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Now that the temperatures have climbed back up and it is bearable to be outside once more, what better way to get the blood flowing than to go cross country skiing.  Cross country skiing is a very popular winter activity in the Czech Republic with infinite trails around the country.  It would be impossible to list all the trails so I will just highlight the popular regions to get you started.

Krkonoše

Krkonoše Mountains
Located at the Czech-Polish border near Germany (about 1-2 hours north of Prague) and ideal for all winter sports.  Here you can pick a trail of any distance, ranging from  beginner to advanced.  If you are up for the challenge, and don’t mind the hills, Krkonoše is known for these type of trails.

Need a rest from all the hard work?  Wellness centers can be found all around these mountains.  For example, Hotel Aqua Park in Špindlerův Mlýn has great facilities including a pool, sauna, and water slides.  Another good center is Komplex Loko in Trutnov.

We can’t forget fun for the kids.  There are many great sledding slopes and even a small skiing slope with a lift.  SKI PEC is ideal for the whole family.

Jizerské Hory

Jizerské Hory
Located 60km west of Krkonoše and an hour north of Prague (by Liberec). Very ideal for cross country skiing with many great and maintained trails.  Want hills? No problem.  Want long, straight trails?  Check.  Want both?  Done.

Another great feature of these mountains is that you can even cross country ski at night. In Jablonec nad Nisou you can find a cross country arena Břízky where you can do a few laps.

You shouldn’t miss the stone observation tower Štepánka on top of the hill called Hvězda, in my favorite village of Příchovice.  Breathtaking views await you there.  If you want to check out what the current conditions are in Jizerské Hory before heading out there, you can do so online.  Most cameras can be found here.

Šumava

Mountains of Šumava
Another superb place for cross country skiing.  It is located further southwest, by the German-Austrian border.  The mountains here have a lower elevation but resorts are cheaper and less crowded.  You can even find moderate hills but nothing too extreme.

For inspiration, visit the cottage of Kateřina Neumannová, a retired, cross country skiing Olympian, where she showcases her gold medals.  You can even rent a room and stay a little longer.

If you are a complete newbie to cross country skiing and want to learn the right technique, which looks effortless on television, contact the experienced trainers at the Nordic Academy.

If cross country skiing is not your thing and downhill skiing is more your passion, no worries, many places around as well.  I have been neglecting skiing for the past few years so I am not an expert on the best places but this interactive map shows all the slopes in the Czech Republic as well as neighboring countries.

Also, here is another link that lists specific cross country trails around the country.  If and when Prague gets snow, you can find many people getting their cross country skis out and turning the many local parks to trails.  Sometimes you can go straight from your front door :)

Few cross country skiing etiquette tips:
1. Always let faster skiers pass.
2. Most trails are two-way, stay on the right.  Same as while driving.
3. Always say ‘thank you’ when someone lets you pass.
4. If you are passing, announce whether it is on the right or left.
5. If you have to stop, move to the side, off the trail.

We still have plenty of winter left, so get on those trails and slopes before it’s too late!

Introducing a fairly new website - Hello Czech Republic - launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here you can get information on living in or visiting the Czech Republic straight from the source.   The website is available in 6 different languages and provides you with accurate and up to date information on a number of different topics.

Poolin’ around in Prague

September 20th, 2011 | Posted by Klaraz in Fitness | Klara | Lifestyle - (Comments Off)

Podolí indoor pool

There are many great outdoor swimming pools around Prague but summer is pretty much gone and most outdoor pools have closed their doors.  Luckily, Prague has a decent number of indoor pools that cater to those wanting some water fun all year round or just enjoy swimming as exercise.

To make your Prague indoor pool experience a little easier, here are a few things to remember.  Pools in Prague usually charge by how long you stay.  The prices are listed by the hour at most places.  When you first arrive, you leave a deposit or your ID in exchange for a locker.  Your key will come with a wristband so you will be able to swim with it.  Most of the time it is safe to leave your valuables in your locker but if you don’t feel comfortable, a lot of the times they have a safe at the front desk you can keep your valuable items in.

