Olomouc - a Czech town only two hours' drive from Vienna. A beautiful place with a very nice competition.
The competition takes place in a relatively new exhibition hall. The dressing rooms are behind a set of cardboard walls which do not seem robust enough to bear the weight of your dresses. However, the organizers equipped the rooms with a number of clothes racks, tables, mirrors and power plugs. The dressing rooms are also very spacious and you do not have to crawl through other peoples' suitcases as it is very common at many other competitions.
The masters of ceremonies speak in Czech and English. The Czech TV is here as well and you can even watch the entire comp live streamed in the internet. Everything seems to run smoothly until the computers crash after the first round of the IO Standard. The very long break is already starting to plant seeds of worries about the round having to be repeated entirely which would in the end probably be faster than the seemingly neverending waiting for the lost results. Eventually, these are found and the comp can go on.
The length of the songs played is very much bearable. My only complaint is about the annoyingly long fadeout and fadein. The song for the next heat already starts to play quietly during the previous heat is leaving the floor. The coming couples exchange confused glimpses, asking themselves whether the volume will be turned up or whether this is as loud as it gets. At least it gives you the chance to start your dance in the Bitsch-Williamson style, having already danced a whole round while your rivals have not even taken their hold yet :)
The heat list system is quite innovative. The lists are printed out and displayed on a glass wall but they hang from the other side. As a result, the person putting them there can avoid fighting through a crowd of impatient dancers.
Olomouc is a very charismatic town that is often described as the most beautiful European town you have probably never heard of. The town centre is full of beautiful historical streets and houses. The town hall on the mains square disposes of the only communistic astronomical watch in the world. At twelve sharp you can witness a bunch of tiny farmers and craftsmen running their tiny errands and enjoy the crowing of a golden cock which, hand on heart, rather sound like a cat whose tail has just been stepped on.
My personal recommendation for every tea and shisha lover: you must try one of the teahouses (čajovna) in Olomouc. The atmosphere is very relaxing. You can choose from a number of international tea sorts and other beverages - I recommend Yogi (an Indian tea sort) and Sahlep (a thick sweet beverage).
How to Get There
Normally, if you come by car from Vienna, you should not need more than 2 and a half hours. You will need a road tax vignette for the highway between Brno and Olomouc which can be bought at the border. If you don't have to, avoid driving between 4 PM and 7 PM on friday, you might need up to 4 hours to get there. In the year 2017 a new piece of highway will be finished which will replace the slow and annoying road through a number of Austrian villages.
Starting fee: 30€
Fuel for approx. 200 km.