TRAVEL: For culture, do Czech this out
WHILE on a Hyundai event, Roger Houghton took the opportunity to explore Prague
The Czech Republic is probably not on many South Africans’ list of destinations they want to visit, but it is an intriguing country with a myriad cultural attractions. It is also scenically beautiful, particularly at this time of the year with all the snow making it look like a never-ending picture postcard.
However, there is a downside to the winter and this takes the form of some huge potholes — even by South African standards! We went on a fairly short drive in a variety of Hyundais and several times had to dodge large holes caused, evidently, by a combination of icy weather and heavy trucks.
However, driving on well-marked roads in relatively light traffic with a 130km/h speed limit on motorways is a real treat for a South African.
The transport system in the Czech Republic is an integrated combination of high-speed trains and trams running in the centre of roads in the cities.
An evening cruise on the Vltava River (Moldau River in Germany) is a delight as it meanders its way through the cultural centre of Prague, passing under 18 bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge with its many beautiful statues.
Most of our time was spent in and around Ostrava, the third-largest city in the comparatively sparsely inhabited Czech Republic. This is close to Poland and situated near a number of ski resorts and a PGA-rated golf course, so there are plenty of outdoor activities within easy reach.
The landlocked republic prides itself on its wide variety of cultural offerings from opera to orchestral concerts, a host of museums and art galleries.
Prague was fortunately not damaged during the Second World War and its castle — built over a period of 10 centuries — is a real must-see as an example of the country’s changing architectural styles.
Then, of course, the Czech Republic has a well-deserved reputation for its beer and the multitude of breweries (some owned by SAB-Miller) attest to this valuable export.
Getting around the beautiful country is easy and, most importantly, it is a very good value-for-money port of call for South African travellers when compared to most countries in Europe.
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