I grew up skiing. From age 5-11, we had annual ski vacations and scattered day trips throughout the winter. But then along the way, school became more demanding and so did my schedule and my parents’ and we stopped skiing. Now, I often go four to five years without stepping on to skis. The last time I hit the slopes, I was 17. So five years ago! This winter I decided I wasn’t going to let another winter go by without skiing. Though I’m close to the Alps, I currently don’t have the time to travel there. At first I thought about doing a weekend visit to a mountain resort in the Czech Republic, but then I discovered there are a plethora of Ski Buses from Prague that organize transport and provide a lift pass in the ticket price!
After some research, I settled on a bus that went to a mountain that looked to have some decent trail selection. This bus also included free ski rental! As I was looking into all of this though, I realized I had a small problem. I didn’t have any ski clothes with me! But, of course, a ski shop in Prague has thought of this and rents ski clothes at a pretty affordable rate! For 499czk, about $20, you can rent a ski jacket and pants for the weekend. So, I signed up for the bus and on Wednesday picked up my clothes along with a helmet.
On Saturday, I woke up at 5 AM and headed out the door with my backpack to head to the bus. I was able to catch the sunrise as we waited to board the bus, and at 7 we pulled out and hit the road to Klinovec.
When we arrived, it reminded me in size of some of the smaller New England mountains. Over the course of the day, it continuously hit me how gorgeous the mountain area was. I’m also becoming convinced that things just seem cooler or prettier if you’re not at home.
As I was waiting in line to get my boots, I met a nice Italian woman from the bus who I ended up skiing with for the rest of the day. This is one thing that I love about solo travel, and even just doing something like this by yourself, you open yourself up to meet amazing new people. I know personally, I am much less likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger if I already know someone.
After some coffee and delicious, thick hot chocolate we walked over to the lift, put our skis on and headed up the mountain for the first run of the day. While we tried to start with a blue (beginner) trail, we accidentally ended up on a red (intermediate) trail. Now I’ve definitely done much more difficult trails, but I was a bit rusty. And throw in that the warm weather had left things icy and it was at this point almost all man made snow, it wasn’t the best way to start. I ended up falling and sliding down half of one of the steep parts because I couldn’t stop. The fall wasn’t painful at all, and was actually kind of fun and got me past the part that was causing anxiety. On the second steep part of the trail, I embraced going fast and made it down without incident. The only other time I fell was actually in a lift line because some shoved me and I lost my balance.
About halfway through the day, I learned that the mountain is actually on the border with Germany and there was another section connected by bus we could go to on the German side. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time because we were meeting someone for lunch and had to be back at the bus for 4:15 and would have to return our boots. So we stuck to the Czech side, but it would have been quite cool to ski in two countries in one day!
To further confirm how close we were to the border, at lunch my phone started freaking out because it didn’t know what country it was in. Oops!
Speaking of lunch, we went to a cafeteria style restaurant at the base of the mountain and enjoyed a break from skiing. I had borsch (red cabbage soup) and a potato pancake stuffed with (I think) sauerkraut and spiral ham. Both were quite delicious and a nice change from the pizza, chicken tenders, french fries, and chili options I remember from when I was younger.
After lunch, skiing felt more natural again and I was going down trails with a lot more confidence. However, on my second to last run, I got a little freaked out, not because of difficulty, but because I had taken a trail that I thought was going to be a quick scenic detour from the main one, but instead seemed to be going very far away! I hoped that I was remembering the map correctly and wasn’t going to end up at an advanced trail and struggle to get down. Luckily, my memory was correct and I ended up back on the main trail after a 10-15 minute detour. If I wasn’t so worried about where I was ending up, I probably would have appreciated the nature around me more.
Finally, we ended the day on a nice easy run because we were going to stop at a bar off one of the blue trails, only to remember a snowboarder friend was at the bottom with an injured knee. I pulled off to get a picture though, and then returned to the bottom and ended the day with a lovely Aperol Spritz and chocolate cake. Apres ski at its finest!
After our drinks, we headed back to the bus and made our way back to Prague. While I was exhausted by the time I got home, I was so glad I went. I was able to push myself to get over a fear of falling and made a couple new friends!
If you’re traveling in Prague and want to go skiing, here are the businesses I used:
CitySki: CitySki was the ski bus and has a good selection of mountains. They’re slightly more expensive than some of the other buses, but it includes skis if you need them (note, you’ll have to rent boots separately). The bus was really nice and the people friendly. Super easy to book. They have an English version, but the links don’t always work right. So just translate the Czech page when you’re ready to reserve! You pay on the bus.
SkiGoHome: SkiGoHome is where I rented the ski clothes, and as far as I know is the only place to do so in Prague. They were great quality and you go in and try on first. They also sell and rent equipment and have a nice selection of ski clothes to buy. Their prices for rentals are amazing, so I highly recommend them. They also speak English (as well as several other languages). They’re located in Prague 5.