Category Archives: Travel Stories

Lunch at the Cafe de Paris, Prague

2014 05 27 09 prague cafe du paris

Cafe de Paris is beautiful. It’s like stepping serenely back in time; the light is gentle and everything looks like a memory.

When we were in Prague a couple of years ago we stumbled across this place, and I knew that if I got the chance to go back, I would. I just love everything about it. The food is good, the service is excellent, and the 1920’s decor is really magical.

2014 05 27 23 prague cafe du paris

The food is simple, and the atmosphere is wonderfully relaxed whilst remaining sleek and stylish. The balance of wood against the light mint and dark black leather seats, the stone floors and tables, the detailed brass light fittings – it’s all just incredible and perfect to me.

I would have been happy to just sit here in awe, but I decided to have a sandwich too.

2014 05 27 10 prague cafe du paris

2014 05 27 11 prague cafe du paris

Whole bread triangle with braised Prague ham, pickled gherkin and seasonal greens. I do love good bread and gherkins. Adam had a BLT sandwich with fried bacon and french fries.

2014 05 27 15 prague cafe du paris

2014 05 27 17 prague cafe du paris

For pudding Adam had Paris Cake. Cafe de Paris are very proud of their original recipe from 1904 and I am not surprised. This was a beautiful slice of creamy chocolate mousse, on a chocolate cake base, covered in delicious white marzipan. Yummy yum. The artist Alfonse Mucha used to enjoy this cake back in the day, apparently. Good choice, Alfonse.

2014 05 27 20 prague cafe du paris

2014 05 27 21 prague cafe du paris
I couldn’t resist the Quark cheese dumplings with apricot filling, glazed with melted butter and powdered sugar. I love Pierogi (Polish dumplings) so I had to have a go on some Czech ones. They were as good as I had expected. Probably an acquired taste (You like weighty food? You’ll like these!) and a plateful is far more than one tubby English girl can manage, but was it really worth trying!

2014 05 27 22 prague cafe du paris
If you find yourself in Prague I strongly advise you to make your way to Cafe de Paris, you won’t be disappointed, it’s just lovely.

A Sunny Monday in Prague

2014 05 25 36 prague cactus window

After a great nights sleep in the super comfy bed, I woke up and phoned P&O to see if we’d be able to get a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull with Rob and Si. Unfortunately it was full. I would have really liked to continue our journey with them (whether they liked it or not!) but it wasn’t going to be possible. Adam booked some flights for Tuesday evening, and we carried on about our business.

2014 05 25 34 prague daewoo boxer

2014 05 26 34 prague

2014 05 26 01 prague

We went with Grimmer and Al for lunch at Vinarna Kamenny Stul in the Old Town Square. We people watched and ate pork products. I had Baked ham, red cabbage and Carlsbad dumplings. Look at that strangely trimmed ham! Adam had Pork knee with mustard, horseraddish and gherkin. Al opted for the Pork Schnitzel with boiled potatoes, and Grimmer had a ham and cheese sandwich.

2014 05 26 22 prague lunch

2014 05 26 16 prague lunch

We wandered the streets and took in the sights. I was pleased to remember where some of the interesting buildings were, from our previous visit to Prague, and happy to talk to Al about all the pretty bits of architecture.

2014 05 26 12 prague

2014 05 26 44 prague

2014 05 26 38 prague

2014 05 26 35 prague

2014 05 26 24 prague

2014 05 26 28 prague

2014 05 26 27 prague

By chance we met up with Rob and Si, who’d found a quite little bar and were watching the world go by. Rob ran up to me in the street, grabbed me and said, ‘Give me your money!’ I laughed. I think we’ve got it sussed – in the face of danger I laugh manically!

2014 05 26 33 prague

2014 05 26 10 prague

Adam had started to get a cold (which I have, now we are home) and was feeling really ropey, so we popped to Albert Supermarket for cough and cold remedies before heading back to our hotel for dinner. Novotel Prague had kindly invited us to dine with them this evening, so it was good to be able to relax in the hotel restaurant.

