There is one corner of England that is forever Czech. If you drive through the open, windswept landscape of the Thames marshes just beyond the eastern suburbs of London, you come to a rather unlikely modernist Czech Utopia. This is the small town of East Tilbury, built almost entirely in the 1930s. When the great Czech shoe magnate, Tomas Bata, arrived here 75 years ago, this was nothing but farmland. It was the time when the Bata shoe empire, which he had built up in the eastern Czech town of Zlin was expanding fast, with a mission to "shoe the
Late into Monday hundreds of Czechs tourists - including many children - were among those at risk at a resort on Greece's Chalkidiki peninsula where a forest fire broke out following days of intense heat and an extensive dry spell. Strong winds fanning the flames soon saw the fire spread along a nine kilometre area leading to some panic and hasty evacuations.
Every summer the last few years my wife and I have regularly planned vacations around the Czech Republic and areas we've travelled through have included southern Bohemia, the Moravian wine region in the southeast of the country, and the Czech-Moravian highlands. Each year we take mountain bikes as our main means of transport and combined with the railways the match-up usually works great: many trains offer special cars for bikes now and the system works fairly well, as long as you remember a few important things.
Anyone longing to escape the Czech capital in the stifling summer months would do well to visit the nearby Kokorin region - only around 40 kilometres or so northeast of Prague. Kokorin - with deep forests, valleys, as well as characteristic sandstone cliffs and unique architecture, is remarkable. You'll feel you've travelled more than one short train or bus ride away. It's an escape back to nature, with numerous spots for swimming and excellent trails for hiking, all in quiet and peace.
In an extended special edition of Czechs in History we visit the town of Trebon, some 150 kilometres south of Prague. This is where the Schwarzenberg nobility resided until the Second World War. A dominant building in Trebon is the Schwarzenberg tomb. Join me as I take a tour with my guide Paul Stasek.
The countryside you'll see on a drive down to Cesky Krumlov makes the trip worth the gas money. Roll over the hillsides along the E-55 highway - some are bright green with grass, others are golden canola fields that stretch for miles. The views make the three hour trip pass quickly, and give you high expectations when you pull into the old South Bohemian town. Expectations that the town exceeds.
The small, picturesque town of Ceska Kamenice is situated in northern Bohemia, about 105 km away from Prague. It is a late gothic town on the river Kamenice, where three protected landscapes - the Lusatian Mountains, Czech Switzerland and the Bohemian Central Highlands - meet. Despite its modest population of 5,500, the town has 34 monuments, the care of which earned it the title "Historic Town of the Year" for 2005.