This area of Northern Bohemia is also called the Bohemian Paradise and it is an area of spectacular landscapes of huge pines trees dotted with towering sandstone rock formations. We stayed at a very well located campsite just south of Turnov and which allowed us to start hiking in the national park within 500 metres or so of our van. We found that trails were very well marked and while strenuous at times not too much so – well, we never turned around. Occasionally we would come across an old castle built amongst the rocks and the views were quite spectacular.
The weather was not very good but mostly we managed to avoid the heavy rain storms. During our stay we braved the weather and took the train to Borek (only two stops down the line, so a snip at Kr9 each for a single) and then walked a couple of kilometers – much of it steeply uphill – to the C14 Trosky Castle which occupies a commanding position and is visible for miles around. It now consists of two towers and is often used on Czech tourism posters. We arrived at the castle gates at the same time as the heavy weather so we took shelter in a café where we had a couple of beers and ordered the two top things from the menu (the feller running the place could do German but not English). They turned out to be (1) hot-dog with bread and mustard and (2) fatty bratwurst with bread and mustard. Served on a paper plate and no cutlery, they were cheap (the total bill was only Kr94 – less than £4) and it kept us out of the hail, but we have both eaten bratwurst for several days on the trot and could do with something different for lunch.
On leaving our campsite we stopped at Jicin (pronounced Yichin) which is twinned with Kings Lynn for a whistle stop visit. This was a pleasant little town with a handsome renaissance square, part of which was being resurfaced and the other part occupied by a market manned by Chinese stallholders. There is a massive chateau in the town square which seems to have been broken up into separate units including a museum which was holding a rather charming fete when we were there. We expressed an interest in some of the activities and Sheila was presented with a small handmade toy by a guy we think had something to do with the museum itself which was very sweet.