Four years ago……

Decín Zámek/Château © Ricky Yates

….Sunday 27th March 2016 was Easter Day. The following day, I put myself on a train from Prague to Decín, intending to spend my post-Easter break, walking for a few days in Ceské Švýcarsko – Bohemian Switzerland, fulfilling the promise I made to myself when I had paid a day visit to the area, some six weeks previously.

Surprisingly at the time, I never wrote about this visit here on my blog. But a combination of the fourth anniversary, together with the need to occupy my evenings whilst currently in lock down because of the corona virus, means I’m doing so now. And whilst I have previously explained here, why I chose to retire and live in North Bohemia, I still regularly am asked why I chose this particular part of North Bohemia in which I now live. This post may help to answer that question.

Around midday on that Easter Monday 2016, I set off from Decín station, first alongside and then over the Labe river, through the town centre, in order to join the red waymarked route and walk to the border village of Hrensko.

Zigzag path © Ricky Yates

After a steep climb up this zig-zag path, I was rewarded with a splendid view of Decín.

Kanon Labe © Ricky Yates

Further on, there were wonderful views of Kanon Labe which I have described and illustrated in this more recent post.

The path then took me for several kilometres through the forest to the village of Labská Strán.

Sign on outskirts of Labská Strán © Ricky Yates

On the outskirts of the village was this delightful sign. To the left you will find the Hrbitov/Cemetery, whilst to the right is the way do vesnice/to the village. But the top fingerpost tells you where to go Na houby/for mushrooms, whilst the bottom fingerpost tells you where to go Na pivo/for a beer 🙂 Only in the Czech Republic!

From Labská Strán, the path descended into, and then along, an almost dry river valley before becoming a narrow pavement alongside the main Decín – Dresden road and the Labe river, for the last 1.5km into Hrensko. Having walked over 20km, I was very pleased to reach Hotel Labe where I had already booked to spend the night.

The next day, I continued along the red waymarked route, repeating the first part of the walk I had undertaken on my day visit, six weeks earlier. This took me up to Pravcická brána…..

Pravcická brána © Ricky Yates

…..and then along under steep cliffs…..

Steep cliffs © Ricky Yates

…….to the small village of Mezní Louka. But it was whilst I was on this section of my walk that I had an unfortunate mishap. My old but faithful trekking pole snapped and would no longer support me.

Whilst walking the Chemin de St Jacques, in France, in 2002, I became a convert to walking with a trekking pole. Particularly as I have got older, I don’t feel confident walking on an uneven path, without a trekking pole in hand, to help me keep my balance. This is especially true if I’m also carrying several kilos in a backpack. Therefore I was quite pleased to reach the road at Mezní Louka, without falling over!

I had planned to continue walking along the red waymarked route, to the village of Jetrichovice, where I had already booked ahead to spend the night in Penzion Drevák. But without a functioning trekking pole, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Instead, I took a different route, partly consisting of gravelled tracks and the rest along tarmacked roads. Thus I safely walked into Jetrichovice, later that afternoon.

Jetrichovice © Ricky Yates

Penzion Drevák © Ricky Yates

After checking in at Penzion Drevák, I went for a short walk around the village. Within sight of the penzion was a bus stop, on which there was the timetable of bus service 436, into Decín. Believing that a town of 50,000 people, next to a popular walking area, would have a sports shop selling trekking poles, I noted the time of a bus departing mid-morning the next day, and told my hosts at the penzion, I would be staying with them a second night.

The next morning after breakfast, I went to the bus stop in good time and waited. Very close to the designated time, along came the bus. There followed a very scenic bus journey lasting nearly an hour, through a whole series of attractive villages, including one called Stará Oleška 🙂 Yes, that bus journey actually took me past the front door of the house where I now live!

Upon arrival in Decín, I searched the town centre, looking for a sports shop, but couldn’t find one. Eventually I spotted new shopping complex slightly out of the town centre, with a large Kaufland supermarket – the place where I now do nearly all my food shopping. Next to it was, and still is, a large Sportisimo sports shop. Inside, I found a pair of trekking poles for a very reasonable price. Mission accomplished!

After a pub lunch, I caught the early afternoon bus and enjoyed the same scenic journey of a few hours earlier, in the reverse direction, back to Jetrichovice.

Mariina skála © Ricky Yates

The next day, I did walk part of the red waymarked route I had avoided two days earlier. I climbed from Jetrichovice, up to Mariina skála, from where there are wonderful views over the surrounding area. Very worthwhile, even though it was a bit misty that day.

