I didn’t kiss a girl but I ate fried cheese in the Czech Republic. And I liked it!

Blueberry sponge cake.

Blueberry sponge cake.

We’re almost at the end of our Czech Republic skiing week.

I have introduced you to that little village in the Bohemian mountains called Rokytnice nad Jizerou and I told you of how I almost killed myself and fell off the skilift!

But you know, countries in this part of Europe are not known for having exquisite food. They’re not France you know! Even Germany has an image of cabbage and stodge and the Czech Republic is no different, so I’m going to introduce you to some Czech delights.

Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!

Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!

Our family-run hotel – Hotel Stary Mlyn had an excellent bargain of half board. That half-board was a combination of a buffet breakfast and a three (3) course evening meal consisting of a soup starter, a main-meal and a dessert. You can choose either to pre-book as soon as you get there or to choose whenever you felt like eating at the hotel. In our case, it was a godsend as it meant that we didn’t have to go into “town”. However, there are many restaurants and fast-food joints to choose from if you so desire, but reserving a table is recommended as only 3,000 people actually live in Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

I used to live in Prague and in those days I used to go an American-style trendy restaurant-bar-club that only served vegetarian food. That hip joint was called Radost FX. I used to go for the weekend brunch and as a creature of habit, I always ordered the same dish called “The Big Brain Scram”. It cost 135kc or €4.90 / $5.40 and consisted of three eggs scrambled with fresh spinach and enclosed in potatoes. It was yum!

Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!

Smažený Sýr or Czech fried cheese!

Czech food in the 90’s wasn’t that good.

In fact, it was downright awful!

I wasn’t a vegetarian but meat-dishes were slightly dodgy and you needed stomachs of steel. In fact, we all used to eat a cheese based dish called Smažený Sýr. Quite literally it was slices of cheese covered in breadcrumbs, and fried.

In oil.

Lots and lots of oil.

Smažený sýr being fried again and again and again!

Smažený Sýr being fried again and again and again!

For months, I had fried cheese for lunch and fried cheese for dinner. After I left the Czech Republic, I couldn’t even see cheese without wanting to throw up!

Happily that has changed. I still don’t think you’re going to get gourmet, but hardy rustic food in the cold of winter, and costing peanuts, never did anyone any harm. It might even make a man or woman out of you yet!

Get ready to lick your chops!

A CZECH BREAKFAST:

European tea with a slice of lemon or honey!

European tea with a slice of lemon or honey!

As I told you earlier, I used to live in the Czech Republic. In the 90’s. I was much younger then and in order to be able to live in a place, you’ve got to do as the locals do n’est–ce pas?!

So I was in a side street local cafe ordering a breakfast of bread, a boiled egg, and a cup of tea. I’m British, that’s what we do! Anyway, an old-ish man saw this and asked me what I was drinking. I told him.

He was disgusted.

“In Prague” he told me, “we drink beer and a little something to start the day.” He sent over a bottle of Czech beer (Staropramen if you must know), and a shot of Becherovka. He watched me as I downed it.

It was 9:30 a.m.

Becherovka, a type of  herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!

Becherovka, a type of herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!

I looked around. Everyone was drinking beer and shots. And as ridiculously cheap as beer was, a cup of tea was by far, much more expensive!

I wanted to be “a local”. I joined in.

I did this for two years!?!!!!

That’s rock and roll baby. Rock and roll!

I’m a light-weight. I didn’t even drink alcohol at all until I left university. Then I moved to Prague and everything changed….!

But somehow it all seemed to work and fit together and so when I went back to England, I also went back to my one pint that could last two hours. And cocktails.

I’m quite controlled except for when I’m not. And I’m still a lightweight!

We had a "healthier" Czech breakfast of sort of scrambed egg pancake ball, some Czech sausage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some ketchup!

We had a “healthier” Czech breakfast of sort of scrambled egg pancake ball, some Czech sausage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some ketchup!

At Hotel Stary Mlyn we had a healthier breakfast that included eggs, Czech sausages, cucumbers, tomatoes, varieties of ham, salami, and cheese, lots of cake and bread and paté accompanied by a variety of breakfast cereals, juices, tea and coffee.

CZECH SOUPS:

Because soup!

Because soup!

I was ill in our week of skiing and at first all I could stomach was soup. Bowls and bowls of hot, steaming soup, and the kitchen didn’t disappoint. The soup above is called “Farmers’ Soup” and consisted of clear broth, mushrooms, scrambled egg and cheese!

Czech vegetable soup.

Czech vegetable soup.

