Blansko “seas” the day in Trebic

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A few years ago as an icebreaker with one of my post-secondary school classes, I asked them all to prepare a joke. The following day, Petr stood up and asked me to name the three most famous beaches in the world. “Copacabana, Rhosilli and …..” , before I could name a third he shouted out “Trebic” (Tre beach) – a poor joke, but it got a lot of laughs and helped the lesson no ends.

Trebic is in a landlocked country and of course it doesn’t have a beach, but it does have a brewery and a football team… so, a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

This was our first away day of the spring season, I don’t really count Stara Risa two weeks ago as the game was played 27km away from their home ground in Jihlava on astro.

Blansko have started the second half of the season, much the same as they did the autumn, a bit hit and miss. The first game was cancelled, the second game we threw away a half time lead to lose 3-1 and then bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Velka Bites. So, we weren’t sure what to expect in Trebic, apart from a good day out.

The squad has been strengthened recently with the signings of the league’s top scorer, Tomas Sodomka, defender Vit Barta and the midfield trio of Dvorak, Kouldan and Petrik.. It looks as though the club had panicked at the thought of dropping down another division and bought a whole new spine of the team. Welcome boys.

We set off as we always do, from Brno Hlavni Nadrazi, Trebic bound with a couple of cans of Radegast to brighten up the trip.

The journey was a splendid one, the train takes you up and bit further up to the heart of the Czech Moravian highlands. We were met by a station guard and sunshine. Ahh, the sun where have you been for the past 6 months.. We were both pleased to see it and by the fact that we able to bask in it for the rest of our trip, we could say the sun was happy to see us too. Hip.. hip..

We always have a plan for days like this and Trebic is blessed with some wonderful tourist sights. The Jewish quarter is one of the best preserved in the world and rightly placed in the UNESCO heritage sight. So, over the river we went to the first port of call, Masaryk’s veiwpoint offering us a lovely view of the city. We are not sure why it’s named after the country’s first president, there’s not a town or city in the Czech Republic which doesn’t have something to remember Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, so Trebic built a view point.

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From there we took a walk past the city walls and down to the Jewish quarter to find the wonderful Cafe Art.

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After our first beer of the day, a delightful Dalesice 11, it was off to the brewery for some nosh and a quick look Basilica. Luckily for us, the kind folk of Trebic built the brewery right next to the monument, giving us the possibility to kill two birds with one beer.

Podklasterni Brewery will definitely feature in our brewery of the month, so I won’t bore you with the details. The highlight of our brief stay there was definitely the goulash soup, the lowlight was the gentleman on the table next to us. Obviously new to technology, he bellowed into his phone so loudly, my mother messaged me from her home in Cardiff to ask him to keep the noise down.

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Onto the game – the stadium in Trebic is one of our favourites in the league.. A covered terrace is a rarity at this level, but Trebic have one and it’s delightful. Our first stop was of course, the club house, where we were greeted by some familiar faces and the obligatory shot of slivovice, which we declined – work the next day, so we stuck to our beer and walked around the pitch to find a spot in the sun.

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As mentioned earlier in the post, Blansko had recently strengthened and it was our new striker, Tomas Sodomka who opened the scoring in 14th minute. Picking the ball up on the left-hand side of the penalty area, he neatly cut inside a bent the ball into the far corner.. If we’d had a song for him, we would have… honest.

The team continued to press and impress throughout the first half against a poor Trebic team. It’s no wonder they are adrift at the bottom of the table. We created chance after chance, but surprisingly couldn’t add to the Sodomka goal. We went in at the break just the one goal in front.

The second 45 was very much a brim full of Blansko on the 45..with us creating havoc with our two new wingers. The biggest surprise was that we finally clinched victory in 79th minute. A penalty gave Sodomka his second,Blansko 3 points and us, a celebratory pivo. Psikal wrapped it up with a 3rd goal with four minutes left to send us all home happy.

