How I came to live in Prague once upon a time – Wonderful Prague!

As lovely as Prague!
As lovely as Prague!

Prague!

Prague!

Wonderful Prague!

Apart from my actual historical home-town of Manchester, there are but four (4) brilliant cities that I have always either contemplated to be “home” or to have a piece of my heart in some way, and they are Berlin, London, Hong Kong and Prague.

Unsurprisingly, they are all somewhat similar in the sense that they are old cities filled with history and glory, choc-a-bloc with people of charm and intelligence, crammed with artistic creativity, edgy enough to push you to the wall but not too much to make you jump off a high building, have rivers flowing through them and plenty of opportunities to “make it” if you feel so inclined.

And I have lived in them all.

Hong Kong © Ángel Riesgo Martínez
Hong Kong
© Ángel Riesgo Martínez

Except for Hong Kong.

I’ve been there.

I’ve met people and had fantastic adventures.

And I was that close to making a move onto a fascinating island on the Asian continent.

When something more exciting happened to me…

Perhaps I’ll tell you sometime.

Perhaps not!

Anyway, my life and career after university started in the Czech Republic.

In Prague.

THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Good King Wenceslas himself on the very aptly named Wencelas Square in Prague!
Good King Wenceslas himself on the very aptly named Wencelas Square in Prague!

The Czech Republic is a country in Eastern-Central Europe and as such, a part of the old Eastern Bloc! It is bordered by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland and was formed in the late ninth (9th) century as the Duchy of Bohemia!

The Czech Republic, previously known as Czechoslovakia, was traditionally divided into three lands known as Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia or Slezko (also part of Poland). However, the Czech Republic has also been known as the Czech/Bohemian land, the land of the Bohemian Crown and the land of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas.

Yep! The Saint Wenceslas of ye olde English carols such as:

“Good King Wenceslas once looked out.

On the Eve of Stepheeeeeeen!

‘Though the snow lay round about

It was crisp and eeeeeeeven!”

I had absolutely no idea that the old Stephen that we always sang about as children, was that Stephen!

In memory of The Fallen, in Prague.
In memory of The Fallen, in Prague.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the name Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country.

Once the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 occurred, the two nations decided to part ways peacefully in 1993, turning into the Czech Republic of which Prague is the capital and Slovakia (not Slovenia!) in which Bratislava is the capital.

Back in the day, I lived in both nations which even though have separated, still have enormous respect for each other and happily, there have been no problems at all and you can travel quite easily between the two nations and not even notice the border!

In fact, the Czech Republic ranks as the eleventh (11th) most peaceful country in the world so if you’re looking for stability, development, democracy and peace, move to Iceland!

PRAGUE

The clock on Staromeska!

With streets paved with cobblestones and long shadows descending from glowing lanterns, it’s no wonder that I used to live in Prague.

Prague – the capital of the Czech Republic – is the largest city in it’s young nation. A nation of 1.2 million people.

Prague.

I have always had a love affair with Prague. I mean, I went there as a young graduate, straight from an academic university with stars in my eyes and political philosophy in my mind.

During my last year at university, I was head-hunted by a fellow student who had been working as a summer camp co-ordinator with a company that focused on developing countries.

I wanted to work in a developing country.

I wanted to do something to help those less fortunate than myself.

Helping the less fortunate! In Prague.
Helping the less fortunate!
In Prague.

And that was how it began.

I was tasked to be the Joint Manager and Co-Ordinator of a British summer camp, in conjunction with the University of Central England in Birmingham.

I was scared to death to be in charge of 100 disadvantaged and deprived teenage children and twelve (12) High School teachers, from the North of England.

I must have done alright ‘cos then they promoted me to Project Development Officer responsible for universities, graduates and young professionals in the UK. And it was all grand hobnobbing and spending most of my time at Oxford and Cambridge.

But you see, I wanted to work abroad.

I have always wanted to work abroad.

So when that call came. I was ready.

The company knew that I had wanted to go to India (I know!) but they had something else for me. Eastern Europe.

Photo@ Avisionn Photo

Eastern Europe in the 90’s was dismal, in distress and pretty undeveloped. “Would I be interested?”

I was.

“When would that be?”

“Well, the thing is. Quite soon.”

“How soon?”

“Tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow!!?!”

“Yeah, tomorrow!”

I didn’t hesitate and said yes. They assured me it would only be for about six (6) weeks.

I came back two (2) years later!

And that was it. I was in love.

St Charles Bridge Prague © Jorge Royan
St Charles Bridge Prague
© Jorge Royan

With Prague!