I had clear vegetable soup that consisted of onions, carrots sprinkled with parsley and came served with white Czech rolls and Czech brown sliced bread. They are much harder to chew than English or American bread and come without butter, so I always had to order butter as “extra.”

Czech Onion Soup.

Czech Onion Soup.

I had Czech onion soup with croûtons. The croûtons were a bit thicker than normal and slightly salty or maybe they weren’t, I can’t be sure as I dislike extra salt added to my food!

Czech Potato Soup.

Czech Potato Soup.

Neither of us liked the Czech potato soup. It was filled with dices of potatoes, carrots, leeks, and some sort of herb that I couldn’t identity. To be honest, it looked liked vomit and tasted like vomit too!

Ah well!

CZECH MAIN COURSES:

A hearty Czech Potato Pancake Omelette!

A hearty Czech Potato pancake Omelette!

We always had dinner at the hotel and sometimes we had lunch too. They usually cost about 150kc or €5.50 / $6.00 and were enormously filling. In some cases leaving hardly any room for dinner but since I had a growing lad, a full lunch it sometimes had to be LOL!

The Czech potato pancake omelette above was a lunch item covered with chicken strips, mushrooms, cocktail tomatoes and Feltsalat also known as Rapunzel, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or mâche, and sprinkled with parsley.

I don’t like potato pancakes in any form but “The Tall Young Gentleman” found this meal impressive!

Czech Steaks.

Czech Steaks.

Oh yeah! Just look at those juicy steaks. This was another lunch item. I mean, if this was lunch what would dinner be like? We were completely and utterly spoilt! What a lovely dish of steak in a sort of mint sauce, fried potatoes, fried onions, and boiled potatoes sprinkled with parley. I couldn’t have any as it would have ruined my dinner, so I looked on and sipped my tea in earnest!

Czech pasta bake.

Czech pasta bake.

We both loved this Czech pasta bake filled with cream cheese, bacon, onions and peas, and accompanied by slices of sour gherkins also known as Czech cucumbers! It was a bit over-cooked but nevertheless, delightful. We could both have done with an extra serving, but there was no more to be had.

Pity!

Czech Dumplings.

Czech Dumplings.

We didn’t like the Czech dumplings.

I have never liked the Czech dumplings.

They taste like milk sop. You know the type you’d either give to a baby or somebody completely toothless!

Our main course was Czech dumplings with beef and dill sauce.

The dill sauce tasted weird.

Imagine a dish of milk sop covered in sop. We were both downcast and disappointed but thankfully, dessert saved the day!

CZECH DESSERT:

It's ice-cream, and you know it!

It’s ice-cream, and you know it!

I hardly think any explanation is needed but this hotel had a whole flurry of ice-cream sundaes, which you could order at lunch-time. I told you we were spoilt for choice. At dinner-time, dessert came in smaller portions but nevertheless up to par!

And so, vanilla ice-cream scoops with small-enough-chocolate-sprinkles-that-I-can-eat-it-even-though-I-can-still-see-them, and dollops of clotted cream!

Sourcherry Sponge Cake.

Sourcherry Sponge Cake.

Just look at that sponge cake with sour cherries sprinkled with castor sugar. Doesn’t it look delish?!

Who said that Czech food was only stodgy? Who said that Czech food was only rustic? Who said…?

Never mind, but would you take a look at that! So soft, so spongy, so…yum!

Czech Doughnuts.

Czech Doughnuts.

Czech doughnuts or Vdolky filled with jam and covered in castor sugar. These doughnuts were actually served for breakfast rather than dessert, and many years on the European Continent as opposed to on the British Isles, has taught me that just because it’s sweet doesn’t mean that you can’t have it for breakfast LOL!

It was all going so well when desserts of this nature turned up…

Chocolate Pudding.

Chocolate Pudding.

It was described on the menu as “vanilla pudding” but actually it was chocolate pudding with bananas hidden in each bowl.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING and BANANAS!

Yuk!

You all know my relationship with chocolate and how much I hate bananas. “The Tall Young Gentleman” is a cut of the same cloth and was of the exact same opinion! Doesn’t it all just look like poo!

And what about this horrible feature?

Ginger Chocolate Cake with Coconut.

Ginger Chocolate Cake with Coconut.

I mean, chocolate cake with berries.

Disgusting!

Why?

And with coconut too. You’re going to kill me!

For all of you who can actually eat this well, eat your heart out LOL and just hand over the fruit salad.

Fruit Salad Bowl.

Fruit Salad Bowl.

This mixed fruit salad bowl filled with the Vitamin C goodness of apple and oranges might not look as enticing as the chocolate sponge cake covered in coconut sprinkles, and dribbled over with I-don’t-know-what-berries-and-sauce, but at least, I won’t fall, choke, end up in rashes, or have difficulty in breathing, and die earlier than expected because of the shock!

