What and where is the Bata Region? Why is it called Bata?
This is what I wanted to know on my recent visit there in conjunction with our hosts of Czech Tourism and the Eastern Moravian Tourist Authority.
The Bata region is about a 3 1/2 hour train ride from Prague. This area lies in the Eastern Moravian region of the Czech Republic and is named after one of Czech’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, Tomas Bata. In Czech it is spelled Tomáš Baťa
The City of Zlin in Eastern Moravia
Tomas Bata was born in 1894 and capitalized on a need during World War I and that was to make shoes for the military. His shoe empire grew into making shoes for everybody. His employees were treated well with extra perks for housing, meals, education, and yes, shoe discounts for the entire family. Bata’s shoe industry was thriving in a town nestled in the countryside of Zlin.
Bata and his team made more important contributions to Czech society in the form of advanced film and animation features in the early 1920’s. Bata also travelled the world and brought home many artifacts and souvenirs. All of the history on Bata’s contributions can be found in the slick-looking Bata shoe museum in the city of Zlin. It’s a must see for the history of shoes alone!
But while in Zlin, don’t just stop at the Bata Museum. Head over to Building 21 which is the headquarters to the Bata empire. Tours are given straight up to the top to see a fantastic view of the surrounding city.
One of the most fascinating things you can find visiting the Building 21 is the Office Elevator that Bata created. When stepping inside it looks like a regular office complete with desk and chairs and telephone and window. Even a sink! The elevator attendant presses a button and the whole thing moves upward! Truly an amazing construction for 1937!
After surveying the top view, come back down to stroll through the quaint town of Zlin and visit its main city square where you can find a tourist information office, many cafes & restaurants, as well as an assortment of shops including a shopping mall. You can even visit one of the original Bata shoe stores and buy a pair to bring home!
This peaceful town belies some other interesting history worth noting. During World War II the Americans bombed the factories outside of Zlin as they were production centers for the Soviets. The Germans never invaded this city or its region during WWII. There are no signs of destruction as the Czechs are great at building and reconstruction. Instead you will find a bustling bourgeoisie going about their daily business unfettered by throngs of tourists. Put this town on your Check-out-Czech list as a stop on your way to all the other wonderful places to explore in this South East region of the Czech Republic
Where and What to Eat in Zlin
Try the Strapačky a noodle and meat dish.You can find hearty Czech meals at the
Koliba U Černého medvěda. Chalet=koliba, Black=Černeho, bear=medvěd, Wash it down with a great Czech Pilsner beer and you've got enough energy to go hunting!
If hunting lodge food is not your thing, then try the family restaurant La Farfalla in the town central square which serves Mediterranean food that is really delicious!
Where to Stay in Zlin?
One such offering is the Hotel Tomasov which is a 4-star private enclave up in the hills and offers a serene setting and amazing sunset views. See the lovely photos below.
You can still search out other places to stay in the region by clicking here
The Hotel Tomasov also is connected to the IVF Clinic where women who are having trouble conceiving can get an IVF treatment starting at $1900euro. Many women from around the world come here for that reason. The hotel offers a soothing spa decorated in a modern style, also a Yoga and Exercise room. The grounds are blooming with nature everywhere making for a peaceful setting.
For more information on visiting the Bata Region go to
Poruba 2018 vs. 1958
In this suburb of Ostrava, Czech Republic, there are a few things one can take a day trip to see. The tram from the center of Ostrava will get you there in about 30-40 minutes as it is only 10km away.
Once there get off at the stop for the VSB Technical University of Ostrava. This University offers bachelor, masters, and Doctoral degrees in engineering, computer science, and economic disciplines.
Adjacent to the University is the IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Lab. It is there our group was given a presentation by a young genius PhD who described in technical details what the supercomputers are and what they do.
In 2013 the first supercomputer in the Czech Republic was launched. It was named Anselm. It contains:
What do they do?
What these supercomputers calculate is extraordinary mathematical computations that help scientists determine things to help a community.