Oh yes, I lived in Prague and became the Regional Project Manager in Eastern Europe responsible for starting up an educational business in both Prague (the Czech Republic) and Bratislava (Slovakia).

It was the best thing ever and basically made me what I am today because at university, I was quite an arrogant, privileged little thing.

I was an academic, bright, young and clever. I had the world at my feet and I knew it.

I even used to be Head Girl for goodness sake (see Harry Potter), and I had parents who gave me everything.

I had never done a day’s work in my life.

Until Prague.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia with the whole world and a lovely pool, at his feet!

In Prague. I had a whole country to myself, no staff and absolutely no idea what I was really going to be doing out there.

Oh, and did I tell you that when I got there, the fellow who was supposed to partner me, had to leave due to a family emergency, so I was on my own!

Quite alone.

In Prague.

Don't worry!
Don’t worry!

I didn’t speak any Czech or German at the time but I made it work. I was so afraid of failure that I went to the local university and knocked on university hall doors looking for young people who spoke English and wanted to work with me.

I found a few people and that was how I started.

It was quite the making of me.

Did I make mistakes?

Loads!

Did I cry and want to go home?

Many times.

But did I give up though?

Not a chance!

I did well. Got myself a nice team and a few working assistants and made many more projects, and when I did eventually return back to the UK, I knew that if I wanted to fly to the moon I probably could.

If I wanted to!

Drinking on the moon! © gawrifort
Drinking on the moon!
© gawrifort

If you recall, in February, we went skiing in the Czech Mountains and we had to make a stop-over in Prague. My husband – The Music Producer – isn’t one for skiing so he encouraged us to go on without him. On our journey, we ended up in Prague at 02:00 and with a few hours to kill before our onward train to Rokytnice nad Jizerou, so I decided to “show” “The Tall Young Gentleman” a tiny bit of history.

Chocolate chip ice-cream at KFC in Prague. Not for me of course!
Chocolate chip ice-cream at KFC in Prague.
Not for me of course!

He was fascinated although between you and me, I think he was more impressed with the Czech version of KFC than anything else LOL! And although my son had been to Prague as a toddler, he had never been to Prague proper and from the look on his face, I felt it was time for him to not only hear about the life of his mother, but to see it too!

As a reminder, our summer trip was a journey to both Budapest in Hungary and Prague in the Czech Republic. You can read all about the beginning of the adventure by clicking right here!

After having a marvellous time at both the Aria Hotel Budapest and the Buddha-Bar Hotel, we took the Hungarian 2nd class train from Budapest to Prague.

Take the train!
Take the train!

I had booked in on the website of the Hungarian Train Network (MAV) as it couldn’t be booked in Germany and so with much misgivings, I paid €38.00 for the pair of us and hoped for the best as I couldn’t download a ticket either….

I was so worried that I even went to an actual physical Deutsche Bahn (German Train) office and they told me to either pay €225.00 travelling through another route or to pay €38.00 through the direct route. I paid it and got a confirmation. The snag?

You can only print out your actual ticket at a Hungarian train station which I conveniently forgot all about until the night before we were due to leave! Thankfully, we were leaving on the same platform that we had arrived on, so with trembling fingers I logged in the reference number and managed to get our tickets with just seven (7) minutes to spare…!

We found our compartment and our new companions for the next seven (7) hours who were a bunch of German college boys off to Berlin!

People rushing on the Polish train.
People rushing on the Polish train.

I’ve travelled by East European train many times. They’re cheap but very cheerful. They can get squashy and squishy and filled up not only with suitcases but bags and sacks, and even so-called 1st class trains can leave a lot to be desired, but the local passengers are kind-hearted and are a merry lot and the bathrooms are clean and have bars of soap and running water. And if you’re really wanting to meet the locals on their own turf, then go to the restaurant car and play cards with some of the old men there or buy a couple of rounds, it certainly won’t break the bank and you’ll have made a few new friends as well!

Once we arrived in Prague, I bought our underground tickets and off we went.

50 Rupees
50 Rupees

Speaking of money.

Because I have travelled an awful lot – fifty-three (53) countries – to be exact, and counting, I tend not to spend up or even give away my left-over currency, but to keep it not only as a memento, but also a reason to come back! And as you already know, the last time I was previously in Hungary was eleven (11) years ago and even though I didn’t have enough money for a taxi, I would have had enough money for a cup of coffee.

If I drank it LOL!

So, I had at least 400 Czech crowns or €15.00. More than enough local cash to get us to the hotel and then some.

Prague is extremely tidy, modern and organised. Have no fear if you don’t speak Czech as all over the Hlavní Nádraží or Main Train Station, were information booklets in various main languages of how to get about the city or use Prague public transport. Even the ticket machines and wall maps were in English.

