Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dutch hospitality in Czech Paradise


Sometimes you meet people with whom you just click. Of course that is an experience that I have had in the UK, but somehow I find it happens more frequently here. I don't know why it is like that. It is in part I suspect because being the outsider makes me less likely to give in to British reserve. Maybe I just find it easier to get on with the Czechs.

Two people I clicked with were my hosts at the pension I stayed at over last weekend in Czech Paradise. Jan and Jeanette are, like me, non-Czechs who fell in love with this country and who bought a home here. Obviously we have a lot in common to talk about: horror stories about buying and restoring ruined Czech farmhouses, the trail of serendipity that brought us here in the first place. Also staying were Harold and Will, who came first as paying visitors and have been coming back as friends ever since.

Pension Kidafo sits in a hectare of land studded with fruit trees. I commiserated with them about the endless mowing required. After I arrived we sat drinking a beer, chatting and watching butterflies sipping the juices leaking from fallen plums. I was introduced to the cats that my hosts had adopted and which were watching the butterflies with hunters' eyes.

When I went upstairs to change before we went to a local restaurant, and I found a bottle of Czech bubbly by my door! Jan and Jeanette give a bottle to the first visitor from a nationality and I was the first Brit. Of course I shared the bottle with my hosts. The warmth of their welcome reminded me of my friend Hannah, who always made visitors staying in her pension feel like old friends. It is a rare gift to be able to put people at ease like that.

Until now I have not talked on this blog about the pensions and hotels I have stayed in. This is because of my business. People pay for my knowledge of where best to stay. But by this time next week the last of my customers will be on their way home, so I am breaking with this rule.

Jan and Jeanette's pension is in a small town called Libun. The town isn't that impressive, but its location is brilliant. Libun sits on the plain below the Prachovske Rocks, one of the area's most spectacular rock towns. It also stands on the junction of two railway lines. One runs east/west from Turnov, via Jicin and on to Hradec Kralove. The other runs from the Skoda city of Mlada Boleslav, via Sobotka to Stary Paka. What this means that you can explore a large part of Czech Paradise without having to change trains and indeed having to hire a car. Perfect for walkers and those of us who support environmentally sound tourism.

You can book your room at Pension Kidafo on Booking.com and AirBnB.

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