2014 05 26 40 prague albert supermarket

2014 05 26 41 prague albert supermarket

2014 05 26 42 prague albert supermarket

We spent an hour or so, sat on the balcony enjoying the early evening sunshine, listening to the gentle hubbub below,  before I tucked Adam in to bed and headed out on the town with Rob, Si, Grimmer and Al.

2014 05 26 39 prague

2014 05 26 07 prague
We couldn’t fault the Novotel Prague.Our room was lovely, spacious, clean and modern. The staff were super friendly and we had free use of the internet on the Mac’s in reception (I can’t use a PC these days!) so we could book flights, print off details and find a scrapyard (Schottplatz!) for Grimmer and Al who’d broken, and abandoned, their Ford Puma in Stuttgart!

2014 05 26 05 prague

Czecheap Challenge – Innsbruck to Prague (Day 4)

2014 05 25 40 czecheap challenge medal

Our first stop of the day was a tiny village called Fucking. Yes, that’s right! I felt quite sorry for the inhabitants of the beautiful, remote village. When we got there a chap came out and said, ‘No problems!’ and then took photos of everyone’s number plates. I watched from the back-seat of the Saab. I can totally understand why the villagers would be annoyed at their idyllic peacefulness being disturbed by visiting tourists. I think, if I lived there, I’d set up a stall and sell Fucking t-shirts, and Fucking mugs, to the Fucking visitors. Then I’d move house.

2014 05 25 03 walchsee toboggan

2014 05 25 17 walchsee toboggan

Next stop – the Walchsee Summer Toboggan Run at Durchholzen. We hoped in a chair lift and made our way up to the toboggan station. The views of the Kaiser mountain range were amazing, the views of the tiny cars in the car park were pretty spectacular too! The toboggans looked like folding suitcases to me, I wasn’t sure how they worked. I put mine on top of the metal slide and sat down. ‘I’m not sure how this works!’ I said, as I rolled backwards off the slide and landed on my back, arms and legs waving in the air like an upturned tortoise! The shame. Off we went, down the big shiny slide, and it was wonderful.    So we had another go. Half way down on the second run I caught up with Al, who’d waited for me, having seen me roll off the back on the previous run, ‘Oh! There you are!’ he said, thumbs up, and then carried on. I laughed, a lot, and I kept laughing all the way down. Ha ha ha, like a nutter – you see!

2014 05 25 09 walchsee toboggan

2014 05 25 08 walchsee toboggan

On we went, into the Czech Republic. The roads and buildings changed almost immediately. Ashleigh got shouted at by an angry German man and his wife at the petrol station. It was hard to tell what was going on.

2014 05 26 53 novotel prague view

We finally made it to Prague, and Rob and Si dropped us off at our hotel, Novotel Prague. The room was superb, spacious, very clean, and well furnished, with a good sized balcony overlooking the street, with views to the left of the hills around Prague Castle.

2014 05 25 19 novotel prague

2014 05 25 22 novotel prague

2014 05 25 20 novotel prague

The bathroom was well equipped with bath robe, slippers, plenty of towels, shoe shine kit, shower cap, nail file, cotton buds and cotton wool pads, 2 soaps, exfoliant scrub, body milk, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. The mini bar was well stocked, and there was even a Krupps machine. Unlike the Hilton, the big bottle of water was a gift, and it came with two tasty little ‘Pernik’ gingerbread biscuits. Thank you!

2014 05 25 29 novotel prague

2014 05 25 32 novotel prague

We were only a 5 minute walk from Wenceslas Square, where we met up with all the other Czecheap Challengers at the Beer Factory. This was an interesting place, with beer taps in the centre of each table. The bar men did a fire show, I missed this, but Adam was trying to buy a drink at the time, so he saw it all. At one point he thought the mans mouth was on fire. He thinks they used petrol!