View from Mariina skála © Ricky Yates

Jetrichovice as seen from Mariina skála © Ricky Yates

Slightly further on is Balzerovo ležení, an interesting rock formation which has a picnic table beneath it. Please note my shiny new trekking pole propped up against the table 🙂 Then, rather than retracing my steps, I made a circular return to Jetrichovice, via the yellow waymarked route.

Balzerovo ležení with picnic table © Ricky Yates

On Friday 1st April 2016, I once more caught the 436 bus in Jetrichovice, all the way to Decín railway station for my return journey to Prague. Exploring this specific area on foot and then by bus, left a permanent impression on me. Whilst I never said to myself that I wanted to live in a village on the 436 bus route, when nearly a year later, I saw the house in which I now live, on the Vesta Reality website, I knew immediately where is was. And the rest, as they say, is history!

12 comments to Four years ago……

  • Alan Schmidt

    It is interesting how seemingly random things lead to life changing decisions.

  • Stephen Morris

    How is the situation in your area, Ricky? Here in my neighborhood of NYC the markets are fairly well stocked and we get out walking around the neighborhood for exercise and fresh air 1x daily. Lots of ZOOM meetings. Stay well!

    • Ricky

      We’re in lock-down and the border with Germany is closed. But food shops & pharmacies are open & last Friday, when I went to the supermarket in Decín, it was well-stocked. I also got three E repeat prescriptions from my GP & had these dispensed at the pharmacy. All current restrictions have been extended until 11th April. I can go out walking in ‘the nature’, as long as I wear my face mask. And I’m trying to get things done in the garden.

  • Robert Doolittle

    Nice to see you again Ricky. As per usual, a wonderful photographic experience.
    Almost, but not quite as good as being there in person. You will be interested to hear that Sean McCann and I have been communicating via on a regular basis. Presently I owe him a response to a very long e-mail. We have been exchanging histories of our families and he has been filling me in on my missing Irish history.
    Bob Doolittle

    • Ricky

      Nice to have visiting & commenting once again, Bob.Thank you for complimenting me on the photographs. But I very much agree with you, even better to visit these places in person.

      I’m very pleased that you and Sean are in touch with each other. I’m rather touched that my blog has brought this about 🙂

  • Wow! It’s cool to see how that journey really was the beginning of everything that has happened since then. Hope all is well in the village these days 🙂

    • Ricky

      Hi Cynthia! It is amazing that my trekking pole breaking, resulted in a scenic bus journey. But it was as you say, ‘the beginning of everything that has happened since then’.

      Here in Stará Oleška, all is well but very quiet. No visiting Germans because the border is closed. Likewise, no village bar-restaurant to gather in. Trying to get things done in my garden with the fine weather we’ve been having as all my other activities are suspended at present.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    Great to hear you are safe and well and able to ramble in ‘the nature’ and work in your garden; life has certainly been turned upside down for the vast majority of people in the world in the past few weeks. I think living in a rural place is a wonderful tonic in such stressful times, you are reassured every day by signs of nature continuing as normal; buds on the trees, the dawn chorus of birdsong, flowers in the fields and hedgerows. In the fields near our home we have young lambs and calves and in our garden two young hares have come to live; all are reminders that ‘this too will pass’ and to ‘be not afraid’.
    As Robert Doolittle has told you, we are in communication via e-mail and I was delighted to hear recently that he and his family are well and they are “trying not to watch too much news” – sage advice at present!
    Wishing you and yours a happy and blessed Easter Ricky and go dté sibh go léir slán – may you all go safely in these dark days.
    God bless, Sean.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,
      Yes – safe & well, living in splendid isolation in my little house in North Bohemia. As I’ve said in answer to earlier commenters, I’ve been able to work in my garden & have got lots of things done in advance of a spurt of Spring growth, aided by a spell of dry & relatively warm weather. As you say, various signs of Spring can be observed – my tulip & daffodil bulbs, (given to me by my daughter at Christmas 2018), have this year flowered beautifully. The hedgerows are slowly turning green.

      Certainly the world has been turned upside down by the Corona virus and I don’t think it will be quite the same world when all this is over, whenever that might be.

      Thank you for your Easter greetings which I reciprocate. Writing this reply on the evening of Holy Saturday, it seems very strange not to have service to officiate at or attend, tomorrow morning. But as it is now dark, I will go and light the candle in my front window as I have done nearly every night since Sunday 22nd March. In the words of the Archbishops of Canterbury & York, it is ‘a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished’.

      Thank you as always, Sean, for faithfully visiting & commenting.

  • Robert Doolittle