Prague is modern but historical, exciting but easy-going, in the East but with a blend of the West. It’s just one of those perfect places!

The clock on Staromeska in Prague!

Last week I told you the story of how I came to live in Prague.

Back in the day.

And now to how it was a few weeks ago with son in tow.

One of the reasons that I wanted to go back to Prague again was the fact that I wanted to show my it-sounds-awfully-boring-but-I-will-if-I-have-to-listen 13 year-old tween! In a couple of years, university will beckon and he’ll be bound for the more exotic Chiang Mai in Thailand, like other young GAP year Germans & Brits, and Prague won’t even get a look in!

In Staroměstská - the Old Town Square in Prague.
In Staroměstská – the Old Town Square in Prague.

Every time I go to Prague, it’s always nice to know how it’s changed or otherwise.

In many ways it has changed and in many ways it hasn’t changed at all!

Let me explain.

If you’re walking through the streets of Prague you just have to look upwards and see the outlines and roof-tops of this beautiful city. Prague is a remarkable place and a city shrouded in countless myths and legends from its thousand years of history.

Vltava in Prague © Che
Vltava in Prague
© Che

It’s a place which has a unique character. A city on the bank of the Vltava. A river city.

The city of a hundred spires, a UNESCO monument and one of the most beautiful cities of legends past.

Streets are lined with windows full of tempting wares that beckon you with whiffs of a delicious aroma or strange-like dishes, or perhaps the mystery of a dark outline of a Gothic castle built in 1348 and crammed with royal treasures, Bohemian crown jewels and holy relics.

Whichever way you look at it, Prague is quite magical.

U Maleho Glena

When I first lived in Prague, the place was bursting with secret little dives and back-corner bars that most people could see but never saw!

I accidentally found a group of young Czech people who brought me into their fold and introduced me to “their people” as “one of them” not only that, but they also happened to be artists which meant that I rarely ever paid for theatre productions, clubs or bars and I hardly slept spending my days managing my team and my nights going from one private club to another!

Good Times!

In fact at one point, we were all so comfortable that I was invited by someone’s grandma to help them pick strawberries in their garden!

A German Crumpet!

She didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Czech.

She just thrust a raffia basket in my arms and off I went.

Those strawberries were delicious and it was one of the best Sunday afternoons that I have ever had!

I know my way around Prague very well but of course, as every living city does, things change, places close and people move on. Prague has ten (10) zones or districts and each district has its own characteristic atmosphere and unique charm.

A tram on a street by the river in Prague. © Jorge Royan
A tram on a street by the river in Prague, not too far from the short-cut! © Jorge Royan

When I lived in Prague, I lived on the other side of the Prague Castle.

It was a bit of a slog to get to, being on the hill n’all, but we all knew a short-cut and used to either take the bus and cut through the back, or take the funicular up the hill!

Whenever I’m on a short visit in a city destination, I normally prefer to be in the thick of the action and within walking distance of all the sights, but because Prague can sometimes be heaving with visitors especially in the summer months, I decided to book outside Prague 1 and 2.

Prague 3 is particularly boring except for my favourite vegetarian restaurant at Radost FX and even though I’m not a veggie or vegan I would highly recommend their food LOL!  And of course, our expat bookshop – the Globe Bookstore and Café – where we used to hang out and meet other people (it’s relocated to Prague 1!)

And I don’t think I ever went to Prague 4 at all!

This time around, I booked our hotel in Prague 5. It’s about a 10 walk from the river and is located on the west bank of the Vltava River.

Hurrah!

Prague 5 is semi-residential with bigger hotels, fancy bars and restaurants but with real Czech locals living in the area too.

Being a part of the Prague trendy set. Has anyone seen a hipster?
Being a part of the Prague trendy set.
Has anyone seen a hipster?

Our hotel was called Angelo Hotel Prague and was in the Prague’s Anděl neighbourhood known as the hip and trendy Smíchov Quarter.

Smíchov was famous for textile, breweries and railway carriages and most importantly, one of Prague’s most famous beers – Staropramen. In recent years, Smíchov transformed into a district of ultra-modern offices and semi-residential with a farmers market, a scattering of hotel chains, fancy bars and restaurants, but with real Czech locals living in the area too.

Our hotel – Angelo Hotel Prague – was on a quiet historical road and was about two (2) minutes from the Anděl underground station.

The location was absolutely spot on.

All that Jazzzzz!
All that Jazzzzz!

The Angelo Hotel Prague stands for an innovative and designed-oriented hotel concept characterized by extravagant styling, distinct colours, and inspiration of the Jazz Age. Throughout the hotel were pictures and painting of jazz music icons!

Snazzy vibes at the Angelo Hotel Prague!
Snazzy vibes at the Angelo Hotel Prague!

With 163 rooms and 5 suites, the trademark of the hotel is a colourful design concept of black, coral-red, yellow and white and is managed by the VI Hotel & Resorts group along with  35 other hotels around Europe. In fact, when I was researching hotels I remembered that during the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin, I had booked meetings with a couple of PR industry people and VI was one of them.

