In like with Liberec

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy summertime, all! It's been a while since the last blog post; life has been nutty with moving flats, wrapping up the school year in JULY and some other major life events that I'll write about another time. Plus my 5-year old Asus notebook finally took a dump and it is a pain to blog on touch-screen electronics. (First-world problems, for sure.)

We recently ticked another Czech municipality off the "to visit" list, running off to Liberec for just one night. Our thoughts on the country's fifth-largest city, just a hair off the German and Polish borders?

Pros: Loads of family-oriented attractions; some beautiful old villas; good public transit

Cons: A lackluster town center at night; possibly a skinhead presence

We "trained" it to Liberec, as the pup isn't allowed on major inter-city bus lines. This meant an extra hour of travel and some train transfers, but, hey, who's counting?

Liberec's town square greeted us with a picture-worthy municipal building, flanked by some Easter Island-esque public art.

On the one night we were there the center wasn't as appealing - the riff raff came out and it just looked a bit gritty. Not unsafe, though.

We admittedly didn't visit Liberec's many commercial attractions, like iQlandia Science Centre, DinoPark, the zoo and Babylon Aquapark. Rather, we enjoyed wandering around and finding this mirrored memorial to victims of Communism...

and this cardboard art...

and the Harcov Přehrada (dam), a stone quarry built in 1904 for local fishing and flood protection. It was dotted with sunbathers, kayakers, swimmers and sand volleyball players.

One morning, we visited the delightful Oblastní galerie (Regional Gallery), which used to be the city bathhouse; one of my colleagues remembers swimming there as a child.

It had two compelling temporary exhibitions that really piqued our interest: "Punk in Architecture," peppered with David Bowie lyrics, and "Mossbots," paintings by a famous Czech video game designer. My favorite piece, however, was one from the permanent exhibition of Stromovka Park, which we live near in Prague.

In the afternoon, we trekked to the bottom of Ještěd Mountain and then took a cable car to the top, where a prized building sits like a pointy hat. 

The structure, a national cultural monument, contains a restaurant, hotel, viewing deck and radio/TV transmission equipment.

We sat on the overlook below it, eating hot dogs and drinking in the massive views of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. It was a steep descent back down to the city.

We both agreed families with kids would be attracted to Liberec and its many things to do, from robotic dinosaurs to waterslides. As a kidless couple, we're glad we didn't book a long holiday there. We liked it, though, and think a revisit may be in order someday.

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