Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

So as you know, through the summer I’ve been travelling across Europe.

Yes indeed!

But why, you might ask?

Well, you know.

It’s the summer!

And even though Britain is out of the EU, I’m still European!

I'm the British Berliner - a British European. And I'm proud of it!
I’m the British Berliner – a British European.
And I’m proud of it!

What better thing to do than to travel through one of the world’s best continents – that’s right Europe!

If you want to read about ALL the countries that I’ve visited in the last two years, then just click here!

Oh, the summer!

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It's summer. Drink up!
It’s summer. Drink up!

My challenge was to visit a European city. Every weekend, through the summer holidays.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

And only to travel.

By train!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

So let’s see how we’re doing.

If you as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’m going to put the countries that I’ve been to, on Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign below:

DENMARK:

Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers' markets. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Ditte Isager
Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers’ markets.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Ditte Isager

I started off with Denmark and hopped off to Copenhagen.

Is Copenhagen a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Sort of a tick!

Copenhagen was great and you can read all about it below:

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SWITZERLAND:

A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!
A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!

I then went to Switzerland, and bounced into Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern!

Is Lucerne a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern was brilliant, and you can read all about it just below:

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LUXEMBOURG:

After that, I went to Luxembourg.

Me in front of the Palace of the Frand Dukes. In August! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Me in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes. In August!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg was a new country for me, and I had heard lovely things about it, so I was pretty excited to visit!

Is Luxembourg a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

A most delicious Bosso Spätzle!
How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!

Luxembourg was pretty impressive, and you can read all about it just below:

The next destination was Slovakia!

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SLOVAKIA

A historical castle in Slovakia!
A historical castle in Slovakia!

Slovakia, otherwise known as the Slovak Republic, is a country in Central Europe.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, and Hungary to the south. Slovakia’s territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres or 19,000 sq miles, and is mostly mountainous. The population is a little over 5 million!

The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 10th century, the territory was integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which later became part of the Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks and Czechs established Czechoslovakia, and on 1st January 1993, Slovakia became an independent state,  after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

A prime example of how two nations, even after separation, still live together and or are, connected to each other, without hate and strive!

Myself as lovely as Prague!

As you know, I used to live in the Czech Republic and whilst there, I lived briefly in Slovakia too!

In those days, there was hardly any difference at all, so I wanted to find out if it was still true!

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SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava, is the capital of Slovakia.

Bratislava, for much of its history, was a three-language town. Its citizens spoke Slovak, Hungarian and German, and was always quite cosmopolitan in nature. Before 1919, Bratislava was known as Pressburg, Prešporok, Prešpurk, Pozsony, Břetislaw, Bratislav, and finally Bratislava!

Slovakia is a small country, so the capital has a population of just 450,000 – the largest city in the country!

Bratislava in southwestern Slovakia, occupies the banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. It borders both  Austria and Hungary, and is the only capital city in the world that borders two independent countries, separated by just 66 kilometres!

All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!
All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!

Bratislava has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely from Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Hungary, and the Jewish nation. Not only that, but between 1867 and 1918, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary were parts of the same country, otherwise known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

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WHY GO TO BRATISLAVA?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Once again, my task?

To visit Bratislava. Sleep in Bratislava. Eat in Bratislava. With young boy tween in tow.

Here we go.

Whoopsie!

TAKE ME THERE?

The best way to travel through Europe is by train!
The best way to travel through Europe is by train!

Bratislava is a small city.

We came in by train.

As you know, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign is to travel through the summer by train. Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

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Think about your budget, and travel cheaply. By train!
Think about your budget, and travel cheaply.
By train!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

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Don't suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Last year, I bought a twelve-hour direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

I bought a five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin. In August for just €29.00! And don’t forget, on the German inter-city Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Use public transport. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Use public transport.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00!

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July was just €98.00. My child was free!