OTHER CZECH STUFF:

Czech bread, butter & jam!

Czech bread, butter & jam!

The Czech Republic has a large variety of bread and the one you see above are Czech rolls with Czech Gouda cheese and Czech blueberry jam.

Czech Mixed Vegetable Salad.

Czech Mixed Vegetable Salad.

This Czech mixed salad was also put out in the evening for half-board hotel guests to completely help themselves with, before dinner started. A salad filed with the goodness of lettuce, tomatoes, green, red and yellow peppers, cucumber and lettuce.

Fish Fillet.

Fish Fillet.

There weren’t a lot of vegetarian dishes but you can’t go wrong with fried cheese LOL!

On a serious note, if you’re looking for something more substantial, we also had fish fillet for dinner with mashed peas and potatoes topped with red peppers and Feltsalat also known as Rapunzel, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or mâche, with a buttery sauce.

Tasting Czech Beer.

Tasting Czech Beer.

And lastly, you can’t be in the Czech Republic if you haven’t at least tried and tasted some of the good ol’ Czech beer or Pivo.

That’s right beer made from pale lagers or pilsner such as my favourite Staropramen, Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast, Krušovice and Budweiser Budvar (the Czech one not the American version!) and dark ales.

Prosím!

You’re welcome!

Ice, Ice Baby!

Ice, Ice Baby!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the fabulously enticing Czech dishes that I devoured, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be participating in the pre-ITB Berlin party organised by Travel Massive on 03.03.15. This year the party is going to be in one of Berlin’s leading electronic music venues – @clubGRETCHEN – for an evening celebrating the travel industry. If you’re a blogger or just fancy a knees-up, register then come and meet us. It’s going to be so much fun!

I’ll also be at the International Travel Trade Fair – ITB taking place from 04.03.15 – 08.03.15 and after that I’ll be off travelling to the next destination which I will reveal next week!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in March, you’re in the wrong place!

March is going to be hopping.

Watch this space!

Czech food at it's most mouth-watering finest!

Czech food at it’s most mouth-watering finest!

Have you ever had Czech food or drink? What did you think of it?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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The time that I fell off the ski lift in the Czech Republic!

As lovely as Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

As lovely as Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Rokytnice nad Jizerou is lovely.

it’s in the Bohemian mountains of the Czech Republic and last week, I told you all about how to get there, where it is, and why we went there!

It’s skiing season and Rokytnice nad Jizerou has got eighteen (18) kilometres of wide pistes, excellent facilities, an adrenaline-inducing snow park, and wonderful views of the surrounding Krkonoše Mountains in the Czech Republic.

In fact, whether you’re a complete beginner or whizz down the slopes like a world champion, you will find what you’re looking for in Rokytnice.

Experts say that before you put on a single ski you should think carefully about which of the ski areas suit you best. There are five (5) of them. There is Studenov (near the centre of the village), Sachrovka, Modrá Hvězda, Bah’ynka (which are basically side by side) and Horní Domky which, with a splendid location on the slopes of the Lysá Mountain, has the longest slope in the country!

If only I had thought of that.

I’m a sucker when it comes to getting into trouble. Remember that time that we went to Inverness in Scotland, and the B&B landlord had forgotten that there were three (3) of us, The Music Producer, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I, instead of (2) two…

My poor boy, who is taller than I am, had to sleep on a child’s camping bed which was jammed against the bedroom door, jammed against the bathroom door, and jammed against our very small British double bed!

On the city-kart in Leba, Poland before the chain and seat broke off!

On the city-kart in Leba, Poland before the chain and seat broke off!

Or what about that time that we went to a little village on the Polish Baltic Sea, and even though the sun was shining and everything, there was hardly anybody there and the circus, the cinema, the ice-cream waffle shop, the bicycle stand, the restaurants, and all the shops except for two (2).

Were closed!

Do you remember that time that I thought it was a good idea to climb up a live volcano in Bali.

Well, it wasn’t!

Akwaaaard!

Akwaaaard!

Have you forgotten when even though I can hardly ride a bike at all, I thought it prudent to go on a rural off-the-beaten-path mountain bicycle tour in Indonesia and ultimately fell in a ditch causing my guides to run into a panic!

How about the time that I was attacked by monkeys and they pulled my hair. Oh yes, they did!

Korean art and craft.

Korean art and craft.

And don’t even get me started on the horror of horrors and complete stupidity of flying all the way to Korea when actually, we should have been going to Qatar!

