Articles tagged:

Czech Republic

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Exploring Europe by rail

by hidden europe

We never planned to write about trains. But it just sort of happened and then we developed a curious niche writing about railway journeys. Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries reflect on a serendipitous opportunity.

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All change for 2023: New rail links

by hidden europe

A new daily rail link from Warsaw to Lithuania, direct trains from Bordeaux to the Black Forest and new night trains from Genoa, Dresden and Stuttgart all feature in Europe’s 2023 train timetables which come into effect on Sunday 11 December 2022.

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A revolution in the hills: hydrotherapy

It was in the Czech town of Jeseník two hundred years ago that a self-taught farmer sparked a medical revolution. Like all revolutions, it was not well received by the establishment. Vincenz Priessnitz was the founder of hydrotherapy, first pioneered in 1822.

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The pleasure of the restaurant car

A chance reference on twitter this week to a Tajik restaurant car that runs all the way to Moscow has prompted us to recall some unlikely meals on trains. Join us as we recall such culinary delights as apéroplättli and svícková while riding the rails in Germany.

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New night trains in 2021

by hidden europe

The privacy of a cosy compartment is part of the appeal of the overnight train. The pandemic has changed attitudes and travellers are now mightily aware of the importance of space and privacy. So it is no wonder that demand for night sleeper services has rocketed. The coming months will see new overnight trains to the Netherlands, Sweden, the Croatian coast, Lake Constance and the French Riviera.

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Shared High Points

by hidden europe
Germany makes much of its highest mountain, the mighty Zugspitze. The frontier between Austria and Germany bisects the mountain. But in Austria, the Zugspitze hardly counts as a significant peak. We look at the phenomenon of shared summits.
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Return to Marienbad: The Ghosts of Mariánské Lázne

by Nicky Gardner
Few place names resonate in the way that Marienbad does. The celebrated spa town tucked away in the hills of Bohemia is, like many of the traditional spas of central Europe, a place apart. Today the town is known by the Czech name of Mariánské Lázne and hints of a Habsburg past are draped with a soft veneer of Soviet-style central planning and the sharp edge of modern capitalism.
Magazine article

Central Europe by Night

by hidden europe
New rail timetables kick in across Europe on 9 December 2018. There are new direct daytime links from Bratislava to Innsbruck and Zürich, and from the Austria city of Linz to both Halle and Berlin. But the showpiece innovation is a new direct night train from Berlin to Vienna.
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Russians in Bohemia

by hidden europe
Where would the spa towns of Bohemia be without the patronage from the great and good? The Romanov family's enthusiasm for taking the water has encouraged generations of Russians to visit the region.
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Bohemian Waters

by hidden europe
Here's a hidden europe briefing for first-time visitors to the Czech spa towns. Often referred to as the spa triangle, north-west Bohemia actually has more than just three spa towns.
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Puppetry in Prague: the Art of Bringing Wood to Life

by Rudolf Abraham
The art of puppetry is alive and well in central Europe. In the Czech Republic, puppetry is recognised as a key element of national culture. With some linden wood, textiles, paint and the skill of the puppet maker, it's just a matter of time before the magic appears. Writer and photographer Rudolf Abraham meets the men and women who pull the strings in Czech puppetry.
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Lidice shall live!

This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the Czech Resistance's successful attempt on the life of senior Nazi administrator Reinhard Heydrich. It was an event which had terrible repercussions; the Germans retaliated with ruthless force. Those repercussions were felt most awfully in the Czech village of Lidice.

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Hints of the East in Frantiskovy Lázne

Relaxation is compulsory in Frantiskovy Lázne, a small spa town in the far north-west corner of the Czech Republic. There are two outstanding churches, one a very fine Catholic church executed in graceful Empire style and the other a rather uplifting Orthodox church dedicated to St Olga. That second church is a reminder that the Czech spa tradition has always thrived on links with the east.

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Bookmark: Jízdní Rád

Now here's a really remarkable book. The Czech national railway timetable for 2017 may not be great when it comes to plot structure and character development, but it is nonetheless an engaging read. Trust us!
Magazine article

Tale of a Tupolev

by hidden europe
Shoppers in the Czech border village of Petrovice are inclined to board a Tupolev 104 airplane when they want a coffee or a snack. Find out why this 60-year-old jet aircraft is a good spot to relax.
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Cashing in on Casanova

Were it not for a librarian, we would surely never have ventured to Duchcov. We have always held librarians, and indeed libraries, in high regard. We're of one mind with Dervla Murphy who once described Heaven as an infinite library and Eternity as a blissful opportunity to read forever.

