The Czech Beskyds, our discoveries in the beautiful Czech Republic.
Our children absolutely love this place. Bila is a great and affordable place to teach your kids to ski and in summer the outdoor activities will keep most children happy all day long. Czech children are generally very well behaved. You might notice just how quiet they all are and the parents are the same. Very civil even though beer is served all day long and for less than 1GBP a pint! Czech people tend to be very child friendly, they are doting parents who provide age appropriate outdoor activities for their kids and they want their children to enjoy the outdoors just like they do as adults. It is a refreshing attitude to life.
The hotel website is not in English but they do speak English if you want to e-mail or call them. Their prices are very reasonable, about 60GBP for two people per night. They offer discounts for skiing / outdoor park in summer, the spa and free entrance to the swimming pool.
Bila is great fun in summer and there are things to do for kids of most ages. Their website is in English.
I asked at the hotel and they say they will arrange for transport to and from the train station or the airport to the hotel if you ask when you reserve.
Kid's ski park map
Summer activity map (includes ski lifts on it too)
Eve and daddy Bila
This is Eve after learning to ski in the kid's park in Bila. I would say after 30 hours of us working with her in the ski park this was her level of skiing. It takes a lot of patience to teach a child to ski but as you can see - its worth it!
Bila Chair lift
You can see the other side of the ski resort here. The Hotel is on the same side as the kids ski park. For more advanced skiing the chairlift is preferable.
This hill-top haven of peace is a must see of the region. It takes about 15 minutes by chair lift to get up here from Trojanovice. In winter you must wrap up extra warm to not turn into an icicle on the way up, even in summer it's worth having a jumper. However as long as you have the right clothing this place is just stunning. Sadly Last summer the main point of attraction - a beautifully hand carved and painted restaurant had a kitchen fire and it is still being restored as I type this. I trust them to do a beautiful job as people work hard and well out here. Furthermore the Czech people seem to truly understand the beauty of their natural surroundings and the importance of their national treasures.
Once at the top you can browse the various stands that sell food and souvenirs, hot wine and beer. There are a few restaurants to chose from (beware vegetarians - most of the Czech Republic will not cater to your needs except if you don't mind a sweet lunch or chips).
There are lots of places to walk around here and there are apparently hotels that are right at the very top of Pustevy. Having three young children has meant that so far have never made it to the top. The little walks around Pustevny have always been enough to keep us busy for a good few hours up here.
Finally you can ski, sledge or scooter down the 7km gently sloping and winding road to the bottom where the car park is. It is fab fun to do (though holding onto the brakes all the way down on the scooter can be a bit sore on your hand muscles - worth it I say). They rent scooters out in summer but in winter you'll have to come equiped with with a sledge or skis. Obviously ou can walk it too. Some people even walk, cycle or cross country ski (weather dependent..) up this road. I have yet to do that. We like the lift up too much.
From the parking lot, without going up the hill there is a tree adventure park. It's perfect for kids aged six onwards I'd say. Best suited for the adventurous sort. It is in a forest so it doesn't get much sun. I'd recommend taking a jumper even on sunny days. Amazing value for money. Links below.
You may have to google translate this page about Pustevny.
Pustevny on a snowy day
E. on the little button lift
A typical 'veggie' option
This is a blueberry dumpling, a Czech speciality and it is eaten as a meal. One of the few things on the menu which is guaranteed meat free. I would say it's worth a try even if you just have it as a desert - to share, they tend to be massive.
Buying tickets in summer
Tickets are sold up the hill from the parking lot. You can take your bikes up too.
Opalena is the name of the little ski resort up the road from the train station in Celadna.
Celadna is a pretty little town which has all amenities. There is a golf course (apparently the biggest in Central Europe), a little supermarket, coffee shops and a few other shops. There is also a sweet little play park in town. If you take the first right on your way out of Celadna off the round about towards Frydek Mistek you will go up a winding hill. About 1.5km up there is a dairy which sells the most fabulous home-made ice cream in the world. All flavours are good. What I find astounding is how grumpy the farmer is who sells the ice cream. There can be queues of up to thirty people at a time on a hot midday, filled with little kids and he won't break a smile. It's all part of the farm-charm in my opinion. And truly the ice cream is worth it! (Official ratings 2015 - 2nd best ice-cream in Morava. 1st place went to an ice-cream vendor in a hotel in Frydek Mistek. I still think it's the best ever though!)