You would have thought that I had learnt my lesson from years ago, when I first came to Rokytnice nad Jizerou, and learnt to ski….

I mean, if you’re looking to spend your holiday just skiing or snowboarding, then Rokytnice nad Jizerou is just right.

Horní Domky or Grey Beard!

Horní Domky or Grey Beard!

Because of the terrain, Rokytnice nad Jizerou offers skiing and snowboarding for every level. It is recommended for beginners, skilled and very advanced skiers, of all age categories.

If you like slopes with greater difficulty, variety and width, or you’re an upper intermediate to advanced skier, the ski resort – Horní Domky is perfect. It has over 14 kilometres of perfectly groomed pistes which boast a width of up to 100 metres and a range from 630 to 1,315 meters, and is the best ski location in the Czech Republic in terms of its position, exemplary ski slopes, and facilities.

It is popular mainly for its large span of snow diversity, and the extent of its downhill courses.

It is dominated by Mount Hora, which is accessible by two (2) four-seat chair lifts and six (6) pole lifts. One of the chairlifts is the starting point of the Krkonoše cross-country skiing arterial trail and even takes you up to the Krkonoše National Park.

If you’re a snowboarder however, then Roktynice nad Jizerou won’t let you down as there is a snow park with several jumps, obstacles and its own lift popular for travellers and tourists, who love to Freestyle. On a length of over 11.4 kilometres you can ski on the blue, red, or black ski runs.

The Professionals!

The Professionals!

Only go on the black run if you’re ready.

I’m a strong red skier but when I was a blue skier in the 90’s, I decided to go on the black ski run with a bunch of friends who had been skiing for years and thought it might be fun, if we all skied together.

I guess you all know where this is leading!

We decided to go on the black run.

Me included.

The pole lift put in between your thighs!

The pole lift put in between your thighs!

We drove up and began to slowly ski up the hills of Horní Domky on the pole lift above. You know the one. Where the seat is put in between your thighs and you are whizzed along. It’s quite relaxing and as long as you don’t doze off completely, and you hold on tightly, it’s quite a pleasant way to go up.

This is what it looks like when you're whizzing up the pole lift!

This is what it looks like when you’re whizzing up the pole lift!

At some point, we began to climb higher and as such, the ski lift had to reflect that change in atmosphere and altitude. We went on a two-seat chairlift.

Now for the non-skiers among you, when you’re in a two-seat or four-seat chairlift, you’re outdoors and exposed to the elements. Most importantly, the skis are already attached to your feet so that you can quickly ski off. Away from the lift as the chairlift doesn’t stop, and automatically swivels around so that you must GET OFF!

I was supposed to be in a chairlift with my boyfriend at the time, but I somehow missed my seating, and ended up going on the next one.

The Alpine ski lift in Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

The Alpine ski lift in Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Alone.

I was in an unfamiliar area and the speed at which we were climbing up those mountains was dizzying. I wasn’t completely in my seat and neither was I comfortable. At some point, I got confused and found that my skis were trapped in my alpine ski lift.

I tried to untangle my legs so that the skis would be in front of me rather than behind me, but I couldn’t.

So I lifted the ski bar.

Oh dear! What to do!

Oh dear! What to do!

And fell straight down into the forest!

I found myself face-down in a lot of snowy powder with my glasses stuck to my face!

I was in shock, and so was everyone else.

The empty chair!

The empty chair!

I could hear echoes of shouting, screaming, and frantic waving. All I could do was look on as my chairlift staggered emptily away into the cold distance.

The first thing I did was to check my legs.

They were at a funny angle.

Where are my skis?!

Where are my skis?!

And then I wondered where my skis were.

Then I burst into torrent of tears.

Luckily for me, gravity had flung my skis away from me. I was seriously bruised and in shock, but I had no broken bones.

I was in the middle of the forest and I was completely and utterly alone. There were no mobile phones in those days, and in 1994, the Czech Republic was an undeveloped East European country. Waiting for help would mean that I would freeze. I could see where the chairlift was supposed to go, so I began to walk towards the direction of the next chairlift station.

i_m_in_shock_look_i_have_a_blanket_by_teamfreewillangel-d62zdp0I began to search for my skis, put them together, stuck them in the snow, and began to walk. And shed tears, and talk to myself, and shed more tears.

I was in shock you see.

By the time I got to the chairlift station, it was 1.5 hours later, all my friends were enormously worried, and I couldn’t talk at all.

http://www.salon.com/2013/08/24/murder_intrigue_and_the_mysterious_origins_of_vodka/

A needed shot of vodka!

Happily, I was sat down, and a jacket was put around my shoulders. Somebody also slipped me some vodka.