Their Communications Team remembered me and that laid the ground for where I would stay.

Angelo Hotel Prague Executive Twin Rooms!
Angelo Hotel Prague Executive Twin Rooms!

We were upgraded to a Superior Twin Executive Room on the 6th floor which had a help-yourself coffee-maker and drinks machine on the 6th floor lobby, and bowls of apples!

When travelling with a tween, it’s always nice to have important basics such as a large bed, a flat screen TV, and a DVD player.

Our room also had a desk and chair, a safe, a mobile phone re-charging plug, tea and coffee-making facilities, daily complimentary water, free high-speed WiFi, AC, heated floors, a nice bathroom, fluffy towels and fluffy slippers.

The WiFi was free throughout the hotel premises but if you’re on the 6th or 7th floor, make sure that you choose the extra daily option which is of no charge if you’re a higher floor guest, and is really fast.

The usual WiFi was perfectly adequate if you’re only using it for a few things, but if you have a couple of devices (which we do) and you’re not on a higher frequency, it could prove problematic.

Becherovka - a type of herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!
Becherovka – a type of herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!

And speaking of drinks.

Again!

The Angelo Hotel Prague is in a great area and the young front-of-house staff are enthusiastic but the service and the house-keeping staff needs to be spruced up and tightened!

Drinking a very important cup of tea! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Drinking a very important cup of tea!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

We didn’t receive a welcome drink until the next day.

And we had to ask for it.

Our complimentary bottles of water were not replenished and neither were my teabags.

For black tea.

Until we asked for them.

And on one particular day, we arrived in our room to find that the used towels had been taken away but none were returned.

And we had to ask for them.

Sigh!

Cocktails at the Angelo Hotel Prague.
Cocktails at the Angelo Hotel Prague.

Our stay also included a welcome drink in the Jazz Bar, entrance to the fitness studio, sauna and steam bath in the hotel next door (because it wasn’t in the hotel itself, I didn’t try it out), and a rich buffet breakfast that consisted of fresh fruit, cereals, creams and yoghurt, Bohemian cold cuts, sausages, baked beans (yum!), pancakes, porridge, a variety of cheese, a very wide selection of cake, bread and pastry, vegetables, salads and Asian soup!

You could also order a choice of eggs with crispy bacon, sausage and mushrooms, or egg omelet with cheese, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms but again, you had to ask for them as there was no menu and we only got to know that the option existed when we saw a hot plate being served to a customer on a nearby table!

On our initial arrival the hotel management very kindly sent us a welcome tray of macaroons and some fruit. I couldn’t eat them personally ‘cos of the nut factor, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” was in French heaven!

A tray of French macarons at the Angelo Hotel Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Thank you!

Even though we weren’t in the centre of the centre, we were pretty central as Prague’s public transport system is marvellous and so easy to use.

A map of the Metro Underground system in Prague.
A map of the Metro Underground system in Prague.

The nearest station is on Line B (the yellow line) and is called Anděl. Anděl is but three (3) stops until you get to the city centre which is at Můstek. Six (6) stops until you get to Hradčanská which is the castle area, five (5) stops until you get to Malostranská (which is the new town), four (4) stops until Staroměstská (the old town), four (4) stops until Národní třída (the National Theatre), five (5) stops until Muzeum and onto Wencelas Square (it’s the place where everyone gathers like Times Square (US), Leicester Square (UK) and Brandenburg Gate (Germany) and five (5) stops to Hlavní nádraží (Prague’s Main Train Station.)

So you see, the Anděl neighbourhood was quite handy.

Away from all the stress and bother of rowdy tourists and noise, but near enough to either take the train or jump on a tram, as Prague’s most interesting sights and attractions were just minutes away.

The Vltava as it flows under the Charles Bridge in Prague. © David Iliff.
The Vltava as it flows under the Charles Bridge in Prague.
© David Iliff.

If you’re feeling energetic and want to take a longer look at the area, I would recommend walking on the river-side, but it would take at least thirty (30) odd minutes, perhaps more!

In fact, on our first (1st) night we strolled around Smíchov which had a lot of young people milling around with both Czech, English and German voices and not too far away, we found a local restaurant.

Traditional Czech cuisine!
Traditional Czech cuisine!

We went to a local restaurant in Smíchov (Prague 5) similar to U Dvou Kocek above. Unfortunately, it was quite late and I forgot to take a photograph of the actual place itself AND you don’t get any receipts. Just a piece of plain paper stating how much you ate!

So how can you know if a restaurant is a real dive or not?

Well, you’ll know it’s local soon enough. If the menu is in Czech and the punters look dodgy and intimidating.

That’s the one to go to!

Walk in. Smile. Say “Dobrý den” and take a seat at a wooden table. Any wooden table!

A hearty Czech meal in Prague.

They were awfully accommodating and with creaky Czech, a mish-mash of Polish and much finger-pointing, we had a hearty meal of marinated pork ribs with thickly cut roast potatoes, white cabbage and a three-sauce variety of mustard, ketchup and horse-radish! All at an unbelievable cost of 180 or €6.70.

