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Magical Prague

ImageI am writing this post from a restaurant near the old town square in Prague called the Red Peacock. Tucked away down a quiet backstreet near the chocolate museum it is a real little find, with dark oak furniture, low lighting and a genuine olde worlde ambience. Upon reading the menu I have discovered that the building was originally a sumptuous town house brothel, where wealthy military men (and even the famous composer Gustav Mahler) would come for female company.

For me this story sums up the magic of Prague – not the brothel part, so much (though I do find that fascinating), more because it’s steeped in history at every one of its charming twists and turns. Having been here for three days I feel I’m only just beginning to get under the skin of this mesmerising place, and I’m sad I have to board a plane home in a few short hours. But, in my few remaining moments I will endeavour to impart some of the things I’ve done in my short time here, should anyone feel inclined to retrace my steps in the future.

Whilst there is no shortage of places to stay in Prague, if you’re after something extra special you need look no further than the Mamaison Pachtuv Palace, a five star hotel only metres away from the famous Charles Bridge. Offering extremely reasonable rates for a five star hotel, the staff do all they can to accommodate guests – in our case providing a free upgrade from a deluxe double room to a stunning suite, complete with four poster bed and stunning view over the river.

On our first evening in Prague we had booked a table at the Mlynec restaurant by the bridge, a stone’s throw from our hotel. Being a top end restaurant this wasn’t cheap, but it did offer delicious food, a lovely view over the river and good service. By the time we had finished our dinner and had a cocktail we were ready to roll ourselves home to our palatial bed for a good night’s sleep.

The following morning we awoke to a white wonderland, and walked over Charles Bridge as snow fell all around us – truly magical. After meandering around the streets we settled in an underground tavern restaurant to sample our first taste of traditional Czech food – meat goulash and dumplings. Feeling fortified, we fought our way through the throngs of tourists (the only downside to this beautiful place – though who can blame them for coming here?) and made our way up the many steps towards Prague Castle – stopping to throw a few obligatory snow balls along the way – where we walked around the cathedral and surrounding buildings.

On our way back to the main town we were fortunate to spot a sign saying ‘coffee and cakes – this way.’ Our curiosity piqued, we followed the signs into an old building and up the winding marble staircase. At last, we found a door that opened into a charming high ceilinged drawing room-style restaurant.  The smartly dressed waiter led us to an elegant table and chairs, upholstered in a similar shade of crimson to the rest of the room. Moments later he appeared with two cups of fresh coffee and two portions of the most delicious apple strudel we’d ever tasted. He also told us a bit about the building we were in which, it transpired, was part of the Palffy Palace – now partly used as a music school.

That evening we went to the Ice Pub – a gimmicky experience, admittedly, but nonetheless an entertaining one. On arrival you are given silver jackets and gloves before entering the ice bar and receiving a cocktail in a glass made of ice. You can then drink your cocktail in the chilly surroundings, seated on a reindeer skin atop a ledge of ice, before exiting twenty minutes later. After the ice pub we found a restaurant with a micro-brewery for some more traditional Czech fare before ending our evening in a classy cocktail bar we stumbled across on the way home.

No visit to Prague is complete without a visit to Vytopna restaurant. Located near to the Muzeum Metro station, this unique establishment has a model railway whose trains weave their way around the restaurant, delivering drinks to all of the customers. As gimmicky as the Ice Pub, perhaps, but nonetheless impressive!

Other highlights of my weekend in Prague included sampling the local beer – blueberry beer being my favourite – and eating giant pretzels whilst watching the local sport, ice hockey, on TV screens in various bars across the city. I also enjoyed perusing the beautiful array of art and glass sculptures in the many shops along the main tourist routes to and from Charles Bridge.

There’s so much more to do and see here, but I suppose they will have to be left for next time. For now, though, what better way to end my trip than by tucking into a plate of pancakes in an ex-brothel?

About Belle365

Hi, I’m Belle. Thanks for stopping by. Here's a list of ten things about me: 1. I want to write, but rarely do it. This tortures me daily, and, unless I seek to remedy it by writing more often, will continue to torture me until my dying day. 2. I worry: about hate, about greed, about selfishness, about the state of the world my (God willing) children will inherit. I worry about what people think of me. I worry that this makes me shallow. I worry about things happening to my loved ones. I worry how I would cope. I worry that this makes me selfish. I worry that worrying will send me to an early grave. But I'm so good at worrying that I also wonder what I would do if I wasn't worrying. Probably more writing (see point 1)....Oh. 3. I see myself as two people (though, as far as I am aware, I am not technically schizophrenic): a) the fancy dress loving party girl, who loves nothing more than having fun with her friends, because she has seen through her own experiences that life is short, so why not enjoy the ride? b) the more serious and reflective person who wants to learn and to help people and to find her higher purpose (I suspect it is also she who really, really wants to write). Sometimes these sides are conflicting. Fortunately they are in total agreement when it comes to chocolate, red wine and travel. 4. I don't see myself as an ardent feminist, but the older I get the more frustrated I feel by the societal view of women and ageing. Having just hit the metabolically displeasing age of 35 (now officially past it according to the massive wankflap that is Donald Trump, as well as virtually every media outlet on the planet, whether they overtly state it or not) I hate the fact I am made (and have let myself be manipulated) to feel that my fertility is now teetering on the edge of a clifftop free fall, and that even if I do negotiate this rocky march towards infertility and manage a miracle procreation, my usefulness as a financially solvent career woman will be over, seeing as having a baby in your mid to late thirties is pretty much akin to career suicide. It's enough to make you want to drown yourself in a vat of wine (hence why I often don a wig and do just that - see point 3a). 5. The older I get, the more I realise that you are never too old to love drum and bass (whether you are ever too old to publicly dance to drum and bass is an issue I am currently grappling with). Ditto UK garage. I will never be ashamed of these two great loves. Never. 6. Speaking of great loves, I have two: my husband, who (sickening as it is) completes me, and Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I have loved since I first laid eyes on him as Romeo to Kate Winslet's Juliet, and will love until my dying day (likewise the husband, all being well). As much as I like Kate Winslet, I will never forgive her for leaving him on that door. There was definitely room for two. 7. I am riddled with self doubt, and have a serious case of imposter syndrome, particularly in relation to my fourteen year communications career. I have never understood how anyone could deem me capable of running their campaigns. The lack of complaints would suggest I haven't made a total balls up of it so far. But there's still time. 8. Infinity and death frighten me senseless. I can't even talk about the universe without breaking into a sweat. I need to believe in life after death because death CANNOT be the end. I should probably have some (more) counselling to address these issues. 9. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would win Gold, Silver and Bronze (to give an example, I sat down an hour ago to work on my new novel, and instead have been updating this bio. I refer you to point 1. Sigh). 10. I make more lists than Buzzfeed. When I die, besides having Oasis's Champagne Supernova played at my funeral (deep breaths - see point 8), I should probably have a To Do list inscribed on my headstone for when I reach the other side...
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