Every year we tend to spend the whole of summer holiday in my home country, the Czech Republic. Not only my girls this way get some precious time to spend with all my family and friends, but they also polish their Czech language.
After a few weeks, I can always see so much improvement in their language.
I have actually never spent a summer in Britain, so cannot complain what it’s like but next summer Isabelle will be preparing for the dreading Year 6 exams, so we will probably have to spend most of it here in London.
But now back to our summer holiday in the Czech Republic.
For the people who have not come across this lovely little country situated in the heart of Europe, the capital is Prague with population over 2 million people, and is often mistaken for a German city, no idea why?
It’s a stunning city, very popular with tourists from all over the world, and I love coming back and finding new places or things to do every year.
Despite my love for Prague, today I would like to focus more on things and places to see in the Western part of the Czech Republic as that’s where I am from.
It’s always great to be back in Sokolov. It’s the town I was born in, my family lives in and most of my friends too, but as a town built around brown coal mines, it is probably not what you would be looking for as a holiday destination.
On the other hand, many of the old mines have been transformed into lakes, natural walks and the scenery around has changed a lot in past 15 years. Look at the lovely Medard artificial lake, which used to be a brown coal mine a few years ago!
Sokolov is also known for raising a few good ice-hockey players that represented well on national level as well as internationally, mostly in the NHL.
Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is a lovely spa town, about 30km from my home town. This is a place well-known not only for its spas but also for glass and ceramic products, and cannot forget to mention the famous Czech spirit Becherovka.
This town is very popular with tourists from all over the world, but thanks to the Russian invasion/occupation back in 1968/69, you can see all the signs in Russian too, which will probably be never forgotten (by the locals mainly).
This is also where the famous Karlovy vary International Film Festival takes place every year in June, and is visited by famous actors from Hollywood too. If you want to spot some celebrities, this is the event not to miss!
Another lovely spa town located in the Western part of Bohemia is Frantiskovy Lazne (Franzensbad), a much smaller town with almost a village feeling.
This is the place we often visit as my mum has a lovely weekend house near the Skalka lake which is not far from there, and that’s where we are based for the whole of our summer stay.
Make sure you visit the newly opened mirror maze and take a little train to the little Zoo by the Amerika lake. It’s surrounded by beautiful spruces, larches and pine trees. You can often spot people mushroom picking too!
We often make bike trips, and I also go running there. Once you are there, don’t forget to visit the Aquaforum with a few indoor and outdoor pools, and lots of attractions for kids.
Both Karlovy Vary and Frantiskovy Lazne are very popular spa towns, so don’t be surprised they are full of elderly people but tourists too.
You can get many different treatments there as well as the chance to taste natural hot & cold springs that help ill people while being treated there.
Every time we come for a visit, both my girls love indulging on freshly baked chocolate or hazelnut spa wafers. We always bring a few boxes back to London as gifts for friends. These are very popular and disappear soon after our arrival in London before the girls are back to school!
One of my favourite places is a little village called “Loket” which is about 10km from Sokolov, my hometown. The Loket Castle is a stunning 12th-century Gothic style castle built on a massive rock, surrounded on three sides by the Ohre river.
Once known as “the Impregnable Castle of Bohemia”, because of its thick walls, it is one of the oldest and most valuable historical stone castles in the Czech lands.
Loket town is also the host for the Czech motocross grand prix.
Every year we go canoeing on the Ohre river with my brother and his family. This year even our 4-year-old Olivia joined us, and was a great help while exploring the natural beauties of the Czech countryside while paddling.
One of the places we pass by and stop for a little break are the amazing Svatosske Skaly rock mountains.
In the forests of this reservation, sections of pine woods with dwarf oaks on rocks, silver fir on scree areas and small-leaf lime in gorges along with scree hillocks, help reserve it for the future.
From time immemorial strange rock formations, unusual in size, have lain in the deep valley of a rapid river and their purely unique presence in the wider vicinity have long stimulated people’s fantasy for an explanation of the origin of these rocks.
This is how the ancient legend, retold in many versions, about Hans Heiling and the wedding parade which was turned into stone, originated.
This year I also had a chance to take my girls to the city where I studied at the West Bohemian University to become a secondary teacher.
I have not been back for over 15 years, and it has changed so much!
It is world-known for the beer industry. Who would not like to have a few pints of the best beer in the world? Many people know of Pilsner Urquel and other beers you can even get in the UK, but my favourite is Gambrinus, and when I am over in the summer, I only drink this brand and if you get a chance try it too, you will not be disappointed!
The reason we decided to visit Pilsen this summer was to pay a visit to the Techmania Science Centre for kids. Most of my friends’ children love going there and keep on going back. As Olivia is nearly 5 years old, I thought it was also suitable for her, and we spend over 4 hours there!
Both girls loved checking out all the exhibitions and I was amazed at how much Olivia already knew about the Solar System from last year’s nursery teacher.
Pilsen is also a great place with a few shopping centres and lovely little restaurants based near the main town square.
It was a bit emotional coming back to where I used to study in my twenties, and where my 20-year-old niece studies at uni too, and hopefully will take daddy there one day too.
There is also a lovely ZOO, which we need to check out next time as we ran out of time.
There are so many lovely places in the Czech Republic and I will be sharing more of these soon in my next “Our Summer Postcards” adventure.
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I would love if you could spend a few seconds and supported us by voting.
Thank you and bon voyage!