Tasting Czech Beer.
Tasting Czech Beer.

My huge beer was 34 or €1.25 and my son’s huge coca-cola was 50 or €1.90. We had a couple more!

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. If you don’t drink get ready to open your wallet as beer is cheaper than water. So drink on!

As a matter of fact, Berlin used to be like that too. Beer and cola are now the same price but if you know where to look you can find beer in Berlin for about 20 cents at a local supermarket and in Prague for 12 or 45 cents!

If you know where to look LOL!

Looking rather peaky in Prague!
Looking rather peaky in Prague!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” had picked up a cold in Budapest and was looking rather peaky so the next day, I went on a familiarization tour around Prague by myself so that I could plan out where and what I would show my son when he felt a little better. I’ll tell you all about that next week!

If you’re in Prague, then you ought to try a few Czech sausages so in the early evening, we went for a little ramble in the immediate area and had an early dinner of Czech grilled sausages. Make sure that the sausage stand is clean and that the sausages have a quick turn-over. If there’s a queue go for it, if it’s a dead sausage stand, keep moving!

Our stay at the four-star modern designed Angelo Hotel Prague was a good choice. We chose it as it’s trendy, in a residential quarter and quiet. For the action and pulse of Prague choose the centre LOL!

So what’s the damage?

The Angelo Hotel Prague.
The Angelo Hotel Prague.

Here it comes…

All this from €141.00 per night in the Executive Room which for two (2) people would be €70.00 a pop!

if you’re looking for reliability and a bit of peace and quiet, it’s a safe bet.

There were loads of German-speaking guests and others from Argentina, the US and Italy and even though I was a bit peeved as the service could have been better, the fact is, German clients tend to be a demanding lot with high expectations, so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!

That’s all for now. I’ll be telling you some Prague secrets next week!

She's got good taste. In Prague!
She’s got good taste.
In Prague!

For more information about the Angelo Hotel, please contact: Angelo Hotel Prague.

This article is part-sponsored by the Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the huge beers that I had, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be at the following events:

On 16.09.15, the Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

Until 26.09.15 only, the Wintergarten Varieté will be presenting The SOAP Opera show or Show SEIFEN OPER.

From 28.09.15 – 07.10.15 the Bar Jeder Vernunft will be presenting, for one (1) week only, a festival of top British entertainment – Britain’s Best! Music and Comedy.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, it’s never too late!

September is going to be swell!

Watch this space!

 In Staroměstská waiting for the astronomical clock on the Prague Old Town Square.
In Staroměstská waiting for the astronomical clock on the Prague Old Town Square.

Do you think Prague is modern and trendy or traditional and boring? Would you eat a Czech sausage or a Czech doughnut?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

How I came to live in Prague once upon a time – Wonderful Prague!

As lovely as Prague!
As lovely as Prague!

Prague!

Prague!

Wonderful Prague!

Apart from my actual historical home-town of Manchester, there are but four (4) brilliant cities that I have always either contemplated to be “home” or to have a piece of my heart in some way, and they are Berlin, London, Hong Kong and Prague.

Unsurprisingly, they are all somewhat similar in the sense that they are old cities filled with history and glory, choc-a-bloc with people of charm and intelligence, crammed with artistic creativity, edgy enough to push you to the wall but not too much to make you jump off a high building, have rivers flowing through them and plenty of opportunities to “make it” if you feel so inclined.

And I have lived in them all.

Hong Kong © Ángel Riesgo Martínez
Hong Kong
© Ángel Riesgo Martínez

Except for Hong Kong.

I’ve been there.

I’ve met people and had fantastic adventures.

And I was that close to making a move onto a fascinating island on the Asian continent.

When something more exciting happened to me…

Perhaps I’ll tell you sometime.

Perhaps not!

Anyway, my life and career after university started in the Czech Republic.

In Prague.

THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Good King Wenceslas himself on the very aptly named Wencelas Square in Prague!
Good King Wenceslas himself on the very aptly named Wencelas Square in Prague!

The Czech Republic is a country in Eastern-Central Europe and as such, a part of the old Eastern Bloc! It is bordered by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland and was formed in the late ninth (9th) century as the Duchy of Bohemia!

The Czech Republic, previously known as Czechoslovakia, was traditionally divided into three lands known as Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia or Slezko (also part of Poland). However, the Czech Republic has also been known as the Czech/Bohemian land, the land of the Bohemian Crown and the land of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas.

Yep! The Saint Wenceslas of ye olde English carols such as:

“Good King Wenceslas once looked out.

On the Eve of Stepheeeeeeen!

‘Though the snow lay round about

It was crisp and eeeeeeeven!”

I had absolutely no idea that the old Stephen that we always sang about as children, was that Stephen!

In memory of The Fallen, in Prague.
In memory of The Fallen, in Prague.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the name Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country.

Once the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 occurred, the two nations decided to part ways peacefully in 1993, turning into the Czech Republic of which Prague is the capital and Slovakia (not Slovenia!) in which Bratislava is the capital.

