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all about the Czech Republic

the prague experience

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Holiday Inn Express Bristol North

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Prague weather

Web cam

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Saturday 25 November 2006

By the time Paul came home from work at about 6:00pm, we were all packed up and ready to leave the bathroom mess and head on up to Bristol. I don't like Bristol - the only good thing about it is our nearest Ikea and that would be shut!! We stopped off at Cullompton services for a big mac, where there were a bunch of mouthy innebriated Leeds fans on their way home from the match at Plymouth (which, fortunately, they had won) - and then we continued on to the M4, where we had to turn off for the Holiday Inn Express (Bristol North). Needless to say, we got a bit lost and panic was setting in because we were in danger of missing the 'who's going' part of Strictly Come Dancing! Anyway, we just made it (Claire and Brendon got knocked out) and settled down into our very small room and did very little. Paul's bed was bigger than ours!!

Sunday 26 November 2006

I slept for approximately 1.5 hours and then spent the rest of the night wondering how on earth I was going to manage the day ahead with such little sleep! The alarm went off at 6:30am.

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Needless to say, I was moaning a lot about my lack of sleep and the disorientation continued throughout the day .... We were worried about being able to find the airport, so I'd printed out map directions from the AA, RAC and MapQuest - however, there were plenty of signs towards the airport and, as it was (early) Sunday morning, there was little traffic and we were driving into Bristol Airport at around 7:30! I'd booked us into the NCP Long Stay carpark, which was located just inside the airport entrance and we (eventually) found a place to park, in F Zone. There was, supposedly, a bus running every 20 minutes, but as it was cold and the terminal entrance obviously not very far off, we decided to walk it!

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We checked in at the EasyJet desk, getting rid of our bags and then went through security and departures. Terry and Paul both beeped going through the X-ray thingie, so had to be frisked (it was their belt buckles)! Next, we had coffee in Starbucks (which did wake me up a bit), before going up to the bar, where we were allowed to smoke! I was quite taken with the airport concourse- nice and small!

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Our plane (a small Sirbus), was sitting out on the tarmac and it wasn't long before we were lining up at the boarding gate, climbing onto the bus, scuttling up the steps and scrambling for seats! We had seats near the front of the plane, which were rather comfortable - certainly there was more legroom than on BA jumbos!

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We flew over the Severn Estuary and then along the coastline of southern England, before crossing the Channel and flying across Belgium and Germany. There was a bit of turbulence, but nothing too bad and it was a very enjoyable (and mercifully quick!) flight.

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After only 1 hour 40 minutes, we were landing at Prague airport. The weather forecast pages had been awfully wrong, as there wasn't a trace of sunshine, nor was there to be throughout our stay!

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There was the usual long hike to the baggage pick-up, passing millions of duty-free shops and garnet sellers. (We bought ciggies for 3rd price we'd pay at home - no wonder all Czechs appear to smoke!) Finally, we picked our bags off the carousel and found the young man who would take us to our apartment. (Hub called him Peter the Great for some reason).

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We were in a kind of small bus and we trundled past blocks of flats and greyness. It was all very 'Eastern European', though I guess it would've been a lot cheerier had it been sunny! For some reason or another, Peter the Great dropped us off at the Hotel Residenze Lundborg, down by Charles Bridge. Fortunately, I realised it wasn't quite right and we set off for Residence Langhans! In retrospect, the Hotel Residenze Lundborg might well've been a better choice (had I seen it!), it was most beautifully situated. Eventually, however, we arrived at our apartment and went to check in. The man at the desk did not speak English and he phoned the owner of the apartment who welcomed us!! Up to the apartment, by lift (floor 4) and opened the heavy metal door. Apartment A3 was ideal for us (although not quite as good as it looked on the website). A tangle of wooden-floored rooms, all with a mass of windows! There was a sitting room with 2 beds, and with dining area and kitchen around the corner. There were then two further bedrooms - one with a double bed and one with two singles - a bathroom and a toilet (where the door stuck and the flush dripped). From the single bedroom, there was a door to a terrace - way up in the sky!!

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We settled ourselves in and then went out. Vodickova Street was indeed just around the corner from Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti), where we immediately saw a sign for Alberts supermarket! It was through Debenhams and down an escalator! Of course, we spent some time looking around at the Czech goodies and bought chocolate bars, beer, wine, bread and cheeses!

(I am sick with flu at the moment, so don't feel like writing this all up right now - however, I can put the photos in, if nothing else!)

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Monday 27 November

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Buffalo Bill's Restaurant
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Tuesday 28 November

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Wednesday 29 November

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We have never been to Eastern Europe, so we thought it was about time that we took advantage of the cheap airlines! Prague is renowned as a beautiful city, albeit, nowadays, slightly spoilt by packs of Brits flying over for stag weekends, Czech beer and sex clubs! We planned it so that we will be there for the Christmas markets, although the temperature is liable to be very low, so we must wrap up warm and pack our thermals!

