Czech Republic Travel Travel stories

Should You Visit Ostrava, Czech Republic?

should you visit Ostrava? Ostrava main square

Just lately Andy and I needed to plan a visit to someplace comparatively near Berlin, someplace that didn’t contain us getting on a aircraft. We love Poland, and Wroclaw is a Polish metropolis we’ve heard good issues about however haven’t been to but, so we determined to provide that a attempt. However we have been planning a 9-10 day journey, and it felt like we would have liked one other vacation spot. So I pulled up Google Maps and appeared round at what else was near-ish to Wroclaw. I noticed Ostrava throughout the border in Czech Republic and began looking for issues to do in Ostrava to see if it was worthwhile.

Why sure, there are fascinating issues to do in Ostrava

I got here throughout a few weblog posts about how enjoyable, fascinating, and nonetheless underneath the radar Ostrava was. I additionally observed that a huge journey running a blog convention is being held there in July. After studying by way of a bunch of information concerning the metropolis, we discovered that there are a handful of issues to do in Ostrava, even when most of it’s based mostly across the former coal mining business. It additionally seemed cute within the footage, so we determined our journey can be Ostrava, Czech Republic and Wroclaw, Poland.

should you visit Ostrava? Ostrava main square

Once we obtained there, we went to one of many two totally different mining museums and discovered a bit of concerning the metropolis’s historical past. The brand new metropolis corridor constructing has a tower, so we went as much as get some good views of Ostrava from above. We visited a not-so-impressive citadel and a tragic/hilarious little mini world with miniature landmarks from round Europe…and the traditional 7 wonders of the world, for some purpose. Ostrava’s previous city and primary sq. have been truly actually fairly, too.

However I’m not satisfied any of this can be a cause to exit of your method to go to Ostrava.

One thing was lacking right here. The sights weren’t partaking sufficient or distinctive sufficient to decide on this metropolis over someplace else in Europe. The town felt lifeless, empty…besides on the mall. And if you wish to spend your trip in a mall, properly, save the airfare and go to your hometown mall.

Right here’s somewhat extra about what we did in Ostrava.

World of Miniatures

Andy and I really like tacky points of interest. Once we have been in Brussels a couple of years in the past, we actually loved Mini Europe. So once we learn that Ostrava had one thing comparable, we went to test it out.

My expectations have been low. I didn’t for one second assume that this may examine to the one in Brussels. And I used to be proper.

After buying our tickets, we entered a bit room that was type of like a museum of randomness. There have been mannequin castles from Czech Republic and different elements of Europe. There have been mannequin ships, together with the ships of varied explorers like Columbus, Prepare dinner, and Magellan, plus the Vikings, they usually even threw within the Titanic for good measure. Not one of the ships appeared to have something to do with Czech Republic. It’s a landlocked nation in any case.

world of miniatures ship Ostrava

As soon as I accepted that I used to be by no means going to determine why all of this stuff have been in the identical room collectively, we gave up and went outdoors to the miniature landmarks. Plenty of Czech locations, a bunch from Poland, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, Dutch windmills, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. However then additionally actually random locations like a contemporary library in Helsinki and someplace in Spain I’ve by no means even heard of.

world of miniatures, Big Ben - Ostrava

After which we noticed a pyramid. As soon as we obtained nearer, we realized it was a 7 Wonders of the World part. Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, library and lighthouse in Alexandria…

world of miniatures, 7 ancient wonders - Ostrava

It was unusual, and identical to the mannequin ships of the Titanic, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria didn’t belong with the mannequin Czech castles (by no means thoughts the truth that the one issues the Titanic and the Santa Maria had in widespread was being ships and crossing the Atlantic), I might discover no actual connection between a mannequin of an historic and presently non-existent backyard and miniature model of the Prague airport and a British Airways airplane. And why not have a Czech Airways aircraft? Since, you recognize, it was purported to be PRAGUE, not London.

I used to be confused.

world of miniatures, Prague airport with British Airways plane - Ostrava

Oh, and did I point out the trampolines and swing units interspersed between sections of mini European monuments? And the little constructing with cannons the place you would shoot nerf balls at different cannons, all with citadel backdrops as some kind of medieval storming the citadel youngsters recreation?

I loved the absurdity, and I laughed rather a lot whereas we have been there. It was definitely tacky, and probably a bit of unhappy. This isn’t going to convey hoards of enthusiastic vacationers.

Alcoholic slushies on the fort

Subsequent up was the citadel. It wasn’t too far throughout the river from the miniature place, and as we acquired nearer, we began listening to music and seeing youngsters with balloons and face paint subsequent to oldsters with colourful drinks in plastic cups. A couple of minutes later, we arrived at a good, full with bouncy castles and rides, in entrance of the citadel. And one of many first stalls we got here to was promoting slushie drinks, with or with out alcohol.

Andy and I communicated by way of damaged English and pointing with the boy guarding the money field on the stand. We selected raspberry taste and rum, and watched because the 11 yr previous expertly poured our rum from an the wrong way up bottle with a type of pre-measured shot dispenser issues after which added the slushie combine.

