Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ice skating in Prague

Try a winter sport. One of my New Year resolutions, near the top of the list to try to check off quickly. But by last weekend, all I could claim was hiking in the cold and complaining about it. I started to get a little worried when I saw the strawberry baskets cluttering the counters in our green grocer, and our junk mail shifted from flyers for skis to catalogs of sleeveless shirts. What if Prague's mini ice age ended and spring arrived early! I'd have missed another winter, my resolution would remain unchecked.

Time for action.

Cross country takes a weekend, downhill a new set of knees, so we decided to try ice skating first. There’s a rink at the base of Vinohrady, very close to Vrsovicke namesti, and we’d watched people skate there before, enjoying the view as we savored a bottle of wine in the little wine bar at the foot of Grobova Chateau and watched skaters glide across the lit rink.

I remembered that view on Friday, and it didn’t take long to find out the rink was called the USK Hotel Hasa winter stadium and that it was open nearly every day for free skating, though at occasional and odd times.

I called, they told us to come between 10 and 12 on Saturday, and we went. What I didn’t find out, unfortunately, is that they do not rent skates. We don’t have our own (this was my fourth ice try) but the guardian at the door let us go inside the rink for free and we met up with one of our friends there, who lent me her skates for a quick swoop around the ice.

Or actually a few tottering steps, knees locked, until I realized I wouldn’t fall down, then judicious slides to the children’s corner. I hung out with the four year olds for a while, getting my ice legs, then slid out onto the main rink. Twice around, I decided to stop - I was still enjoying myself, hadn’t fallen down yet, and I really wanted to come back soon with happy memories (and then there were my ankles).

Tickets are 50 kc each, you pay as you walk in the door to the hotel/stadium. The schedule changes often to fit in lessons and team practices, so call before you go. I’ve posted this week’s schedule below so you can see how it generally works. Besides remembering your skates, you also might bring your own hot coffee or cocoa and join the rest of the crowd on the bleachers with their thermoses and snacks, taking a break before heading back to the ice for another turn. If I can find some skates this week, perhaps we'll see you there!

USK Hotel Hasa
+420 271747128

This week’s schedule:
M: 9-10:50
T: 9-10:50
R: 8:30-10:20
F: 9-10:50
S: 10-12:00, 16-18:00
N: 10-12:00, 13:45-15:45

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Karla said...

I've been wanting to skate too (there is always a crowd on the Vltava near the Podolska vodarna) but don't have skates either. Funny that in the prosperous US, hardly anyone has their own skates, while I suppose here everyone does.

Julia said...

I'm going to go on a hunt for skates this week, so I'll keep you updated on how much and where they might be. My friend's skates were 16 years old and in good shape, so at least once you buy a pair they do last a while.

I've heard about the rink in Podoli, it sounds like it would be fun to try too once skate shod!

Karla said...

Yes, if the price is right I would get some... hoping the ice doesn't melt! Maybe we could come up with a skating outing. Does Caroline skate? (seems a little early and hazardous, but what do I know)

Julia said...

I still haven't found skates for kids (apparently the best places now to find skates are the sports bazaars because regular sports stores are getting ready for spring). But tomorrow I'm going to go out looking again. It would be really fun to get together and try skating, let me know if you find some too.