Travel Advisory: Good & Bad

Easter Market at Old Town Square, Prague

Easter, Old Town Square
Photo by Karin

U Vejvodů  is a large and busy pub/restaurant in the center of Prague’s tourist area near Old Town Square.  On their home page they write:

“During our operation of this restaurant we have received several pleasant evaluations in the form of letters of thanks from the highest representatives of our government, artists and members of the diplomatic corps and authorities.”

They don’t write that they have been repeatedly fined (the most recent for over $8,000) for charging tips without notifying patrons, for charging for un-ordered bread, for serving short measure beers and other infractions.

Another on the list of heavy fines is the Mystic Cafe at Loretanska 174/3 above Prague Castle.  Their reviews are so consistently bad I am surprised they are still in business.  Other places recently fined include Bar Nebe(Heaven Bar) on Wenceslas Square, and two restaurants near Charles Bridge Čertovka and V Lázních.

Prague as any large city has problems with pickpockets and scamming taxi drivers and as any popular tourist area has unscrupulous people who take advantage of the naive. Just this week as I was visiting the Easter Market on Old Town Square I decided I wanted something to eat and settled on “Prague Ham 90 Kc” according to the sign on a permanent food stand.  I ordered and counted out 90 crowns. Immediately the guy said “No, not 90 crowns.  The portion is too small; it needs to be more.”  I replied that I only wanted to spend 90.  He shrugged.  I picked up my money and moved on.

So, as all the travel guides, I repeat this travel advisory:  Pay attention to what you order and what you get. Check your bill and ask questions until you understand and agree to everything on it.

Easter in WallachiaNow for the good:  Easter in the Czech Republic.  We are having trouble choosing how best to celebrate the holiday.  The weather is expected to be warm and sunny and our choices are too many.  Maybe you can help.  Check out this web page from CzechTourism:  Celebrate Easter Old and New  It lists local festivals all around the country.  Let us know which you would choose. :-)

Budapest

In May last year we took a whirlwind, or so it seemed, journey to Budapest, the capital of Hungary.  Under pressure of a deadline for Opinions Post I finally wrote an article about it:  Budapest: Majestic City With a Wart

Great Market Hall in Budapest

Great Market Hall with glazed tile roof

Read about some of our other travels within central Europe on our Environs page.

More Shithead: The Game

Prague International Shithead LeagueLast month we discovered that the Jicin International Shithead League, in which we enjoyed playing a couple of sessions at last year, had now expanded from the provincial college town to the country’s capital.  Students from the large and prestigious Charles University –mostly from the law school if  there is anything to be read into that– gather in a the back room of a city pub to play cards.

There is a well structured game plan with monthly tournaments that culminate in naming a Grand Champion at the end of the school year.  Each player pays a few crowns towards the expenses and low value but highly sought prizes.  The competition is intense yet friendly.

End game in Prague Shithead LeagueFor us it always fun to associate with the young people as they try to guess our ages by asking questions about our past.  Of course, when we eventually tell them they exclaim appropriate remarks about not looking (or is it not acting) that old.  Our answer is that it is events like this that help keep us young in spirit.

Since this blog is meant as a personalized travel guide I will re-emphasize the point.  The best experiences come from immersing yourself in the local life of whatever tourist destination you are visiting.  Use your internet connection not to chat with your friends back home but to search out little known events in your vicinity whether it be a pig festival or oboe recital.

More about the card game of Shithead and its international popularity in my article on Opinions Post.

Art Nouveau at its Finest

Municipal House PragueThe dry sounding Museum of Decorative Arts is not the most visited in Prague while the prominent Municipal House is seen by nearly everyone who comes to Prague. For the thankfully long period of November 2013 through December 2015 they have combined to create an outstanding exhibition.

Many of our favourite places in Prague are showcases for the Art Nouveau (Secese in Czech) style.  We love its flee flowing, nature inspired design.  Karin commented at the exhibition that it makes the Modernist art that replaced it in popularity look sterile and boring.  We have written several times about the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

Art Nouveau furnitureThe thought that kept recurring in my mind as I walked around the exhibition was “That is truly a museum piece.”  In our wanderings around Prague and other European cities we see a lot of beautiful historical pieces in buildings and in antique shops.  We admire them appreciatively. Yet the items on display in this show are in a far superior category; they are awe-inspiring.  I highly recommend it to any lover of art.

First photo from Wikimedia Commons; others by Karin. Click on slide show for 80 more.

art nouveau cafe' in Municipal House, PragueBy the way, the Municipal House lobby has an elegant cafe’ and restaurant that we had avoided due to its high prices.  However, this time we so enjoyed the exhibition and the tickets included a discount so we went in for coffee.  It was a delightful experience and good value so we have added it to our recommended places.

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