Unclegus’s Trip Report October/November2013.
Usually in my trip reports I go into details of the beers I drank the food I ate and the prices I paid .In this report I have not do so in such detail as I really did not take that many notes, I was meeting and spending times with friends so just did not do much note taking.
Thursday 31st October.
Flight at 9.00am flying with Jet2 from Edinburgh, used them many times before and had no problems, flight left on time an arrived on time.
I took the 119 bus to Dejvicka and walked the short distance to the Hotel Denisa from there.
There is a great deal of work going on in the area at the moment new tram tracks are being laid and bits of the road being dug up and completely rebuilt .The bus would normally stop on the road but stopped at the actual tram stop and I had to go into the metro and out the other side, bit of a sickle with a large bag but hopefully things will all be sorted on my next trip.
The hotel Denisa is not far from Dejvicka roundabout and I was checked in by 2.00pm.It is not a bad hotel, room I had (a double for single use) was a bit small and the on-suite facilities a bit of a squeeze but no major problem, place was clean, basic toiletries provided, tea and coffee making facilities (rare for a Prague hotel) and a limited choice mini bar.
For the price I paid it was a good choice, even better was the 3% discount for paying cash and the offer of a 10% discount for any future bookings.
You can see my review of the hotel here.
My friends Mr. and Mrs. Snydley were staying in the same hotel and would be arriving about an hour after myself, so I unpacked my bag and then went down to the hotel foyer for a beer and awaited their arrival .I was only there about 10 minutes when they came in, it was a real delight to see them again.
Mr. S and I first met at the Czech Beer Festival several years ago after corresponding on TA for some time before that ,I also met with Mr. and Mrs. S. a couple of years ago for a few days. We have become great friends and it is a joy for us all to get together for a few days in Prague.
Once settled in the 3 of us head to U Veverky a short distance from the hotel.
We have been in here many times and in my opinion it serves the best tankova Pilsner Urquell in Prague .We have a snack of some meats and bread to soak the beer up. The do have English menus if you ask.
After a short break we head into town for an evening meal, Snydley had never tried tankova Krusovice so I suggested the place near the national theatre but unfortunately the place is closed and looks to be undergoing major changes, the whole façade has been chipped off, don’t know if it is going to reopen as a bar or if something else will be there.
Still all is not lost and we visit U Medvidku a place that always pleases.
We visit the brewery part of the restaurant a place Mr S. has never been to.
we sit at a table that has a reserved sign but the waiter is happy for us to be there until the folk that booked it arrive .We intended just to have a beer there and then head down to the main restaurant for a meal but the waiter comes back and says it is unlikely those folk will be wanting their table .We settle for a meal, I had the classic pork dumpling and sauerkraut which was delicious and a few of the Oldgott beer brewed just feet from where we are sitting.
With bellies full of food and beer we go back to the hotel for a relatively early night but Snydley and I have a couple of beers from the mini bar in my room .( the mini bar prices are actually very cheap in comparison to many hotel I have been in ,40kc for a can of Pilsner Urquell).
Friday 1st November
We are up for breakfast fairly early and a pretty good breakfast it is too, good selection of hot and cold food, nice bread and rolls, loads of fruit and yogurt bacon sausage and excellent scrambled eggs.
I am in charge of the Itinerary for the next couple of days so I take our small group to the bus stop near Dejvicka and the bus to the Lidice memorial lidice-memorial.cz/gallerycollection_en.aspx
I have been to this place before but my companions had not, it is a beautiful place the total belies the horrific events that took place here, we visit the museum that is most sad and thought provoking and learn the history of what happened and hear about the events that lead to the massacre, and of the stories of the few survivors.
Into the grounds and we wander round and make a visit to the memorial to the 82 children of Lidice, I leave a small present for the children, a little teddy bear wearing a Scotland top.
It is a place that is very difficult to say that you enjoyed visiting but one of these places that people should visit and experience for them. I know the thoughts and emotions that visiting Lidice brings to me and I am sure that similar emotions will be shared with others but if you get the chance do visit and do remember Lidice.