Not only that, but I think Prague has one of the easiest underground systems in the world as it only has three (3) lines.

Yep! You heard me.

Just three (3) lines – green, yellow and red!

We bought one (1) short-term ticket costing 24CZK or €0.90 and one (1) child ticket costing 12CZK or €0.45. These tickets are one-way tickets only and can be used for 30 minutes. Unless, you’re planning to use public transport extensively, you shouldn’t need to buy a day ticket and if your hotel is in the city centre, then walking is your friend!

Our hotel – Angelo Hotel Prague –  was in the suburbs of Prague – Zone 5. It’s about twenty (20) minutes from the city centre and if you’re particularly nifty, a brisk thirty (30) minute walk will take you along the Vltava river and towards the direction of the Prague Castle in amazing Prague – a unique city.

That’s it for now. Find out what we did next week!

Cocktails at Angelo Hotel
Cocktails at Angelo Hotel in Prague.

For more information about the Angelo Hotel, please contact: Angelo Hotel Prague.

This article is part-sponsored by the Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the lovely river walks that I went on, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be at the Long Night of Museums or die Lange Nacht der Museen which takes place on August 29th. It’s an all night museum and exhibition family event, taking place from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin right now, you’ve got a lot to lose!

August is packing up!

Watch this space!

Cooling down in very hot Prague!
Cooling down in very hot Prague!

Have you ever been to Prague? Have you ever lived in another country?

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, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Advertisements

I’m going to Budapest & Prague AND taking the train. Yay!

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

In the last fortnight or two weeks, I’ve been telling you all about fashion and I will get back to the juicy bits in a few weeks, but for now, back to basics. Haw! Haw!

Yes, it’s that time of year.

Drum roll pleeeeease!

THE BRITISH BERLINER IS GOING TO BUDAPEST AND PRAGUE. YAY!

 

A map of Berlin to Prague and to Budapest

Shiver me timbers!

WHERE AM I GOING EXACTLY?

 

It's not really relevant but at least he's travelling! Photo@ Peter Stigter
It’s not really relevant but at least he’s travelling!
Photo@ Peter Stigter

Well, you know me. Never the easy option!

I am travelling from Berlin to Budapest. From Budapest to Prague. And then from Prague back to Berlin again. Many people do it the other way around but I’m not many people LOL!

I’m going to Hungary and the Czech Republic and I’m going there by the train!

HUNGARY

Budapest Spring  Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

Hungary, also known as the Republic of Hungary is a country in Eastern Europe and thus a part of the old Eastern Bloc!

It is technically situated in Central Europe and is surrounded by Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia), Austria and the Ukraine! I will be going to Budapest which is the capital city and considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe surrounded by the river Danube and divided into two lovely parts known unsurprisingly as Buda and Pest!

Look at the glamour of the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest!
Look at the glamour of the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest!

My trip to Budapest is going to be a cultural one so I’ll be travelling with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and we’ll be staying at not only one (1) hotel in Budapest, but two (2)! We’ll be staying firstly at a luxurious, Asian-inspired five-star hotel consisting of one-hundred and two (102) rooms and located at the corner of the famous Váci utca or Váci street which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous High Street in Budapest. This chic but luxurious hotel is called the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply the Buddha-Bar Hotel!

Next to the St. Stephen's Basilica - Aria Hotel Budapest.
Next to the St. Stephen’s Basilica – Aria Hotel Budapest.

We will then transfer a few days later and we’ll be staying at the beautiful boutique and musically inspired five-star hotel consisting of just forty-nine (49) guest rooms and suites, and located in the historic centre of Pest right next to the St. Stephen’s Basilica. This stylish hotel is called Aria Hotel Budapest.

I simply can’t keep my breath in!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The most wonderful medieval Prague astronomical clock! In the Czech Republic.
The most wonderful medieval Prague astronomical clock!

I have written plenty about the Czech Republic because back in the day, I used to live there and it still remains one of my most favourite countries.

I love the Czech Republic so much that we always try to go to Prague every couple of years and my favourite skiing destination is also in this rather wonderful country. In fact, I wrote quite a few things about the various ski slopes that you can go to and how one year, I pretty much only ate fried cheese and fell off the ski-lift! For more information, check out the links below:

Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!
Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!

Anyhoo, the Czech Republic.

You know. Previously known as Czechoslovakia.

What again?

The Czech Republic!!

Outside the most beautiful Staroměstská or Old Town Square. In Prague, the Czech Republic.
Outside the most beautiful Staroměstská or Old Town Square. In Prague.