Quote: “Projects include drug design, ultrasonic wave propagation through the human body in tumour treatment, heat transmission inside planets and their moons, simulation of probes for controlling fusion reactors, precipitation outflow modelling for flood simulations, predictions of contact fatigue wear, and many others. These projects are specific and therefore require the use of the supercomputer for their computations. They cannot be computed on a PC or laptop, even if the scientists had more of them available at the same time.”
Thinking this would be a good tour stop for say, IT Professionals, coming over to the Czech Republic on a business trip. I asked our hostess how that could work and she said to have their company arrange a tour beforehand as it takes 2 days to get security clearance, by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Soviet Realism?
After our mini-lecture was over we headed outside to view the Soviet Realist Architecture – at least that’s what it was coined in the 1950’s. This was soviet-built communist style housing with one exception, the Vezicky Towers.
Connected to it is the Arch or Oblouk in Czech. Designed by Soviet architects to resemble St. Petersburg style architecture. This was to give some character to the entrance of this town. If you really want to study this architecture here is an in-depth guide.
Our knowledgeable young guide, with a degree in the Polish language, pointed out to us the spikes atop the building roof edge. He said that the soviet police could act as snipers upon crowds below. We were incredulous at this bit of information. What? Why? Well, you know there was a revolution and the soviets were ousted…but I don’t think anyone was actually shot in Poruba protesting the communist rule. They cleared out. But what was left was this unique soviet architecture with its designs of young maidens holding wheat, and hammer and sickles, and the worker. All reminders of the propaganda tools for communist mindset of the proletariat.
Now in these same buildings live pensioners. Families go about their daily business as the street traffic is light. Shops and cafes adorn the bourgeoisie boulevard. One can always stop for an espresso or snack. We stopped at a bakery called Cukrarna u Babicky or Grandma’s Bakery. Here is a photo of her
We were hot and thirsty and they had a variety of naturally flavored lemonades, such as mint lemonade my favorite. Even though the sweets looked delectable it was too hot to snack and besides we were at the end of tour. Heading back to the bus stop we all caught the bus or tram we needed to get back to our hotels in Ostrava. The transportation system is efficient and runs on time. Make sure you download an IDOS app for your phone when travelling in the suburbs of Ostrava.
We also passed by the oldest Evangelical Church in the Czech Republic. Then a beautiful Catholic Church, the St. Nicholas. For a place that was once under strict communist rule in contemporary time, these churches stood the test of time and remain a historical point to the past history of Poruba.
RegioJet Train or Bus to Ostrava
I had the good fortune of being chosen to receive a free round-trip ticket on any of RegioJet’s trains or buses to get from Prague to Ostrava. This was because I was going to a travel bloggers conference called TBEX and our Czech Tourism hosts had arranged so many good things for all the travel bloggers in conjunction with transportation and tourism companies. I chose a business class ticket (because I could!) and I wanted to experience the comfort.
After I had figured out last minute that I was supposed to depart from platform 3, I rushed along with the scurrying crowd to get there and up the escalator to the platform. It’s amazing when you watch young women hauling a full stroller up, with a toddler in tow, and back-pack on carrying another bag displaying superhuman feats of strength. Makes my arthritis seem like nothing.
It was easy to find my car #5, but just to make sure, I showed the conductor at the door my ticket and he said yes, this way. I boarded, found my seat, put my suitcase up with the help of a young father nearby (did I mention that I found Czech people to be helpful everywhere I went?) I settled into my comfortable, leather reclined seat and took a deep breath to relax. I was finally on my way to Ostrava!!! (3 exclamation marks are necessary after the word Ostrava, you’ll read why in a later post)
The RegioJet was a smooth train ride. Very comfortable and relaxing. I had a single seat against the window. There are however, 4-seaters, or closed cabins for families or groups. I got a great view of the countryside the whole way to Ostrava. I was served free water and had free Wi-Fi. Later, the attendant came around to offer snack choices, such as a light salad or sandwich, juice, coffee or some other type of drink. It was just like being on an airplane except no turbulence ?