We head to the bus stop and get a bus back to Dejvicka, we had to wait a while as one bus that should have been there just did not turn up, I had the time table and there was even one at the bus stop but the bus we expected did not arrive, no biggie but maybe 20 minutes longer to wait.
We then take a bus out to Uniticke a small village to the North of Prague, the reason for the visit is the wonderful Uniticky Pivovar .This is another place Snydley has not been to.
I visited here in May and said in my review that next time I visit I would bring friends.
Well I did and what a real treat this was.
We go a table right beside the lovely log fire and were quickly served with beer by the very efficient staff .I recognized Filip who looked after me on my first visit and gave him a small present of some Scottish tablet .We are given a little treat salted dried malted barley they use in the beer, it is brilliant, Snydley suggests they should use it in bread and before you can say Jack Robinson we have a plate of homemade bread with that very idea incorporated ………….. It is wonderful.
We had a superb meal there both Snydley and I having the pork in wild mushroom sauce served with potato soufflés .I reckon this meal was one of the best I have ever had in the Czech republic and that potato soufflé the best potato dish I have experienced, it was sensational, Mrs. S had Schnitzel which was also very good (I know cause I helped finish it).
We try both beers they produce on site and they are both absolutely top notch. We have a chat with the manager/owner (he spent seven years living and working in Ireland).tells us all the food is locally sourced as much as possible and you can really taste that. It has been a great lunch and I buy a couple of 1.5 liter bottles of beer to take home .I think this place was a bit of a hit with Mr S.
Here is my most recent review of the Micro brewery.
Back to the hotel for a break and then we head out early in the evening wandering through the stalls at the bottom of Wenseslas Square trying to avoid sampling all the great food on offer. We go to U Tri Ruzi for a few beers and an evening meal, yet again a new micro-brewery for the Snydleys
We have to go upstairs as downstairs is fully booked, but we get a nice table and enjoy the wonderful murals on the walls. I had a nice medium rare burger which was really good and drank their wheat beer, I think the waiter was quite surprised at us all ordering the wheat beer for many it is an acquired taste but one that I have acquired.
I can’t remember us drinking that much that evening I think I was quite satisfied with what I had that day.
You can see my review here. (tripadvisor.co.uk/…CHECK_RATES_CONT)
We paid the bill before heading out for an evening stroll through the warren of streets that is the Old Town before heading home for a good nights sleep; it’s been a long day.
Saturday 2nd November.
It is a bit wet this morning, nothing that will stop us getting out but a bit dull.
We have a wander through parts of the new town and into the old town before heading to the Speculum Alchemiae http://www.alchemiae.cz/en.
We are a bit early for the hourly tours so go to the nearby Bohemia bagel for coffee.
We do the tour of this wonderful little museum ,just the 3 of us, the guide is a young lady and is very informative answering all our questions, I thought it a wonderful little place and you can see my review here.
The tour over we have an appointment with a micro-brewery after all that is the main reason for being in the Czech Republic. We head to Hlavni and take the train to Beroun to visit the Berounsky Medved micro brewery. http://www.berounskymedved.com/
We decided on the slow commuter train, takes about 50 minutes (about 10 minutes slower than the fast train) it is a double-decker train that stops frequently and lets you see a good part of the countryside. This is an older review of the place but hopefully I will get a more recent one up soon.
The place is only a few hundred yards from the train station (that’s worth a visit for the communist era stained glass window)
It is in the middle of a scrap yard and they now have an area with cammo netting an artillery piece and a couple of tanks /armoured cars on display, weird and very wonderful.
The actual micro-brewery is really nice with fresh dried hops hanging on the rafters, the girl that served us at first had little English but went away a got a girl who spoke pretty good English and explained the menu to us ,she was quite charming with a wonderful infectious smile.
Funnily enough I had a very similar meal to yesterday, pork in mushroom sauce with chips, not a patch on the meal in Uniticky but still excellent. The beers I had were pretty good too even buying some to take home.