Day 1

This will be an extremely short day, as hub is working in the morning and Paul is working all day, so we will not be able to drive up to Bristol until the evening! Once in Bristol, we're booked into the Holiday Inn Express (Bristol North) for the night.

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Day 2

Flight 6127 takes off at 10:10am from Bristol Airport, so we will need to get up early, because the seats on the flight are not pre-bookable, so it'll be a first come, first served scramble! It's about 10 miles from the Holiday Inn Express to the airport, and we are booked into the NCP long stay carpark (which, allegedly, is on the right as you enter the airport, but we're bound to get lost!). I notice, from one of the airport maps, that there is a WH Smith's and a Subway on the concourse, but no Starbucks 'before departure', although there is one 'after departure', in the departure lounge. So how do we get to that? We're flying with EasyJet (eek!), and goodness knows where their check-in desk is, but no doubt we'll find it.

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Apparently, you can shop in your seat :/ The flight is 2 hours 10 minutes, and, as the Czech Republic is one hour ahead of us, we should arrive at Prague Airport at 13:50.

We have arranged to be picked up by Mr Janecek, who will be waiting for us at the Main Hall of the airport, "with a signboard with our name". I hope to goodness that he can speak at least a little English, because, although we've bought a phrase book, we have no hope of being able to pronounce any of it!

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Mr Janecek will then take us to our apartment, on Vodickova Street - Residence Langhans. Our apartment is A3, with 2 bedrooms and a terrace (which I haven't seen a picture of).

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And then there is another bedroom and a bathroom on top of this. Should be OK (as long as the heating's good! Strangely, none of the apartments in Prague appear to have microwaves! Anyway, Vodickova Street is just around the corner from Wenceslas Square (or, as we say in Czech, Vaclavske namesti), so at least there will be a handy McDonalds!

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There is also Buffalo Bill's Restaurant (Tex-Mex Bar and Grille Praha) down Vodickova itself - so we certainly shouldn't go too hungry!

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Day 3

If we want, we can take breakfast at Restaurant Jarmark, just opposite the apartment block, for 99CZK (2.34), consisting of:

Warm breakfast - ham and eggs, fried eggs, roasted sausages, roasted bacon, egg omelets, hot dogs, soup.
Cold breakfast - cold plate with selection of ham, salami and cheese, boiled eggs, fresh vegetable salads, fruits and fruit salad, corn flakes, yoghurts, honey, jam, butter, mustard.
Bread, rolls and pastry - dark and white bread and rolls, donuts, home made pies.
Drinks - coffee, tea, milk, fresh juice.

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The cakes look good - but it depends on what time we get up!

Then the day is free! There is so much to see in Prague. I guess we should, perhaps, 'do' the Old Town (Stare Mesto) and the Astronomical Clock, as well as looking around the Old Town Square itself.

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The Christmas Markets will be open and these are at the Old Town Square and on Wenceslas Square, so we can do a lot of shopping for puppets and maybe enjoy a plate of carp!!

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THE delicacy of Prague is Pork, Dumplings and Sauercraut!! The best can be found at Branicky Sklipek on Vodickova - followed by, Ceska hospoda V Krakovske and Jihoceska restaurace u Sumavy. Hmm.

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We should have time to stroll across Charles Bridge today too - as well as check out a couple of the recommended book stores, such as The Globe Bookstore and Anagram. This evening, I have thought to book a river dinner cruise. I haven't done it yet - but I most probably will!

River Cruise Buffet Menu

Price includes: 3 hour river cruise, welcome drink, hot & cold buffet dinner + live music.
Welcome drink (traditional Czech Becherovka or Slivovice)
Salad Cart
Soup of the Day
Roast chicken, fish, Czech sausages, goulash, dumplings, rice, chips and a selection of fresh vegetables
Choice of Desserts
Cheese Platter
Selection of Fresh Fruit

Just hope we don't freeze to death!

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Day 4

Today we should go over to the Castle (Prazsky hrad) - probably we'll take the bus or a taxi, or we might walk through the Jewish Quarter (Josefov), taking in the Jewish Cemetery and then crossing the river to Mala Strana and walking up the hill. Golden Lane sounds interesting (for shopping!).

We might then have time for some more Christmas shopping (either in the Old Square or Wenceslas Square) - before getting ready for the ballet!!!

We have tickets for Prokofiev's Cinderella at the Prague State Opera House! Kick off is at 19:00. And we get to sit in one of those boxes!! Having just looked up the Prague State Opera House's website though - I see that there IS NO CINDERELLA on that night - but a MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM!!! I've sent an URGENT email to the ticket sellers ...... I mean, this'll be fine, as long as our tickets are still valid! I even bought a CD of the Cinderella music, for goodness sake! Not to mention the posh new top and trousers!)

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Day 5

Our flight back to London (6128) takes off from Prague at 14:20. I guess we will have to have Mr Janacek take us back to the airport! When we land at Bristol (15:30), we will just need to pick up our car and then drive home!

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Frances J Foot 24/10/2006 19:02:55