Family holiday Czech style: my trip to Orlik and Podskali, Southern Bohemia

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I hate people who produce blog posts consisting solely of their holiday photos.   Save it for Facebook or the round robin email to your mates back home.

What you see above then, aren’t really holiday photos at all, more like documentary evidence from my latest expeditionary trip deep into Czechland.  Czechman’s parents rent a cottage (chata) near the same man-made lake every summer: they invited Czechman and I, along with his sister and her husband, to join them.

The cottage is in a holiday camp in a place called Podskali (literally ‘under rock’). The whole place had a ramshackle feel to it with chalets and tents and caravans scattered along the edge of the lake around a rundown looking hotel. A holiday camp back home in England usually means a place with a bingo hall, several amusement arcades and an entertainment complex where cabaret acts in the twilight of their careers put on a show for a few bored pensioners.

Not in Czechland.

Here the only ways to spend your money were playing table tennis, buying a paper or renting a rowing boat.  Or, of course, in the pub which we visited only once to get a beer to take to Czechman’s dad while he was fishing.

I’m not complaining though.  I think that this is just an example of how Czechs have mastered the art of having a good time without forking out too much cash.  We spent our time playing board games and cards, rowing back and forth across the lake and going for walks in the countryside. One of these expeditions turned into a spontaneous mushroom picking session.  I’m not very good at picking mushrooms, it turns out, probably because as Czechman’s dad pointed out, ‘you don’t really have a lot of this terrain in London, do you?’

I should also mention our day trip to Orlik, the white castle you can see in the photograph at the top.  It was inhabited by the Schwarzenbergs, a bunch of soldiering aristocrats who filled the palace with the antlers of deer they’d shot and lots of guns. There were so many dead things mounted on plaques and displayed on the walls I’m surprised they had time to do anything else but hunt.  The place must have looked even more impressive perched on the edge of a cliff as it would have been before the river was flooded to create the lake which powers the nearby hydroelectric dam.  It is worth seeing if you get the chance.

I spotted a woman striding into the lake with a bottle of shower gel in her hand, presumably to get a wash without having to pay for the showers.  Am I alone in finding this odd?

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10 Responses to Family holiday Czech style: my trip to Orlik and Podskali, Southern Bohemia

  1. I like the idea of the simple cottage-vacation-life in Czech Republic. Czechs really know how get out and enjoy the nature. But getting washed in the river/lake seems a bit strange to me as well, since the water doesnt seem that clean.

    I went to the Slapy Reservoir for the first time last weekend and we ended up finding huge mushrooms. Three of us were quite reluctant with the mushrooms but the native Czech just laughed at us for our precautions.

    Good luck with the Czech lingo, I’m sure you will get a hang of it eventually.

  2. Katka

    Finding the bath in the lake may be odd to foreigners but to Czechs – I don’t think they would find it odd at all. Actually, if I were there with a bunch of Czechs, I’d find it odd if one of them actually paid to shower rather than use the lake. I of course would pay to shower while all the Czechs would call me a spoiled American. Actually, I’ve been on several camping trips with my husbands family (Czech) here in the States and they always look for some fast flowing river to stop and take a bath in. I personal beg them to find a KOA (camp ground) or truck stop so I can pay $5 to take my shower. I know they all talk about how spoiled and wasteful I am, but I just shrug it off and let them talk. :o)

    Yet, I don’t always get my way therefore I’ve had my share of baths in a fast flowing river (never a lake and never before I met my Czech husband). It’s not the greatest, but I find it better than going without bathing. :o)

    P.S. Sorry, my comment was almost as long as your post. :o)

    • girlinczechland

      No, no, don’t worry about your comment being too long: this is all fascinating stuff! I’m so glad that the cottage had it’s own shower facilities or else I too would have been getting washed in the lake! Eek!

      Perhaps I could devote a whole post to behaviour which my/our Czech partners deem spoilt and Western, starting with not being allowed to waste money on buying a coffee at a train station just so that you have somewhere comfy to sit and wait… I’m sure there must be tons of other examples…


      • Marek

        Please, Girl, DO write such post! I am already looking forward to it 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your Czech-style holidays.

    • Michal

      Katka: Even though I’m a Czech guy with almost rural background, I still find the idea of taking a bar of soap and washing myself in Slapska prehrada or any other lake or pond used for recreational purposes not just odd, but also somehow rude – it feels to me like washing dishes in a swimming pool…

      On the other hand, bathing and even washing your clothes in a stream or river to keep yourself clean and prevent rashes during a long hike or trip in the woods is something different and I wouldn’t despise that.

  3. Marek

    The sign in the photo pointing to “The White house restaurant”?? 🙂

  4. girlinczechland

    White, clean, getting a wash… I didn’t even notice the connection! This blog works on *so* many levels…


  5. Vero

    As a czech kid growing up in Canada, I always disliked my ‘czech-style’ holidays. While my friends were going to Hawaii or Europe for the summer, my family and I would hop into our camper and ride off into the middle of the wilderness. We’d never get fast food or junk food or pre-bought stuff. My mom always packed sandwiches (wrapped in paper napkins, no less) and fruit and away we’d goooo!!
    How I longed to join my canadian friends and go to a restaurant and drink pop and have a burger. Or not have to share 1 ice-cream cone with my 3 other siblings.
    But, in hindsight, I have only good memories of my childhood. My parents made do with what we had and always tried to give us what they could.
    Great posts, girlinczechland

  6. m0606

    Hi GIC,
    Just wanted to let you know I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am glad to see you are discovering more about the Czechs and their way of life, that may seem, ehmm a bit unique in some ways. We haven’t had a good mushroom season in Maine yet this time around but we had a great one last year. I was surprised how little the mushrooms actually differ here from those you picked with your Czech friends in the not-so-London landscape there. Enjoy your life in Czech and perhaps I’ll bump into you on tram 22 or while visiting the newsstand at Roztyly when I come visit my good old home “clod” later this month…

  7. Misunka

    It definitely is odd…

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