For Luxembourg, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, again, and the twelve (12) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Luxembourg via Cologne and Koblenz – Berlin, including reserved seating in August was €116.00. My child was free!

For Slovakia, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, once again, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Bratislava – Berlin including reserved seating in August, was a mere €59.00. Yes €59.00! My child was free!

In a future post, I’ll be giving you tips as to how to prepare yourself when travelling on a European train!

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IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t say so.

We went to Bratislava in August.

Of course you get the day-hopper tourists from Vienna and Budapest, and neighbouring Czechs, but most people haven’t a clue where Slovakia is. In fact, many confuse it with Slovenia.

Most people don’t know where Slovenia is either!

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WHAT IS BRATISLAVA LIKE?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but we’re used to that now!

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure, or Denmark!

I mean, Slovakia once used to be a part of Czechoslovakia, and it has a certain charm, but to be honest, it’s not anything like Prague either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga.

In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ - Bratislava Main Train Station - is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc
In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ – Bratislava Main Train Station – is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc

It’s a bit rough-looking, and the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ main railway station, unlike the main train station in Porto, is a disgrace!

Bratislava has presence, but is not very well looked after!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least impressed, but I’m putting it down to the fact that just the weekend prior, we were in a luxury hotel in Luxembourg, and he was treated like a king!

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I DON’T SPEAK SLOVAKIAN!

The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!
The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!

Not a problem.

Most people speak English, but if you can speak Czech, German, Russian or Hungarian, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Not quite! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Not quite!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Nah!

Thanks to Bratislava’s excellent location on the border of three countries, accommodation ranges from quite simple to award-winning boutique hotels, so  it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

I had previously wanted to go the boutique route like I did in Warsaw, but the prices they were asking bordered on the ridiculous, so a hostel it was then!

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I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I'm on a budget. I could sing for my supper! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
I’m on a budget. I could sing for my supper!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

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

In Copenhagen, I decided to book a family friendly budget hotel. In Lucerne, we went for the cheap and cheerful option of a hostel.

I like comfort, and I’m not averse to a little splendour every now and then so in Luxembourg, we went upscale to a very lovely luxury hotel.

But being that we wanted to be smart, we decided to take the simple route of a hostel, once again!

Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

We went to Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel.

Downtown Backpacker’s is a hostel situated in the historical quarter of the city, and the first hostel in the country!

It’s located 15 minutes walking distance from the main train station, and is one minute from the Presidential Palace!

I had booked a private twin room of course, as I liked the idea of paintings on the wall. We were put on the top floor and into what would have been the best room in the hostel – Mucha – as the private double room also came with it’s own balcony.

No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratsilava, so we had to look through from afar!
No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, so we had to look through, from afar!

Sadly, no one was able to open it, and so we looked through what would have been our private balcony, with our private outdoor table, where we would have watched our private sunset, whilst I sipped a glass of Slovakian wine as I wrote my blog!

But it was not to be, as the balcony door lock was broken!

Sigh!

Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Our room came with two single bed and bedsheets already laid out, two large wardrobe-like lockers, two chairs, two standing lamps, a glass table, a large private balcony with a further four chairs, paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs, dotted all over the room, and free WiFi.

There were side plugs, but only on one side of the room, so “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least pleased!

The hostel had a large fully-equipped kitchen, a small dining room, a terrace that turns into a garden, a library, a piano, a large common TV, a dryer, a washing machine, and a very comfy large common room, which for some reason, one man spent every night sleeping in! And shared bathrooms and toilets on every floor.

The bathroom on the lower floor is nicer, and larger!

A free shot of vodka isn't a bad thing!
A free shot of vodka isn’t a bad thing!

There’s also a free shot, free tea and coffee, and a really nice paid breakfast with a 10% discount, if you’re a hostel guest!

We paid €50.00 per night.

It was a nice hostel, and the hostel staff were great and extremely warm and friendly. Highly recommended.

Tick!

