weekend was my birthday, not just any birthday, but the big 5-0. And Emma had told me that because it was a
big birthday she was planning to take me away for the weekend, but wouldn’t
tell me where.
and early on Friday morning, we were up, having packed the day before for
somewhere cold, and loaded the cases into the car. Emma had told me the weekend before that
where we were going had been -11°, so I was suspecting Scandinavia, not helped
by the kids all hinting that it may be Norway.
Also, the fact that Emma had bought travel money and I knew that it wasn’t
Euros also led to me thinking that it was going to be Norway/Sweden/Finland.
I was very wrong. Once we were in the
car and on our way to Gatwick,
Emma let me see photos that she had downloaded (don’t worry, we were stationary
and parked at the time) of where we were going.
And whilst I vaguely recognised the location, I still had no clue, so
Emma had to put me out of my misery.
ladies and gents, I have just returned from a fabulous birthday weekend in Prague in the Czech Republic. I was gobsmacked!
we had arrived at Gatwick, checked in and had lunch, we made our way to the
gate and boarded our SmartWings
flight to Václav
Havel Airport, taking off only thirty minutes late.
We landed in a very snowy and cold
Prague at 1830, and with the luggage already on the belt by the time we got to
baggage reclaim, we were out, met by our transfer driver and heading to the
hotel, arriving at about 1930.
Having checked in and unpacked, we then
decided to have a bit of a wander and find somewhere to eat. However, I was certainly glad that I’d packed
both scarf and gloves as the temperature was -6°! We had a wander around and then made our way
up toward the very historic Wenceslas Square. There was snow, it was crisp and even. Thankfully, it wasn’t deep! We also had to have the inevitable photograph
with at the Wenceslas
It's just a pity that the National Museum was obviously having some building work done and was surrounded by hoardings, hiding the magnificent architecture from view.
took a gentle stroll back to the hotel and on the way decided to have dinner at
a restaurant called Como. However, despite the temperature being -6°,
Emma had been speaking to people about the restaurants and bars supplying
blankets and having heaters, so rather than go inside, we ate on the terrace,
Emma making use of the blanket whereas I stuck with the mulled wine to keep me
good night's sleep we were up bright and early and, after a good
breakfast, stepped out into the -9° city and made our way to the Old Town
Square, located in which is the Old Town Hall. This building had been almost completely
destroyed in May 1945 during the Prague uprising when
the population of the Czech capital rose up against the German occupiers at the
end of the Second World War. It has
since rebuilt, including the Astronomical
Clock, the world’s oldest, having first been installed in 1410.
made our way to the top of the tower and taken some fabulous pictures of the
whole of Prague from the top, we then started making our way towards the Charles Bridge. But there was one slight detour, as we made
our way to Tiffany’s,
so Emma now has pictures of her stood outside Tiffany’s in Paris, London, Rome
We then made our way along the very icy and snowy path next to the Vltava River and, after a
coffee to warm ourselves up, made our way across the Charles Bridge and to the
top of the Lesser Town Bridge Tower, where we took some more pictures. And as if proof were needed about the crazy Brits, we also saw a group of English lads, clearly on a stag do, also making their way across the bridge, but wearing far less than we were in the freezing temperatures.
We then went on a
little bit of a trek as I had seen lots of people wearing Ushankas and although there
were lots of cheap and nasty ones for sale in the numerous souvenir shops, I
wanted to try and find an authentic one.
Having googled where to find one, I saw that there was a shop in the Andĕl
area of Prague. However, having walked
all the way there we couldn’t find the shop, so gave up and had lunch
instead. It was only as we were walking
back to the New Town
that we found the shop, an army surplus store, and it was closed, so I never
did get my hat.
Once we got back to
the hotel, we chilled for a while and then got a taxi to U Emy Destinnové, the restaurant that
Emma had booked for my birthday dinner. And what a birthday dinner it was! Fois Gras, followed by Filet Mignon (made with
bison as they did not have beef fillet), a delicious dessert, complete with
candle, all washed down with some nice red wine and topped off with an Irish
portions had seemed quite small and we had concerned that we may leave hungry,
but were proved wrong and left the restaurant to get the taxi feeling very
full. Then it was back to the hotel for
a nightcap before bed.
in the day, I’d googled local Czech spirits and the result that I got was for
one called Becherovka. So once back at the hotel I asked if they had
any and was pleased that they had. Strong
but nice, although Emma wasn’t keen.
following day was my actual birthday and I was awake bright and early. Emma had arranged for a champagne breakfast
to be delivered to the room, and sure enough it arrived. However, the way in which we knew it had
arrived was not the gentle tapping on the door, but the loud crash! When Emma opened the door, she found one of
the hotel staff staring at the mess of breakfast that was spread across the
carpet of the landing outside our room.