I needed it as I still had to get down from the mountain!

One of my girlfriends’ gave me her skis and then she went back down into the forest with her boyfriend to find mine. Both of them on a tandem of one ski each!

Ha!

Never try to ski with equipment that has not been measured or weighed for you in mind. I was much taller and weighed less than the girl whose skis I was now using.

And it showed.

It’s a dangerous game as the skis kept slipping from my feet….!

I saw the the Mountain Rescue Service in action. They were quick, efficient  & top notch. Sadly, they didn't exist in 1994!

I saw the Mountain Rescue Service in action. They were quick, efficient & top-notch. Sadly, they didn’t exist in 1994!

It took me 1.5 hours to ski down a black run that should have taken 30 minutes.

I was wet.

I was cold.

And I was scared.

I was scared of hurting myself on the slopes, but the only way to get down those slopes was to ski down them.

The ski map of Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

The ski map of Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

I did it.

I finished the black ski run.

I lived to tell the tale.

And then I didn’t ski for 10 years!

I went to Andorra (a tiny country between France and Spain). I went to Southern Germany. And in 2009, I went back to the Czech Republic.

To Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

What I should have done was to get a guide to go with me or simply not go up the black ski run mountain at all, but you live and learn right?

Right!?!

Ski School Yetti in Rokytnice nad Jizerou.Since I don’t ski every year, I always make sure to brush up on my skiing skills and reflexes by booking a few lessons at a reputable ski school. The school that I go to is called Ski School Yetti, is right next door to the Hotel Stary Mlyn. Very convenient not only because you get a discount if you’re a guest of the hotel, but also because it’s only 5 minutes away from the piste itself!

Hurrah!

It’s owned by a bear of a man called Petr. He’s Czech and speaks German and a little English but all his ski instructors are young Czechs, full of energy and enthusiasm, and speak either fluent English, fluent German, or Polish.

In many cases, more English than anything else!

Jakob, my son's skiing instructor.

Jakob, my son’s skiing instructor.

You can learn or improve your skiing, snowboarding, snowkiting, or snowtubing. You can also rent all the ski equipment that you need. And as I told you last week, skis go quickly and Czech prices are out of this world!

I paid 1,522 kc or €55/$62.00 for my son’s skis, poles, boots and a helmet for six (6) days. That’s equivalent to €9.20 or $10.50 a day! I also paid 3,591 kc or €131/$148.50 for advanced ski lessons for children between the ages of 9 – 12 years old in a group of 4 – 8 children. The class started with 5 teenagers and by the middle of the week pretty much ended up being a private class for one, as parents tend to ski with their kids as the week progressed.

I used to do the same.

The old days!

The old days!

I was ill that week and couldn’t ski, so I was pretty relieved to know that my son was never alone whilst on the ski piste! The cost of €22/$26 per day is astounding for ski lessons of four (4) hours per day. Not only that, but the daily ski pass for kids were 270 kc or €10/$11.50 per day and 50 kc or €1.80/$2.60 refundable deposit for the chip cart.

My ski improvement lessons for middle-advanced classes would have cost 2,280 kc for three (3) days or €83/$95 or €28/$32 per day. My ski rental for five (5) days would have cost 1,220 kc or €44.30/$50.50 or €9/$10.30 per day.

You can always leave your stuff, if you need a break. It's perfectly safe.

You can always leave your stuff, if you need a break.
It’s perfectly safe.

I thought that I would recover from my illness and kept the skis for four (4) days but I had bronchitis and was forced to spend most of my vacation time in bed! Petr knew I had been ill. In fact, everyone knew that I was ill, and didn’t charge me!

Thank you Petr.

ANY APRÈS-SKI?

Fun & games in Austria!

Fun & games in Austria!

Rokytnice nad Jizerou isn’t the Austrian Alps and you’re not going to find many people doing the conga here! Having said that, there are ski schools for adults and children a-plenty, equipment rentals, ski service, restaurants, fast food booths, paragliding, a mountain rescue station (which I saw in action), a few small discos and a TESCO!

Parking is free of charge and there is a ski bus service which is completely and utterly free, to take you from one ski piste to the other.

I’d say that if you’re looking for a good time, there’s plenty of good food, cheap booze, and skiing to be had.

You’d best bring a group of friends or the family with you, and get the party started LOL!

I don’t think you can get any better than that!

Prosím!

Prosím!

For more information, please contact: The ski website of the Czech Republic.