Oh yeah, the Czech Republic is another previously Eastern Europe nation behind the Iron Curtain! After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia decided to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The country is also technically situated in Central Europe and surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia (not Slovenia. Think Czechooooooooslovakia!) and Poland. We will of course, be going to Prague which is the capital city. How could we not?

Everybody likes Prague! It’s just so. so. so….

…classically European!

A knight on Wenceslas Square - Prague.
A knight on Wenceslas Square – Prague.

What with all those kings, queens, fighting for kingdoms and holy crusades. It’s the British monarchy all over again. Although of course.

It isn’t.

They have their own rather interesting Bohemian monarchy LOL!

Prague is said to be the “heart of Europe” and sometimes called “the mother of cities.”  Not quite similar to the mother of dragons in the Game of Thrones family saga, but close enough!

I.

Know.

Prague.

It’s beautiful but in the summer months can get crowded, really noisy and sticky. I’m travelling with my I’ve-just-become-a-real-teenager son, so his comfort is of importance.

Cocktails at Angelo Hotel Prague, the Czech Republic
‘Looking forward to mock cocktails at the Angelo Hotel in Prague!

We will be staying at a four-star modern designed hotel on the other side of the Vltava River. Similar to the art design hotel in Helsinki, this hotel is large and has 168 rooms. We chose this spacious hotel as it’s trendy, in a residential quarter and quiet.

I weighed up whether to stay in the centre of Prague or to, unusual for me, choose a place a little further away. I chose further away for a little bit of peace and quiet LOL! The name of the hotel is Angelo Hotel Prague.

I can’t wait to show “The Tall Young Gentleman” my old haunts!

WHY BUDAPEST AND PRAGUE?

 

Budapest Spring Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

The first and only time that I visited Budapest was in 2004. I went with a German girlfriend of mine who wasn’t really interested in the sights, wasn’t really interested in history and wasn’t really interested in walking.

Sigh!

All I remember is the awful monstrosity of a “modern” hotel, a river cruise which was thankfully quite charming, real Hungarian goulash that wasn’t in the least chewy, and nothing at all about the city itself!

This visit is going to change all that.

And as for Prague? I have always had a love affair with that city of charm because after I graduated university, I went to live there!

It was my first real job and it was a high-flying graduate programme.

English in Europe. Courtesy of comedyinfinland.com
English in Europe.
Courtesy of comedyinfinland.com

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!

St Charles Bridge Prague © Jorge Royan
St Charles Bridge Prague
© Jorge Royan

Prague is both romantic and successful, ancient and modern, cheap but can be horribly expensive.

But the same can be said for Budapest, and therein lies the rub.

These cities are based in Europe and have magnificent stories of richness, history and grandeur.

Both cities are classical beauties.

Both cities have mountains of history.

Both cities are based in Eastern Europe.

Which one shall be the Queen?!

Very inspiring!

HOW AM I TRAVELLING?

In the corridor of the local Polish Train.
In the corridor of the local Polish Train.

We will be travelling by train.

Between Berlin and Budapest, we will be taking the twelve hour (12) German Railway overland train service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB, on a direct train to Budapest.

In first class no less.

Faaaancy.

And the difference in price between the second (2nd) class train and the first (1st) class train was….

Wait for it.

Just €10.00.

Second (2nd) class €59.00 and first (1st) class €69.00.

I booked it immediately LOL!

The Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.
The Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.

Between Budapest and Prague, we will be taking the seven (7) hour train journey (second class this time) via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40.

This journey should be interesting. About as interesting as when we went to the Polish country-side by local train too!

Between Prague and Berlin, we will be back on the German Network on a five (5) hour train journey (the usual second class) and don’t forget, even though I’ll be paying €29.00, on the German Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Yeeeeees!

I’m so looking forward to sight-seeing river cruises, perhaps going to the baths.

Perhaps!

A Hungarian bath in Budapest

Gulp!

Rambling through the cobbled streets of both Budapest and Prague, booking a live escape game.

‘Should be thrilling!

Doing a little hiking, visiting some interesting museums that tell us a little of the history and culture, going on a walking tour, stuffing ourselves with marvellous local cuisine, going to the local theatre, watching a film in Hungarian or Czech and generally, just having a great time!

It’s going to be quite an adventure!

This article is part-sponsored by Aria Hotel Budapest, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest, and Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the exciting time that I’m sure to have, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be writing from Budapest!

I’ll be there. Will you?

August is going to be quite the thing.

Watch this space!

Budapest Spring Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

Have you ever been to Hungary? Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? Are you team Budapest or Team Prague? Do you like my new it-took-me-a-few-hours-to-do-all-by-myself-blog-look? Any comments on my fancy logo?

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, look for me on Google+ 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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!