Berlin’s winters have many problems, one of them being that Berlin is too far away from anything mountainous – but is that really true? Not if you’ve got a car and take the 400km drive down to Krkonoše, or the Riesengebirge as it is known in German, a mountain range on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic, home to the mountain giant Krakonoš, or Rübezahl. Sure, with its highest peak, Sněžka or Schneekoppe, reaching just a little over 1600m, it’s nowhere near Alpine in height, but it does offer an acceptable number of downhills, cross-country ski trails, and hiking routes. And it certainly doesn’t fail when it comes to romantic scenery.
I just spent a weekend in the area around the mountain resort of Špindlerův Mlýn and had some dear childhood memories revived. It’s where I used to go to learn skiing (which I totally unlearned), have Knedlík with various kinds of goulash, devour loads and loads of palačinka, crêpe-like pancakes with supersweet fruit filling and whipped cream, and have my seasonal time in the ice and snow. I realized I haven’t been back for several years, and after the past days I’m wondering why.
Though we skipped on the skiing and instead preferred walking through the woods this time, we still indulged in Czech cuisine, which is luckily easy to get in home-style quality in this area. Of course, times have changed, the ski resorts have “updated” themselves and you can get a seafood soup amidst design-y interiors in the bigger villages, yet there’s always a traditional bouda, cabin, nearby that serves homemade Czech dishes. And at unbeatable prices, one must say; we rarely paid over 10 Euro for a main dish.
Despite the rather grey weather and heavy fog, especially on our final day, we profoundly enjoyed our hikes and walks, and had no problems spending our time—with the help of several hot grogs and Staropramen beers, that is. I can only very much recommend escaping for a weekend, there are countless pretty cabins and nice small hotels to stay at, and even more delicious little restaurants to visit (we especially liked Myslivna, who have many venison dishes on their menu). Sadly, taking the train is more of an endeavor, taking well over eight hours, including several changes from Berlin.