How to Feel Alive: A Tip Guide

I just had the best weekend since coming to the Czech Republic.

Don’t get me wrong- many moments have been amazing. I loved my trip to Olomouc, mushrooming for the first time, and seeing Charles Bridge.

But this weekend, I was reminded how alive you can feel when you are fully immersed in a travel experience. I love to walk places, but this weekend fused being active + nature in the absolute best way.

I used Friday to be low-key, to relax and prepare for my busy weekend.

On Saturday, I took a beautiful 23-minute train ride – the tracks running along open grassy fields, valleys, woods, and either the Svratka River or Besenek Brook – to meet a colleague in small village Nedvědice. This is ideal in order to hike to Pernštejn (Pernshtein for y’all not familiar with Czech) Castle.

Some pictures from the hike:

Autumn in the Czech Republic, crackly leaves all over.
Autumn in the Czech Republic, crackly leaves all over.
Skinny looming trees!
Skinny looming trees!

It was about a 45-minute hike uphill to the Castle. The reason why I was so excited is because I love autumn! I especially love New York fall, which I’m always missing for travel- a briskness that expands your lungs and takes your breath away, the leaves turning sunset hues and falling to the ground, kicking piles of leaves together and jumping on them for that satisfying crunch, and of course we don’t have to cover the NY State apple picking season.

Eating some apples in upstate NY.
Eating some apples in upstate NY, circa 2010.
Pumpkin "wandering"
Pumpkin “wandering”
and pumpkin picking!
and pumpkin picking!

Being in the woods, damp earth, crunchy leaves, wind blowing through the trees, sweat keeping you warm… I can learn to love autumn here too 🙂

Then we got to the castle and had a guided tour. I was very lucky because my colleague also used to be a tour guide there and could show me the secret cool stuff. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of the inside, but I can say with certainty that I am starting to become a casual architecture enthusiast.

Outside of the Castle.
Outside of the Castle.
Closer-up of a bridge.
Closer-up of a bridge.
View of the woods and valleys from the top of the Castle.
View of the woods and valleys from the top of the Castle.

Listen, I basically dare you to make this climb and stand overlooking the scenery, and then not get your breath taken away or feel totally, completely ALIVE.

Seen through leaves on the way down...
Seen through leaves on the way down…

pstn thru leaves2 pernstejn

There were two particular action-filled days in Israel I felt so alive… 1) going to Yechiyam Fortress in North Israel – which, interestingly, served a similar defensive purpose like Pernštejn – and a Mt. Hermon hike overlooking Lebanon, and 2) our Mystical Literatures class trip to a high-altitude Greek Monastery and then Qumran near the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

Close to the Israeli-Lebanon border on Mt. Meron, circa 2012.
Close to the Israeli-Lebanon border on Mt. Meron, circa 2012.

These are the moments you live for, because there are no words to express how beautiful what you see is, even if you had enough breath to speak.

On Sunday, my Czech family and I went on a 7km bike ride to nearby village Lomnice to see the old Jewish cemetery and synagogue. I almost wanted to take pictures of the bike ride as we passed big open fields, large hills, and some dense woods on the way… but of course I couldn’t, because you can’t exactly reach for your camera when you’re exhilaratingly hurtling downhill with the wind in your face. 😀

jewish cem jewish cem2 jewish cem3 jewish cem4 lomnice synagoga

Those are all pictures of the cemetery, located on a steep hill with all the gravestones worn down, but the last (the star) is a plaque on the old synagogue which is now used as a community center. I suppose if you are going to be in a cemetery, it is nice to be looking at the hills and located under the national tree of the Czech Republic- lime tree.

Afterwards, I met up with a friend in a nearby village for lunch, and on the way back to Tišnov we made a pit stop in huge, beautiful church Porta Coeli in Předklášteří (p.s. yes, this is an impossible town name to say)…

porto coeli

Interestingly, the outside is Gothic, and the inner decoration – very detailed and ornate – is Baroque. It’s a very famous place because it’s a functional convent, and if you see an aerial view, it’s a gorgeous architectural complex.

I’m so happy I got to spend the weekend locally, seeing much of what there is to take advantage of here close to Tišnov. I’m definitely going on bike rides more often…

SO. In short,

Nature + getting a little high in altitude + hiking/bike riding endorphins + beautiful historical sights + LETTING GO just a little bit (aka the willpower to be silent a moment and really see them)… this is being alive.

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