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!

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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!

I’m going to Budapest & Prague AND taking the train. Yay!

In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!
In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!

In the last fortnight or two weeks, I’ve been telling you all about fashion and I will get back to the juicy bits in a few weeks, but for now, back to basics. Haw! Haw!

Yes, it’s that time of year.

Drum roll pleeeeease!

THE BRITISH BERLINER IS GOING TO BUDAPEST AND PRAGUE. YAY!

 

A map of Berlin to Prague and to Budapest

Shiver me timbers!

WHERE AM I GOING EXACTLY?

 

It's not really relevant but at least he's travelling! Photo@ Peter Stigter
It’s not really relevant but at least he’s travelling!
Photo@ Peter Stigter

Well, you know me. Never the easy option!

I am travelling from Berlin to Budapest. From Budapest to Prague. And then from Prague back to Berlin again. Many people do it the other way around but I’m not many people LOL!

I’m going to Hungary and the Czech Republic and I’m going there by the train!

HUNGARY

Budapest Spring  Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

Hungary, also known as the Republic of Hungary is a country in Eastern Europe and thus a part of the old Eastern Bloc!

It is technically situated in Central Europe and is surrounded by Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia), Austria and the Ukraine! I will be going to Budapest which is the capital city and considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe surrounded by the river Danube and divided into two lovely parts known unsurprisingly as Buda and Pest!

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!

My trip to Budapest is going to be a cultural one so I’ll be travelling with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and we’ll be staying at not only one (1) hotel in Budapest, but two (2)! We’ll be staying firstly at a luxurious, Asian-inspired five-star hotel consisting of one-hundred and two (102) rooms and located at 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. This chic but luxurious hotel is called the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace or simply the Buddha-Bar Hotel!

Next to the St. Stephen's Basilica - Aria Hotel Budapest.
Next to the St. Stephen’s Basilica – Aria Hotel Budapest.

We will then transfer a few days later and we’ll be staying at the beautiful boutique and musically inspired five-star hotel consisting of just forty-nine (49) guest rooms and suites, and located in the historic centre of Pest right next to the St. Stephen’s Basilica. This stylish hotel is called Aria Hotel Budapest.

I simply can’t keep my breath in!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The most wonderful medieval Prague astronomical clock! In the Czech Republic.
The most wonderful medieval Prague astronomical clock!

I have written plenty about the Czech Republic because back in the day, I used to live there and it still remains one of my most favourite countries.

I love the Czech Republic so much that we always try to go to Prague every couple of years and my favourite skiing destination is also in this rather wonderful country. In fact, I wrote quite a few things about the various ski slopes that you can go to and how one year, I pretty much only ate fried cheese and fell off the ski-lift! For more information, check out the links below:

Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!
Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!

Anyhoo, the Czech Republic.

You know. Previously known as Czechoslovakia.

What again?

The Czech Republic!!

Outside the most beautiful Staroměstská or Old Town Square. In Prague, the Czech Republic.
Outside the most beautiful Staroměstská or Old Town Square. In Prague.

Oh yeah, the Czech Republic is another previously Eastern Europe nation behind the Iron Curtain! After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia decided to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The country is also technically situated in Central Europe and surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia (not Slovenia. Think Czechooooooooslovakia!) and Poland. We will of course, be going to Prague which is the capital city. How could we not?

Everybody likes Prague! It’s just so. so. so….

…classically European!

A knight on Wenceslas Square - Prague.
A knight on Wenceslas Square – Prague.

What with all those kings, queens, fighting for kingdoms and holy crusades. It’s the British monarchy all over again. Although of course.

It isn’t.

They have their own rather interesting Bohemian monarchy LOL!

Prague is said to be the “heart of Europe” and sometimes called “the mother of cities.”  Not quite similar to the mother of dragons in the Game of Thrones family saga, but close enough!

I.

Know.

Prague.

It’s beautiful but in the summer months can get crowded, really noisy and sticky. I’m travelling with my I’ve-just-become-a-real-teenager son, so his comfort is of importance.

