Saturday, 1 September 2007

Wot No Sea!

Some of my English friends do not see how I could possibly buy a house in a country, which has no seaside, surely they say it would be better to buy in France or Spain, Croatia or Bulgaria. The British magazines about buying property abroad hardly mention the Czech Republic apart from references to buying in Prague or Brno. Again I think the assumption is that this landlocked country has little to appeal to us sea-loving Brits. Well they are wrong - there is water here, it just isn't salty.

A friend of mine came over for a long weekend with me a few weeks back. She had stayed with friends last year in Cesky Krumlov and loved it, so I decided to introduce her to the countryside around here. We took the little train from Horice Na Sumave station up to Lake Lipno. The ride is a complete joy and for only a couple of quid it is also a complete steal. It winds through the hills and wooded valleys behind our house, past unspoilt Lake Olsina in a natural bowl of mountains.

My friend could not help herself but kept exclaiming at the beauty of the scenery - "I had no idea that it was this beautiful," she said "No wonder you love living here." The train follows the shoreline of Lake Lipno with spectacular views of the Sumava beyond. This is the Czech equivalent of the Lake District, with the mountains covered with thick forests and snow in the winter. Lake Lipno is 48 kilometres long and up to 10 kilometres wide. The lake is the site of all sorts of activities you would normally find at the seaside - sailing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding, together with quieter activities such as fishing and swimming. But this inland "sea" offers more sports in the winter - skating, iceboarding and even ice skiing, whilst on the shore at Lipno there is a proper (land-based) ski resort.

My friend now plans to bring her teenage sons for a action-packed holiday at Lipno. As for me the very thought of all that activity leaves me exhausted. Give me instead a glass of Czech red wine on the veranda of a restaurant looking out over the lake, as the sun sets behind the Sumava mountains turning the still water surface from pink to silver to dark steel

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