It appeared that a wheel had fallen off the trolley that she had used to
transport the food, hence the mess. But
it didn’t take them long to replace the food, although I think that they
thought that we were expecting more people, judging by the amount of food. However, we made a pretty big dent in it!
we had eaten, we then needed to ensure that we walked it off, which we did by
making our way to Prague
Castle. It was a pleasant walk
through the snowy Prague, although the temperature was at -7° and there was a
biting wind, and when we crossed the Vltava we saw that there were large parts of the river that were frozen. I was quite envious of the Castle Guard, who
looked quite warm stood in their Ushankas and fur-lined greatcoats, although how
long they would stay warm when stood completely stationary in those
temperatures, I’m not sure. But we did
witness a “changing of the Guard”, so I suspect that they are only stood there
for about an hour.
The castle was fascinating, with lots to see, but it was still bloody freezing, so we had to stop a couple of times on our tour to top up with hot drinks. I think that Emma particularly enjoyed Golden Lane and I discovered that at one point, Franz Kafka had lived here.
The tour ended at St Vitus Cathedral, which was absolutely enormous. In fact, we had been looking forward to visiting this as we thought that it would be warm inside. Wrong! If anything, I actually think that it was colder in the Cathedral than it was outside!
the castle we had a gentle walk back to the hotel for a quick power nap before we went to
dinner at a restaurant that was right next to the hotel.
were led through the arch, through a nondescript door, down two flights of
stairs and through two sets of curtains into a fabulous 15th Century
cellar, decorated with armour, shields and swords. The food was basic Czech fare, but both
filling and delicious and I, for one, appreciated the complimentary slivovitz at the end of the
This restaurant was a real surprise and hidden gem. From the outside, it was simply an archway
with one or two guys handing out what looked like takeaway menus. However, an old school friend of mine had
messaged us to say that we should visit his favourite restaurant in Prague, UModré růže, which was the one right next to the hotel.
our last day in Prague, we were up early for breakfast, packed and then walked
Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in the New Town. In 1942, when Czechoslovakia was
under Nazi occupation, the
de facto Governor was a man named Reinhard Heydrich. On 27 May 1942, two soldiers from
the Czechoslovak Army-in-exile assassinated Heydrich during Operation Anthropoid. After the assassination, the Germans launched
a manhunt. The two soldiers involved, Jozef Gabčík and Karel
Svoboda were finally cornered in Karel Boromejsky Church, as the cathedral was
then known, and were killed when the Germans assaulted the church after a brief
siege. There are memorials on the
outside to those who died and a museum in the church crypt.
The walk there was bracing to say the least! The temperature was -9°, but the wind
whistling off the Vltava made it feel an awful lot colder. And, to cap it all, when we got to the
cathedral we discovered that we’d decided to visit on the only day that it was
We spent a little while wandering around Prague, found a nice
restaurant for lunch and then wandered back to the hotel to wait for the
transfer to the airport.
Having got to the airport nice and early, checked in and
found somewhere to eat, we were all ready for flight. However, things did not go according to
plan! We were due to board at 1900 and
fly at 1950. However, there had been
freezing fog at Gatwick during the day, so all flights to and from the UK were
subject to delay. Unfortunately, the
Prague authorities failed to keep everyone informed, so even 30 minutes after
the gate was due to open, we were still sitting with in the departure lounge with
no information. And to make matters worse,
the t'interweb was telling us that our flight that was due to land at 2055 was
now “expected” at 2330.
Thankfully, the delay was not as bad as expected, and we took
off only one hour and forty-five minutes late, arriving one hour and twenty
minutes later than we should have originally landed.
Having got back to the car, in the positively balmy 2°, we
got home just before midnight, with time for a coffee before bed.
So, as the title says, what a weekend! And thanks to Emma, I will always remember my