each (about $2.50 for a round trip) and the price would have gone down to 30 kc if were five.  Amazing value! Regular readers of the my blog know how in love I am with Czech trains.

The train followed the Vltava and the tributary we were heading to, the Sázava River, the whole way allowing us to enjoy the gorgeous, sparkling view from the window.  The one cultural difference I discovered on the train is that Czech dads don't make silly fake-scary sounds whenever the train went through dark tunnels thereby fake-embarrassing their families.  Pity.

my hiking companion

Just off the train in Kamenný Přívoz at the start of our hike
Our first view of the river is below.

We started our hike the way Czechs start their hikes:
with beer.  This Czech brew was new to me: Svijany.

We laughed: This house sign translates as
"Such a normal family" 

A relaxing view of the river rafters
from one of the many beautiful little cottages

One of the railway bridges our train used
to drop us off at Kamenný Přívoz

It was highly entertaining to watch the rafters and kayakers
decide what was the best way down the river

One of the many beautiful cottages along the river.
I love the humbleness of these cottages.
It's all about relaxing, not impressing the neighbors.

Most of these cottages had their own privy.

This cabin was under construction so you could
see their future river view through the back window.

Magificent, isn't it?
And the sound of the river was so refreshing.

This area was known for the cherished Czech tradition
known as "tramping." During Communist times, people would
come out to the forest for the weekend.  They could do and say
what they wished.  They built makeshift camps or slept on the ground.

Is your stress lessening just a little?
Any I had, melted away.

The view looking away from the river.
Peaceful, towering forest on the mountain of Melnik.

This cottage owner created his greeting for the rafters.
"Ahoj" is Czech for hello!

A sleeping platform or treehouse close to the water.

The trampers were in love with Wild West themes from America.
Often the camps were "cowboy" or "Indian."
We saw cabins with names like Oregon and Ogden.

Tramping is dying out with each ensuing year of capitalism.
I don't think the land is owned by the State anymore either.

A Czech cottage owner
getting his place ready for the season.

The sign says something like:
"Be patient hikers, in 280 steps you will find a restaurant."
 I liked Taska's subtitle for this photo best:
"It's impossible to die in the Czech forest."

Don't look now but we have an unexpected guest.
She maybe here for an old Czech tradition.
I don't know. I hope she's here just to delight us.

The wind catches her skirt.
Can't get enough of her, can you?
Ok, one more picture.
Look, she's drinking and flying.

How would you like to carry your groceries
up these steps?

"Drinkable water" was available at this spring
along the trail.

War memorials are everywhere in the Czech Republic.
On our 10 km hike we saw about eight different ones.
Notice that the little village we finished our hike in, Pikovice,
had lost what looks like three members of the same family
in the first World War.

This is the map Tashka used to plan our trip.
It shows all of the hiking and biking trails within that
white square of territory in the Czech Republic.

All of the trails are marked by volunteers
so you never have to worry about getting lost.

A last look at the Sázava River
as we cross over to the Pikovice train station.
This is where many of the kayakers
and rafters end their journey too.

Our train was perfect for this route.
Older and not the fanciest carriage in the fleet,
it welcomed wet kayakers, rafters, dogs,
tired and aching hikers, and bicyclists
who were in that back compartment
beyond the seats with their bikes.

On the trip back to Prague, we watched people
rollerblading along the river stoking ideas
of new adventures to be had.


MiGrant said...

Reminds me of a cycling trip my wife and I once took in southern Bohemia, planning to return by train. Turned out the last train back to Prague had left much earlier in the afternoon than we had anticipated, so we rode on to the next bigger town... but there were no more trains to Prague that day from there either. By that time we were both exhausted, it was getting dark and we had no place to stay. Eventually one of the railroad workers let us spend the night on an unused train car. I wonder if that would still happen today....

Karen said...

What a great story! How lovely you had those adventures together.

Wissy said...

Superb blog Karen. I would love to "tramp" one day. Loved the house sign!

Tashka said...

Ahoj Karen,

You wrote a nice report!

Just want to say, that "tramping" in CR appeared after the I World War, when people started t be disappointed by the quality of their lives, and the second 'wave' was during communist times.

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