Back in the day, I lived in both nations which even though have separated, still have enormous respect for each other and happily, there have been no problems at all and you can travel quite easily between the two nations and not even notice the border!

In fact, the Czech Republic ranks as the eleventh (11th) most peaceful country in the world so if you’re looking for stability, development, democracy and peace, move to Iceland!

PRAGUE

The clock on Staromeska!

With streets paved with cobblestones and long shadows descending from glowing lanterns, it’s no wonder that I used to live in Prague.

Prague – the capital of the Czech Republic – is the largest city in it’s young nation. A nation of 1.2 million people.

Prague.

I have always had a love affair with Prague. I mean, I went there as a young graduate, straight from an academic university with stars in my eyes and political philosophy in my mind.

During my last year at university, I was head-hunted by a fellow student who had been working as a summer camp co-ordinator with a company that focused on developing countries.

I wanted to work in a developing country.

I wanted to do something to help those less fortunate than myself.

Helping the less fortunate! In Prague.
Helping the less fortunate!
In Prague.

And that was how it began.

I was tasked to be the Joint Manager and Co-Ordinator of a British summer camp, in conjunction with the University of Central England in Birmingham.

I was scared to death to be in charge of 100 disadvantaged and deprived teenage children and twelve (12) High School teachers, from the North of England.

I must have done alright ‘cos then they promoted me to Project Development Officer responsible for universities, graduates and young professionals in the UK. And it was all grand hobnobbing and spending most of my time at Oxford and Cambridge.

But you see, I wanted to work abroad.

I have always wanted to work abroad.

So when that call came. I was ready.

The company knew that I had wanted to go to India (I know!) but they had something else for me. Eastern Europe.

Photo@ Avisionn Photo

Eastern Europe in the 90’s was dismal, in distress and pretty undeveloped. “Would I be interested?”

I was.

“When would that be?”

“Well, the thing is. Quite soon.”

“How soon?”

“Tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow!!?!”

“Yeah, tomorrow!”

I didn’t hesitate and said yes. They assured me it would only be for about six (6) weeks.

I came back two (2) years later!

And that was it. I was in love.

St Charles Bridge Prague © Jorge Royan
St Charles Bridge Prague
© Jorge Royan

With Prague!

Oh yes, I lived in Prague and became the Regional Project Manager in Eastern Europe responsible for starting up an educational business in both Prague (the Czech Republic) and Bratislava (Slovakia).

It was the best thing ever and basically made me what I am today because at university, I was quite an arrogant, privileged little thing.

I was an academic, bright, young and clever. I had the world at my feet and I knew it.

I even used to be Head Girl for goodness sake (see Harry Potter), and I had parents who gave me everything.

I had never done a day’s work in my life.

Until Prague.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia with the whole world and a lovely pool, at his feet!

In Prague. I had a whole country to myself, no staff and absolutely no idea what I was really going to be doing out there.

Oh, and did I tell you that when I got there, the fellow who was supposed to partner me, had to leave due to a family emergency, so I was on my own!

Quite alone.

In Prague.

Don't worry!
Don’t worry!

I didn’t speak any Czech or German at the time but I made it work. I was so afraid of failure that I went to the local university and knocked on university hall doors looking for young people who spoke English and wanted to work with me.

I found a few people and that was how I started.

It was quite the making of me.

Did I make mistakes?

Loads!

Did I cry and want to go home?

Many times.

But did I give up though?

Not a chance!

I did well. Got myself a nice team and a few working assistants and made many more projects, and when I did eventually return back to the UK, I knew that if I wanted to fly to the moon I probably could.

If I wanted to!

Drinking on the moon! © gawrifort
Drinking on the moon!
© gawrifort

If you recall, in February, we went skiing in the Czech Mountains and we had to make a stop-over in Prague. My husband – The Music Producer – isn’t one for skiing so he encouraged us to go on without him. On our journey, we ended up in Prague at 02:00 and with a few hours to kill before our onward train to Rokytnice nad Jizerou, so I decided to “show” “The Tall Young Gentleman” a tiny bit of history.

Chocolate chip ice-cream at KFC in Prague. Not for me of course!
Chocolate chip ice-cream at KFC in Prague.
Not for me of course!

He was fascinated although between you and me, I think he was more impressed with the Czech version of KFC than anything else LOL! And although my son had been to Prague as a toddler, he had never been to Prague proper and from the look on his face, I felt it was time for him to not only hear about the life of his mother, but to see it too!

As a reminder, our summer trip was a journey to both Budapest in Hungary and Prague in the Czech Republic. You can read all about the beginning of the adventure by clicking right here!

After having a marvellous time at both the Aria Hotel Budapest and the Buddha-Bar Hotel, we took the Hungarian 2nd class train from Budapest to Prague.

Take the train!
Take the train!

I had booked in on the website of the Hungarian Train Network (MAV) as it couldn’t be booked in Germany and so with much misgivings, I paid €38.00 for the pair of us and hoped for the best as I couldn’t download a ticket either….

