Written By Jennifer Potter
for Bridge Magazine, IWAP
The sun has returned and my thoughts are of holidays and short breaks in the country. When the sun beats down you feel the need to be somewhere else, breath fresh air and walk. If you also fancy a swim, or just being near water, you can try this relaxing spot not too far from Prague.
About 80 km north of Prague close to Česká Lípa is Máchovo jezero – Lake Mácha. It is a man-made lake, well king-made actually. Apparently Charles IV looked from nearby Castle Bezděz and instructed that a lake be created in 1366. It had an early start as a holiday area growing in popularity between the wars when many built villas around the west side of the lake around Staré Splavy. At this time beaches were developed on the lake with imported sand, there were boat trips, walks and many other activities. In the 1960´s and 70´s it was an area of union hotels where people came on holidays provided by their own union or the state. Now it is much quieter, at least outside the main holiday season, and is a lovely spot for a long weekend or even a week. You can stay on the lakeside, take one of the many walks, visit nearby castles such as Bezděz and Houska, breath fresh air and relax. You can also shop in nearby Nový Bor – one of the centres of the glass industry, visit its glass museum, and depending on the time of year, pick your own blueberries or mushrooms in the forest.
There are two towns (well, villages) on the lake – Doksy and Staré Splavy. In Staré Splavy there are a number of pubs and restaurants, a small port with boats for hire, and several hotels and pensions. I would recommend Pension Rut (Lázeňský rvrch 97, 472 63 Staré Splavy, tel. 487 873 213, or out of season 327 313 565). It is right on the lake, has a shady wide terrace and garden, an ideal place for children to play. It is simple but clean, easy on the eye and very reasonably priced with nice homemade breakfast and friendly and welcoming owners – the family Forman. At some times of year (they are only open May-October) they server dinner, but they always serve drinks and ice cream on the terrace.
If you prefer a hotel, nearby is the Hotel Port. This is a recent conversion of a hotel formerly owned by the miners union. It has a lovely position on the lake with a peaceful view, a small beach, tennis court, etc. There is a restaurant although it is not brilliant. Ask for a room with a lake view and balcony – they are spacious and airy but with not great beds. Hotel Port (Valdštejnská 530, 472 01 Doksy, tel. 425 809 711, www.hotelport.cz).
Staré Splavy is easy to reach from Prague by road – it takes about one hour, or you can get there by train. By road there are a number of routes, some of which go through pretty woods and valleys. The area around the village of Okno and Castle Houska is particularly scenic with wooden farmhouses, village ponds and gentle hills – a nice respite from urban life.
This article was originally published in the International Women’s Association of Prague’s Bridge magazine. For more information about IWAP and their services, please visit www.volny.cz/iwap/