Those of you who have walked elsewhere in Europe will be familiar with the concept of waymarking, which is how the walking trail routes are identified. Since some readers will be unfamiliar, I will explain. Each country does it a bit differently. In Spain, the Camino is marked with yellow arrows every so often. In Germany, the Jakobsweg is marked with the stylized scallop shell on a blue background, the shell oriented to point the way as if an arrow. In France, all (100,000 miles) long distance walking trails are marked the same, with a horizontal red stripe over a horizontal white stripe. Additionally, France gives “right turn coming up”, “left turn coming up”, and “wrong way” marks. No route numbers, however – and since the routes do cross this can present problems (she says from painful personal experience).
Here in the Czech Republic, the marks somewhat resemble the French style: white stripe, red stripe, then another white stripe. You can see this in the right hand mark in this photo. The different routes change the color of the colored band; so far I have seen green, blue, yellow, black, and green diagonal marks on the intersecting paths. Turns are indicated on the spot (rather than advance warning) by adding a triangle on the side to turn the three stripes into an arrow. Then not too far along I look for a confirmation mark (did I turn where I was supposed to?).
This works reasonably well, especially in the countryside. In the towns I am very glad of having the GPS track laid in for my iPhone – it is invaluable for checking the right decision at intersections, reclaiming the route when you have gone in search of lodging or other services (bank, groceries) in town. And the entire section from Prague to Radotin is not way marked at all. Even though I have the route description book from the German pilgrim association, and I can translate most of it, I strongly recommend the GPS track for anyone following in my footsteps.