I was so worried that I even went to an actual physical Deutsche Bahn (German Train) office and they told me to either pay €225.00 travelling through another route or to pay €38.00 through the direct route. I paid it and got a confirmation. The snag?

You can only print out your actual ticket at a Hungarian train station which I conveniently forgot all about until the night before we were due to leave! Thankfully, we were leaving on the same platform that we had arrived on, so with trembling fingers I logged in the reference number and managed to get our tickets with just seven (7) minutes to spare…!

We found our compartment and our new companions for the next seven (7) hours who were a bunch of German college boys off to Berlin!

People rushing on the Polish train.
People rushing on the Polish train.

I’ve travelled by East European train many times. They’re cheap but very cheerful. They can get squashy and squishy and filled up not only with suitcases but bags and sacks, and even so-called 1st class trains can leave a lot to be desired, but the local passengers are kind-hearted and are a merry lot and the bathrooms are clean and have bars of soap and running water. And if you’re really wanting to meet the locals on their own turf, then go to the restaurant car and play cards with some of the old men there or buy a couple of rounds, it certainly won’t break the bank and you’ll have made a few new friends as well!

Once we arrived in Prague, I bought our underground tickets and off we went.

50 Rupees
50 Rupees

Speaking of money.

Because I have travelled an awful lot – fifty-three (53) countries – to be exact, and counting, I tend not to spend up or even give away my left-over currency, but to keep it not only as a memento, but also a reason to come back! And as you already know, the last time I was previously in Hungary was eleven (11) years ago and even though I didn’t have enough money for a taxi, I would have had enough money for a cup of coffee.

If I drank it LOL!

So, I had at least 400 Czech crowns or €15.00. More than enough local cash to get us to the hotel and then some.

Prague is extremely tidy, modern and organised. Have no fear if you don’t speak Czech as all over the Hlavní Nádraží or Main Train Station, were information booklets in various main languages of how to get about the city or use Prague public transport. Even the ticket machines and wall maps were in English.

Not only that, but I think Prague has one of the easiest underground systems in the world as it only has three (3) lines.

Yep! You heard me.

Just three (3) lines – green, yellow and red!

We bought one (1) short-term ticket costing 24CZK or €0.90 and one (1) child ticket costing 12CZK or €0.45. These tickets are one-way tickets only and can be used for 30 minutes. Unless, you’re planning to use public transport extensively, you shouldn’t need to buy a day ticket and if your hotel is in the city centre, then walking is your friend!

Our hotel – Angelo Hotel Prague –  was in the suburbs of Prague – Zone 5. It’s about twenty (20) minutes from the city centre and if you’re particularly nifty, a brisk thirty (30) minute walk will take you along the Vltava river and towards the direction of the Prague Castle in amazing Prague – a unique city.

That’s it for now. Find out what we did next week!

Cocktails at Angelo Hotel
Cocktails at Angelo Hotel in Prague.

For more information about the Angelo Hotel, please contact: Angelo Hotel Prague.

This article is part-sponsored by the Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the lovely river walks that I went on, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be at the Long Night of Museums or die Lange Nacht der Museen which takes place on August 29th. It’s an all night museum and exhibition family event, taking place from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, you’ve got a lot to lose!

August is packing up!

Watch this space!

Cooling down in very hot Prague!
Cooling down in very hot Prague!

Have you ever been to Prague? Have you ever lived in another country?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

If you’re looking to go to a new European city then Budapest is surprisingly nice. And the food is Hungarian but really Turkish. And Italian too!

The mighty Hungarian paprika! © tara.m.
The mighty Hungarian paprika!
© tara.m.

So Budapest.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Budapest was a really nice destination to go to.

But before that, for those of you who are new readers to The British Berliner, yours truly had a genuinely first-rate experience with the German media.

Because.

Oh you know.

The Queen came to Berlin!

Schoolchildren wave Union flags as the Queen leaves a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate its 300th anniversary.
Schoolchildren wave Union flags as the Queen leaves a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate its 300th anniversary.

You can read all about how I was invited to be on the rbb (the Berlin-Brandenburg TV station) evening TV show as a sub-presenter on a panel of British experts and how I was a main feature on a documentary about established British people in Berlin.

I was featured as a British expat blogger about town on a show called Berlin. Very British! Not only that, but the documentary was picked up by other national German TV stations such as Phoenix, ARD and ZDF! And I was on a seven (7) minute radio interview broadcast about three (3) different types of British expats living in Berlin, of which I was one. The production was called Briten in Berlin or Brits in Berlin.

I mean, wow!

Sometimes, I still can’t believe it!

And just to add to that, at the end of July, I was contacted by the Editor-in-Chief of Europe’s largest online newspapers – The Local in Germany – in which I was interviewed about my life in Germany and how I came to make a documentary and headline on German TV. The piece was called How I explained the Queen to the Germans!

Me being thoughtful and looking as if I'm about to sing! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Me being thoughtful and looking as if I’m about to sing!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Do read! It’s a rather entertaining piece, as are the trolls at the end of it LOL!

Most importantly, you get to see a more personal side to me..!

