A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Zidova Strouha, near Bechyne, Czech Republic

Near Bechyne, this great trail follows a stream through forests and rock formations.  The trail crosses the water multiple times, making it even more fun.  The northern end empties into the river, where a cool little bridge takes you to a nice flat rock with great views--a perfect picnic spot.

Be careful of stinging nettles, and near the southern end be on the lookout for a place where the trail crosses a field.  If you're southbound, it's easy to miss.  The trail could do with some better marking...but that makes it more of an adventure.

I took the bus from Tabor (via Bechyne) to Nuzice, then walked the blue trail down to the river.  From there I backtracked a bit and took the yellow Zidova Strouha trail the whole way up to where it turns into road. I caught a bus from the middle of nowhere, at the stop in the picture below:  "Zimutice, Smilovice, rozc. 2.0."  Be sure to know bus schedules beforehand.  They're infrequent.  And the bus may snake through every little village on its round-about journey back to Bechyne, so just sit back and enjoy the tour.

Trail length, the way I did it:  9.1 km
Main section of Zidova Strouha:  7 km
Prettiest part:  the northern end, near the river.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Helfstyn Castle, Czech Republic

Helfstyn Castle, Czech Republic
Near Lipnik nad Becvou
 This is a "proper" castle, as my friend Anezka described it.  
Very medieval.  Very inspiring.  Very cool.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Czech Hedgehog at last!

Hedgehogs are big here in Czech culture.  You see cute depictions of them everywhere, often with an apple speared on their spines.  The word for hedgehog in Czech sounds similar to the word for Baby Jesus, who is the one who brings the presents on Christmas.  So one of my students, when she was little, thought that a hedgehog carried her gifts to her, all stuck on his back like that traditional apple.  She still likes the image, and so do I.  I think hedgehogs are adorable.  Yet I NEVER see them.  I caught a glimpse of the back end of one once, the first time I lived here.  And that's all.  Until...Friday!  Here he is! It was dark, so the picture's not as darling as the reality.  But soooo cute.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Choustnik Castle, Czech Republic

Choustnik Castle, near Tabor, Czech Republic

Ruined castles are my favorite, especially when they still rather look like castle and have little nooks and crannies you can explore.  Choustnik fits the bill.  Even cooler, the castle's main tower still stands strong, and you can climb up for great views.

Then if you follow the green trail a little ways around the castle, you'll come to some cool rock formations you can climb around on.  Instead of keeping to the trail, follow the rocks for as long as you want along this natural playground.  Danger:  between the castle and these perfect forest-ambush areas, you might start feeling like you've strayed into a Robin Hood movie.  

If you go...

To get to Choustnik Castle, take one of the infrequent buses from Tabor or other nearby towns to the village of Choustnik.  Be sure to check bus schedules for the return trip.  The castle is a pleasant walk along the green trail, just over a kilometer away.

Entry fee: currently 40 Czech Crowns for adults, 20 for children

Open:  July and August--every day.  May, June, September, and October--only weekends and holidays.

Friday, September 11, 2015

High Tatras Hikes: Koprovsky Stit

This is Hincovo Pleso, the biggest glacial tarn in the Slovakian side of the High Tatras.  Just look at the clarity of that water.  Gorgeous!

I spent a lot of time watching the fish and simply staring at my surroundings in wonder.

And this is me high above the same lake, on the rocky tippy top of Koprovsky Stit (2367m / 7766ft)

It's amazing to me how low these stunning "high" alpine areas are in Europe.  Koprovsky Stit is almost exactly as high as Pinal Peak near Globe, Arizona, where I grew up.  Yet Pinal Peak is nowhere near the tree line.  The world is amazing.

Hike Details (Round Trip) from Popradske Pleso (the lake and mountain chalet, not the train stop):
Length: 8.8 km 
Climb: 812 m
Estimated time: 3 hrs 50 min  

Hike Details (Round Trip) from Strbske Pleso
Length:  18.2 km
Climb:  1209 m
Estimated time:  7 hrs

Difficulty:  For people like me, the very end is a little scary, because you're so high and you're just sort of clambering over rocks.  The trail also has some steep switchback parts.  Just take it slow.  Trail is closed in winter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors

Illustration by Peter Arkle
If you're a writer (or if you ever have to write reports, e-mails, etc), you might find helpful my series of articles on avoiding common punctuation errors.  The most recent installment is now online at Writers on the Move.  Click here.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Alaska Sampler 2014

If you didn't know, from reading my blog, I'm a bit obsessed with Alaska.  So of course I snapped up this free collection of short stories, articles, memoirs, and excerpts from larger works, all set in Alaska.  It’s good reading and shows a lot of different faces of this wild country.    

Most enjoyable to me were these:
“A Time Machine Called the Chilkoot Trail” by Dana Stabenow
An excerpt from “Still Points North” by Leigh Newman
“On Ice” by Deb Vanasse
Excerpts from “Wildwood” by Tanyo Ravicz
“From Cold River Spirits” by Jan Harper-Haines. 

If you’re half as fascinated by Alaska as I am, or if you're just in the mood for something different, pick up the Alaska Sampler 2014.  The Alaska Sampler 2015 is also out now.

Click here to download the Alaska Sampler FREE on Amazon.