For more information, please contact: Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

For more information, please contact: Ski School Yetti,

A local Czech snowboarder.This article is not sponsored and even though I received a small discount, all opinions and the delicious Czech dishes that I had, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’m going to concentrate on the rustic delights of Czech food. You can read the tweets that I sent of Rokytnice nad Jizerou under the Twitter # tag of #RokytnicenadJizerou, #Rokytnice, #HotelStaryMlyn or #skischoolyetti.

You can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 25.02.15 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll be participating in the pre-ITB Travel Massive event on 03.03.15. If you’re a blogger or just fancy a knees-up, come meet us. It’s going to be so much fun!

The actual International Travel Trade Fair – ITB – will be taking place from 04.03.15 – 08.03.15 and after that I’ll be off travelling to the next destination. More exciting info in March!

If you’re not in Berlin in February, it’s not too late!

February is going to be warm and dandy!

Watch this space!

Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou. Because we're worth it!

Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou.
Because we’re worth it!

I’m thinking of taking a small group of people to the Czech Republic next year. Who’s with me? Would you consider skiing in Rokytnice nad Jizerou?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

I went skiing in a little Czech village in the middle of no-where: Introducing Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

So last week, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I returned from the Czech Republic. Even though I was completely under the weather, it was still a great experience.

For those of you who didn’t know, I had a bout of bronchitis and spent a considerable amount of time observing, rather than doing.

Luckily for you, I’ve done it all before…

Phew!

Ah yes.

The Czech Republic.

Where is it again?

Oh yeah, the Czech Republic is in the former Eastern Bloc and used to be known as Czechoslovakia. After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia decided to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The capital of the Czech Republic is Prague.

Oh right.

Now you know!

In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!

In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!

Prague is an astounding city of absolute beauty but I’m not going to write about Prague today. I’m going to write about skiing!

The British Berliner is a lifestyle travel blog and yes, I do a lot of things that people might assume is glamourous and exciting, and but even though I live a “normal” life, I also travel.

A lot!

I have a love affair with the Czech Republic because after I graduated university, I went to live there. It was my first real job and it was a high-flying graduate programme.

I didn’t speak Czech or German.

I had never been to Eastern Europe before.

I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, and I wasn’t even getting paid initially!

It was the best thing that I had ever done. I had such a fantastic time, that I stayed on, became the Regional Project Manager and lived there for (2) two years.

Being creative with food!

Being creative with food!

In my post at the beginning of the year, I explained that if you really want to travel, and you have a job, family, and responsibilities. Just like me. You’ve got to get creative. One of those ways is to go to cheaper and to as-of-now-unfamiliar, locations.

The Czech Republic is one of them.

Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

Who doesn’t love skiing?

When you think about it, most people steer themselves towards France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. All of these places are fantastic skiing locations.

None of them are cheap!

If you’re looking for an alternative to over-crowded locations and over-priced ski huts then perhaps the Czech Republic, and more specifically, Rokytnice nad Jizerou might be the place for you.

Let’s start with the nitty-gritty:

Because Czech soup!

Because Czech soup!

WHY GO TO ROKYTNICE NAD JIZEROU?

I’ve said it before but it’s criminally easy to travel anywhere in Europe and one of the countries nearby, is the Czech Republic. It’s not as close as Poland, but if you’re flying, it’s under two (2) hours.

Rokytnice nad Jizerou is a small village mountain resort based in an area known as the Krkonoše or the Giant Mountains. Rokytnice nad Jizerou means “a stream flowing among willows,” dates back from 1574, and is a part of the region which consists of Horní and Dolní Rokytnice, Františkov and Hleďsebe.

In Germany, these villages are known as the Riesengeberge.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Taking the Czech train, in Prague.

Taking the Czech train, in Prague.

It’s really quite simple. If you’re flying, the international airport is in Prague. If you’re taking the international train, they generally connect to Prague too. However, if you’re coming from Berlin like I did, then you can either fly, take the train, take the bus, or drive.

I don’t drive and The Music Producer wasn’t able to come with us this time, and since I like an adventure, I thought it would be interesting to take public transport to Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

Let me just say that when you’re feeling unwell, taking the adventurous route isn’t the best way to go about it.

But there you have it.

Rokytnice nad Jizerou. Not on the international jet-set route!

Rokytnice nad Jizerou. Not on the international jet-set route!

Rokytnice nad Jizerou isn’t on the international tourist route so the best way to do it is to get to Prague. You can travel to Prague by flying with any scheduled or budget airline or taking the train. If you book ahead, you can get discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. Tickets are from €39.00, but if you keep your eyes peeled you can even travel from €29.00! If you’re travelling with children, children under 15 years old are absolutely free! For more information about how to book your train ticket to Prague check here.

However, we didn’t do that.

Oh dear me no.