When I got to the Ostrava main train station it was easy to exit the train car and head towards the station exit. There is an elevator or stairs (take your pick) and it took me about 5 minutes to find the Taxi queue which really had no line at all. When a taxi driver saw me peering at the taxi sign he came right over and spoke in English asking where I wanted to go, I told him the Park Inn hotel. He took my bag and off we went arriving in about 10 minutes to the hotel.
For me it was a seamless experience using RegioJet and I would recommend it as the ticket costs are very reasonable. The only caveat I have is to warn you to learn the Prague main train station layout and how to find where your platform is. In worst case you can walk over to the RegioJet counter where they will be happy to help you. I wish I had found them sooner but oh well, I did learn how to navigate the Prague train station which I chalk up to traveler experience.
But I was on a mission to get to Ostrava in the Czech Republic
Why? Because I was about to be attending my first time at TBEX, a premier travel blogger conference that draws in bloggers from around the world. I was excited!
I was also a first-time visitor to Prague and the Czech Republic in general so this was going to be one exciting middle-aged solo female traveler travel-blogger adventure for me! A great travel learning experience with so many components to absorb !
I left Dallas on Sunday, July 22nd flying into a rainy Philadelphia to change planes to fly into Prague. By the morning of July 23rd I was there, albeit jet lagged, but curious to explore.
Taxi, Uber, or Private Transfer?
Ahead of time, I had read about some potential taxi problems at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport in terms of being careful not to get ripped off by an over-charging taxi. I solved the potential problem (and saved me a hassle) by arranging for an airport transfer through the The Emerald-Prague hotel where I was going to spend the night. It only cost a flat 600czk which is about $27USD. For me, it was peace of mind. My driver Josef was congenial, helpful and he sped me along the 17km in his black BMW sedan to the center of Prague Old Town.
Once there he helped me get my 4-wheeled spinner carry-on over the cobblestone street to the hotel entrance. To make things easier once again, I hired his services to pick me up in the morning to take me to the main train station. Why bother with Uber or a Taxi I thought? When this would help me orientate myself on my first visit.
The Emerald-Prague Apartment Hotel in Old Town
Note: I chose this hotel because it was offered at a discount for TBEX attendees. When I inquired they had only 2 apartments left, one on the ground floor that was very large to fit 4 people, and the top floor one which is for 2 people maximum.
Upon arrival, I entered the Digi-code to the beautiful lacquered emerald green doors to the hotel and huffed myself up the foyer stairs. Then I realized I had 5 more floors to go! To a younger person full of endless energy this would seem like a minor point, but to a middle-aged woman (who was once super-charged with energy too) along with my osteo-arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. it becomes somewhat of a challenge. So there was no elevator but the walk up is interesting as you survey the emerald-green lacquered doors done in Art Nouveau style. There are also modern inspirational wall posters to give you something to think about as you make your way up to the top floor. The feeling was calm and quiet, a perfect start.
My apartment was named the Citadel. A wonderfully charming abode, that greets you with its main center-piece, a queen-size bed with vintage aqua brocade adorning the headrest. It was quite comfortable too. Vintage quality yet newer, antiqued, with a touch of industrial whimsy is how I would describe this room but yet modern, functional and clean. There is a claw-foot white bathtub/shower combination with a charming floral painted wooden room divider to give one a private dressing area. Two sinks, with one for washing up and one for washing dishes. A petite antique desk hides the fact that it is also a 2-burner stove with a nearby Nespresso machine handy. Inside the huge 3-sectioned wardrobe is plenty of room for 2 people to store their belongings as well has having 1 section dedicated to holding all the kitchen necessities you need to cook for yourself. There is also a mini-refrigerator. The lighting in the room is quirky yet modern and offers a variety of ways to set a mood. There are also 2 floor-to-ceiling windows with billowy white wispy curtains to keep air circulating coolly. Another important factor is that there are several electrical outlets to charge all your electronics and the Wi-Fi works great. All you have to do next is sit yourself down on the pleasingly petite café-style table in the center of the room and enjoy a cold drink.