Back to Budapest!

"The Tall Young Gentleman having "a rose" ice-cream at Gelarto Rosa, in Budapest.
“The Tall Young Gentleman having “a rose” ice-cream at Gelarto Rosa, in Budapest, Hungary.

Budapest can be a real gem if you let yourself be in the moment and just go for all the remarkable food that you can find right there. In Budapest.

So let’s go back to basics and start at the very beginning.

A healthy start to the day. Breakfast.
A healthy start to the day.
Breakfast.

At the beginning of any day, one ought to have a healthy breakfast. It’s even better if your place of sleep includes breakfast as a matter of course.

As a British person, it’s pretty much a given that when you have a bed, you also have a breakfast. It isn’t often so in the United States and it wasn’t to be at some of the places that I originally looked at before thankfully, landing on the Buddha-Bar Hotel and the Aria Hotel Budapest.

Last week, I told you all about the exquisite musically inspired boutique that is the Aria Hotel Budapest but I haven’t yet told you about the Asian-inspired Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply the Buddha-Bar Hotel yet, and I should!

Look at the glamour of the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest!
Look at the glamour of the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest!

The Buddha-Bar Hotel is a 5-star urban chic luxury hotel based on the trendy corner of Váci utca, in the heart of Budapest.

The hotel was originally a delightful hundred-year-old (100) Klotild Palace which has now been dressed up as a mysterious Asian-colonial place influenced by Buddha. And indeed, every part of the hotel was coated with black, red and dark orange as well as Asian-influenced statutes throughout the hotel.

The location is absolutely divine!

The underground station nearest to the Buddha-Bar Hotel.
The underground station nearest to the Buddha-Bar Hotel.

There’s an underground station – Ferenciek Square – a few paces away, an exclusive pedestrian-only shopping zone, located on the corner of the famous Váci utca or Váci street, which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous High Street in Budapest! Many of the major tourist attractions are nearby, as is the Danube river, the Chain Bridge, the Grand Market Hall, lots of historical buildings and the Buda Castle, which you can see right on the opposite side of the bridge!

In fact, from the Buddha-Bar Hotel, everywhere was pretty much walkable or if you’re so inclined, all the tour buses also stop near the outer side of the hotel!

Buddha can see yooooou!
Buddha can see yooooou!

Because the Buddha-Bar Hotel used to be a distinguished palace, the area is huge both inside and out. The hotel consists of one-hundred and two (102) rooms and we were upgraded to the Executive Room.

The tasty fruit and tangy colour tones of the Buddha-Bar Hotel.
The tasty fruit and tangy colour tones of the Buddha-Bar Hotel.

Our room was red and black with lots of Buddha heads and Chinese dragons. Unfortunately, because of the colour scheme, the room can seem a bit dark but there were hidden lights in obscure places.

If you’re a couple it would be brilliant, but as a mother with a growing lad and lots of technical equipment, it wasn’t bright enough.

I recommend that you use them all!

Our delightful tray of fruit. Thank you!
Our delightful tray of fruit.
Thank you!

We were welcomed by a gigantic tray of fruit and a rather nice bottle of Hungarian red wine!

Thank you so much!

Our Executive Room was roomy with a really nice seating area and two large twin beds.

Soft to the lightest touch at the Buddha-Bar Hotel!
Soft to the lightest touch at the Buddha-Bar Hotel!

I liked the way that the wardrobes and cupboards had the minimalist touch. Just push lightly and they would open.

There was a safe, fridge and a large-screen TV with all the international channels and Asian inspirational lounge music, as well as dressing gowns, fluffy towels and fluffy slippers.

The bathroom was amazing.

It was huge and had two (2) sinks.

Two sinks baby!
Two sinks baby!

Yeeeeeees!

It also had a gigantic bath tub and The White Company bathing products. If you’re a couple. You’re in for a wonderful time….! (Oh why. Oh why. Wasn’t my husband – The Music Producer with us?!)

There was also complimentary coffee with it’s own trendy coffee-maker but as you all know. I hate coffee and only drink tea.

Black tea.

Anyone for tea and scones?
Anyone for tea and scones?

Not fruit tea.

Not herbal tea.

Just black tea.

With milk and sugar.

Unfortunately, that was sometimes an issue. Either there was only a single tea-bag, no milk or even no tea bag at all. On our last evening I waited for 1.5 hours for my life-enhancing tea!

Our Executive Room also included complimentary WiFi which normally would have been quite OK, but as a blogger, I need fast reliable WiFi that won’t drop.

The connection dropped and I ended up having to re-connect again and again.

Sigh!

It’s a good thing that I had already written my post before I left Germany…

Shudder!

Bliss! Just complete & utter bliss!
Bliss! Just complete & utter bliss!

Having said that, as I told you last week, the sauna and spa were remarkable. I was worried about the sauna bathing situation as countries on the continent have no qualms about going au naturel.

But I cannot be so calm, and unconcerned.

I just can’t!

The sauna staff had assured me that by 20:00 the spa and sauna area would have very few people in and she was right.

Phew!

