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Trip Report Beer baths, bears and bespoke cocktails in the Beskydy mountains.

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Just got back from a long weekend in the east of the Czech Republic with fellow Fodorite Wellidontknow/Stilldontknow/Weegie (who in the interests of brevity will henceforth be referred to as Tommy).

I’d not been to the Czech Republic before, and like most people imagined that if I did it would probably be to visit Prague. However new and largely unexplored areas of the country are opening up as tourist destinations and when the chance arose for us to visit the Beskydy mountains and the towns and villages in the foothills around Ostrava, we jumped at it.

Tommy drove down from Glasgow on a Thursday in July (there are connecting flights from both Glasgow City and Edinburgh to Stansted if you prefer), and we had a quick lunch of club sandwiches and kettle chips before grabbing a taxi from my house to the terminal. (I had also done strawberries with balsamic vinegar as pud but forgot all about them in my pre-flight nerves and/or eagerness to demonstrate all the apps on my new telly - sorry hon!)

It’s actually the first time I’ve flown since the liquid restrictions and battery charging business were introduced so there was some minor faffing in the terminal to rearrange things for inspection, and a (very thorough!) pat down after my shoes set off the detector, then quickly through to the departure lounge to wait. We flew with Ryanair who have just started flights to Ostrava from the UK for £19.99 one way, three times a week and at surprisingly sociable hours (late afternoon and early evening). The flight time is just under two hours. They also go to Brno and Prague so the eastern region can easily be combined for multicentre trips if you have a bit longer to explore than we did.

The flight itself was quite a pleasant surprise - Ryanair may have started as a small budget airline some 19 years ago, but they have the whole process down to a fine art, from the easy to navigate web booking system to the military-like efficiency with which they turn their flights around. We had one carry-on each plus a smaller bag each (new rules permit you can have a handbag/laptop case as well) so Tommy had his laptop and I had a camera bag. The 10kg allowance sounds a bit mean but you can pack a surprising amount and still be within the limit. In addition to what I was actually wearing on the day I had two pairs of jeans, one pair of capris, 2 t-shirts and 4 smarter sleeveless tops, lightweight rain jacket, plus socks, underwear, sandals, toiletries in travel sizes, Kindle, shaver, assorted chargers, tin of painkillers – and was still more than 4lb under the limit.

The plane was a modern Boeing 737-800 with comfortable non-reclining seats (ha ha space stealers!), left on time, flew clear skies without incident, pleasant smiley staff, and landed 10 minutes early. Ostrava airport was sleepy and quiet, easy to transit with relatively few flights from elsewhere other than connections to Prague and a few charters. I loved the old 60s communist era neon sign on the roof, making me feel pleasingly international and abroad. Abandon any preconceptions you may have about the standards of facilities or services though, because our experience of the eastern Czech Republic was very much of a 21st century state.

Our trip was arranged using Travellersczech.com and the not insignificant advantage of doing this was that (in addition to the local expertise in picking the best hotels and pensions in an area unfamiliar to most non-Czechs) we also had a private transfer from the airport. A 30-40 minute quiet and relaxing drive in leather-seated air-conditioned comfort and we were at our first destination, Hotel Celadenka, in Celadna, up in the pine-clad mountains.

Tommy had thoughtfully pre-ordered some food as the restaurant was just closing as we got there, so room service bought up pan-fried chicken on herby mash and two enormous and very delicious mojitos as we got settled in. The hotel was newly refurbished and we had a really nice mini suite/apartment with bedroom, separate seating area and modern bathroom, all finished in blonde wood. The bedroom was divided from the seating area with a rotating wooden screen that featured a large flatscreen tv. There was endless wardrobe space, a full length mirror, foliage themed tiling in the spotless bathroom and a very comfortable bed with good quality bedding. This being a spa hotel (they call it ‘wellness’ in the Czech Republic) there were also robes, spa slippers and piles of thick white towels. We made a half-hearted attempt at unpacking, then gave up and went to bed.

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