We took a different route. We took the bus / coach!

shutterstock-92810047-zob

We did this because we were travelling during the German school winter break. This winter break is only one week! This meant that we had to arrive in Rokytnice nad Jizerou on Saturday so that we could get our skiing equipment and our classes organised on the day..

It’s a small place. By Sunday, all the classes and best equipment are rented out!

The very wonderful German trains had transport from Berlin to Prague but would be changing (5) times in the middle of the night and had long transfers.

Er. No!

Meinfernbus-berlin

Meinfernbus outside Brandenburg Gate in Berlin!

So I decided to go with a bus company called Meinfernbus. I had never been with them before, but they had direct transfers from Berlin to Prague and had a cost of….

Wait for it.

€18.00 per person. Each way!

A knight on Wenceslas Square - Prague.

A knight on Wenceslas Square – Prague.

We left Berlin at 22:20 and arrived in Prague at 03:10. We then took the night bus to the Main Train Station in Prague as taxis were thin on the ground. This station is called Praha Hlavni Nadrazi or Praha hl.n. It’s the biggest train station in Prague, and is really close to Wenceslas Square. It used to be pretty grim. In fact, in the late 90’s, I had missed my bus back to Berlin, and the station was so dodgy that I ended up hiding my stuff, and spending the night at the international casino, whilst I waited for morning!

Having a bite and a sup at KFC, Prague!

Having a bite and a sup at KFC, Prague!

Praha Hlavni Nadrazi is pretty cleaned up now and we had a few hours to kill as our local train was leaving Prague at 06:11. I decided to show my son the bright lights of Prague, the statues, the museums, the Bohemian cobbled stones, and Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Yep! “The Tall Young Gentleman” was hungry and the late night sausage stalls looked quite unappetising, so we had breakfast in the place that Prague had found it’s freedom. As did everybody else.

It was turning into quite a party as tourists around me were speaking Czech, English, German, Spanish and French!

Breakfast in the Czech Republic!

Breakfast in the Czech Republic!

After breakfast, we took the local Czech train.

I had booked our train tickets on-line and because we were going to the mountain region, the trains got distinctly smaller and smaller ’till we basically took a toy train with one carriage, and end-of-the-line-stops. I booked our Czech train tickets here and the four (4) hour journey from Prague to Rokytnice nad Jizerou cost just €13.00 for the both of us and €26.00 both ways.

You do have to keep your wits about you though as the transfer time is about 5 minutes, and you need to take three (3) trains. The next train is usually right in front of you, and the train officials were very helpful, and even waited on the tracks with us, until we got on the next train!

Our tiny Czech train!

Our tiny Czech train!

I paid €36.00 for the return bus journey from Berlin to Prague and 241kc (Czech crowns) or about €9.00 for the return train journey from Prague to Rokytnice nad Jizerou. “The Tall Young Gentleman” paid €36.00 too and only 121kc (Czech crowns) or about €4.50 for the Czech train!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

No crowds at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

No crowds at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

OMG. You have got to be joking.

There are about 3,000 people who live in Rokytnice nad Jizerou with the rest being tourists. Most of the tourists were either East German or Czech.

I’ve been going to Rokytnice nad Jizerou since 1996, and I have met only a handful of non-German speaking tourists, so you’re going to be interesting to the locals. English isn’t widely spoken but those that do, are really eager to practice and are enormously friendly. They get even friendlier when you speak a few words of Czech.

The Czech Republic is a young nation and they’re going places.

WHAT IS THE SKIING LIKE?

"The Tall Young Gentleman" surrounded by teenaged girls at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” surrounded by teenaged girls at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

It’s lovely and cheap.

I’ll tell you more about it next week!

I DONT SPEAK CZECH.

Most people only speak Czech or German but there will always be someone around who can help.  If you can speak English, you’re good to go!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

At the ski hut.

At the ski hut.

You can if you want to.

In the past, we used to do a homestay with a local family in the middle of a hill. It was an old woman whom we called “Oma Maria.” We paid something like 10 Deutsche Marks or €5.00 per day. She didn’t speak English or German!

It was pretty basic and when we young, it was all we needed. Breakfast was included, it was a shared bathroom, and kitchen, the TV was in Czech or German, and there was no WiFi!

After twenty years with husband, and pre-teenager in tow, a little more is needed.

If you’re really low on cash, you can still find similar all over the village but it isn’t going to be for €5.00 per night, more €25.00. You can find homestays here.

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

Outside Hotel Stary Mlyn, Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Outside Hotel Stary Mlyn, Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Yes. However, we’re not talking of the French Alps here, but if it’s good enough for German tourists, it’s surely good enough for you. We went to an establishment called Hotel Stary Mlyn.