2014 05 25 39 prague beer factory burger

We voted for our favourite teams (Rob and Si, of course!), ate our burgers (good chips!), watched the prize giving and got our special medals (top image).

Then there was a weird bit that I have tried to erase from my memory, but it just won’t go. I’m sharing it with you in the hope that it helps me. Sorry. There was a pole, for pole dancing. A couple of the guys started taking it in turns on the pole, I said to Freya, ‘I think they’ve been practicing!’ She said that she thought they’d been doing more watching than practicing. One chap stripped down to his pants, and then his friend, in what must have been an attempt at one-upmanship, took off all his clothes and leapt onto the pole like a white-washed monkey! I wasn’t sick, but it was a close call. I decided the pole should be melted down and buried, or that the ‘albino chimp’ should have to eat it, so that it was stored within him and protected the rest of the population. Bless him!

We had a bit of a wander around with some of the other guys, who turned down the ‘promoters’ offers of the chance to visit ‘titty bars’ or watch some ‘dwarf action’ (What?!), but then, to my absolute surprise managed to steal a disabled guy from a taxi and ride him and his wheel chair up the hill!

It’s okay. Turns out they knew him, kind of. And he didn’t mind, apparently.

Czecheap Challenge – Frankfurt to Innsbruck (Day 3)

2014 05 23 54 polo mileage clock

In the morning Colin and Ashleigh came over and confirmed that the drive shaft was shafted. Adam called a local Schrottplatz and within a couple of hours a lovely German man had arrived to take the car away. He was a bit (a lot) surprised when Adam brought the car up from the underground carpark, airhorns blazing, but he was very polite, saying ‘Good!’ and ‘Special!’ about it.

2014 05 24 02 the polo

2014 05 24 13 the polo

I was very sad to see the car go. We were incredibly lucky not to be stranded in Frankfurt. Although everyone else had left the city at around 9am, Rob, Si, Colin and Ashleigh all waited with us until the Polo was gone. At about 11am we hopped in Rob and Si’s Saab with them and headed off to Wank (pronounced Vaank!)

2014 05 24 18 saab window

When you are hitching a ride with two boys, you don’t get a say on what comedy named towns you stop off at!

2014 05 24 19 colin and ashleigh

The roads and scenery of Austria were fabulous, stunning and fabulous. We were in a bit of a rush because we needed to get to OlympiaWorld at Innsbruck, to meet up with other banger ralliers and have a go on the Bobsleigh… the BOBSLEIGH! Whaaaa hooooooo! The altitude was high, the air was thin, and I was giddy!

2014 05 24 23 bobsleigh

2014 05 24 25 bobsleigh

2014 05 24 24 bobsleigh

We all got in the back of a truck and tried to stand up straight without falling over, whilst we were driven up the hill at speed. It was like some kind of strange people-trafficking. At the top, right at the top (of the world!) there wasn’t much time for me to chicken-out before we were squished into a bobsleigh and launched down the run, the same run used in the 1976 Olympics! We were told to keep our backs and neck straight, but after about 3 seconds I turned into a floppy thing and spent the following minute smacking my head from side to side as we took 14 turns and reached 100km/hr! My running commentary went pretty much like this – ‘Jesus!‘ ‘Sorry!‘, mixed with some manic laughing.

10336639_10152545226998313_7813916842425238854_n

It was absolutely bloomin’ amazing! We were soooooo lucky we got to do this. And we survived! This is Simon’s photo (above) he also found this cool footage on youtube  of the 2013/14 World Cup held here.

Rob and Si dropped us off at our hotel. It was weird being chauffeur driven to the doors of the Hilton in a £350 banger, but I liked it!