If you want to consider more choices of where to stay in Prague, check out this compilation list created by DrifterPlanet.com
Food Choices Galore in Prague!
That afternoon after a much needed nap, I decided to venture out for some eats and found the Kafka Snob Food café. Funny name! I was happy (and surprised) to get a luscious avocado burger the size of which I’ve never seen! I asked the waiter if the Czech Republic grows avocadoes?? He chuckled and said no they are imported. But I had to ask knowing there are warm grape-growing regions in Czechia. After this nice pick-me-up light dinner I headed to walk around the Old Town Square and take photos. . (I use my iPhone7 because my compact Sony point-and-shoot wasn’t holding a charge and I didn’t have a spare battery with me)
Walk Around Prague for a Delightful Discovery
Old Town proved to be filled with tons of people, not surprising since it was the middle of summer. I made my way to the Astronomical Clock which was closed for renovation then continued on to the famed Charles Bridge. This was about a 15-minute walk so if I can do it, you can too! Really, everything is conveniently located in central Prague from all the historical sites to shops, cafes, restaurants. You don’t really need to ride public transportation unless you want to leave Old Town and venture out into another area of Prague.
Charles Bridge at Sunset turned out to be a delight, despite what seems like millions of tourists crammed on it! The actual statistics are that there were almost 3 million paying visitors to the Prague Castle alone in 2017 with an actual 7,9 million just walking through the grounds. It’s a great place to look out over the Vltava river and watch the cruise ships go by through the channel locks. It’s also superb for people watching. I’m sure I saw representation from just about every country in the world.
The next morning I got up after a good night’s sleep and used the Yelp app to find a breakfast place. So many choices! Since it was about 7am I ended up choosing The Home Kitchen because they opened up at 7:30am and most other places opened at 8am. I was not disappointed with the farm-to-table atmosphere at this quintessential modern hipster type small restaurant. I was promptly served, had some great filtered coffee, a delicious egg breakfast and I felt like a walk.
Explore the Swans Galore! On the Way to Prague Castle
So off I headed through unknown streets to wander and explore for a couple of hours. I found swans on the Vltava off another bridge and trekked my way up the hill towards Prague Castle—another one of those “must see” on the tourist bucket list.
It was lightly strenuous getting up the many steps to the Prague Castle which wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been 95 degrees. Yes, it was extremely hot and sunny out so make sure you bring your water bottle along or stop along the way. Great photo shots to be had especially once you reach the gate entrance at the top. There the view makes the climb all the worthwhile to take in the city rooftop view in a wide open panoramic scene.
I found out by accident that getting to the Prague Castle this early at 9am was actually a good time to go. The tourists were just barely starting to arrive with a 10am opening for some of the museum sites.
I found myself a café to stop and have a cold coffee then continue a quick walk around the center of the castle for some photos, then had to get going to meet my driver back at the hotel. The walk down is much easier because, you know, its downhill and I was one of the few walking this direction while everyone else is walking up.
Get Going: Prague Main Train Station
Getting back to the hotel, I get my things, meet my driver and whisk off to the Hlavní nádraží or main train station. There are apparently at least 6 trains stations in Prague so make sure you know which one you are scheduled for ahead of time.
I mentioned to my driver I would be taking a RegioJet train to Ostrava which is about 3 hours eastward. He motioned and said I should go to the right of the station as that is where all the platforms are. As I walked in I went over to the schedule board to see which platform number I was to proceed to. It wasn’t clear. Sure it was in Czech language with English words coupled sparsely throughout, but it seemed like Platform 5 was to be my route. I walked over to it and it was empty. Most of the tracks were empty except 1 or 2. I walked back inside to look for an information desk of some kind. I found a sort of enclosed kiosk with a line of people purchasing tickets so I got in line too. When I showed the clerk the information on my phone and asked “which platform?” She nodded with disinterest and said 5. I said, but 5 is my train number. She repeated 5. So I walked off and found a place to sit down and figure this out. I had got there 1-hour early just-in-case which was a good thing.
Which brings me to my next adventure; RegioJet train service to Ostrava!!!