Prague to Vienna on Foot: Through No Man’s Land

A series of posts following David and Gail as they walk 480 kilometers from Prague to Vienna in 2014.

September 23, 2014

The 34.5 kilometre from Vranov nad Dyji to Šatov offered one of the more varied set of experiences along the Greenway trail. Winding along the Dyji River valley past rows of tiny cottages lining its steep slopes, we entered  one of the Czech Republic’s hidden treasures, Podyjí National Park. Hidden as well from its own people during the Communist era when the park’s proximity to the Austrian border was seen as a threat and closed to all. We wound our way in and out of the park for most of the day’s long walk, dipping deep into river valleys, along picturesque lakes and through dark forests.

Along the way came the small hamlet of Číšov. Here exists the only preserved remnant of the Iron Curtain that once divided Czechoslovakia from the rest of the world with barbed wire and 10,000 volts of electricity. As short a length as it might be, the Iron Curtain Memorial is a moving reminder of the country’s dark period. Since the curtain fell in 1989, Czechs worked hard and fast to remove all traces of its universally reviled Communist past. 

On a happier note, Číšov’s sole restaurant became welcome refuge as the winds whipped up the already frigid weather. Pork and fried cheese, beer and lattes all helped. As did the surprising find on our way through town of an open air photography exhibit in the photographer’s yard.

Around four kilometres before Šatov, the landscape changes as we exit the national park with rows of grapes now filling the gaps between the diminishing trees until all we can see are rows of grapes spreading over the horizon. We come to a trail side stand at Šobes, offering samples of the vineyard’s wine. We are definitely entering a new part of our walk: Moravian wine country.  

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