IMG_8505

Our room was on the 7th floor and gave us a stunning view across Innsbruck. What a beautiful place. (We definitely plan on going back there.) Although we definitely booked a double, we ended up with a twin room. We weren’t bothered, in fact, we were really pleased to have a mega bed each! I didn’t like they leave a bottle of water on the table, but want to charge you for it, or how they have all the mini bar snack items on a display shelf under the TV to tempt people all the time they are in the room. I brought my own Kitkat – In your face, Hilton!

2014 05 24 30 hilton room innsbruck

We met up with our ever growing gang of banger buddies and went to The Orangerie for big meat dinners before heading back to the Hilton bar for  a few hours, before a fairly early night (1.30am). I went to sleep feeling happy to have such lovely friends.

Czecheap Challenge – Zebrugge to Frankfurt (Day 2)

2014 05 23 37 polo logo

We dismounted the ferry (what is the term? That’s not the term!) and drove to a car park on the outskirts of Brugge to meet up with more banger ralliers. There were many amusing cars, one of them had a bubble machine which was great for cleaning my shoes.

2014 05 23 08 the polo

2014 05 23 18 the polo stereo

2014 05 23 38 polo extra dials

IMG_8463

Because the ferry had been delayed it meant we had less time for sight-seeing and we just needed to crack on with the driving, we also needed to visit the Nurburgring on our way to Frankfurt.

2014 05 23 16 the polo

2014 05 23 27 polo

IMG_8464

We were just 300 miles into our 1200 mile journey when the clunking started coming and going. Then it stayed. Nurburgring was pretty cool, but there was absolutely no chance we were going to take the Polo round there, it wasn’t safe for anyone!

2014 05 23 40 bbq view

We found a quiet, picturesque spot and stopped to barbecue a sausage rainbow.

2014 05 23 44 bbq sausage rainbow

2014 05 23 42 bbq view

By the time we reached Frankfurt our car sounded properly broken. Something was wrong with the drive-shaft at the gear box end. It wasn’t going to be fixable. It sounded like it wanted to break free and smash us in the face. It was angry. We were gutted. We checked in to the Star Inn Hotel before heading off to O’Reilly’s Irish Bar to meet up with the other ralliers.

IMG_8493

We felt pretty sure that our journey had come to an end. The car was broken and we needed to dispose of it. Everyone would be heading off first thing in the morning, and we had a rusty Polo to dispose of. It made our hearts sink. Then our wonderful friends came to our rescue. Rob and Si offered to take us on if I sang along to Oasis and didn’t mind travelling in the boot. It didn’t sound too bad!

2014 05 23 11 the saab

We had a good evening in the Irish Bar, despite the horrendous Karaoke. Colin, who is a proper mechanic (and Ashleigh), offered to come over first thing in the morning and take a look at the car, just in case it could be fixed, and we went back to our hotel feeling happy and relieved.

Simon decided he was going to prank call our room, and it was very, VERY funny! My German is very limited, but it seems that Si’s is non existent, so I was at an advantage.

‘Guten abend,’ I said. ‘Room 316 please,’  he replied. ‘Nein!’ I said. ‘I’ve got to press nine?’ he asked. ‘Nein!’ I repeated. ‘Okay, sorry!’ he said, before putting the phone down.

Then the phone rang again.

‘Guten abend,’ I said. ‘Room 316 please,’ he replied. ‘Nein!’ I said. ‘I’ve got to press nine?’ he asked. ‘Nein! Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’ I said. ‘No. Angleterre!’ he replied. ‘Deutsch! Deutsch!’ I said. ‘I’m really sorry!’ he said, before putting the phone down. Apparently this was the bit where Rob told him ‘Nein’ meant ‘No’ in German.

Ha ha! I’ve never been any good at accents, or tricking people. Thanks Simon!

2014 05 23 58 star inn frankfurt view

I can highly recommend the Star Inn at Frankfurt for absolutely amazing value and superb service. The surrounding area is a bit rundown, but it’s very close to the train station, and I didn’t notice anything that really bothered me. The reception staff were incredibly helpful and kind, the room was big and clean, everything was calm and lovely, and it only cost us €47!