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One thing that I enjoy is that the players always come over to thank us for our support with a high five… I think it’s a nice gesture at the end of the game, only if we have won, naturally.

A couple of the players stayed behind to chat to us about holidays and the demise of Tisnov before being summoned back to changing rooms for their own private celebration.

For us it was a beer at the closest pub to the station and train home to Brno with the points safely tucked into our rucksack.

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Opa(va)tunity Knocks in Silesia

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17th November is a significant date in Czech history. 1989 spelt the end of 41 years of communism and the start of a new era in Czechoslovakia, as it was back then.

It’s also a state holiday and an opportunity for us to head north to Opava for some Friday afternoon football. We’d learned earlier in the week that the governing body for football in Moravia and Silesia had decided in their wisdom that Blansko’s season would end last Saturday, denying Craggy a final game of the season and the rest of us a chance to meet up with our pals at Slovan Rosice. However, a quick perusal of the fixture list brought up an intriguing game between SFC Opava and Hradec Králové. We also knew that there were a couple of breweries in town, so that was us sold.

Oh and before we forget, we should thank Czech Railways for providing us with free travel, thanks to their points system.

Trips like these require a bit of research and one of our students recommended the castle in Hradec nad Moravici, a 15 minute train journey from Opava. After missing out on the castle in Letovice on our last TBK day out, we were keen to make amends and even though we were on a tight schedule, we knew it would be possible.

7.00 am on a Friday morning, you would expect Brno train station to be fairly quiet… well, think again. The whole of Brno had decided to leave for the day and on our train too. We were not too sure where they were all going, but they had brought enough okurky to feed the entire Czech Republic.

First stop was a favourite train station of ours – Ostrava Svinov, the basis of deciding what makes a good train station is it’s pub and Svinov has two, so what’s not to like. A quick Radegast and we were on the train to Opava, a lovely town on the Czech/Polish border and the historical capital of Czech Silesia. During World War 2, it became an independent city and part of Nazi Germany. For some of the older generation, German is still their first language.

As mentioned above, we like to try and fit some culture and history into every trip, so upon arrival at Opava Východ we hailed a taxi and went to Hradec nad Moravici to see the castle, just to see it as from October to April all castles are closed here. Our Taxi driver raced through the country lanes, he must have felt the urgency of our trip or just wanted to be another Nigel Mansell. A friendly guy, he told us that he used to play football until he was seriously injured in a car crash. At this point we asked him to slow down a bit as with the current situation at FK Blansko, we may be asked to play this season.

At the castle, we were greeted by a bus load of Austrian tourists or given their age, they might have been from Opava. We explored the grounds, took some photos and walked down the hill into the town centre for a late-morning beer. The only place open was the “cultural house” which had been recently converted into a Chinese restaurant and we were the only paying customers. When our beers arrived we knew exactly why we were on our own… the house beer was Staropramen. Friends of the blog will know that we that we rate this beer as one of the worst in the country (possibly only Vyškov ranks lower).

Drinks paid for and to get an idea of our bearings I asked the waitress if she could point us in the direction of the train station, which surprisingly she didn’t know the answer to. It was a bizarre conversation and one which made us question her employment contract. Her Czech was poor and the impression we both had was living and working in Hradec nad Moravici was not her choice.

On the way to the train station we found a much more pleasant drinking den in Pivníce na Staré poště, where the beer was better and full of pub regulars enjoying a midday drink. Radegast 12s downed we continued to the train station where a single carriage train full of Opava fans took us back into town.

We followed the crowds of football fans along the Opava river to the stadium. It struck me as I was walking to the ground how much I miss the stream of scarf wearing supporters walking and talking on their way to the ground. When you follow a smaller team, you see just one of about 50 regulars and very rarely do we meet other supporters on our strolls to various football “arenas”. Oh, and I love floodlights and Opava have four beauties.

