Bohemian Rhapsody

The legendary six-minute single by Queen, is what many call the greatest song ever written. It’s still one of the best-selling rock singles of all time, was voted The Song of the Millennium in 2000, and was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the No. 1 song of all time.

A Bohemian is a resident of Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic or the former Kingdom of Bohemia, a region of the former Crown of Bohemia (lands of the Bohemian Crown). In English, the word “Bohemian” was used to denote the Czech people as well as the Czech language before the word “Czech” became prevalent in the early 20th century.


To get to Bohemia we still have to travel on a few Polish roads. In general most of the main the roads in Poland are ok. We happened to pick one of the bumpiest ones!

The Notorious E36 or national road 18, the southbound part of national is in a shoddy condition. So much so, that some people even call it “the longest staircase in Europe.” 

We didn’t see many photographic images of Polish towns as we drove south but this was one

Before we left our very short dip into Poland we had a very enjoyable night in attractive Camp66, a great campsite in the Karkonosze mountains near Karpacau.

Camp66 – Great campsite with big log cabin restaurant

Karpacau is a spa town, a ski resort and is supposedly a popular centre for walking and is promoted as this area’s alternative to the Alps. Judging by the volume of people milling around on a snowless Sunday, they looked like they’d had a good lunch and were wondering how they’d make the 100m trek back to their coach! All very reminiscent of the hordes of visitors who flock to Bowness-on-Windermere.

Poland is on one side of the Karkonosze mountains, the Czech Republic is on the other. But before heading to the border and not wishing to be tarred as cozy coach travellers, our plan was to take a short walk to Chojnik Castle.

This ruined castle sits on a prominent hilltop with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. The challenge is getting to it. On the map it only looked about 3kms but 2.9k of that was up! along a broken cobbled path and very steep in places.

As we arrived near the end of the afternoon and it was about to close, we managed to blag our way through the pay kiosk without paying.

It seemed this fresh, dry, autumn Sunday afternoon had bought the locals out and seemed very popular with families, couples and groups. We tried in vain to engage with our fellow ramblers, saying an occasional Hello hoping to get a Cześć or Hi back, but as they descended and we climbed up trying not to look like our lungs were about to explode, making eye contact is very clearly not the done thing around here……?


The views from the top were worth the effort and after an easy route back down we felt recovered and quite worthy.

Just before the border we had a slight altercation with a grumpy driver at a one-way system at bridge under repair, but when we wouldn’t reverse, after much shouting he gave way. We carried on to Harrachov, close to the Polish border and home of the Čertova Hova ski area and Čerťák ski jump. Even without the snow with lots of ski rental shops, it still felt like a ski town. It seemed they were expecting the white stuff anytime as all the empty car parks had barriers or chains.

We eventually settled on one with a friendly disabled man in a hut, who insisted on charging us 2 x €4 for two day tickets in spite of us explaining we were only staying overnight.

Next morning, we were up early (for us) and was good to be out in the bracing air, wrapped up against the cold. The pavements were slippy as we made our way to the start of the walk to the Mumlava waterfalls.

Drips of water had frozen on the tips of fir trees looking like fairy lights on a xmas tree.

Keeping the stream on our left we walked up the frosty path through pine forests, stopping to look at the strange ice patterns on odd pieces of wood.

These strange frost formations looked like Santa Claus’s moustache.
National Park, Mumlava Waterfall that cascades into deep pools.

After the walk and now suitably warmed up, we next headed south towards the town of Jičín. After a few sat nav wrong turns we found, the Prachov Rocks and our second walk of the day that was completely different. No water in sight. But the rocks, wow!

The rocks are part of the Prachovské Skály nature reserve. The region is called Bohemian Paradise, Český ráj in Czech.

This is one of the most popular regions in the Czech Republic. However today, out of season and with a low blanket of cloud covering the area we had the place virtually to ourselves. With the entrance kiosk unmanned, we followed the path up a gentle incline into a forest which opened up with the most striking tall sandstone rock formations.

The sandstone pillars were so tall we got cricks in our necks looking up at them. There were various marked trails to choose from. Setting off on the longest path and with route finding easy as we followed the colour coded signs – up steps, down steps, up more steps, and squeezing through narrow gaps between huge stones, up more steps….there were a LOT of steps.

The beginnings of the sandstone formations date back to the Mesozoic era when the whole territory was flooded with sea water. Millions of years later, the region was pushed up by the effects of powerful tectonic powers, the flood shrank back and the seabed split into separate blocks. Then wind and rain caused erosion creating the distinctive with tall rock towers and deep rock gaps.

Making it up to the various viewing points, we then had to climb down steep staircases carved in the rocks holding onto the handrails on the slippery steps. The tortuous path took us round in a loop through narrow gaps to yet new vantage points to look down on nature’s impressive carved exhibits.  The circular route was only about 3.5 km but with all the ups and downs it took us about 2 hours. We finished tired, happy and impressed.

It’s a shame the mist made the photos hazy, but it made the atmosphere all the more mist-teary-us

On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two independent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is sometimes known, as the Velvet Divorce a reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution of November 1989, that led to the end of the rule of the Communist party of Czechoslovakia and the restoration of a capitalist state in the country.

Demonstrators hold signs at an anti-government protest before the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. [David W Cerny/Reuters]
Demonstrators in Prague 9th November 2019 at an anti-government protest before the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution

Old habits die hard so it taken us a while to re-programmed ourselves to say that we we’re in Czech or The Czech Republic rather than are in Czechoslovakia…. So as we left Czech and went across the border to Germany, there were no checks and from now on it’s ‘Check-no-Slovakia’…… groan!

Czech / German border – No longer in use

“Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth”

Toodle Pip


PS A “bohemian” is an unconventional artistic free spirit who lacks anything tying them down…. so where next?

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