Ski-daddling on a budget in Harrachov
Colette Kaines Lang takes us along on her student budget weekend to Harrachov. Surprisingly, the second hand clothes shops of Prague play a vital role in her preparation to ski, bobsleigh and boogie.
A few weeks ago my flatmate announced ‘let’s go skiing!’. She had seen on Erasmus in Prague a rather cheap weekend trip to Harrachov. As a student only studying in Prague for a year I’m trying to say yes to as many experiences as I can. So of course my first thought was – sign me up!
I then realised I had two main issues I didn’t own any ski gear and I had only skied once. My first issue was easier to fix than I had thought; Genesis the second hand shops scattered around Prague.
We were able to run around the multiple Genesis’ in Prague trying on a range of clothes and we all managed to say ‘it will do’ to something we had tried on. It should be said that a day shopping at Genesis is a whole Prague experience in itself. I was able to buy an all in one ski suit for around £2 pounds! Plus a few borrowed items meant in the end I spent very little extra, on top of the trip costs which covered accommodation, food, ski hire and a pass.
As it was organised through Erasmus in Prague I didn’t do much planning or research for the trip. In fact the only thing I knew came from a very vague typed out itinerary on a WhatsApp group chat.
As we sat on the two hour bus journey to Harrachov with roughly 70 students I wondered what was installed for me. I vaguely remembered seeing something that read ’15:00 bobsled run’.
At roughly 16:00 we arrived on a hill where it was announced it was time to leave our belongings on the bus and get on a bobsleigh.
Next thing I know I’m on this rather scary looking chair on a wire which is slowly crawling up the hill. After a beautiful slow incline through the trees I realised I’d have to do a similar journey back down but five times faster. I didn’t see much of the view on the way down but the bobsled Harrachov experience was something I didn’t know I needed to tick off my bucket list.
I assumed wrongly that we would return to our belongings on the bus (I really should have read the itinerary better) and instead we walked 2km into the Harrachov ski resort. It was a picturesque walk through the hills and as we entered the village it felt like we had stepped back in time. It didn’t help knowing that in my bag was an all in one ski suit that looked straight out of the 90s.
After a bit of waiting around to get all our ski gear we headed to Hotel Fit Fun. Our rooms and food is what I would call basic, but it was two to a room with an en suite so we definitely got our money’s worth.
After testing the Harrachov nightlife at Bar 369 - where the DJ had people of every age dancing the night away – it was time to get down to business.
We spent the next two days thoroughly enjoying the four ski slopes in Harrachov. My second issue of not really knowing how to ski was nothing to worry about. Beginner lessons were included in our package but I actually felt very safe making my own way down the slopes. My more expert friends weren’t worried by the limited slopes either, we had good snow and the perfect amount of time to explore. Some of them even took it as an opportunity to dabble in snowboarding.
Despite the resort being small, there are plenty of places to put your feet up in between slopes. As I often am while staying in the Czech Republic, I was shocked by how cheap both the drinks and the food were. Over our two days we enjoyed cosy hot chocolate breaks indoors and on one afternoon a slightly snowy hotdog outside.
Going up the chair lift we were able to get a really good view of the ski jumps which were opened in the 80s. Although to my knowledge they are no longer in use they were impressive to look at and it was hard to imagine the bravery it would it take to speed down them.
There were multiple people taking hikes around the resort and I also spotted quite a few cross country skiers. Harrachov has something for everyone. After chatting to people on my return it sounds like Harrachov is also a lovely place to visit in the summer for other outdoor activities. You can bobsleigh in the summer months too!
We managed to pack a lot in to our two-and-half day trip to Harrachov. I will definitely have to go back and explore what it has to offer in the warmer months too.