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Now, I am writing this in January, so the details of the game are hard to recall, but what I can tell you is the game was five goal thriller and definitely the best game we have seen for a while. Hradec took the lead twice and with 5 minutes remaining, the home team scored twice to take the three points. It was 90 minutes of scintillating football and an added bonus was the club were handing out free beer, well it was a bonus until we became aware that the free beer was in fact Gambrinus. We apologise for becoming pivo snobs, but there are a few breweries that are definitely a “no thanks” and two of them we’ve mentioned in today’s blog.

We followed the sea of yellow and blue back into the centre of Opava bidding them farewell on Pivovarská (Brewery Street) as we had one more item on our tick list before heading back to South Moravia, the microbrewery Nová Sladovna.

On my previous visit, some 11 years ago, the old brewery was still standing, however in 2007 the Ministry of Culture refused its application to become a listed building and it was knocked down and in its place a huge ugly modern shopping centre was built in 2010. The old Opava beer “Zlatovar” is still produced, not in the city, but miles away in Uhersky Brod.

Neither of us are fans of modern shopping centres, but this one was home to Nová Sladovna and with feeling a bit peckish and thirsty, we swallowed our pride and joined city shoppers and a handful of Opava football fans in the pub for a wonderful spicy guláš soup and an equally delightful local beer… you will pleased to read that we refrained from doing our weekly shop.

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Bellies now full, we made one final stop in the centre of the city for photo opportunities. In our humble opinion, Opava has more than enough to keep you occupied for a weekend should you ever find yourself in Silesia.

In the above paragraph, I did say the centre was our final stop, However, I have just reminded myself that we did go for one final beer in Stredoveka Krcma for a pint of the “local” Zlatovar. Both of us drawn to the pub by a man standing outside smoking and drinking wearing a pig’s head… like you do, maybe it’s the fashion in these parts. As he high-fived us on the way in I stopped myself from asking him why he didn’t go the whole hog… I fear it may have been lost in translation.

A great day.

Highlights:

Opava – it’s a lovely town.

The soup and beer at the brewery.

The match (best we’ve seen this season).

Hradec nad Moravici, a castle worth a a few hours of your time.

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2017: A look back at our top trips

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As the year draws to a close and we hammer mince pie shaped nails in to 2017, we at TBK have decided to go over some highlights from what must have been our most “interesting” year yet. From some of the most remote villages to some of the best beers, via the scrappiest games to the most beautiful castles – we have gone in search of adventures and found them at every turn. So here are some highlights from the last 12 months.

Landek Mine in Petřkovice, Ostrava

We went “mining” for points in Petřkovice and literally ended up in a mine. Attempting to win a well deserved point and pleasant service at the local restauarant proved both to be just as gruelling work. The visit to the mine was a treasure though, as was another trip to Ostrava which always seems to bring about the biggest Klobasa drinking sessions. This was no different. (Read more here)

Budapest – The Musical

TBK love a trip to Budapest anyway but this was a real highlight of 2017. After four hours in the dining car of the train along Ralph’s favourite river we arrived in Budapest to a rollercoaster of a trip which found us queing up for the whole first half of a Honved game for a second 45 minutes of purely forgettable football. And it was all downhill from there (well physcially anyway) as we ran around Hungarian’s capital taking in as many pubs as possible, Craggy getting the come-on from dodgy guys selling belts and being asked if we’d like some cocaine with our sausage. We even dreamt up a musical production. Click here to find the soundtrack – apologies in advance.

The Hunt For Pav the Drummer in Blansko

As far as happy endings go the finale to this trek through the snowy streets of Blansko on the hunt for our missing game-day drummer is right up there. Early in the year we braved 90 minutes of below freezing tempatures watching the mighty Blansko host Bohunice before we went off in search of Pavel, who had been missing for many months from the Blansko stands. Our search took us to several pubs in this industrial Moravian second home of ours before a spectacular conclusion in the final pub we tried.

Milan Pacanda – Lost and Found

Although you may well have never heard of him, Milan Pacanda could have been one of the European greats alongside other famous Czech names. This year he was at Vicemilice, where one third of TBK headed to catch a glimpse of his footballing genius. (Read the full story here).

