Czech it out: depart Prague and Bohemia behind to find a Moravian rhapsody | Czech Republic holidays

A refrain of giggles breaks out within the hall exterior the compartment. There’s a stag get together on board the practice, and the stag has been dared by his mates to ask two younger girls if he can take a selfie with them.

To this point, so stereotypical, besides I’m on a Czech practice, the stag get together is Czech, not British, and our vacation spot is just not Prague however Olomouc, a metropolis in Moravia, the Czech Republic’s less-visited, easterly area.

Czech map

This yr the tourism arm of the Czech authorities has been selling the nation’s in depth, low-cost rail community to point out that it could meet demand for low-carbon journey. However there’s an ulterior motive: taking folks out of Prague and into Moravia.

The Czech capital’s overtourism woes are properly documented – but for each Prague enterprise proprietor complaining about too many vacationers, there’s one in Moravia complaining there are usually not sufficient of them. Moravia is a area I do know properly – I lived there for nearly a yr a while in the past – however I’ll admit that in that point, I not often took the practice. I’ll be placing that proper with this quick, cross-country itinerary, which trundles from Prague to the Moravian capital, Brno, and on to Olomouc.

Beginning with a day within the capital, I hurry previous the vacationer hotspots of Charles Bridge and the Outdated City Sq., with its astronomical clock, down streets scented with bread dumplings, beer and the sugar-dusted, helix-shaped muffins often called trdelník. I’m anxious for respite from the crowds, and I discover it within the Grand Cafe Orient, a cubist cafe that first opened in 1912. It’s within the Home of the Black Madonna: a former division retailer designed by Josef Gočár, co-founder of the Czech cubism architectural motion. The cafe closed simply 10 years later, when cubism fell out of trend, however in 2005, new proprietor Rudolf Břínek reopened it, basing the restoration on Nineteen Twenties pictures of the cafe. It’s a flawless reconstruction, proper all the way down to the zigzag coathooks and striped satin upholstery.

Prague’s major station. {Photograph}: PjrTravel/Alamy

The subsequent morning, I rise early and stroll to Prague’s major station, via the neo-Renaissance-style ticket corridor and on to the first-class carriage of a Railjet practice operated by České Dráhy, the state-owned nationwide rail service. My ticket price simply 600Kč (£21). Younger households, aged {couples} and youngsters laden with purchasing shuffle on. I don’t see a single different vacationer.

The flat, farmland of Bohemia turns into hillier and quainter because the practice rumbles into wilder Moravian territory, passing via pine forests studded with red-roofed cottages.

We pull into Brno’s immense central station, inbuilt 1838. Then, it was a jewel of the Austrian empire, the terminus of a line that led to Vienna. As Brno industrialised and prospered within the following a long time, elements had been added with little regard for architectural continuity: an artwork nouveau facade right here, a glass-fronted extension there. It’s an acceptable introduction to town, which seems not a lot constructed as caught collectively: Austro-Hungarian confections jostle with functionalist marvels and communist-era monstrosities. Final yr, Mendel’s Greenhouse grew to become the latest addition to the combination: a minimalist steel-and-glass house that hosts science-related exhibitions and occasions. On the greenhouse I meet Ondřej Chybík, one of many architects, who explains the reasoning behind the pared-back, timeless design. “This constructing ought to keep right here for ever,” he says. “That is the holistically sustainable strategy.”

Mendel’s greenhouse in Brno. {Photograph}: Laurian Ghinitoiu

Gregor Mendel was arguably Brno’s most well-known resident: via a collection of experiments on pea vegetation from 1856 to 1863, the Augustinian friar laid the foundations of contemporary genetics. The greenhouse wherein Mendel performed his experiments was destroyed by a storm within the 1870s; Ondřej’s glittering creation stands on its foundations. Suspended from the ceiling are DNA-motif tapestries and pea vegetation in metal bowls – refined nods to genetics’ founding father.

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