Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Harrachov is a small town on the Mumlava River, in the North of The Czech Republic, about 4km from the border with Poland. It is the Krkonoše National Park, so is surrounded on all sides by mountains perfect for Cross-country Skiing, hiking, mountain biking and trail runnning. The largest mountain, Čertova Hora (Devil's Mountain), is an ever-present shadow over the town at 1021m. It has an impressive Ski jump running down its side. It is called “Mammoth," and was built in 1980, allowing the town to host the ski jump world championships twice.

Now, in the middle of winter, the town is buzzing with tourists from around the Czech, from Germany and Poland (and Australia), and the town has a festive village atmosphere.

One of the typical Vietnamese markets is in the background. Here you can buy anything you could imagine needing as an unsuspecting tourist unaccustomed to a cold climate (Notice the sign in the telephone box: "LEARN ENGLISH").

Today the weather cleared, the temperature dropped to -10 degrees and the town was sparkling from fresh snow that had fallen during the night, making for a beautiful morning.

I am staying in a cottage called "Chata Preciosa" located at the edge of town. It is owned by Preciosa, a glass company, and many of the guests tend to come from the factories. There is room for 50 people, and they can enjoy the comforts of a hearty Czech breakfast every morning (Cheese and salami, special Czech bread called Chleba, Czech breadrolls called Houska, cornflakes and tea/coffee), a warm, cosy lounge room with an open fireplace, and a games room (with Eurosport and BBC News available on the TV!).

Next door to our chata is Hotel Sklars, an impressive building full of German tourists that is also home to a “Wellness Centre” that we get to use for free! After a day of running and skiing, when the muscles are aching and the legs are bruised (from many falls), nothing heals the body and ego better than a Sauna, Steam room and Spa session!

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