The chapel in the woods

We’re maximizing our sun exposure and activity levels these past few days in the Czech republic. We’re staying near a town called Stozec, which is located in a municipal of the same name. The municipal has 220 people, divided over three tiny towns. Stozec has a small grocery store, two restaurants, a post office, and a couple of paid parking lots that could host all the town’s cars three times. It is unclear to me why these parking lots are there, or whom they are catering to. I guess it must be nature, although I would have expected some more cars parked on a splendid day like today.

The main ‘thing to do’ near Stozec is a visit to a pretty wooden chapel on top of a small hill. With the kids on our backs, we walked our way up over snowy and partially quite slippery tracks. After an hour and a half or so, we were getting close to the chapel, and we only had to descend along a steep and icy forest track. A pickup truck was parked at the top of the track, and the ranger that drove it came up shortly after our arrival. He started a story from which I only picked up the word ‘ranger’. My Czech is not what it used to be… He must have seen the confusion on our faces, as he immediately turned to perfect English. The friendly ranger notified us that we had probably missed a sign saying that the road up was closed. A similar sign was posted next to his truck. He explained that peregrine falcons nest in the chapel’s tower, and on the rocky cliffs behind it. We were of course slightly disappointed, but I would not want to disturb one of the world’s most perfect birds. He told us he had just returned from his nest-checking rounds, and that he had not seen the birds this year yet. He allowed us to pass and continue down the slippery track to see the chapel. By necessity, we bum-sleighed down the icy trail, to my son’s great enjoyment. Unfortunately, we didn’t see peregrines either – which I would have appreciated much more than the chapel, as I’m not the religious type – but the chapel and it’s location could have been taken straight from a fairy tale. Pretty nice chapel. The Czech pray in style.

After eating our sandwiches near the chapel, we descended further in the direction of Stozec town, where we hoped to find coffee and pie. A cool trail, which partly led over slippery, flooded, but frozen solid forest paths, brought us from the forested hills into the open fields surrounding Stozec. I really don’t have a clue why people would live here, other than for the idyllic scenery. There is absolutely nothing here, but quiet peace and tranquility. But the restaurant was open, served Pilsner Urquell, coffee and Heidelbeerknödel. Life was good in Stozec. I’d consider living there for the natural beauty. The sun, the cold, and the beer all kicked in, and we were all happy and exhausted.

From Stozec, it was another hour’s walk to our cottage. During the walk back, I could feel that my fitness levels are no longer what they once were. Lugging a toddler around on my back in a backpack is heavy, and my knees and hips were getting sore. I think it’s simply underexposure, a sign that I should be doing more of it. Homeoffice and inactivity have taken a toll on my body, and it’s about time to reverse it. I hope that spring is here to stay now and that our hikes will soon become a more frequent part of our lives again. Today’s hike was great, and I’m hungry for more.

Stozec Chapel
Mixed forests around the chapel
The open fields before Stozec
This must be pretty in summer
Three exhausted people!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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