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Karlsteijn, Czech Republic: Getting Woefully Lost in the Kingdom of Bohemia and Loving It

Summary. Bohemia is the largest historical region of the Czech Republic. Formerly part of the Holy Roman Empire and then the Hasburgs' Austrian empire, Bohemia became part of the Czech Republic when the Country was formed in 1993. Easily accessible by a 45 minute train ride from Prague, Karlsteijn Castle is one of the jewels of Bohemia (see separate post about the Castle). Just outside the Castle grounds is a trailhead for a set of hiking trails.

Getting there. Trains run regularly between Prague and Karlštejn, though pay attention to when the last train leaves Karlštejn as there are very few options if you accidentally end up stuck in town. The brief train ride is beautiful, traveling primarily next to a river, and through beautiful countryside.

Hiking Karlštejn and the Bohemian Karst. We set out intending to do this hike (see link). Apparently though, thanks to trying to walk and talk at the same time, and generally not paying attention, we took a wrong turn, literally at the very first turn. WHOOPS. So unfortunately we cannot give you any specific guidance on the trails here except to pay better attention from the start! The trails are marked but we didn't realize that we started following the wrong one almost immediately. Our recommendation is to try doing something similar to the other blogger's recommended hike. For more on this fun(ny) day, read on.

Photos below: Trailhead with markers and maps (and yet, we still got lost). The first part of the trail is shaded and well-maintained.

Getting Lost. Sometime after emerging from the wooded forest (photos above), we wandered onto an open (wheat?) field area. Not really realizing yet that we were lost, we followed a path for a few miles through the beautiful countryside, taking pictures along the way and generally feeling lucky that we were on such an awesome hike in the middle of nowhere, Bohemia.

Eventually we came upon a paved road, only there weren't any signs or trail markers. Pulling out the route description, we then came to realize something was amiss. Even so, the area was lovely, the terrain was easy, and the day was still young so we kept going.

Another few miles later, things started to get a bit concerning. We had packed snack food and water but there was something distressing about being alone, in rural Bohemia, and at the same time not exactly having a good idea of how to get back to the train depot in Karlsteijn before the last train left. With the kids, there was a lot of "yes, we're lost," and "no, we don't think it's a problem," together with few "no, I don't know how much longer(s)." I may or may not have started to think about rationing the snacks...

Pressing on, we happened upon two different seemingly deserted ghost villages, where it also became apparent that even if we were to locate a live human being, it was unlikely they would speak a lick of English (not that we blame them but it still wouldn't help us out of our predicament). Eventually though, and with a little help of our general sense of direction, we stumbled back onto one of the network of trails that surround Karlsteijn Castle. The trail led us back into a forest which we thought was a good sign, especially when the trail began to be marked again. Remembering the trail map from the first trailhead, we were fairly confident that the trail would lead us back to the Castle and sure enough, we eventually did come upon the Castle. To this day, we are not exactly sure how we ended up on the complete opposite end of the Castle grounds.

Making it Home: With a huge sigh of relief, we hiked past the Castle and headed back to the train station. In all, the hike was about 10 or 11 miles and similar to what set out to do anyway, only at the time it seemed much longer when the end was nowhere in sight. Yes, it was stressful at times but now we can look back and say, "remember that time when we got woefully lost in middle of nowhere in rural Czech Republic?!" We certainly won't forget this day.


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