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I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Most likely!

But you’re going to have to do your own research!

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BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO BRATISLAVA?

But what should I dooooooo? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
But what should I dooooooo?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

There is plenty to do Bratislava.

I would even go as far as saying, you should spend at least two (2) days in order to get a real feel of the city.  You can:

Go on a walking tour in the Old Town. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Go on a free walking tour. We went with a little outfit called Be Free Tours
  • Make your own independent walking tour. Pick up free maps in your hostel and hotel, and just take off! It’s really not that difficult!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Bratislava
  • Get your camera out and take a selfie with Čumil peeking out of the manhole, or Schöne Náci in a tall hat and tails!
  • Put on your walking shoes and climb up to Bratislava Castle and take in the view. They sometimes have a night show too!
  • Wander round the cobbled streets of the Old Town, and just get lost!
  • Go to the Town Hall and visit the most impressive Bratislava City Museum  – the oldest museum in Slovakia!
  • Go to St. Martin’s Cathedral and as many other churches as you can manage!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Take photographs and buy souvenirs at Michael’s Gate – the only preserved gate left – dating back to the 14th century!
  • Visit the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Community Museum
  • Walk by the riverside
  • Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
  • Join in the summer celebrations
  • Go people-watching
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants, for a quick bite of rustic Slovakian sausages!
  • Relax , take a break, and have a Slovakian beer!

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WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them! p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!
Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them!
p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!

Bratislava is small. Everywhere is walkable, but local trams, buses, and cruises are simple to use.

In the olden days, the capital cities of Austria and Hungary were so close, that they were connected by a tram line!

Sadly, after World War II, the tram line was closed down!

Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest are connected by the river Danube via a cruise ferry, and there are frequent bus and train connections. In fact, many tourists happily go from at least one of these countries to the other, on a day-trip.

Isn’t that marvellous!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Even though we're tourists, stop cheating us! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Even though we’re tourists, stop cheating us!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

We had lunch in the Old Town and we were over-charged twice! One restaurant even had the cheek to charge the complete bill of their local Slovakian mates, from the next table!

My suspicions were raised when the bill started with the butter that I ordered, but never received…..!

MY VERDICT:

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava is a European historical city, mixed with forgotten reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

We wouldn't go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you're in the region, why not? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
We wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, why not?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit, or go to the countryside, which I hear is amazing!

If you’re on a budget, stay in Bratislava and commute to Vienna instead.

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

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Quit your job! Don't quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don't travel through Europe!
Quit your job! Don’t quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don’t travel through Europe!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about Slovakian food, art and films in Berlin, travels to the German Baltic Sea, as well as a comprehensive post on how to use the train in Europe!

In October, I’ll be preparing to go to the TBEX ASIA travel conference in the Philippines, and an extra Asian country, but I’m still not sure where, but heavily leaning towards a Chinese-speaking country!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria.

Yay!

Book your hotel here!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

The Old Town in Slovakia. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
The Old Town in Slovakia.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the most delicious Slovakian sausage that we gobbled up, are my very own!

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 21.09.16 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll also be attending an exclusive GOLUM! Preview Social Meetup at the Jewish Museum in Berlin!

Save the Date!

September is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin in September, I can’t imagine where else you would be!

Breakfast in Slovakia!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Have you ever been to Slovakia? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

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

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4 Days in Prague – 40 Things to Do!

Just below the Astronimical Clock in Prague.

Prague never gets old for me and why should it?

It’s not New York. It’s not Paris. It’s Prague. In the East but with a blend of the West.

Speaking of the East. The refugee situation in Hungary and other European countries is an international crisis and a bloody mess. We need to think of humanity and compassion. It would be irresponsible of us all to just look away and leave these vulnerable people to sleep in the streets and huddle under bridges. Every little bit helps.

They need our help. #Refugeesarewelcome
They need our help.
#Refugeesarewelcome.

