a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Apr, 2024

A taste of Czechia

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

One of my favourite life hacks is to do something fun on a Friday night that does NOT take place at home. Whenever I do this I feel like my weekend was longer than it really was. (Seriously, you should try this sometime.)

In the past, we’ve gone out to dinner, or something similar, but last night was a bit different. I was invited by the official Czech Tourism Board to the Czech embassy for a travel meetup. In lay terms, this is an event in which media types and influencers are invited along with travel agents etc. as a bit of a show n’ tell. The hope is that we are so wowed by the presentation (not to mention, the food and drink) that we tell all of our friends. And since some people have big audiences on social media, it’s worth doing if you’re a tourism board.

Was I wowed? Yes ma’am, I was wowed, and this is a country I have been to before!

When people go to Europe they often focus on the biggies like London and Paris and Rome but Prague absolutely needs to be on that list too.

The Czech Republic, or Czechia as it’s now called (I suspect most Czech people don’t love the new name), is a jaw-droppingly beautiful country with a wide variety of things to see and do.

The tourism folks referred to it as the heart of Central Europe, and it truly is, not just because of its location, but because it’s a slice out of time that’s vibrant and FUN, with a very rich arts and culture scene. For history buffs, it is a treasure trove overflowing with iconic architecture and tales of old. Imagine cobblestone streets winding through medieval buildings; landmarks that are hundreds of years old like Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. (DYK the Prague Castle complex is actually the largest in the world? Yes it is.)

Prague is truly stunning but their presentation highlighted other regions that are equally deserving of exploration, such as the mountains and spa towns and arts and cultural scenes of smaller cities like Brno and Karlovy Vary. Look them up!

There’s other history to observe as well. For example, Ostrava, a former mining centre in the Eastern region of Moravia (think: ironworks, coal mine, coke ovens and blast furnace operations) these heavy-duty industrial operations have been reimagined and transformed into a national site that both preserves their industrial heritage and turned it into a destination that allows visitors a look back to a different time. These are now firmly embedded on my radar.

Also, note to self: Google “contemporary art gallery in converted slaughterhouse.” (!!)

So yes, last night. The wine and beer were flowing (they are famous for their beer!) and we were served traditional Hovezí guláš (aka goulash), which is chunks of beef in an onion-based stew. It’s traditionally served with bread dumplings or fresh bread, a staple of Czech cuisine and something I grew up eating.

I’m hoping there’s a family trip in our future. We shall see.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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