I think Snydley had the same as me and Mrs. S going for a chicken Schnitzel.
The prices are hard to beat and even paying the train tickets your meal will still be less than what you would pay in central Prague. Worth making the effort to get there, it is so very different from Prague and most enjoyable.
We take the slow train back to Prague and enjoy the scenery from the upper deck of the train.
It is Mr. and Mrs. Snydleys last night in Prague so I take them to another micro-brewery that has opened since their last visit.
Pivovar Marina Holesovice.(http://www.pivovarmarina.cz/) It’s a little bit awkward to get to and getting off at the wrong tram stop didn’t help , but we got there .It is a huge place with real friendly staff the manager looking after us and getting us to a table. The food was very good and the beer excellent .I have chicken breast stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and fried potatoes, we even had an accordion player entertaining us, he is lucky to survive the playing of the Beer Barrel Polka though .We have a lovely evening there before getting the tram back to the hotel.
You can see my review here.
Sunday 3rd November
Up early today as the Snydleys are leaving at 7.45 am. I have breakfast with them in the Hotel and say goodbye to them when the driver from Prague Airport shuttle arrives to pick them up .It has been far to short a time to spend together but each moment was wonderful, I am sorry to see my friends leave but have been delighted to have been able to spend some time with them.
We I am up so there is no point in sitting about the hotel, I make a visit to the nearby Stromovka park and take an early morning stroll, the place is very quiet with myself a couple of joggers and a few dog walkers around.
I walk to the exhibition grounds at Holesovice and take a tram into the city ,it is now raining a looks to stay that way for a while .I visit the Bus Station at Florenc ,I will be getting a bus from here on the morrow and as I have never used the bus station before I just wanted to check it out .I them make my way to the Viktoria Zizkov football ground to see the game there ,kick off is at 10.15 and I make it in plenty of time ,cost 100kc to get in including a programmed and I also treat myself to a Gambrinus beer at 30kc.I also treat myself to a Viktoria Zizkov football scarf. I really enjoyed the game with the Zizkov team winning 2-0.It is really nice sitting watching football with a beer in your hand ,something that we are just not allowed to do in Scotland.
After the game I retire to the Sklep bar http://www.restauracesklep.cz/index_EN.htm
Which is right across from the ground .I had arranged to meet TA member Sweatman in here and he is sitting there with his lovely wife as I arrive. We have a couple of beers and a bit of a chat. We head to the Budvarka bar near my hotel.
We have another beer, I am a bit hungry so have some pickled sausage and bread. Just a short stay here as I meeting someone else later .I say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Sweatman and head back to the hotel, they are a delightful couple.
I am met in my hotel by TA member PragueBohemian a very charming man and we head out for a few beers. U Urale was our first stop and they have Uniticky beer in here, it’s a nice locals pub, nothing fancy but I would be happy with it near me, we then visit a couple of other places all in the Dejvicka area but PB would have to remind me of the names the last pub was opposite the university and had quite a few students in. Mrs. PB and her niece joined us and we had a meal there ,quite a few dishes arrived and we shared things between us, can’t remember what was there but fish& chips and game sausage were 2 of the dishes. It was all very good and very cheap.
I am pretty sure the beer was Kozel but by this time I was beginning to waver. I say goodnight to my charming hosts and will be seeing them again on my last night in Prague. I walk the short distance back to my hotel and hit my bed with a large thud.
Monday 4th November.
Another early start, why do I do this to myself I am supposed to be on holiday? I have a bus to Karlovy Vary at 8.30 am ,so an early breakfast and I am in Florenc bus station just after 8.00am.I had booked the Student Agency bus online cost for the return journey was 10 Euros or £8.81 including transaction fees ,all in all a pretty cheap trip .The bus left on time and got us to Karlovy vary a little after 10.30.The buses are very good announcements in English and Czech ,tea& coffee available free ,beer for a small charge ,music and TV also available ,quite glad I had my kindle to read as the film being shown was Scooby Do .I quite enjoyed the scenery from the bus and perked up a fair bit as we passed the Krusovice Brewery ,I almost screamed out STOP!
