History Lovers, This One’s For You! – We Slept in a BUNKER!
Journal Entry 15
Things to check out in Brno
Vienna has been so good to us! We started with a luxurious stay at JOYN, had a last-minute surprise visit from Charlotte’s father and spent 3 weeks living with a loving local family on the outskirts of the city. But it was about time we move a bit north, to the neighbouring country of Czech Republic.
One of the closest Czech cities to Vienna is Brno, just a two-hour train ride (It costed us just a mere €7 each – bargain!).
Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Brno
Where to Stay in Brno?
We left Vienna on Monday morning, ready to start a new week surrounded by a different culture, vibe, food and a hell lot of beer! We planned to spend six days in Brno, before we eventually continue moving to Prague.
“Where to stay” was obviously one of the first questions we tackled while doing our homework a few weeks ago. Our experience living with a local family in Vienna gave us all those comfortable feelings as if we were living back home. Now, we were looking for something different, something fresh – but what could that be?
We Slept in a … BUNKER!
We came across a bunker .. YES, a real-life former air-rade shelter built during World War II. The name goes by 10-Z Bunker and it was intended to provide shelter against Soviet and American bombs, something which at the time was an everyday threat. After the end of World War II, in 1946, the highly classified bunker was turned into a wholesale wine store. This was soon after confiscated by the communist government after getting into power.
The place was once again shifted from a wine store to a shelter, but this time intended to protect the city’s political representatives, in other words, the most important people at the time. It had enough resources for 500 people to survive three days underground. Thankfully, this never came into use and nowadays (since 2016) it’s open to the public, both as an accommodation and a museum.
How is it Now?
AUTHENTIC AS F*CK! In here, you’ll find everything we only saw in movies, or maybe in history books back when we were in school. It feels so real, and knowing the purposes it served in the past makes it extra special (and sometimes spooky as well).
The whole bunker is made up of around 500 metres of such tunnels, which guests staying overnight can explore for free throughout the stay. Each corner has its own story, so you can only imagine how fast time can fly in there. To make things more interesting, sound effects also play as you move along in the corridors which certainly adds to the authenticity of the place.
And if spending a night or more is not an option, we do suggest at least dropping by for just a tour around – the place is surreal, to say the least!
One of the rarest pieces of Brno city history is found in there, being the Polášek tables from the New Town Hall, which are the original pieces forgotten in the shelter back then. But perhaps the most shocking part is the door of the cell of death – where people sentenced to death during WWII and Stalinism carved their final messages.
Intrigued already?! Why don’t you go on a virtual tour of the place?
Spending a few nights here would be the cherry on the cake. It felt as if we lived in the past for a few days … without the bombings and the constant fear of death that is! The rooms are set up to resemble that time, including the beds, furniture and everything else around. It’s the perfect choice for a ‘hostel’ experience like no other, where you’ll have unlimited time to admire every piece of the surroundings.
Although it’s a bunker, hot water is available in the showers (thank God!), which are built with just concrete walls. Free breakfast is served every day in the communist-style retro bar and Wifi is available all through the bunker! Don’t worry, although living back in time, you’d still be connected to the year 2020.
Something we truly loved about this place are the efforts made for physically challenged people to be included in society by being given an opportunity to work. The company in charge of this historic bunker puts this as a top priority, and it’s well evident since the majority of working staff are in fact physically challenged.
Apart from 10-Z bunker, the same company is also in charge of Franz Kafka Špitál – another important part of Brno city history. It’s a former hospital that has been turned into a lodging facility but kept as authentic and as close to how it looked as possible. The main thought behind this project is for the metaphorically unhealthy (in this case, the physically challenged) to cater for the healthy ones, instead of the other way around which works in all hospitals around the world!
Things to Check Out in Brno
1. Experience an Escape Room
Escape rooms are one of the things we used to search for whenever we planned a trip! It’s an activity that brings out how well we are able to work together, apart from all the laughs in general throughout the experience. It has been a while now, so we decided to give it a go in Brno, specifically at MysteryRoom.
What is an Escape Room?