In that wise, I’m utterly pleased that in my adopted country ordinary people and individual federal states are trying to help and sending a message that #refugeesarewelcome.

Thank you Germany.

Up the hill in Prague – Prague City Tourism.

Back to Prague.

The Heart of Europe. The City of 100 Spires. The Golden City, etc. These descriptions are just some of the nicknames that Prague has acquired over the ages, but one thing remains constant – Prague is truly one of the world’s most unique cities with beauty, interesting food and brilliant alcohol!

So what to do in a city that has everything your heart can so desire?

Trdelník in the Czech Republic but also known as Kürtőskalács in Hungary!
Trdelník in the Czech Republic but also known as Kürtőskalács in Hungary!

In that wise, here are forty (40) tips to guide you on what to do and where to go.

This is what we did. Are you ready?

  • The first thing you have to do is to go to the Old Town Square (Staromeska), enjoy it’s beauty and grandeur of the 12th century and have a drink or two. We went in the summer and it was so burning hot that the town had organised the spraying of soapy water in the Square. It was a lot of fun LOL!
  • Next, check out Prague’s most famous 15th century Astronomical Clock. Enjoy the view but keep a tight hold of your pocket as the Square tends to get tightly packed.
Franz Kafka.
Franz Kafka.
  • If you’re going to read about anybody who is Czech then it ought to be Franz Kafka.
  • Visit the Jewish Quarter Josefov (Old Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues) and perhaps hear a whisper of the legend of the Golem.
  • Go on a walking tour. I love walking tours and even in my own city of Berlin, I go on a walking tour every now and then, just to keep abreast of new developments in different parts of town. Prague was no different. I chose to go with a company called Prague Extravaganza Free Tour. The tour is free and you can decide how much the tour is worth to you by giving the guide a tip. There is no obligation to do so of course, but if you feel that they do a good job then why not show your appreciation!
  • Use public transport. Prague has underground trains, trams, buses and a funicular and they are clean, efficient and marvellously easy to use. Try to avoid using taxis as best you can. They really are awful and will do their best to rip you off.
  • Take Tram 22 – This tram is the best mode of transport you can take as it travels through one of Prague’s most scenic routes passing very near the Old Town (Staroměstská) and the New Town (Malostranská) as well as via the Prague Castle. It really is a good tram to travel with, as it covers pretty much every tourist sight that you ought to see.
Tourists in Prague.
Tourists in Prague.
  • Visit the Prague Castle which has been an important symbol of the Czech state for more than a thousand (1,000) years. It was founded in the 9th century and became the seat of Czech rulers and later presidents. The castle, one of the largest complexes in the world, is made up of historical palaces, offices, church and fortification buildings, gardens and picturesque spots. It covers an area of 45 hectares and the panoramic view of Prague Castle is one of the most spectacular in the world!
  • Observe the Changing of the Guard at the Prague Castle. On the hour.
  • Go to the gothic cathedral of St. Vitus which was established in 1344  and took nearly 600 years to build! You can find it right next to Prague Castle.
  • Visit the St. Wenceslas Chapel with the tomb of St. Wenceslas, the crypt where Czech kings are buried, and the Crown Jewels.
  • Take a stroll along the Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička) which used to belong to castle soldiers and craftsmen from the 16th century.
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. © Petr Salek
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
© Petr Salek
  • Take the nostalgic Tram 91 – This tram is a historic one that only runs on Saturday & Sunday and during the main holidays from April to Mid-November. It leaves on the hour until 17:30.
  • Go to a local Czech outfit and have a meal of stodge!
  • Get yourself a grilled Czech sausage. Just make sure that the kiosk is clean and there’s a waiting queue!
  • Drink some delicious Czech beer. Don’t be shy. It’s pretty good and very, very cheap. ps. If you’re over 18. Absinthe can be bought in the TESCO supermarket!
  • Go to a Black Light Theatre. As many as you are inclined to visit. They’re all quite entertaining.
Black Light Theatre - Image Theatre - Prague.
Black Light Theatre – Image Theatre – Prague.