I enjoyed my day out in Karlovy Vary despite the rain that started to fall as I arrived .The town is much smaller than I though it would be and very easy to walk around. I enjoyed the Colonnades and did partake of the waters buying myself a little cup in the shape of the Good Soldier Svejk (that was a real bonus for me) to do so, drinking the foul tasting water through the spout in the handle .I had a wander about and took the funicular up to the Diana tower .It really is nice up there and had the weather been better I would have quite happily spent an hour or so wandering the paths.
I did the tour of the Becherovka museum but thought it no more than ok; you can see my review here.
They don’t seem to do many English speaking tours but the German one I was on was quite funny in that only 2 folk out of 8 were German speaking there rest of us using notes in whatever language was required.
I did enjoy the tasting session and its worth the entrance fee for this.
Afterward I went into the in house micro- brewery for a beer and lunch you can see my review here.
Pivovar Karel IV. Just did not do it for me, not going to say I hated the place but it was just too fake for me, when you compare it to some of the other places I mention in this report it just does not match up. OK but not somewhere I will hurry back to .The food was pretty poor and the beer nothing special
I did enjoy a stroll around the town and enjoyed a little place where they made the famous Karlovy Vary wafers and yes I did go in and buy some .One thing I did like was that the place was not over crowded with souvenir shops and stalls, yes there were plenty but not in your face like other places.
I did fall about laughing as I strolled back to the bus watching all these folk taking the waters through their various cups ,the expressions on their faces being quite a picture ,the whole scene being quite surreal. I think I will come back in the better weather; I really quite liked Karlovy Vary.
The bus back was about 20 minutes late in picking us up (due at 4.00pm) and the journey back to Prague a lot slower than I had hoped, once we got near the airport we were stuck in traffic due to an accident and we arrived back in Prague nearly an hour later that we should have,
I was totally exhausted by now and just headed back to the hotel about 7.30pm. I decided I was not going out that night so bought a couple of bottles of beer and some snacks from the Albert shop next to the hotel and had an early night.
Tuesday 5th November
Had a lie in till after 8.00am I think I needed it. I was going to have a trip to Melnik today but have decided to keep that for another trip and spend my last two days in Prague itself. I have a leisurely breakfast and head out the hotel sometime after 9.00 my latest start of the week. I walk toward Lenta and wander through there stopping off at my favourite vantage pints including Havansky pavilion and down to the main city .I have a few things to check out for some friends who are visiting Prague over the New Year and spend an hour or so checking the location of their hotel and some nearby bars and restaurants, job done I have wander through the more famous sites of Prague. I take the morning at a slow pace doing nothing in particular, a bit of sightseeing and a bit of shopping buying a few presents to take home. I head out to Zizkov for lunch and to Slovanske Lipy (http://www.uslovanskelipy.cz/)
Which is right beside the entrance to the Karlin Tunnel? I can’t understand why I have not visited this place before as I have stayed nearby and even visited a pub 50 yards away.
It is a great place ,good choice of beer and the food is pretty decent, with some help from the waitress I order chicken Schnitzel with potato salad and have a few beers ,Urban Svetly lezak 500ml(5% alcohol) and Sherpa IPA 330ml(7.5%)
Both are very good but I think you would be a brave man to have more than one of the Sherpa IPA, total bill was only 173Kc a real bargain .Service was good and the waitress looking after me a real delight, and I will be back.
I walk through the Karlin tunnel and then take a metro back into town, have a wander over Charles Bridge and head to the Kafka Museum first passing the narrowest street in Prague and having fun watching idiots totally ignore the traffic lights.
The Kafka museum (www.kafkamuseum.cz/ShowPage.aspx?tabId=-1)
was somewhere I have been meaning to visit for a while ,it is pretty weird, the info is good ,what did spoil it a bit for me was a film crew were in there getting in the way and I did get a bit ratty with a camera guy getting in my way more than once.