So, an escape room can be described as a real-life adventure game. The very basic rule of the game is that your group is locked in a room, and the objective is to successfully complete a task (depending on the storyline) within the given timeframe. Completing it include solving numerous different riddles, where teamwork and communication are two of the most needed ingredients for a successful game.
Okay, this should be one of your top priorities when in Brno. We can’t recommend this place enough, not just because it’s a cool game but also because of the authenticity of it.
It was built by the owners themselves, Přemek and Martina. The young couple came up with all the design, riddles, animation and the software behind it all. Unlike other escape rooms, this one includes modern mechanisms where not just standard locks with keys and codes are used. The most inspiring thing is that they created all of this during their free time while working two full-time jobs in the process. They came up with this out of the love they have for the game – and nowadays, they still run it as a part-time, more as a hobby rather than a job.
Another thing we loved about it is the significance behind some of the props in the room. The couple also shares a deep love for travelling, and they decided to bring that into the escape room. There’s a backstory for many of the items – for example, one of the most special locks in the game is from India, a box holding a very important clue came all the way from Kathmandu Nepal and another important prop (which we won’t give away just yet) is a lava stone from Madeira, amongst many others.
We had such a good time, and the owner was so nice and fun to be around. The games are perfectly fit for English speaking people, as well as all the staff. It’s located just an 8-minute walk from the very centre of the city, and the prices fit perfectly for those travelling on a budget, especially if travelling as a group.
So, as mentioned before, all escape rooms will have their own unique story – for example, escaping from a room before a bomb goes off, saving the world from some sort of attack, etc. In our case, MysteryRoom offers two choices:
60 – 120 Minutes
Discover the magic of ancient alchemy!
Alchemist by the name of Magnicius the Great dedicated his whole life to researching the mystery of bringing homunculus – the mythical artificial man to life.
Rumour has it that just before his death he managed to succeed and that he left some hints to his research in his study.
Now it’s your turn!
The Cursed Circus (NEW!)
60 – 90 Minutes
There is an abandoned circus standing on the hill behind the city. It is told that it was cursed. Some people think that it was a maleficient wizard, who cursed it. Others think that it was a bitter witch who casted her wrath upon it. Who knows?
It’s only an old wives’ tales anyway! Nevertheless, nobody tries to approach the circus. So the circus still stands on its hill and waits…
2. Visit Europe’s Second Largest Ossuary
According to Wikipedia, “An ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce.”
In Brno lies the second largest of such places in Europe, containing the remains of over 50,000 people in one place! It’s situated beneath the church of St. James, and it contains bones of those who died during cholera and plague during Medieval times. It also holds the remains of some that died during the war battles down the years.
You can go down either as a part of a guided tour or else on your own – and just reflect on what each of those poor souls must have passed through hundreds of years ago.
3. Explore The Nightlife
If you wouldn’t be travelling through a pandemic, we’d suggest exploring the cheap and vibrant nightlife of Brno. In our case, we didn’t really have the chance (not as much as we would have liked, but anyway!) as the government announced a “state of emergency” on the very day that we arrived here. That meant that most bars, restaurants and nightlife venues had to be closed by ten o’clock. We had to stick to Netflix to spend our late evenings. However, these were the places we loved the most throughout our stay:
1. PIVNI BURZA
Welcome to Brno’s one and only beer stock market! (What?!)
Yep, this bar has no fixed prices. Instead, they offer a selection of 8 draught beers with prices changing in real-time, literally every second. It all depends on what customers are ordering throughout the day. There’s a great chance you’d score a great deal … or end up paying more than you wanted. Who knows?
2. Vycep Na Stojaka
Looking for a mid-day pint? This was our go-to spot as it’s one of the few bars that open as early as noon. There are two locations, one of which is literally a 3-minute walk from 10-Z Bunker. All beer is served from local microbreweries, which was exactly what we were looking for.
3. Low Cost Bar
Well, could it be more fit for budget travellers than this?!
The name surely grabbed our attention. However, stepping in for the first time made us go there every day during our short visit to Brno. The place looks fancy, prices are cheap (duh!) and the drink selection is as broad as it can get! It’s a pity we were politely kicked out as soon as it hit 10.00 p.m.!