Also, remember to always take your shoes off before entering the changing room.  There are usually signs telling you to do so.   Make sure to check the operating hours of the pool you will be visiting.  Some close in the middle of the day, or other parts of the day as well.

I wish I could give some advice on pool etiquette but I have not figured it out yet :(  There have been many times I have been very frustrated when I am trying to swim laps and some slower swimmers or people just splashing around will not get out of my way.  It would be easier if there were lanes designated for fast swimmers as well as for the leisure swimmers.  That is clearly not the case and I am beginning to think that there are no rules.

Now that you are familiar with the basics of going to an indoor pool, here are a few options:

Podoli
This place is massive and is located near Vysehard.  It consists of one Olympic sized 50m indoor swimming pool, two outdoor swimming pools of 50m and 33m length, plus a paddling pool for children.  The indoor pool is open all year round as well as the 33m outdoor pool which is heated during the colder months.  In addition to the swimming pools, there is also a fitness center, sauna and a café/restaurant.

Axa gym indoor pool

Axa Gym
It is open to the hotel guest as well as the general public, this impressive 25m heated indoor swimming pool is just 10 min walk from both the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.  Other services include a sauna, solarium and massage facilities.

Holmes Place
This is a sport club with three locations located in Smichov, Cerny most and Karlin.  In Smichov the pool is 17m long and you can also find a weight room, spinning classes, dance classes, kids activities and classes for pregnant woman.  In Cerny most the pool is 25m long and has the same activities as the Smichov location.  Karlin has a 17m pool with a weight room and spinning.

There are many more pools around Prague.  You can find all the locations and websites here.

Happy swimming!

Ice hockey? Floorball? No…FIELD hockey!

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Klaraz in Fitness | Guiri Guest - (Comments Off)

Nikki (left) in action

If you’re Czech, I hear you asking, ‘What is this sport’?? If a foreigner I hear you asking, ‘They play that here?’ It took me 8 months to find a club that I could play with, nearly giving up thinking it was non-existent, when I discovered Praga Hockey Club. They are based in Zemanka, Prague 4 and are an excellent club to play with. It appears that the Czechs have only truly discovered this sport in the last decade because the team is excellent but very young.  I am 24 and I felt ancient playing!

The Praga girls team are one of the top in the League (yes, I know, not just one team in Prague, an entire league!) and there’s a reason for this with 6 playing for the national team. Being a defender I’ve never learnt any fancy stick skills but the coach, Miloš, has had the patience to introduce me to some. Within a month I feel I’ve learnt more than my entire time on the hockey team at university and the coach doesn’t even speak English!

They train twice a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30-8:00 and have games most Saturdays. The games are free to watch so it’s worth checking out their website for games, particularly the Praga vs. Slavia contest. The season is nearing its end; we beat HCH in the playoffs and now we have the finals. This contest is the best of three games: Slavia won the first game in an intense battle that culminated in a penalty shoot-out. The next game (18th June 2011) promises some nail-biting moments; if Slavia win they win the cup; if Praga win, there will be another match the following weekend to decide. Details of games are on the Czech Hockey Federation’s website: http://www.pozemnihokej.cz/; be warned, there is far more information in Czech than there is in English.

The Flying Honzas

If you want to play for a hockey team but Praga girls sound too serious or it’s too scary joining a team who speak Czech, there is also a fun team: ‘the flying Honzas’: ½ Czech, ½ expat, who play every Wednesday. They play on the Praga grounds and organise friendlies with hockey teams on tour. More information can be found on their website: http://flyinghonzas.cz/. They’re a friendly bunch and will welcome anyone, no matter what their level is. Don’t worry if you don’t have the equipment, there’s always someone with a spare stick. So, if you want to get back into hockey, want to try a new sport or just want to keep fit, contact the flying Honzas.

****

Since graduating in July 2008, Guiri Guest Nikki, has not stayed still for more than 5 months; travelling to China, Gambia and South America. She decided that it was about time she ‘settled’ and took up a 10 month teaching post. Why Prague? Nikki needed to be close to home to help run a project from the UK but still wanted to experience a different culture. Czech culture isn’t that dissimilar from British culture but its bustling beautiful streets give her the sense of adventure she’s always trying to achieve from life. Nikki is a person that needs a constant change of scenery and even though you can see the main sights of Prague in a weekend, she’s still discovering hidden gems having lived in the city for 9 months.

