How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”

Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!

And when you’re travelling or going abroad, you’ve got to think of things differently, as teenagers are not children per se, but neither are they adults.

They’re gangly young people, looking to explore the world, find their feet, and live life to the full.

And if you’re like me. You’ll let them do it, and give them the  gift of travel!

Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!
Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!

Children are versatile.

And they don’t really need much.

All they need is plenty of food, a safe and clean place to lay their head, wi-fi, a bit of space to lay out all their “stuff”and you!

Yes, you.

The parent!

We are Family. And then We Were Three. In Wales!
We are Family. And then We Were Three.
In Wales!

You don’t have to wait until “they’re old enough to know.”

Believe you me. They know!

You don’t have to wait until “they understand the benefits” of travel.

What are you talking about`?

Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!
Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!

Any place that is different from home and in which they can learn about other places, other cultures, and other people, is a marvellous thing.

The younger they are, the easier it is, and the better for all!

Our son as a baby - 20 months old!
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

I started travelling with our son when he was just 5 months old. I put him in a baby carrier, dumped all his toys and baby stuff in the car, and breast-fed him all the way!

And by the time he was 5 years old, he had been to 32 countries, and at 12, he was already talking about spending his GAP year in Thailand, so there’s that!

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland. Give your teenagers the gift of travel!

I love travelling with our son, and even though he’s 14, it won’t be long until he’ll want to be travelling with his friends.

In Northern European countries that age tends to be between 16 and 17 years old as young people are more independent, and their parents liberal, tolerant, and open-minded.

In that wise, I decided to go to Amsterdam for the weekend, with our teenager in tow!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”

Interestingly enough, our German friends didn’t blink an eye when I told them. Not so my Anglo-American friends who were visibly shocked and worried.

Not to worry.

This is what happened.

HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

I took my teenager to Amsterdam!

I know!

I started my international travel adventure for 2017 a fortnight (two weeks) ago, by taking a weekend trip to Holland.

To Amsterdam.

When people think of Amsterdam, their ears immediately prick up, and their eyes bulge intensely at the exotic-ness of that city of sin….

Nightlife in Amsterdam...
Nightlife in Amsterdam…

However, people live in Amsterdam. I mean, people people.

Real people. Ordinary people. People who have to get up in the morning and work in an office, take the train, or in this case, ride their bicycles.

In 2015, I wrote about the other stuff.  The stuff that “decent” people whisper over. The naughty stuff….

And here’s the link!

This time around, I’m writing about the family-friendly Amsterdam.

Here goes!

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM

Dutch children in traditional costume.
Dutch children in traditional costume.

Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.

Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.

Did you know that:

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And 165 canals!
  • Only 834,713 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
  • There are 881,000 bicycles
  • 213 trams
  • 165 canals
  • 1,281 bridges
  • 2,500 barges or houseboats
  • 8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
  • 23 paintings by Rembrandt
  • 207 paintings by Van Gogh
  • And 8 windmills!

DAY ONE (1) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - "The Tall Young Gentleman"
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”
  • Put luggage away as quickly as possible:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Get rid of luggage!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Get rid of luggage!

Checking in for most hotels is usually between 13:00 – 14:00 so if you’re not driving, put your luggage in the train station locker for efficiency and speed! For 24 hours, it costs between €7.00 – €10. We had just arrived by overnight train from Berlin, so it was well worth not lugging things around..!

Book your hotel here!

  • Feed your teenager:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - A good meal is essential!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – A good meal is essential!

Before we were going to do anything at all, I took my son to a restaurant that I knew, that served an English breakfast for under €5.00! He opted for an Italian breakfast instead, and ending up licking his chops at mine!

  • It’s always a good thing to get a local viewpoint of a place or city, and the best way to do so is on a walking tour:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! Go on a walking tour!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
Go on a walking tour!

Now, I’ve been to been to Amsterdam loads of time, but The Tall Young Gentleman has never been to Holland.

In fact, 2 years ago, I did my own personal walking tour in Amsterdam, as my tour guide decided not to turn up!

I’m a great advocate for walking tours and go on many, such as food tours, alternative walking tours, free walking tours, and walking tours in exotic places!

There are many tour groups to choose from, but the one I chose was the Sandemans new Amstedam free walking tour.

  • Learn about Dutch culture:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Our walking tour was great for learning all about how Dutch people live and the alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam, which even included walking through the red-light district at 12:00 in the afternoon!

Funnily enough it wasn’t this that got my teenager blushing and flustered.

After all, a lot of the red light places in Amsterdam are blended into the community, with one red-light street situation right next to a kindergarten, and opposite a church! And as for Germany, prostitution is legal and well, you know, nude or Freikörperkultur beaches abound throughout Germany. All quite normal and family-friendly!

It was this.

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Our walking tour group gathered around to take photographs of various types, sizes and flavours, whilst my teenager and I wandered further away and talked about the weather.

Neither of us quite knew where to look!

  • Bump into cheese. And eat it:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

You surely can’t be in Holland if you don’t try some of their best famous cheese!

If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese.

We went to a place called the Cheese Inn Museum. 

It’s been around since 1967 and specialises in more than 100 different kinds of organic cheese from cheese markets in Northern Holland, as well as other equipment!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!

It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour and some info so that you can experience the unique flavor of the best cheeses in Holland, and nibble away at many varieties of free cubes of cheese and sauces to taste!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

The last time I was there, I was so impressed that I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, for – The Music Producer – who is a connoisseur.

Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.

How can anyone, lest of all teenagers, resist?!

  • Take a leisurely stroll, and walk in and out of little back streets, and on the river-side:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - You might be surprised at what you might see!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – You might be surprised at what you might see!

Start from Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square, and then explore. Just remind your teenagers to watch their bags as the area is packed with tourists, as well as pick-pockets. Think Leicester Square (London), Times Square (New York), or Alexanderplatz (Berlin).

Damrak is crowded and there’s loads of weird people and strange shops. You might not like it, but your teenager will! And for obvious reasons, you wouldn’t want them to be there alone. So take a deep breath and go with them…!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - You might be surprised at what you might see!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – You might be surprised at what you might see!

The picture above shows the Waag or traditional weighing house and is a 15th-century building on the Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam.

It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam, and also served as a guildhall, a museum, a fire station and anatomical theatre, and now a restaurant!

The Waag is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam and can even be seen in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp!

  • Go ice-skating:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Ice-skating galore! @I amsterdam - Hans Guldemond
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Ice-skating galore!
@I amsterdam – Hans Guldemond

Somehow, I always seem to be in Holland in the winter!

One year, we actually walked across part of the Northern Sea, and people’s yachts and boats were frozen!

Thankfully, Amsterdam isn’t that extreme so merely ice-skating will have to do! The ICE*Amsterdam presents a unique ice skating experience on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, where your teenager can not only do some nifty ice-skating, but curling and ice hockey too!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - ice-skating!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – ice-skating!

You can’t do this every year though as the ice rink is only open from 18.11.16 – 05.02.17, and temperatures have to drop to -4°C or below, for four (4) consecutive nights, to produce ice thick enough to skate on. And it did!

In fact, while we were there, Amsterdam was freezing cold!

DAY TWO (2) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”
  • Take a cruise:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Take a boat tour on the river!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Take a boat tour on the river!

I just so love rivers.

The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see.

The rivers are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Take a boat tour on the river!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Take a boat tour on the river!

Or if you’re short on cash, hop on the free public ferry service behind the Centraal train Station and set sail for NDSM-wharf, a derelict shipyard turned avant-garde arts community.

Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artists roaming the streets and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all.

It goes to Amsterdam-Noord. There are various routes, but the most common ones are the short ferry to Buiksloterweg (roughly every 10 minutes) and the long ferry (every half hour) to the NDSM Wharf. You can get more information about the destinations, the routes and an interactive map here!

  • Cycle through the city:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Cycle through the city!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Cycle through the city!

I’m not the best cyclist in the world, but I like places that worship the bike.

In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!

  • Visit a museum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum! @I amsterdam - Philipp Benedikt
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!
@I amsterdam – Philipp Benedikt

Amsterdam has a variety of really great museums. All which would give your teenager something to do. And if it’s cold, wet and rainy.

All the better.

The best museums / attractions to visit with a teenager are the following:

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit the Amsterdam Dungeon!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit the Amsterdam Dungeon!
  1. The Amsterdam Museum
  2. The Rijksmuseum
  3. The Van Gogh Museum
  4. The Ann Frank House Museum
  5. Micropia
  6. The Rembrandt House Museum
  7. The Joods Historisch Museum or the Jewish Historical Museum
  8. The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses
  9. The Museum Willet-Holthuysen
  10. Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
  11. The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum
  12. The Heineken Experience
  13. The Amsterdam Dungeon
  14. Body Worlds Amsterdam
  15. And the Amsterdam Light Festival

We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, and only managed to get to the two (2) museums below:

  • The Amsterdam Museum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

I was very eager to visit the Amsterdam Museum as it focuses on the story and history of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, and lots of interactive material and images that you could touch, see, listen to, use, read, and experience.

I love museums where you don’t have to treat things like delicate treasures, and can really get to grips with “using” the items!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

An audio guide is provided so that you can do your own self-guided tour, in a variety of popular languages. And it’s free of charge, which I greatly appreciated!

Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.

And if you’re short of time, or don’t feel like doing anything too “heavy” the interactive Amsterdam DNA exhibition, can be “done” in just one (1) hour!

Cost: Adults: €12.50. Students: €10.00. Children 5-18: €6.50. Under 4: Free of charge.

  • The Rijksmuseum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.

The Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection was presented via going on a journey through the ages, and a sense of beauty and of time.

In 80 galleries, 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. And even though The Tall Young Gentleman is just 14 years old, he really enjoyed the Rembrandt art and imaginary mythical creatures, and was upset when after just 2 hours, it was time to leave!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it and Night Watch alone was amazing!

Cost: Adults: €17.50. European Youth Card Holders (EYCA) / Students: €8.75. Under 18: Free of charge!

We ran out of time this time around, but if you have longer, check out the others!

p.s. Don’t forget to book or reserve museum tickets online, in order to escape the queues at peak periods!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum! The Heineken Experience!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!
The Heineken Experience!

Sadly, by 17:00, it was time to take our train back to Berlin.

It was clear that we had a most interesting time.

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!

And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.

Go see for yourself.

Thanks so much Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum!

Book your hotel here!

HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary museum tickets, all opinions and the delightful Dutch cheese that I happily consumed, are my very own!

It’s January!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin – will take place from 26.01.17 – 28.01.17

If you’re a blogger and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive February MeetUp on February 9th.

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, what are you waiting for!

January is going to be striking!

Watch this space!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Would you take a teenager? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

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

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!