I like this hotel in particular because it’s right next to the ski lift!

After a full day of skiing, all I want to do is drag my weary legs and ski equipment to the hotel, and collapse. And I can, because it’s all of 5 minutes away, or in my case 10 minutes!

Drag them or leave them. They're safe!

Drag them or leave them. They’re safe!

Hotel Stary Mlyn is a family owned hotel too and has a ski school attached to it, so it’s even more convenient. I think all the staff are related as pretty much everyone knew that I was ill and did so much to help me. The receptionist/ski teacher wrote information for the doctor in Czech. The manager called the Czech train company to confirm travel status as a rock had blocked some trains from moving! He even carried my bags, drove us to the train station and waited for the toy train to arrive too! The ski school owner took back my skis after four (4) days, and didn’t charge me, and the Czech waiter used to have an Irish girlfriend so was enormously pleased that he could talk in English, rather than German. Although I speak both!

Hotel Stary Mlyn had it’s own restaurant and bar, a billiards/darts/table-football room, ice-skating, sauna, and a dedicated room for skis, and boots.

It's not the Ritz, but it'll do LOL!

It’s not the Ritz, but it’ll do LOL!

Our double room was en suite with a TV (German and Czech. Sigh!), hot water, and free WiFi but you should bring your own towel and toiletries, as the ones provided by the hotel are for stronger constitutions!

A Czech Continental Breakfast of kiełbasa sausage, cucumber, sliced, sweet peppers, and slices of cheese!

A Czech Continental Breakfast of kiełbasa sausage, cucumber, sliced, sweet peppers, and slices of cheese!

A continental breakfast buffet was included, and we also paid for Half Board which consisted of a three-course meal.

I was so impressed by the food that Czech food deserves a post all on its own. You’ll see that in a few weeks LOL!

The prices for a ski resort located right next door, are amazing.

A beautiful Scottish Terrier that would break your heart!  Photo@ petguide.com

A beautiful Scottish Terrier that would break your heart!
Photo@ petguide.com

For our B&B we paid 1,530kc (Czech Crowns) or €56.00 per day.  Our 3-course dinner every night was 260kc or €10 for BOTH of us. For each person, that amounted to €28.00 or $32.00 per day for the B&B and €5.00 or $6.00 for a 3-course dinner.

A bargain me thinks!

I’M REEEEEEALLY ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

At TESCO's.

At TESCO’s.

No Problem. Pretty much any Eastern European country is quite cheap and is never going to break the bank. If you’re on a budget, you could do worse. Beer at any restaurant is about 80 cents or $1.00. Meals including a starter are about €5.00 or $6.00!

If you’re making your own meals there is a TESCO supermarket. I know right!

You can find TESCO in pretty much every East European country and the food items are  really funny. In Rokytnice nad Jizerou you could get rolls of Czech bread for 1.50kc or 4 cents and they equally sold Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce and Marmite!

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO ROKYTNICE NAD JIZEROU?

All the villages offer downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, cycling and other activities. I’ll write more about that in the next post.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Taking 40 winks in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

Taking 40 winks in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, the Czech Republic.

Learn a few words of Czech. It’s similar to Polish such as:

  • Dobrý den: Good Day!
  • Ahoj: Hello!
  • Ano: Yes!
  • Ne: No!
  • Děkuji: Thank you!
  • Prosím: You’re welcome or Please!

Most importantly, have fun skiing!

Go on. Have some fun!

Go on. Have some fun!

For more information, please contact: Rokytnice nad Jizerou.

For more Information about travelling to Prague by train, please contact: Deutsche Bahn.

For more information about travelling around the Czech Republic by train, please contact: Czech Railways (ČD).

For more information about travelling to Prague by bus, please contact: Meinfernbus.

For more information, please contact: Hotel Stary Mlyn.

For general accommodation bookings, please contact: General accommodation in Rokytnice.

Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!

Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a small discount, all opinions and the enjoyable Czech soups and grog that I had, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the next few weeks, I will tell you how to organise your ski and winter activities in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, and details about Czech food! You can check some of the daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 25.02.15 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll be participating in the pre-ITB Travel Massive event on 03.03.15. If you’re a blogger or just fancy a knees-up, come meet us. It’s going to be so much fun!

The actual International Travel Trade Fair – ITB – will be taking place from 04.03.15 – 08.03. 15 and after that I’ll be off travelling to the next destination. More info in March!

If you’re not in Berlin in February, you’re missing out!

February is going to be full of it!

Watch this space!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" and I!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” and I!

Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? Do you like skiing?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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