Not this!
Not this!

For the first twenty (20) minutes or so, we were all by ourselves. There was a Finnish sauna, an infra-red sauna, a steaming room, a pool that was a tank of ice-cold water à la Siberia, a Japanese bath (jacuzzi), warm stone beds and a fitness area.

We were later joined by an Irish man with his Spanish wife and his ten (10) year old daughter and we were all as nervous as each other.

So that’s alright then!

Blisssssss!

Good value.
Good value.

The spa and sauna were very, very good and highly recommended, the staff were obliging and friendly and the concierge knew everything that needed to be known!

The Buddha Hotel isn’t expensive but neither is it cheap.

Here it comes…

All this from €188.00 per night in the Executive Room which for two (2) people would be €94.00 a pop!

Enjoy the chic luxury hotel!
Enjoy the chic luxury hotel!

I think for the luxury of sleeping in a palace surrounded by a group of friends or an obliging lover, you would do rather well!

Speaking of recommended, I think it’s time to get back to talking about food.

Our going-on-the-train salami and green paprika sandwich arranged for us by the Aria Hotel Budapest.
Our going-on-the-train-salami-white-cheese-and-green-paprika sandwich arranged for us by the Aria Hotel Budapest.

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of food possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

Countries in this part of Europe are not known for having exquisite food. They’re not France you know! Even Germany has an image of cabbage and stodge and Hungary has been influenced by everyone and it’s mother, so I’m going to introduce you to some Hungarian delights!

Traditional Hungarian food tends to stretch from soups, stews, grilled and fried meat, the use of vegetables such as tomato, cabbage, beans and onions, garlic and stuffed cabbage, to a local type of pancake and of course, the Hungarian icon – the red paprika!

All hail the paprika! ©cnn
All hail the paprika!
©cnn

You can of course also observe and partake in fine dining places, trendy street food stands, organic farmers markets, soup bistros, fish restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, cafés and of course, ruin bars.

I’ll be focusing on the more traditional, day-to-day stuff.

A HUNGARIAN BREAKFAST:

Breakfast at the Buddha-Bar Hotel, Budapest.
Breakfast at the Buddha-Bar Hotel, Budapest.

Both hotels that we went to had some delicious stuff.

As you recall, our trip to Budapest was at the Aria Hotel Budapest and the Buddha-Bar Hotel.

Eggs at the Aria Hotel, Budapest.
Eggs at the Aria Hotel, Budapest.

For breakfast at the Aria Hotel Budapest, an à la carte menu was supplied, and you could choose a selection of eggs to be cooked, and you helped yourself to a variety of breads, jams and honey, cereal, muesli, fruit and berries, home-made spreads and sauces, seafood, delicious cold cuts and Hungarian salami, a medium-sized range of cheeses, vegetables, pickles, nuts and cream, as well as cake, pastries, tea, coffee, water and juices.

A savoury breakfast at the Buddha-Bar Hotel, Budapest. Yum!
A savoury breakfast at the Buddha-Bar Hotel, Budapest.
Yum!

At the Buddha-Bar Hotel, they had an à la carte menu too in which you could choose eggs of any style, smoked salmon, pancakes with blueberries and syrup, or porridge! They also had a self-service buffet with cold cuts, vegetables, sauces, pickles and cream. As well as a wide variety of cereal, fruit, yoghurt, muesli, bread, cake, pastries, and juices.

An assortment of cheese and cold cuts at the Aria Hotel Budapest.
An assortment of cheese and cold cuts at the Aria Hotel Budapest.

Very nice!

Cost – €0.00.

HUNGARIAN SOUPS:

My Hungarian goulash soup. Absolutely free of charge!
My Hungarian goulash soup. Absolutely free of charge!

This soup and it is soup, is different from German goulash stew!

As you can see, there’s pieces of beef, potatoes, carrots and is a little bit spicy.

I don’t really like spice but I cope!

Anyway, we got this soup at the NIKA restaurant not far from the Buddha-Bar Hotel. And it was rather nice. We got this soup as a result of the Hungarian established Budapest Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off company. Their package came with a booklet of free stuff!

Cost – €0.00.

Hungarian soup!
Hungarian soup!

We had this soup at a Hungarian restaurant called Gastland Bisztró. We went to the establishment in Oktogon.

The soups above are meat soup and a traditional goulash soup and there’s a third (3rd) one but I forgot to note down which soup it was. On doing some research, I figure it could have been bean or chicken soup!

Cost – Included in the price of the buffet which ranges from 1,190 Hungarian Forint or €3.80 depending on the day. We went on Sunday so the price jumped to 1,590 Hungarian Forint or €5.15 per person. In order to have the two-hour (2) buffet price, you are expected to order drinks if not, 200 Hungarian Forint is added to your bill, per person. Also, if you take too much food and leave a lot of waste, you will also be charged for it.

Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Cost: 4,450 Hungarian Forint or €14.50 for both of us on the buffet option and also a couple of drinks.

