Hiking the Polish-Czech Friendship Trail

The first time I heard about a walking trail perched on top of the Karkonosze (Krkonoše in Czech) Mountains that meanders through the border between Poland and the Czech Republic multiple times, I was instantly intrigued. It is a moderately difficult trek of about 30 kilometres while traversing most of the prominent peaks of the Karonosze mountains in the Sudetes range. The first and the most obvious reason for this nervous excitement was my lack of trek fitness, and the second was an opportunity to witness the crisscrossing of boundaries between these two countries.

Borders are often intriguing, despite the fact that great enterprises like the European Union have slowly diminished some of the nostalgic feelings about the borders in this part of the world. But surely, for a traveller from the Indian sub-continent, the quest to discover what lies on the other side still excites me. The mystical periphery of land where two boundaries, with distinct identities and ethnographies, converge. It appeals equally to an intrepid traveller or a casual tourist. As Ryszard Kapuściński, the legendary Polish journalist and travel writer aptly puts perhaps thinking about a similar borderland:

“I was tempted see what lay beyond, on the other side. What does one feel? What does one think? It must be a moment of great emotion, agitation, tension. What is it like, on the other side? It must certainly be — different. But what does “different” mean? What does it look like? What does it resemble? Maybe it resembles nothing that I know, and thus is inconceivable, unimaginable? And so my greatest desire, which gave me no peace, which tormented and tantalized me, was actually quite modest: I wanted one thing only — the moment, the act, the simple fact of crossing the border. To cross it and come right back — that, I thought, would be entirely sufficient, would satisfy my quite inexplicable yet acute psychological hunger.”

Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus, 2004


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