I have read some Kafka but must make a point of reading some more.
I also make a visit to the Pilsner Urquell gallery mainly to look in the shop; I didn’t tour the place and didn’t buy anything in the shop as the prices were a bit on the expensive side.
Back to the Hotel for a break. I go out later I had tried to get into a place than did pizza and American food near the hotel but there were no tables available so I headed to the nearby Pub bar, it was pretty good, friendly staff and good tankova beer. I ordered beef cheeks with potatoes and spinach with a tank Gambrinus to wash it down. The food is good though there is far too much garlic in the spinach. Football is coming on the TV so I finish my meal watching Viktoria Plzen play Bayern Munich .I have a few more beer tanked Pilsner and some wheat bear called Fenix served with a big wedge of orange, the beers were all very good though you can keep the orange. Once the football is over I pay my bill and go back to the hotel.
Wednesday 6th November
My last full day. I walk down to the castle area always a joy before the mass hoards of tourists swarm the place and wander down the hill. I jump on the metro and visit a few of the areas there may be a Farmers market on the only one I find is a Jirihro Z Podebrad. It is a lot smaller than I have seen before but I treat myself to a couple of pastries and a coffee .I then spend and hour or so in the Army Museum .I have been before but I wanted to spend some more time there .I then head back into the main city and buy a few bits and pieces to take home. Lunch is on the hoof with a slice of pizza and a tredilnik. I take the metro out to Strasnicka and visit the first bar I ever had a beer in Prague U Slamu
Beer was fine but did not have that magic of the first ever taste of Pilsner Urquell, still fond memories.
Well enough of the old times and I go back to my hotel to freshen up for my last night In Prague.
I have been invited to dine at the home of Prague Bohemian and his delightful wife, joining us will be their niece.
I am picked up by PB and taken to his home which is not far from my hotel .The house is lovely, very typical Czech style with lovely wooden floors, they have mad their own unique mark on the property and I may pinch some of their ideas for my own place.
I help with making the dumplings for our meal whilst also partaking in several glasses of various Czech spirits and liquors; beer also seems to be flowing quite freely. Whilst the food is cooking we chat and munch on a homemade mix of humus and other things with some chip like things, its all delicious.
We sit down for our main dish of a homemade goulash with sauerkraut through it, I know it has a specific name but I can’t remember it. But the food is delicious and the dumpling superb, made by PB to his own special recipe, I am on pain of death if I reveal the secrets. A few glasses of wine go down and we retire to the main lounge to chat and listen to music, PB and I are of a similar age though I think I have a few years on him, our taste in music very similar and we chat the evening away/beer and Becherovka flow very freely and I have several for the road .Late in the evening I head back to the hotel, I was going to walk but Mrs. PB has not been drinking and drives me back. It has been a delightful evening in the presence of some lovely people and I certainly shall be seeing them again when I am next in Prague.
Thursday 7th November.
I am heading home on the 11.40 flight. It is 7.30am and I have a bit of a hangover .I can’t understand why we only drank half the available alcohol on the whole of the Czech Republic .A nice hot back a cup of tea and a glass of Resolve (hangover cure) perks me up and I go down for breakfast .I don’t have a great deal of time so finalise my packing ,check out of the hotel and walk over to get the 119 bus back to the Airport.
My bag is packed full with various Czech beers and food stuffs ,as I check in I am on my weight limit for my bag 21.9 Kg out of an allowance of 22kg.I am a happy man.
Once rid of my bag I head to the Billa supermarket and buy a few other foods stuff to put in my hand luggage including the secret ingredient for the excellent dumplings I had a Pub’s house the night before.
I have had a great holiday, met up with some wonderful friends and made several new ones. A great big thank you to all who help this holiday be planned and those that helped its execution .a big thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Snydley for their wonderful company, to MR& Mrs.Sweatman for the short time I spent with them and to Mr& Mrs PragueBohemian for their amazing hospitality. Thank you one and all.