Black Light what? I hear you say!

Black.

Light.

Theatre!

Black Light Theatre - Image Theatre - Prague.
Black Light Theatre – Image Theatre – Prague.

Let me tell you, a black light theatre or černé divadlo is a theatrical performance characterized by the use of augmented black light illusion and has become a Czech speciality. Without giving too much away, the use of black curtains, a darkened stage, and UV light in conjunction with fluorescent dayGLO costumes is mixed with music and entertainment to create an intricate visual illusion. My favourite black light theatre is called IMAGE THEATRE and every time I visit Prague, I never fail to watch a performance! The theatre used to be in the Jewish Quarter but has now re-located to a new venue at Národní  třída. About 100 meters from Charles Bridge!

Even though I am a full-grown woman, the magic of black light never fails to intrigue me and I knew that even with the arrogance of on-coming teenage-hood, “The Tall Young Gentleman” would be impressed by an audio-visual performance, a compilation of dance, comedic mime sketches, pantomime and the black theatre metamorphosis of reality.

Black Light Theatre - Image Theatre - Prague.
Black Light Theatre – Image Theatre – Prague.

We watched The Best of Image which was hilarious.

The performances are non-verbal and language skills are not necessary. The show is very family-friendly and available for all ages. There are two (2) performances per day so if you want to go out on the night, there’s still plenty of time to do so.

Ticket prices are 480Kč or €18.00.

I highly recommend the IMAGE THEATRE as it’s a local establishment and it’s Czech.

p.s. Don’t sit at the front. The best view is in the middle or at the back LOL!

The Farmers Market at Anděl in Prague.
The Farmers Market at Anděl in Prague.
  • Take the Petřín Funicular which was first operated in 1891! You can take the Funicular from Malostranská which wil take you up the Petřín Hill and visit the Petřín Hill itself which is covered by hills (quite handy when you just need an immediate nap in the fresh air), and rocks! It also has a vast amount of parks. In fact, we did quite a lot of walking in spaces that I had never even seen before. We also skipped and jumped about quite a bit. We were so worn out that we didn’t have any dinner!
  • Check out the Petřín Lookout Tower which was originally built in 1891 as a mini version of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and don’t forget to visit the Royal Rose Gardens, the Mirror Maze, the Observatory and the lake. All very much in the hills within the Prague Castle made up of historical palaces, offices, churches and fortification buildings, gardens and picturesque spots covering an area of 45 hectares!
  • You certainly can’t go to Prague without visiting Prague’s most elegant café and restaurant – the Café Louvre.
Café Louvre, Prague.
Café Louvre, Prague.

The Café Louvre was opened in 1902 and was a place where the elite and intelligentsia of Prague came for coffee, cake and conversation with the likes of Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein among them.

As a Czech expat in those days, I had a couple of spots where I would go to read and write or just generally wile my time away and the elegant surroundings of the Café Louvre was one of them.

Our delightful apple strudel, custard and cream at the Café Louvre, Prague.
Our delightful apple strudel, custard and cream at the Café Louvre, Prague. Nom! Nom!

We went there for delightful apple strudel, ice-cream sundaes, and cocktails as it was such a steaming hot day. I also recommend their wonderful soups. Ask for their lunch specials for middle-class Czech prices!