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Exploring the Ore Mountains

by hidden europe
The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) offer excellent possibilities for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. But even less energetic visitors can reach remote communities in the region by local bus and train services.
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The Beauty of the Square

Kings come and kings go, and even freedom goes in and out of fashion. But the appeal of the town square endures, because ultimately these are spaces that belong to the people. The square in Ceské Budejovice is no exception to that rule. Welcome to southern Bohemia.

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New train services for 2016

New railway timetables kick in across much of Europe on Sunday 13 December - so here's a summary of interesting changes which we've noted in the new schedules. They include a useful new direct link from Moscow to Sofia - a journey which connects seven capital cities.

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Keeping track

by hidden europe

It is that time of year when Europe prepares to introduce new train timetables. The 2016 schedules come into effect on Sunday 13 December 2015. As usual, there are winners and losers. We look at some new services.

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Bohemian therapy

Eight times each day, even on Sundays, a train leaves the Czech town of Karlovy Vary for the 80-minute journey through the hills to Mariánské Lázne. Both communities are celebrated stops on the European spa circuit. They both flourished in Habsburg days and both are nowadays still well known by their erstwhile German names, respectively Karlsbad and Marienbad.

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The Great Synagogue of Plzen

You might expect the most striking building in Plzen to be a brewery. But there's more to Plzen than beer. In fact the most impressive building in the Czech city is the Great Synagogue on Plzen's main thoroughfare.

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New rail services across Europe

Four weeks from today much of Europe will awaken to new train timetables. Each year in December, new schedules come into effect across the continent. The big day this year is Sunday 14 December. We take look at a dozen positive developments worth noting.

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Glowing in the dark

The main road drops down from the hump of the mountain in a series of sharp zigzags. Polished blue sky above, velvety green forests all around and the tacho ticking off the miles of grey tarmac below. We are on the south side on the ore-rich hills that separate eastern Germany from the Czech Republic.

Magazine article

The power of song

by Nicky Gardner

It is forty years since Pete Seeger took to stages in Moscow, the Crimea and Prague as part of a world tour. Seeger died earlier this year of course, and in this postscript to his life we look at how Seeger's music was very similar to that of the guitar poets in eastern Europe in the post-Stalin period.

Magazine article

Escape from Carlsbad

by hidden europe

The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in older travel literature as Carlsbad). The doctors treating spa clients would naturally prefer that their patients walk rather than ride up the hillside.

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Yuri gets a ticket

Yuri overstayed the limit. So he was given a ticket. Then the authorities ushered Yuri out of town. Now he's parked outside the airport terminal. How long he'll stay there is a matter for debate. Our guess is that, as long as Russians keep flying into town, Yuri will be allowed to stay outside the airport.

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Into the hills: a Bohemian diversion

by Nicky Gardner

Of course one can speed across Europe on sleek, fast trains. But slow trains, the kind that dawdle along branch lines, are so much more interesting. We ride a rural rail route in northern Bohemia, where fading railway stations reveal a Habsburg history. Join us on the slow train to Dolni Poustevna.

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After the flood

The waters came, and so did the European media. The water was ruthless and unsympathetic. It tore down bridges and wrecked homes. The mud and debris that came with the flood blocked culverts and drains. Lives were put on the line. So too were livelihoods as the water flooded factories, warehouses and business premises.

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200 years of summer holidays

The thrice-daily local bus service from Altenberg to Teplice is a blessing for cross-border travellers. The bus crosses the mountains that define the border between Saxony and Bohemia. When we rode this route last Thursday, there were just five passengers on the lunchtime bus. The half-hour journey rolls back through two hundred years of history and is a link between two worlds.

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Slovakia: a foray into modernism

by Nicky Gardner

Slovakia boasts some of the finest modernist architecture anywhere in Europe, though you would hardly know it from the guidebooks. There is something distinctly Slovakian about these buildings which, during the years that Slovakia was linked to the Czech Republic, became a quiet assertion of national identity.

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Origins: from Marie Curie to Tom Stoppard

It is always interesting to discover the places where famous folk were born. Who ever would have thought that Andre Agassi, the son of an Iranian-born boxer, should have first seen the light of our world in Las Vegas? hidden europe visits the home towns of Marie Curie and Tom Stoppard.

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A day in Domažlice

by Nicky Gardner

The small towns of southwest Bohemia, many of them just a stone's throw from the border with Bavaria, are well off most tourist trails. We visit Domazlice, a town in the hills that boasts a beautiful elongate plaza at its heart.

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Hungarian rhapsody

by Nicky Gardner

Sometimes we travel to really get somewhere. But occasionally a journey is worthwhile merely for its own sake. Sit back, relax, and from the comfort of a corner seat watch all the world go by on the train from Berlin to Budapest.