Clearly Czech Republic’s alcohol serving legal guidelines are somewhat lax.

Ostrava castle alcoholic slushies

We skipped the bouncy citadel however went into the actual fort and appeared round for a bit. It was wonderful, however unremarkable, nothing to exit of your approach for. It wasn’t an imposing citadel, it didn’t really feel like a scene out of the Holy Grail, and it didn’t appear to be a chic palace. It was like they knew when the constructed it (and rebuilt it) that not too many individuals have been coming for them.

After taking a look at a number of of the stalls, Andy purchased some tasty native cheese. Then we wandered too near the band that was performing within the courtyard, virtually misplaced our eardrums, and determined we have been accomplished with fort time.

Ostrava castle

On our means out, we stopped again on the slushie stand and obtained cherry rum slushies for our stroll again into city. It was scorching, and people chilly icy drinks helped cool us down within the relenting solar. It was survival, actually.

Ostrava from above

I’ve stated it a thousand occasions, and I’ll say it a thousand occasions extra – I really like seeing locations from above. The brand new metropolis corridor constructing has a considerably tall tower you’ll be able to go up for a small payment, and the views have been fairly good. Once we purchased our tickets, they requested us if we needed somebody to go together with us and inform us concerning the metropolis. Positive! Sounds nice, perhaps we’re lacking one thing huge right here.

However no, the lady principally stated, “what do you want to know?” and answered a few our questions, however she didn’t actually supply up a lot concerning the metropolis. Aside from the mining museum, she wasn’t capable of inform us what else we must be doing in Ostrava. For a tourism board worker, she was surprisingly unenthusiastic about her personal metropolis.

Ostrava views from city hall

Dolni Vitkovice mining museum and Bolt Tower

A lot of what we stored studying about this metropolis was its mining historical past. And you recognize, good for them for turning a closed coal mine right into a museum, re-purposing issues and making an attempt to reinvent the town. There’s one museum that’s an underground cave state of affairs, and we’re not massive followers of caves and confined areas, so we skipped it. However we did go to Dolni Vitkovice, an enormous former mining complicated that’s been reworked right into a museum and extra.

On the mining museum, you possibly can take a tour of the complicated with a former worker who is aware of all about how the place used to perform. Apparently there are a number of English excursions, however we didn’t plan forward and our solely English-language choice was with an audio information. I personally don’t like audio guides, and Andy wasn’t too enthusiastic about it both, so we skipped it. If you find yourself right here, attempt to plan higher than us and get on an English tour, as a result of I’m positive it might be fascinating.

Ostrava mining museum

Bolt Tower is accessible for a charge and not using a tour so we went there. An worker led us up a few elevators and instructed us to placed on a tough hat at one level. (I felt just like the exhausting hat was a bit extreme, however perhaps it provides to the mining vibe.) The views from up there are fairly unimaginable, I feel higher than the town corridor tower. And as an added bonus, there’s slightly cafe the place you possibly can hang around and luxuriate in a drink and a few cake. The doorway charge of 200CZK (about US$9) features a 100CZK voucher for the cafe.

Ostrava view from Bolt Tower

Additionally on the premises is the Gong Corridor, which is the place this upcoming journey convention is being held. We didn’t get to go in, nevertheless it seemed like a reasonably cool venue from the surface, and undoubtedly distinctive.

So I feel this can be a actually fascinating attraction. However fascinating as one thing to do should you occur to be in Ostrava. I’m unsure it’s sufficient to lure vacationers to the town, however should you’re going that approach anyway, undoubtedly test it out.

The place are the individuals?

In most of Europe, you’ll come throughout cities with a previous city sq., an space that’s the middle of the town the place you’ll discover outlets, eating places, and cafes, and perhaps a reasonably statue or fountain or church or one thing. And since it’s fairly and central, individuals collect there to hang around, store, socialize, eat, drink, and be merry.

Ostrava was not like this.

The primary sq. within the previous city was actually fairly. There have been previous fairly buildings, a statue, a fountain, timber, benches, and a handful of and cafes.

However there have been virtually no individuals. On a Saturday afternoon, when most different cities would have cafes chock filled with patrons having fun with the solar together with a espresso, beer, or cocktail, we simply discovered a desk at one which was lower than half full, proper subsequent to a different cafe with solely a few occupied tables. Even the outlets we noticed within the previous city have been principally closed, even on a Saturday once I would anticipate individuals to be buying.

Ostrava old town

Once we have been on the prime of the town corridor tower, we requested the tourism board worker a couple of questions concerning the metropolis, together with, the place are all of the individuals? Why does the previous city really feel so lifeless?

She advised us that most of the outlets within the middle closed up or moved when the large mall opened. And many individuals now hung on the market, as an alternative of within the middle of city.

I’ve been to loads of European cities of various sizes, all of which had massive malls like what you may discover within the US, they usually nonetheless had a thriving middle the place individuals ate at family-run eating places, sipped espresso at locally-owned cafes, and did their buying at boutiques and butchers that made these cities distinctive.

