No trip to Europe is complete without a visit to my dear friend Anna in Praha. Since I have visited the city three times before, she reccommended that instead, this time we head to the mountians for a change of scenery. My weekend in the Krkonosce mountains exceded any possible expectations I had.
To start with, we stayed at her family's three story, ten bedroom mountain house. I feel bad even calling it a house because it was much more than that. As Anna's father explained to me, this "house" was built in the late 19th century by a German family. After the world war, when all of the Germans were forced out of the land, which was soon taken over by Czech and Polish territories, the house went up for sale. Around 1940, it was purchased by a group of ten scouts (I'm picturing a group of twenty-someting, outdoorsy eagle scouts - though I have no confirmation). With a ski lift built on the hill next to the house, they lived here together for a portion of their lives before they started their own families. Eventually the house was treated as a vacation home, with the families of each of the men designated to their own room. One of these men happened to be Anna's grandfather. After 50 years, the rights to the rooms were given to any ancestor of the 10 original owners. That includes thier kids, their grandkids, and now some great grandkids. I was honored to be a guest of the family and experience this cozy cottage. Half of the ground floor resembled something of a restaurant with wooded walls and tables, four of them, spread around a spacious room. The other half was previously where the animals were kept. The stone walls and floors kept it a little chilly, especially since this was where the bathrooms were. When I say bathrooms I mean holes in the ground for toilets and a hose hanging on from the ceiling for a shower. At least it had hot water, that is, after lighting a fire and waiting half an hour for the tank to heat up. All glamour aside, it was an incredibly peaceful place to get away for the weekend.
And the hiking. On Saturday morning, bright and early (9 am), we headded out the front door ready to conquer the mountian. Anna, her brother, her parents, her absolutely perfect samoyed puppy, Majla and myself. Starting through the meadow and weaving around other cottages, we eventually made it to the center city of the mountian range. Center city in this sense is a church, a pension (bed & breakfast), and a house of a gamekeeper/park officer. The first half of our journey to the top lasted two hours, mostly around hills getting to the base of the mountian. The halfway point was Jelenka, a pension/restaurace where we stopped for potato soup. The second half was alllllll uphill. Another hour along the border between Czech and Poland that continued to the peak.
"Glacial corries contrast with bare-stone ridges, large alpine meadows with timber cottages down in the valleys, the murmur of waterfalls with the mysterious silence of peat bogs, while regal Mount Sněžka, queen of the peaks, lords it over her lofty realm."
After some time admiring the view, it was time to start our descent. Now if I thought making it up was hard, the trek downhill just about killed me. Luckily we stopped halfway at another restarace for rasberry dumplings. Dough balls filled with berries, drenched in butter, topped with sugar, a side of whipped cream and a beer. Literally the perfect meal in the midst of a 15 mile hike. They were everything I wanted and more. God bless Czech cooking.
When we finally returned to the house, it was a little after 4:30pm. Our seven hour, 25km adventure concluded with showers and an 8:30pm bedtime (I wish I were joking). The next morning, after a good 13 hours of sleep, we packed up and headed back to the city. Not before stopping in Mělník for lunch on the way home.