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Bohemian borderlands

The first town over the hills, on the Czech side of the border, is Domazlice. Just twenty minutes on the steam trains that this weekend shuttle between Furth and Domazlice. The Czech town has a fabulous elongated main square that during these festive days is filled with folksy performances: singers and dancers, bagpipes and brass bands aplenty.

Magazine article

Teschen talk

by Nicky Gardner

we make a midwinter journey through an outpost of the former Habsburg empire, the area that was once Austrian Silesia

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Cultivating the soul

by Nicky Gardner

We refresh our wearied and wandering minds in two intriguing gardens. We visit a secret garden in Prague, and hidden europe reader Mervyn Benford reports on a humble Swedish postman who followed in Linnaeus' footsteps.

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Of carbuncles and communist memories: Prague

by Mark Baker

Is it better to remember the communist period in Prague or merely to bury it? Guest contributor Mark Baker reports on the debate about the future of two Prague department stores that evoke a few too many memories for some folk.

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Icons or eyesores

by hidden europe

Most visitors look to Prague for a feast of Gothic and baroque. But what of the city's modern architecture? Prague boasts what is probably the finest cubist interior anywhere in the world. We visit the Grand Café Orient.

Magazine article

The Via Sacra

by Nicky Gardner

The Via Sacra is an inspired initiative that foregrounds the religious heritage of a particularly beautiful part of central Europe - the area where Bohemia (Czech Republic), Polish Silesia and the German State of Saxony converge.

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National tipples

by Nicky Gardner

When did you last see a bottle of Unicum for sale outside Hungary? We try out a few drinks that are inexorably associated with a particular region: from Kvint to kvass, from Irn-Bru to Almdudler.

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Piety and community: the Moravian Brethren

by Nicky Gardner

Cast your eye over the cemetery at Herrnhut to find out why this small community in eastern Saxony exerts so powerful a pull on members of the Moravian Church around the world. hidden europe explores the origins and influence of the Moravian Brethren.

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Election special

by Nicky Gardner

Tired of McCain and Obama? Fed up with Sarah Palin's take on foreign policy? We have the perfect antidote with a hidden eruope round up of elections from Iceland to Malta, the Czech Republic to Azerbaijan.

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Global versus local: the pursuit of uniqueness

Skip the club sandwich and the frozen margaritas. Remember that the central rite of passage for successful travellers is to escape the prevailing tide of uniformity that engulfs Europe's prime tourist centres. We review a series of guidebooks, all written by Duncan JD Smith, that celebrate that which is unique to various central European cities.

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More than a streetcar

by hidden europe

Inter-municipal tram routes still survives here and there in Europe. We survey examples from the Ruhr region of Germany, Bohemia, the Isle of Man and England.

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So where is Mukaceve

by Nicky Gardner

Ruthenia and the Rusyn language scarcely figure in our mental maps of Europe. But Rusyn life & culture are alive and well in the remote valleys of the Carpathians.

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The slow train

by Nicky Gardner

evoking the flavour of a hot summer afternoon in the Bohemian hills, hidden europe takes the slow train from Liberec to Decí­n

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Liberec (Czech Republic)

The Bohemian city of Liberec is much in the news this week as it hosts the Nordic World Ski Championships. Liberec has an improbably old-style hotel, called Imperial, that is an amazing throwback to the past. Its foyer still displays an old communist era map of a united Czechoslavakia, and the interior furnishings look like something straight out of a Soviet film set.

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A matter of time - Belgrade

hidden europe reports on European elections and a referendum in Jersey. We also visit Belgrade and think about the city's illustrious history - the times when the Orient Express stopped in Belgrade.

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New links across Schengen borders

The burden of having to show a passport at a border was never an onerous one (assuming you had an EU passport of course), but it still presented a psychological barrier. Now cross-border excursions for shopping or sightseeing are becoming ever more common. And Europe's new-found enthusiasm for border hopping is mirrored in a growing range of cross-border transport links.

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Strangers churches

In the heart of the City of London, there used to be all manner of Strangers Churches (as churches for foreigners are commonly termed). There was a Spanish church, a Scots church and a Lutheran church from Hamburg. The Dutch community at Austin Friars, established in the mid-sixteenth century, is still very active today, albeit not in their original church which was destroyed in 1940.

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Landswaps: Czech Republic and Slovakia

Sidonie was not the only place to change hands on that July day. Fifty kilometres away to the southwest, the hamlet of U Sabotu was ceded to Slovakia by the Czech Republic. Most of the population secured a handsome financial windfall from the Prague government, which compensated Czech citizens in U Sabotu for the inconvenience of suddenly finding themselves in a foreign country.

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Special subscription offer - an improbable Czech memorial

Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic is certainly an unsung spot. hidden europe stopped off here in early April, revisiting a town that first caught our attention three years back when we found an intriguing few lines in The Rough Guide to The Czech & Slovak Republics.