Opava

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Opava is a nice town in itself but a trip there was extra special this year. We visited it on 17th November – the anniversary of the fall of communism in the Czech Republic, and we began the trip in the small town of Hradec nad Moravaci which has a pretty fancy castle and a great “post office” pub. The highlight though turned out to be the game of the season – Opava came from 1 – 2 down to win 3 – 2, scoring 2 goals in the last 20 minutes. Crackin’.

A 2-0 defeat is “Hrad” to take in Břeclav

 

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As many may know the Klobasa likes a good walk, and with the summer coming to a close we thought we’d take the opportunity to get a good trek in before the rainy season begins. With Blansko travelling away to Breclav, Ralph suggested we could take a train to the village of Lednice and get a couple of beers and castles in before we wander through the forest to the game.

We set of from Hlavní nádraží (thankfully open again) early. Too early in fact to find an open bar upon our arrival in Lednice. Being quite a small place (approx 2000 people) we walked around it three times until one of the pub doors opened, and stepped inside with anticipation of beer and breakfast. U Volhy unfortunately, could only provide us with a liquid breakfast this time but we weren’t complaining. We followed up by buying some cheese biscuits and a couple of beers for the journey from the corner shop and we were off.

Castle number 1 was Lednice itself. Which sparked off some debate about what a castle actually is. In Czech Lednice is a ‘Zamek’ which translates to many as ‘castle’ but we are not convinced Lednice is a castle, more a chateau or, as Ralph threw in there, a stately home. Regardless, it is a dominating feature of the town and sits nicely for a photo or two in the picturesque gardens which encircle it. We didn’t go in. We had other things to do.

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We headed in to the woods and cracked open a beer and didn’t even have time to finish it before finding the next watering hole at castle number 2 – Januv Hrad (John’s Castle). And there you have it – ‘hrad’ translates as ‘castle’. I took this debate in to a lesson and no one could agree on a final outcome. Anyway, to us it looked more like a castle, if a bit small.

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Finishing up both a pint and our cans we headed deep in to the dark woods on our way to Breclav. The sky was overcast, threatening to open up above us – the forest dark and foreboding with winding paths in all directions. We were surrounded by trees, but we were brave and we strode on following the green (or is that blue to Ralph?) signposts and towards the next pub. We emerged from the forest behind us to the welcoming sight of the Breclav brewery. It was of course, not open to us, so we headed in the Zimni Stadion, listening to the thunder of hockey above us and ordered a schnitzel and potatoes – the only thing on the menu. The beer was bad enough not to finish – this is a rare occasion!

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Breclav also has a castle (zamek), and it’s er… shall we say, not the most beautiful. Never would we usually venture to be so negative, but really, it could do with a little TLC… or a bulldozer.

One thing we like perhaps more than a good walk, is an old pub with ‘atmosphere’ – and we certainly found one in Hospode na Rožku. We entered and ducked the darts being thrown over our head while stepping around the swinging regulars to take a place at the bar. We thrive on places like this, but are aware they are not everyone’s cup of tea. A good pint of beer though.

We got to the ground and put the flag up opposite one of the best stands in the game. The tall stand leaning against a house is becoming something of an attraction to lower league supporters of the game, and was indeed the most positive thing of the game – for us anyway. There were some promising performances from Blansko in the game but the lads just couldn’t find their feet against the better side in a 2 – 0 defeat of which there can’t be many complaints. It’s been a difficult start to the season, but one or two good performances should give the team some confidence – it just didn’t work here today. Our star striker Honza Trtilek came over at the end of the game to thank us… and offer us a 10% discount at Kaufland, for which we were grateful.

 

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On the way to the station we stopped in the Three Oranges and faced the unwelcoming atmosphere there for most likely our last time. One poor beer down and we jumped on the dining car for our last lager of the evening – taking us in to the beautiful sunset of  the Moravian autumn.

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