  • Why not go to the Reduta Jazz Club which is right next door to the Café Louvre? I’m not very much into jazz but it used to be a happening place and such a rich spectrum of Prague’s cultural life that the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Ronnie Scott used to play there. Even Bill Clinton. Yes, Bill Clinton, did a jam session at the Jazz Club in 1994!
  • Go to the centre of Prague which is called Můstek. Walk around, peep in and out of backyards and back alleys. Ramble about and look up at the beautiful buildings and facades.
  • Walk towards a street called Celetná. Celetná was a former Prague trade route and now has a “gate” which is a sort of arch, It’s one of the oldest streets in Prague and will lead you towards the Old Town or (Staroměstská).
Celetná in Prague - ©Moyan Brenn
Celetná in Prague –
©Moyan Brenn

Celetná is a place of pride because that was the road where my office and classrooms were located. It was on this very quaint and cobbled street that I first cut my teeth as the Regional Manager in Eastern Europe. It’s a marvellous street. And if you look up, you can still see the chandeliers through the upstairs windows, and the old and Renaissance family symbols above the many doors. Of course, the street is now filled with elegant stuff, Bohemian crystal, glass, porcelain and amber, Czech specialities. Oh and a wax museum.

A wax museum?

Huh!

  • The wax museum is connected to Madame Tussauds but confusingly is also called the Prague Wax Museum.
  • On the same street of Celetná is another wax museum from France called Musée Grévin or the Grévin wax museum.
  • Not too far away on a side street is the Sex Machines Museum which I visited years ago. It’s amusing but NOT FOR ANYONE UNDER 18!
  • Follow the crowds until you  get to the Old Town Bridge Tower which is the beautiful Gothic gateway to Charles Bridge from the Old Town and decorated with symbols of various kings and saints.
St Charles Bridge in Prague. © Jorge Royan
St Charles Bridge in Prague.
© Jorge Royan
  • You must absolutely go visit Prague’s most iconic and famous Charles Bridge (Karlův most). It is the oldest bridge in Prague covered with statues of saints, artists, entertainers and tourists and has fantastic views of the river. I love going there at all times of the day and night but it can get quite crowded so stay with your party, and watch your pockets!
  • Make sure that you take a stroll on Wenceslas Square which hosts any event worth it’s salt, New Year’s Eve and various important historic and social events. There are also numerous shops, restaurants and historical hotels as well as side-streets with local cinemas and small Czech theatres.
  • Check out the classical concerts and orchestras in almost every religious house and building.
  • Throw yourself into the music halls and venues of Prague such as ballets and operas and go to as many museums and galleries as you can.
Don Giovanni marionette opera in Prague.
Don Giovanni marionette opera in Prague.
  • Experience the art of classic puppet and marionette theatres in shows such as the performance of Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute of Mozart.
  • Go clubbing at RadoxFX, Roxy, Akropolis, MeetFactory, or Karlovy Lazně.
  • Indulge in fresh seafood such as grilled trout or stuffed salmon fillet served with fresh herbs and lemon!
Boating away in Prague.
Boating away in Prague.
  • Enjoy the picturesque Vltava River. With over thirty bridges and footbridges and ten little islands, you can afford to go on a river cruise, rent a rowing boat or try your hand at pedal boating.
  • Make your way to the John Lennon Wall which is a wall that has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti, pieces of Beatles lyrics and words of world peace, freedom and hope. It’s on the other side of Charles Bridge near the French embassy. Ask around!
  • Go to a flea market and get chatting with the locals.
  • Drink Viennese coffee – I don’t drink coffee but it doesn’t mean that you can’t!
  • Prague’s views are breathtaking. Enjoy the moment and get a table by the riverside and rejoice that you get to see it.

Have fun!

And there you have it. Forty (40) things to do in four (4) days.

Marvellous!

Sunset in Prague.
Sunset in Prague.

For more information about the black light theatre, please contact: IMAGE THEATRE.

This article isn’t sponsored and even though I received a complimentary theatre ticket all opinions and the scrummy apple strudel that I lovingly devoured, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you. Next week will be my 100th post. Yay!

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, hurry up!

September is going to be windy!

Watch this space!

4 days in Prague - 40 things to do!
4 days in Prague – 40 things to do!

Have you ever been to Charles Bridge? Would you have an apple strudel with custard and cream or just custard?!

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!

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!