The modern use of the word “bohemian” evokes images of tortured romantic artists wasting away in attic studios or Hemingway-esque writers nursing coffee in cafes by day and whiskies in bars by night. Originally, however, a Bohemian was simply one who lived in Bohemia, the historic western region of what is today the Czech Republic.
Anchored by the capital city of Prague, Bohemia is a rich cultural destination filled with Gothic towns, historic castles and some of the world’s best beer. The region is well-known for its scenic spas at Karlovy Vary, Frantiskovy Lazne and Marianske Lazne, popular with famous figures from Beethoven to Marx. The medieval town of Cesky Krumlov has picked up a great deal of tourist traffic in recent years and beer lovers flock to the breweries of Ceske Budejovice and Pilsen.
Prague is naturally the most convenient port of entry to Bohemia. The Vaclav Havel Airport serves routes all over Europe, with the most popular connections being Paris, Moscow, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. From here buses to Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary leave hourly.
Tracing the usage backwards from its adoption by artists in 19th century Paris, eager to declare their unconventional lifestyles, bohemian had frequently been used in reference to the nomadic Roma people or gypsies. Their migration was often forced as communities looked down on them, but in the 15th century, the Roma had been welcomed in Bohemia. They brought a letter of acceptance from the Bohemian king to try and prove their worthiness to Parisian officials and so became known as bohemians.