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…
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.
Now you know!
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!
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.
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.
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:
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?
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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?
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?
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?
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!
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? Do you like skiing?
See you in Berlin.
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