Friday, 11 March 2011

Travel Writing Piece - Magazine Journalism

Dear Reader,

Charles Bridge
The Czech Republic is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is a glorious country, best known for its mountainous and forested landscape that is both wild and tranquil in equal measure. It is a place that yearns to be discovered and appreciated.

Prague, or ‘Praha’, as the locals call it, is a bustling city, full of beautiful buildings in a host of styles. From gothic exteriors to enormous murals, there is much that should not be missed. The city seems steeped in history, with a plentiful supply of statues and buildings.

Prague seems to welcome its tourists, as it is packed with shops selling T-Shirts, Russian dolls (some even painted as English football teams) and many other country-related products. Taxis and horse drawn carts were seen everywhere. And on the famous Charles Bridge, otherwise known as Stone Bridge, there are caricature artists, musicians, souvenir sellers, jewellery sellers and other interesting artworks of Prague.

Glassware seems to be a speciality in the Czech Republic, as many of the shops were selling vases, chandeliers and decorations as well as trinkets like miniature flagons and ornate perfume bottles. Of all these souvenirs, my favourites were the tiny glass flowers, intricately wired together and settled in their own equally minuscule vases.

Among the many places to see in Prague, there are a few that really caught my eye: The Charles Bridge (mentioned earlier), Prague Castle, Old Town Square, with its Astronomical Clock

There are many things to see and do in the Czech Republic, from visiting a number of baroque buildings and statues to going climbing in the hills and forests. However, if you really want to go exploring in the great outdoors, then the Tisa rocks are definitely worth a visit. Situated in the Usti nad Labem Region, the sandstone rocks have been eroded away to form strange and interesting shapes. Several of the rocks can be climbed on, and if you look hard enough, you can often find hiding places or carved out tunnels to climb through.

This is a serene and beautiful place to explore on a bright and sunny summers day. Comfortable shoes with a good grip are a must, as well as a good level of fitness. Nearing the end of the trail, you will also find a small restaurant that is sure to appease your appetite.

I stayed in the town of Usti nad Labem, which is only an hours drive from Prague. The area is simply stunning, with forests, a river and a lake nearby. It is prefect for the adventurous type as there are lots of places to go hiking. As well as climbing to the small waterfall and the viewing platform in the forest, you can also visit the castle, or go shopping in the town.

There are also plenty of places to eat in the town, from Italian restaurants to takeaways. Meat, I found, was the food of choice in the Czech Republic, and sausages were at the forefront. My favourite food was somewhat like a hot dog; only instead of a sausage was a giant slab of sausage meat.

Usti Nad Labem
The language, if you have never been there before, is fairly difficult to get used to. However, there are plenty of people who understand English there, especially in Prague. When buying food, I found it easier to guess at the meaning by looking at the drawings on the packaging. Child-like, I know, but it worked very well. Of course, you can always buy a phrase book if you get stuck.

And one more helpful hint to aid you in your adventure into Czech: When you travel there, I suggest you take an aeroplane. Sitting in a car for 14 hours, trying not to get lost in four different countries is never a good start to a holiday. Instead, make your journey shorter, more relaxing and more enjoyable by buying yourself that plane ticket.

I hope you enjoy the Czech Republic and all its natural beauty as much as I did.

Wish you were there.

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