Like most children, Lucy has been out of school for the summer. We kept her busy in July with various day camps that her school offers, but we knew that we would need to fill up August with something to keep all of us from going crazy. We’ve done a good bit of travelling since we moved here last year, but haven’t done any travelling within the country, so we decided to spend the time visiting a few cities and villages in the Czech Republic. So the first weekend of August we packed a few bags and caught the train to Loket, a small village on the eastern edge of Bohemia, close to the German border for a few days of relaxing, sightseeing, scootering, and an attempt at canoeing.
The way the trip actually came about is actually pretty funny in retrospect. We had been talking a lot about setting up some little trips like this, but by mid-July had yet to actually schedule any of them. One day January sent me a message with a link to an article about Loket, and I gave it a cursory look and replied with something short, like “looks nice!” At some point the next day she sent me a Booking.com link to a very affordable pension in Loket. It was something like 75€ a night including breakfast, and January had apparently somewhat randomly selected a 5-day range in early August. I noticed that the pension didn’t require any up-front payment, so I just booked it—and that’s how we ended up in Loket.
First, the train ride. Since moving to Europe I’ve always romanticized the idea of a scenic train ride across the country side, so I was excited to have an excuse to finally schedule it. As you might expect, Prague has a very convenient and centrally located train station called Hlavní NadražiLiterally 'Main Train Station' that is a 10 minute tram ride from our house. Round trip tickets for all three of us were around $50. Once we were able to find a relative empty compartment that we could spread out and enjoy the ride, we really had a nice time.
We arrived in Loket mid-afternoon and took the quick, five minute talk to our temporary home, Quest Penzion. Our room was perfect: two large beds and a beautiful view overlooking the entrance to the city.
Our penzion also rented out bikes and scooters by the day, and once Lucy learned about this we knew exactly what we would be doing on day one: Scooter tour of Loket!
Lucy and I shared the shorter one while January led the way, and we rode these awesome scooters literally all the way around Loket. I said it was a small town, but it might put it in perspective to tell you that it took us all of one hour to ride these guys completely around the village.
Our scooter route was just on the inside of the river, all the way around, and it gave us some really great views of the Ohře river as well as the castle up on the hill at the center of town.
Day two was a rain out, but we able to spend it dodging raindrops and visiting all of the cafes and restaurants in the city, as well as sampling the various beers, ice creams, and sweet dumplings.
On day 3, the real adventure began. When we first booked our trip and we were explaining to Lucy all of the things we could do in Loket, there was one specific item she was really excited about: canoeing. As you could see from the map of the city, Loket is situated on a little elbow in the Ohře river, which continues on north to the one of the larger tourist destinations in the Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary. Karlovy Vary is well know for its many natural springs and spas, and we thought it would be the perfect idea to rent a canoe, pile in, and take a nice leisurely ride down the river and spend the day in another city. It turns out that we grossly underestimated both the difficulty involved in canoeing as well as how shallow the Ohře river would turn out to be.
The map above shows our projected travel route from Loket to Karlovy Vary. The red X is how far we made it without capsizing. Fortunately all of our valuables were in either water tight plastic drums or our own waterproof travels bags, but regardless tipping a canoe in 50℉ weather is no picnic. After securing Lucy, chasing our upside-down canoe down the river, and wrestling everything to the shore (with some help from a very helpful German couple who was coming down the river right behind us) we spent some time on the bank to warm up and regroup. Once we were finally situated and ready to get back in, it started raining. And I don’t mean rain, I mean pouring. Given that we were in the middle of nowhere, though, we had little choice but to press on. We continued to the red dot on the map where there was a small rest / concession area, and that’s where we decided to call an early day to our canoeing adventure.
Our fourth and final day in Loket was less physically strenuous and much more relaxing; We spent it exploring the castle in the center of the village.
The castle even comes with its own dragon down in the cellar!
On our final day we spent a little more time relaxing in the cafes and enjoying small-town life. Loket was a lot of fun, and a great place for a relaxing trip away from the city. I think we will very likely return.