Hockey Tours Mean More Than Playing Hockey
Sport tours are on the rise in the travel industry and an increasing number of people are taking full advantage of this unique opportunity to play their game on foreign rinks, but to discover different countries and initiate lifetime friendships. Since several sports are now played everywhere around the world, a large number of amateur athletes can now enjoy playing their favorite game and make their dreams come true.
Like many Canadians, I am very passionate about hockey and since I specialize in European destinations, I will share my memories of what is arguably my favorite city for a hockey tour. If you have not been to Prague, there is no doubt that this European capital should be on top of your list. I have taken several teams to Prague and by far, it was unanimous for the quality of hockey, the attractions, the food, the breweries and the list goes on.
Certainly the city has much to offer, but the surroundings are equally attractive with castles, underground lakes, breathtaking landscapes and a vast array of attractions. But more the purpose of this story, let’s focus on Prague.
Throughout my career in the sports travel industry which dates back to the early 1990, I had the good fortune of visiting over 20 European countries and took to the ice for friendly hockey games in over a dozen of them. I love the Alps, the beauty of the French Riviera, the Dutch windmills, the Austrian castles, but somehow Prague always comes up on top when I reminisce about my hockey tours. I enjoy music and like most of us I did not care so much for classical music that is until I stepped into the Rudolfinum and listen to the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
It was like entering a magical world, discovering sounds I did not even know existed. And if you happen to be a history buff, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store. Landmarks spread out all over the city are a constant reminder of the fascinating history. As some of our tour takers said, “you can feast your eyes until they can longer see, there’s just so much”. Monuments, mostly gothic or baroque, that rise up into the Czech sky. I have always referred to the atmosphere of Prague as “enthralling”.
How great is Prague? I was to tell you about a hockey tour to Prague and I have yet to mention the word hockey.
There are literally hundreds of hockey destinations in Europe and Prague certainly is a must for hockey fans of all ages. Hockey drives the tour, that’s why teams travel in the first place, but by focusing on Prague as a hockey destination, you open up a can of opportunities. In the Czech Republic, hockey leads to discoveries. Whether you like beer or not (a vast majority of players do, it’s part of the Canadian culture) is irrelevant, and on our way to Plzen (Pils in English) we get to visit one of the oldest breweries in Europe and witness the making of what has been a tradition for centuries in the Czech Republic; brewing beer. As organizers we make sure that the element of culture throughout your hockey tour is fully integrated. By that we emphasize the culinary experience because enjoying local food is as much a part getting to know a country. You wouldn’t go to Italy and not have a pizza or a lasagna now would you? China Ice Hockey
Not only will you play display your hockey skills facing Czech teams (I recommend 4 or games on a 10 to12-day tour), but you will lots to discover between games. If beer isn’t your thing (that would be hard to believe), perhaps white wine will do the trick, or Bohemian crystal as you will get to visit a factory and witness how they produce the wonderful crystal the Czech Republic is known for.
Prague and Czech Republic have plenty of treasures, landmarks, great food and accommodations and yet prices remain affordable. Towns like Pardubice, Trebon, Pisek, Kralovy Vary will gladly be your host and Czechs will want to show your team that they can play the game too, so get ready for some friendly competition.
There is a matter of personal preference when it comes to hockey tours, and we have done quite a few from Scandinavia all the way down to Spain, and Prague has my vote for all the reasons I mentioned earlier. Soccer and handball are also big in the Czech Republic, so whatever your game is, Prague remains a hot spot for teams looking for the perfect blend of sports, food and culture.