From here Celadna, Opalena and from the grumpy dairy you will find many a beautiful walk to go on, or a bike ride if you have them. (You can rent them in Frydlant, electric ones are also an option now),
The skiing in winter at Opalena is quite basic, two slopes and a kids' ski park with a simple rope pull. It does have a most fantastic little restaurant / pub half way up the slope. The place looks like nothing from the outside (no render on the exterior walls) but the inside is a surprisingly quaint wooden chalet with a traditional tiled wood burner. They serve great food at a very reasonable price. They rent boots+skis out for 100czk (about 4 Euros) an hour and the ski pass for an hour is about the same price! (Deposit is 80Euros though so watch that you have the cash if you do this - no cards accepted as of yet).
In summer this area is just gorgeous and very outdoorsy all year round.
Celadna website ( I chose to link to the spa page first..)
Obviously the Golf course, but they also provide pony trekking for kids:
Hukvaldy is an unbroken fort. It is also the birthplace of a famous Czech composer called Leos janacek (Ostrava airport is named after him).
This place is absolutely beautiful all year round, though autumn is my favorite season and this place is my favorite place to go then. Hukvaldy's grounds are a sanctuary for stag deer, you will almost definitely see them grazing during the day. Lining the borders of the paths up to the castle there are massive European beech trees, their roots asking to be climbed (a slightly hair raising task with small kids). Once at the top of the hill a beautiful and huge castle and fort will appear before you waiting to be discovered. Entrance tickets are bought past the fort gates and you can easily spent a couple of hours walking around this excellent historical monument.
If you are lucky to visit when there is a festival on you will get to see a lot of people dressed up in medieval clothing and sometimes even doing a war reenactment (they can be a bit scary and loud for very young ones). Great fun for most though. Again, I reiterate how important it is to remember that out here people do not cater for vegetarians (my daughter is one and I have to take food for her everywhere - because roast pork is often the only option).
There is a quaint little restaurant at the bottom of the castle near the gates but it is little so you would have to reserve if you want to be guaranteed a space to sit. It serves typical Czech food. There are other restaurants in the town itself, some more quaint than others. They all serve great food, there is even a pizzeria in town.
In the castle itself there is no food or drink usually so I'd advise taking a snack just incase, and a big bottle of water. It's thirsty work up to the castle.
Hukvaldy website - you'll have to google translate it.
This is the English version but they have not added any dates or information, just the opening hours.
and for a dash of history some wiki info:
Olesna in Frydek-Mistek is one of the best places to chose to spend a day in summer. There is a large out-door pool, an indoor pool, both have slides and little pools for young children. The indoor pool is open from 9am-10pm and the outdoor pool is open from 9am - 6pm.
There are restaurants, pubs and cafes in side and out. They over look the lake Olesna which has a roller-bladable (very flat and smooth) road all the way around, it's about 4.5km.
There are usually places to rent a kayak or a pedal in the summer too.
On the same side of the lake as the swimming pools is a very large play area for children with various types of slides, wooden climbing frames, swings and a zip line. There are often many people in the area but the Czech people are quiet and easy going so it is fun. It's about 10 euros to get in either of the pools per adult and about 7 per child. The play area is free as is access to the lake. There are a few pubs and restaurants all the way round the lake. There are also hotels and chalets you can rent. I would certainly put it on your list of things to do if you are out this way.
The only thing I would say is that around the big slides and some rope swings there is no longer very much grass because so many people have played on it. I am sure they will rectify this during the spring. If they do I will take this bit out. The kids love it and on a sunny day it's a great day out.
Oh and just FYI I didn't take any of these photos - each time we have been here I have not taken my camera... i will upload some of my own one day and change these, until them I will borrow these.
Here is a link to the website for Frydek-Mistek, in English:
The Aqua park website (not all info is in English):
The NATO display outside of Ostrava at the airport is quite brilliant - if you are into that sort of thing. The kids enjoyed themselves very much, though I would say taking ear protection for your kids and even yourself would be advisable - it was LOUD!
The other point I would make would be to get there early. We found ourselves in a 40 minute traffic jam getting there and then another 20 or so minutes to find a space to park. There is now a train directly from Ostrava into the airport so perhaps that is a possibility? I am not sure though so don't take my word on it.
We could have spent the whole day walking around the various stands and activities but we had to leave early. I wish we had booked our day there and we would have had more time to look at everything.
Here's the website for the NATO air-display days. I am sure they're great no matter where you see them.
Mushroom hunting season
In autumn, from late August to mid October it is mushroom hunting season. By this time we have had most of the blueberries off the bushes and we delve back into the forests in the hopes of finding some cepes / porcini / bolets. However you want to call them they are fun to look for and easy to identify. There are also many other mushrooms to see on the way. It's a simple task and the kids absolutely love it. I hear that in Britain it is becoming more popular too now. What's great is all you need is a good book and you can do some mushroom identification with the kids. Ours don't eat mushrooms but it really doesn't matter. We love it for the sensation of returning to our ancient roots of foragers.