These locations weren’t changed by an impersonal shopping center crammed with shops you possibly can store at on a number of continents.

So we determined to go to the mall and see what was happening. The world surrounding the mall was very bustling, with numerous trams and automobiles and loads of individuals strolling round. Plenty of individuals have been contained in the mall both buying or consuming lunch, or just hanging out on a comfortable bench having fun with the air con.

However is that this what you journey for? To expertise a generic, sterile mall environment? Do you journey to see the identical chain shops yow will discover in any mall throughout Europe and even around the globe? In all probability not.

With a lot of the metropolis spending their time on the mall and deserting the historic middle, the town appears to have misplaced that indescribable pulse that makes one metropolis really feel totally different from one other.

The place to eat in Ostrava

We struggled to seek out meals most days as a result of there simply weren’t a variety of eating places to select from.

There was one road, referred to as Stodolni Road, we examine that was crammed with eating places and bars, so we tried that. It turned out to be numerous quick meals sort locations (not chains a minimum of) and plenty of loud bars, plus a handful of strip golf equipment. For a fast, low cost burger, or a drunken Friday night time, this road was in all probability nice, however for me and Andy, this wasn’t actually our scene.

On the sq., we had lunch on the one full service restaurant. Past that, your decisions included KFC or cake at a restaurant. And your decide of seats, as a result of nobody was there.

Surprisingly we discovered some actually fantastic, if a bit costly, Mexican meals at this place. I liked their guacamole served with heat chips, and the fajitas have been good too.

Ostrava Mexican food

We ate at this pub not removed from our lodge, and it was ok that we went there a number of occasions. That they had plenty of meat dishes, just like the ribs pictured right here that Andy and I cut up together with a few appetizers. However we managed a number of lighter meals there, too. Consistent with the odd feeling of the town, they have been cleansing up and shutting down by about 9pm, regardless of the signal on the door that stated they have been open till 11pm or later.

Ostrava pub ribs

Should you go to Ostrava?

I’m absolutely conscious of the truth that a spot one individual loves, one other will hate. Many individuals love Paris and declare it’s the greatest metropolis on the earth, however I don’t share these views and I’d be pleased to by no means go there once more. I’ve heard individuals say they don’t like Berlin, and regardless that it looks like a knife by way of my coronary heart to listen to anybody say dangerous issues about my adopted grungy-but-beautiful house, I completely get it, it’s not for everybody.

So perhaps you’ll fall in love with Ostrava.

I feel the town might find yourself being an amazing spot for conferences and occasions. I’ve an acquaintance who has been there a number of occasions due to her daughter’s hockey group, and she or he stated the town grew on right here. I’ve additionally examine a lot of artwork and theater sort occasions in Ostrava, and positively that would draw plenty of guests.

I additionally assume it might be a very good base for outside actions within the surrounding areas. I’ve examine a lot of nature-based issues to do close to Ostrava, however you wouldn’t know if from strolling round city. One or two journey businesses to assist arrange transport to mountaineering trails and different locations that aren’t so accessible can be useful.

I’m not going to inform you to remain away. Ostrava wasn’t a nasty place. There was simply…one thing lacking. So I can also’t inform you that is the subsequent huge vacationer hotspot, and also you MUST go to earlier than the crowds hit. Perhaps they’ll come. However I feel you might have time.

The place to remain in Ostrava

I’ve you satisfied, don’t I? You’re already reserving your flight and practice tickets, and now you simply want a spot to remain in Ostrava. Nicely, don’t worry, I’ve received you coated.

We stayed on the Mercure simply on the sting of the previous city, proper throughout the road from a reasonably park and straightforward strolling distance to most belongings you’ll need to do. Our room was somewhat dated and the beds have been a bit too agency, however general it was a superb lodge and we appreciated the terrace.

where to stay in Ostrava Czech Republic

So is Ostrava a hidden gem?

I really like encouraging individuals to journey, particularly internationally. It opens you as much as experiences you simply can’t get by staying at residence, and I actually consider it’s the easiest way to study historical past and about new methods of taking a look at issues. I additionally assume there are lots of nice locations in Europe that don’t get the eye they deserve, locations you may take pleasure in as a lot if no more than the large names you all the time hear about. Locations like Kosovo and Bologna and Poland and Bosnia.

However Ostrava just isn’t one in every of these locations.

For those who occur to be going by means of Ostrava for some purpose, it’s not a nasty place to cease for an evening. For those who’re on a mission to see as a lot of Czech Republic as potential, by all means come see what Ostrava has to supply and study its mining historical past. However I’m by no means going to persuade you to take your restricted time and go to Ostrava as an alternative of Prague.

The town is actually making an attempt to reinvent itself and develop into a spot individuals need to go to. However that energetic vibe that makes so many cities engaging isn’t there, and there aren’t fairly sufficient actions to make up for the shortage of a vigorous vibe or to lure you out to the japanese fringe of the nation. Perhaps sometime I’ll be capable of say, “I was there before it was big!” However I feel that day is a great distance off.

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