'Star Trek' Socialism & Future Cycling Spots
The futuristic television tower atop Mt. Ještěd.
No cycling on the weekend.
Daisy, Emma and I drove to Liberec, about 100 kilometers north of Prague, along with some good friends from Bulgaria -- Momchil, Tanya and their son Viktor, who live in Prague.
Viktor and Emma took lessons at the ski area at Mt. Ještěd, 1,012 meters above sea level. The adults just chilled, literally and figuratively. It was -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) when we woke up on Sunday morning (February 17) at Villa Flamendr, the cozy inn where we spent the night.
It's a beautiful area of the country, dominated by the famous 100-meter television tower atop the mountain. The giant inverted cone looks like it was built either by aliens, or to communicate with aliens.
It would be right at home in the Tomorrowland section of Disney World.
The tower was built from 1966 to 1973 and contains a surprisingly decent restaurant (we enjoyed lunch there on Sunday) and, believe it or not, a hotel. ("The overall interior concept meets criteria of both common tourist visitors and the most demanding guests," according to its website.)
Communicating with aliens?
The hotel was featured prominently in the recent Czech film "Grand Hotel," which I haven't seen yet, but definitely need to.
The Czech Republic has even nominated the tower to be included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. It was designed by architect architect Karel Hubacek and won the Perret’s Prize of the International Union of Architects.
We've got to go back and spend the night. The interior design is a communist time capsule -- the light fixtures, the furniture, the staircase, everything.
"Star Trek" socialism, if you will.
It reminded me of the monstrously ugly Hotel Thermal in Karlovy Vary in that way. I should say monstrously ugly from the outside. Inside, it's very cool.
I hope neither hotel ever changes.
The tower houses a hotel and a restaurant (above).
When she heard I was a cyclist, Karolina at Villa Flamendr pulled out a bike map and showed me what she described as some spectacular trails, all starting around the town of Osečná, southwest of Ještěd. I believe one of the trails heads down and connects with Máchovo jezero, a giant lake.
She told me the area southwest of Osečná is some sort of huge military ground, and that cars are restricted from driving through. The area is criss-crossed by small paved roads that are only used by walkers, cyclists and the occasional military vehicle.
I'll have to buy a more detailed cycling map and check it out.
If anyone has any experience cycling in this area and knows some good routes, please post a comment or write me an e-mail. I'd like to head up there this spring or summer for a weekend of riding.
Emma unwinds from a hard day on the slopes with a strong cup of hot cocoa.
A cable car whisks visitors up to, and down from, the tower.
I don't think anything has been changed in the bar in the TV tower since it was built in the early '70s. It's like a cool retro film set.
Daisy the Soviet movie starlet and her KGB bodyguard, Momchil.
Smoked pork and bacon dumplings with sauerkraut.
Villa Flamendr, the inn where we stayed, near Mt. Ještěd.