HUNGARIAN MAIN COURSES:

The awesome chicken paprika with pasta or gulyas at Bali Caffe Étterem in Budapest. ©Kobako.
The awesome chicken paprika with pasta or gulyas at Bali Caffe Étterem in Budapest.
©Kobako.

The very famous chicken paprika with some sort of Hungarian pasta or gulyas.

The pasta – gulyas was a little chewy and I probably wouldn’t rush for seconds, but the chicken paprika itself was quite nice!

Cost – part of our first (1st) night three-course dinner at the Bali Caffe Étterem which at 2,690 Hungarian Forint or €9.00 was reasonable!

Budapest Spring Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

We saw pork on a spit in quite a few places as people in this region, do like their pork. And pancake filled with a meat filling. And beef. LOL!

Cost – I haven’t a clue!

Hungarian koftas.
Hungarian koftas.

Cost – Food from the Mediterranean could be found everywhere between 700 – 1,000 Hungarian Forint or €2.25 – €3.25.

OTHER HUNGARIAN STUFF:

Hungarian Flatbread!
Hungarian Flatbread!

Hungary, like Germany, has a large variety of bread which is influenced by it’s Turkish, Greek and Italian neighbours. As such, there’s a lot of street food that can be sampled…!

Kilfi - traditional Hungarian bread!
Kilfi – traditional Hungarian bread!

As you can see, the kilfi is a traditional Hungarian bread which is sort of moon-shaped and can be found all over the country at no more than a few Florints.

Cost – 20-100 Hungarian Forint or €0.06 –  €0.35.

A buffet breakfast at the Aria Hotel, Budapest.
Cold cuts and seafood at the Aria Hotel, Budapest.

You can’t go to Hungary without sampling some of the local Hungarian salami. And yes, some varieties are spicier than others.

And chewy!

But they are rich in flavour.

Cost – Varies.

Chicken Feet - Raw!
Chicken Feet – Raw!

I’m on a roll so I’m going to go straight ahead and show you the other side of rummaging and wandering through the market hall.

Chicken feet!

Yes, batches of chicken feet all wrapped up in plastic for soup, stew, pets, coffee..?!

Don't look!
Don’t look!

Don’t look if you’re squeamish.

Above are batches of plastic bags full of chicken heads!

I haven’t a clue what is to be done with them. Any ideas?

HUNGARIAN DESSERT:

Hungarian Crêpe or Palacsinta.
Hungarian Crêpe or Palacsinta.

We shared the Palacsinta or Hungarian Crêpe, with very warm honey and jam.

It was quite delicious!

Yummy!

Cost – part of our first (1st) night three-course dinner at the Bali Caffe Étterem which at 2,690 Hungarian Forint or €9.00 was acceptable!

Creamy dessert from the Great Market Hall, Budapest.
Creamy dessert from the Great Market Hall, Budapest.

 I think it’s called a Kréme which is a creamy dessert with a caramel topping, a puff pastry layer, whipped cream and a custard filling. We took the cake that didn’t have chocolate in it!

Cost – 200 Hungarian Forint or –  €0.65.

Savoury or fruit in Budapest. Who knows?
Savoury or fruit in Budapest. Who knows?

These buns are probably more akin to bread than cake but who’s counting?

Cost – 100 to 200 Hungarian Forint or –  € 0.35 to €0.65.

Cheese cream cornets.
Cheese cream cornets.

It is what it says on the tin – cheese cream cornets.

Cost – 180 Hungarian Forint or –  €0.58.

A set of Hungarian doughnuts and sugary balls!
A set of Hungarian doughnuts and sugary balls!

Cream split doughnuts and Fánk which is a sugary sweet traditional Hungarian dumpling ball!

Cost – 100 to 200 Hungarian Forint or –  € 0.35 to €0.65.

Kürtőskalács - the traditional Hungarian speciality in Budapest.
Kürtőskalács – the traditional Hungarian speciality in Budapest.

One of the most recognisable Hungarian desserts world-wide, is Kürtőskalács.

Kürtőskalács is a Szekely festival Hungarian cake and is made from sweet yeast dough in which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a cone–shaped baking spit, and rolled in granulated sugar and other items!

Cost – 265 Hungarian Forint or –  € 0.35 to €0.65.

Summer berry goodness in Budapest, Hungary.
Summer berry goodness in Budapest, Hungary.

 And lastly, some good ‘ole fruit and summer berries picked a-fresh!

That’s it for now.

Cheers!
Cheers!

For more information about the Buddha-Bar Hotel, please contact: The Buddha-Bar Hotel.

This article is part-sponsored by the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest and part-sponsored by the Aria Hotel Budapest and I received a 50% discount on the Budapest Card, but all opinions and the very enticing Hungarian meals that I chomped on, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about Prague.

Amazing!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, you should be!

August is cooling down!

Watch this space!

I don't eat chocolate but I know that most of you do. This is for you - chocolate heaven!
I don’t eat chocolate but I know that most of you do.
This is for you – chocolate heaven!

Have you ever had Hungarian food or drink? Would you choose to eat chicken feet, chicken Paprika or goulash soup?

See you in Berlin.

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