 

Žluté lázně

When I was growing up in Prague, it was not possible to travel out and enjoy the plentiful beaches of Europe.  Instead, we settled for lakes, ponds and pools within the borders and even in Prague. And don’t get me wrong, I do like the beach and what it has to offer, but maybe due to my upbringing, I don’t necessarily crave it and really enjoy fresh water swimming.  The summer is here and if you are staying in Prague and want to catch some rays, take a swim and make it feel like a vacation, there are plenty of places you can choose from.  Even within city limits, you can choose natural bodies of water or outdoor pools that may be more accommodating for little ones.

Below is a list of the more popular natural bodies of water that have become very popular for Praguers:

Žluté lázně – River, Podolské nábřeží 1 (open from 09.00-17.00; Adults 80 Kc; Children and seniors 40Kc; family entrance 160 Kc; Children’s playground 9:00-20:00 – 50Kc; Also available:  Beach volleyball courts, petanque, table tennis, zumba, bootcamp, massages, restaurnt, buffet & bar – layout of the arena here)

Smíchovská pláž – River, Hořeší nábřeží (open from 10:00-22:00; Adults 50 Kc; Children free; Also available: Beach volleyball courts; soccer, table tennis; petanque; badminton; restaurant & bar. Other activities:  Children’s world every Monday and Wednesday from 14:00-18:00 – 1hr-130 Kc; half a day 450 Kc; 1 day 890 Kc; 1 week 3490Kc)

Džbán Dam, nad Džbánem (open from 9.00-19.00; Adults 50Kc, Children and seniors 30Kc, Children under 110cm free; Includes nudist area, boat rentals, volleyball, buffet, map)

Hostivařská přehrada – Dam (currently being reconstructed, to be opened in the summer of 2012)


Outdoor pools that are worth a visit are the following:

 Tichá Šárka – Pool, spring water, V Šáreckém údolí 76 (open until 18.00 until end of August; 20×20 pool, table tennis, buffet, kid’s pool)

Divoká Šárka – Pool, spring water, Divoká Šárka 3 (open from 10.00-18.00, and from 9.00-19.00 in June; Adults, 60Kc; Children under 5 are free; Children 5-10 yrs, 20Kc; After 16.30, discount at 40Kc from full price. Includes Two pools; Kid’s pool; water slides, swings, trampoline, tennis table, volleyball.)

Slavia – Pool, Vršovice (open from 6.00-19.00 Mon-Fri and 9.00-19.00 Sat-Sun; adults 60min – 90Kc; Children from 15yrs that are over 125cm tall 60min – 60Kc; Children under 125cm tall – 40Kc.  Also all day passes are available 140Kc for an adult; Children from 15 yrs over 125cm tall – 70Kc; Children under 15 yrs and under 125cm tall – 50Kc.  Includes outdoor pool, kid’s pool, Sauna, swimming lessons, restaurant.)

Petynka – Pool, Otevřená 4 (open from 7:00-21:00; Entrace based on hour of entrace.  For adults fee at 100Kc, Children up to 140cm tall and seniors 70-90Kc.  Includes main pool, kid’s pool; water slides; beach volleyball; table tennis; trampoline; buffet)

Podolí – Pool, Podolská 74 (open from 6.00-21:45; Adults 150Kc before 15.00, 110Kc after 15.00; children under 12 yrs of age 80Kc;  Students under 26yrs and seniors 90Kc all day. Includes 2 outdoor pools 50m & 33m, kid’s pool, water slides with pool; restaurant & buffet)

For all of you nudists, there are options in Prague as well:

Holešovické výstaviště – Pool, Only in select hours

Džbán – Dam, Special section for nudists

Hostivařská přehrada – Dam, Special section for nudists (nudist section open this summer, despite reconstruction)

Žluté lázně – River, Special section for nudists

Podolí – Pool, swimming with bathing suits only

Slavia – Pool, swimming with bathing suits only


Enjoy the warm temperatures!

Divoká Šárka pool

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