I was quite stressed after a few years studying for my degree and my final exams. When I went into the forest, after just one easy afternoon browsing the floor and listening to the streams gurgling I felt relaxed and happy again. The urticaria (a type of itchy skin that I get if I am under too much stress) simply faded away that day, after the second visit it was completely gone and hasn't returned. Magic? or just plain old healing of the soul in nature. Synonymous perhaps.
I find we often put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve, to shine in the eyes of others, yet in a forest with no-one else to please or judge you it is easy to forget all our woes and see the bigger picture - nature and her endless peace and acceptance.
So, yes we pick mushrooms and we have lots of fun. Our favourite spot is outside Celadna. Check out the map.
Mini paths through the blueberry bushes.
Can you see the pixies?
One you can eat. Notice the foam underneath instead of the striped gills. You can touch this with your fingers without having to remove the mushroom.
Lysa Hora means bald mountain in Czech. It is 1323m high and it is regularly climbed / jogged up or skied down (mostly in winter for skiing). Many people climb Lysa Hora on a regular basis as part of their weekly keep fit regime and there are often competitions with themes like who can ascend and descend Lysa the most in 24 hours. Madness in my option, humbling madness nonetheless.
I went up Lysa for the first time with my dear friend 'K' and I realised how much more fit everyone else was than me. It was a fantastic experience, everyone was so happy to be going up or back down that they all greet you as if you had known each other for years. In this country that does to still tend to be quite a subdued greeting but it was a radical change for me - everyone (without exception) called out "Ahoj"to me instead of the usual 'Dobry Den". If any of you reading this question how unusual this is you have to imagine it is like giving a high-five to each passer-by in the US or perhaps shaking hands with everyone you walk past in the UK.
Anyway - it was late April and I mistakenly believed it would be as warm at the top as it was at the foot of the mountain - doh! Remind me to never attempt Mt Everest! It was about 15 Celsius and sunny at 8am that morning at the foot of the hills. As I climbed up in cotton three quarter lengths (luckily I wore long thermal socks that day) and just a fleece jumper I saw my error! Amazingly I happened upon a pair of black, ladies, (non-smelly) fleece gloves at the beginning of my climb and picked them up for 'safe-keeping'. They certainly kept my fingers safe from frost bite.
There are a few different ways up to the top. One is from Ostravice and most of it is a road, then there is a way up via Malenovice from which you can chose to go directly up or follow a walking trail. K and I chose to go the most direct route. I was sweating buckets within three minutes, it took us 1 hour and twenty minutes to get to the top. I had lost a kilo by then.
Once at the top there area few places to chose from to stop and grab a beer, slivovice or a cup of tea (or all three if that takes your fancy). People tend to enjoy their tipple out here and while doing outdoorsy type things it is a normal thing to start drinking early. It is worthy noting though that I have yet to see a drunken and disorderly person (except for the odd tramp in Ostrava centre). It is seriously frowned upon to be loud around here and bad behaviour is simply so rare I have forgotten it exists.
The oldest pub on Lysa Hora
This little pub is well hidden and looks like a grotto inside. Inside you will find it dark, warm and smelling of hot soup. I haven't been in summer but I am guessing it has much the same attributes as it does in winter / spring and autumn.
I heard it may be closing soon due to health and safety issues - a shame in my opinion.
Hippotherapy, aka pony riding
Oh this is something I wish I did more. Up in a valley on a hill called Maly Smrk (Small Spruce) there is a lady who knows that ... all that glitters is gold and she's... wait no. I'll start again. Sara my buddhist English student has a ranch with some ponies. These ponies were once used for mining I believe (not by Sara, just this breed of pony) and they are renowned for their gentle nature and resilience. For the life of me I can't remember their breed - will come back here with it later.
For 250czk (about 10 Euros / 8 Quid) per person Sara will take you out through the forest away from civilisation for one hour. It's a fun experience and totally child (let's say 6+) friendly. Longer excursions are available and you can camp at her place too. Sara is an eco-warrior and she will tell you all about the trees, wildlife and anything else you may want to know about. she is perhaps one of the most gentle people I have ever met.
My little less than 6+ ers chose to bike ride around instead. E, my friend in the pics was suffering from a sore back and a massage and a pony ride later - a happier E left the Czech Republic. Hence 'Hippo therapy'.
Sara is contactable by e-mail... I will go find her e-mail and add that here. You can contact me here too if you want. The address for the pony ranch is: Muchovice, Ostravice.
This is a perfect late Spring through to late Autumn thing to do.
BTW: The final photo is taken from the golf course -about ten minutes away in Ostravice. Great place for food, golf too probably, and you can see the hill we were pony trekking on.