Cocktails at Angelo Hotel Prague, the Czech Republic
‘Looking forward to mock cocktails at the Angelo Hotel in Prague!

We will be staying at a four-star modern designed hotel on the other side of the Vltava River. Similar to the art design hotel in Helsinki, this hotel is large and has 168 rooms. We chose this spacious hotel as it’s trendy, in a residential quarter and quiet.

I weighed up whether to stay in the centre of Prague or to, unusual for me, choose a place a little further away. I chose further away for a little bit of peace and quiet LOL! The name of the hotel is Angelo Hotel Prague.

I can’t wait to show “The Tall Young Gentleman” my old haunts!

WHY BUDAPEST AND PRAGUE?

 

Budapest Spring Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

The first and only time that I visited Budapest was in 2004. I went with a German girlfriend of mine who wasn’t really interested in the sights, wasn’t really interested in history and wasn’t really interested in walking.

Sigh!

All I remember is the awful monstrosity of a “modern” hotel, a river cruise which was thankfully quite charming, real Hungarian goulash that wasn’t in the least chewy, and nothing at all about the city itself!

This visit is going to change all that.

And as for Prague? I have always had a love affair with that city of charm because after I graduated university, I went to live there!

It was my first real job and it was a high-flying graduate programme.

English in Europe. Courtesy of comedyinfinland.com
English in Europe.
Courtesy of comedyinfinland.com

I didn’t speak Czech or German.

I had never been to Eastern Europe before.

I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, and I wasn’t even getting paid initially!

It was the best thing that I had ever done. I had such a fantastic time, that I stayed on, became the Regional Project Manager and lived there for (2) two years!

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

Prague is both romantic and successful, ancient and modern, cheap but can be horribly expensive.

But the same can be said for Budapest, and therein lies the rub.

These cities are based in Europe and have magnificent stories of richness, history and grandeur.

Both cities are classical beauties.

Both cities have mountains of history.

Both cities are based in Eastern Europe.

Which one shall be the Queen?!

Very inspiring!

HOW AM I TRAVELLING?

In the corridor of the local Polish Train.
In the corridor of the local Polish Train.

We will be travelling by train.

Between Berlin and Budapest, we will be taking the twelve hour (12) German Railway overland train service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB, on a direct train to Budapest.

In first class no less.

Faaaancy.

And the difference in price between the second (2nd) class train and the first (1st) class train was….

Wait for it.

Just €10.00.

Second (2nd) class €59.00 and first (1st) class €69.00.

I booked it immediately LOL!

The Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.
The Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.

Between Budapest and Prague, we will be taking the seven (7) hour train journey (second class this time) via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40.

This journey should be interesting. About as interesting as when we went to the Polish country-side by local train too!

Between Prague and Berlin, we will be back on the German Network on a five (5) hour train journey (the usual second class) and don’t forget, even though I’ll be paying €29.00, on the German Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Yeeeeees!

I’m so looking forward to sight-seeing river cruises, perhaps going to the baths.

Perhaps!

A Hungarian bath in Budapest

Gulp!

Rambling through the cobbled streets of both Budapest and Prague, booking a live escape game.

‘Should be thrilling!

Doing a little hiking, visiting some interesting museums that tell us a little of the history and culture, going on a walking tour, stuffing ourselves with marvellous local cuisine, going to the local theatre, watching a film in Hungarian or Czech and generally, just having a great time!

It’s going to be quite an adventure!

This article is part-sponsored by Aria Hotel Budapest, the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest, and Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the exciting time that I’m sure to have, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be writing from Budapest!

I’ll be there. Will you?

August is going to be quite the thing.

Watch this space!

Budapest Spring Fair 2015
Budapest Spring Fair 2015

Have you ever been to Hungary? Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? Are you team Budapest or Team Prague? Do you like my new it-took-me-a-few-hours-to-do-all-by-myself-blog-look? Any comments on my fancy logo?

See you in Berlin.

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