Monday, February 28, 2011

The suburban countryside - Bohnice

View Larger Map

Week 3 and the next location is my old neighbourhood of Bohnice, maybe it was just a coincidence that I decided to come to Bohnice but here we are and here is what we found. Doing this blog makes you look at things in a different way. When I lived here I didn't really have a good look around and see what it had to offer, apart from a small Czech Irish bar, a pizzeria and my local sudova vina shop. I didn't think that there was much to offer. So what did I find out? Well first of all and amusing to my Polish girlfriend is that all, well not all but a lot of the streets are named after Polish cities. What also makes it amusing in that respect, is that for me Bohnice is the home of the city's main psychiatric hospital and home of the famous Mezi Ploty art and music festival, which raises money for the hospital and is held within the hospital's grounds. Another interesting thing that I found out while digging around on the web was, that in Bohnice there was the Czech's or more correctly Czechoslovakian's first dynamite factory. Pretty explosive hey hey hey.

The least attractive part of this area are the large cluster of panelaks and 2 old run down shopping precincts, which is strange, especially when you see how many people are living in the vicinity. Was it changes in peoples shopping habits or the recession, I wonder? It brought back memories of my childhood in Brinnington, Stockport where my grandparents lived and my sister and I used to visit them every other weekend. Fond times were had and great fun running around the shopping precinct. The most attractive parts are the areas surrounding it, such as Troja les, which leads down to the botanical gardens and zoo and Bohnicke udoli, which heads down towards the river Vltava. These areas are very popular for cyclists and hikers alike.

Review no. 1

The first place we decided to stop at and I have to be honest, though this area is mainly residential and highly populated, there are surprisingly very few places of interest to report about, but after an extensive 4.5hr search we are pleased to announce that we have enough material to publish the blog. We were very thirsty and cold, not sure what the temperature was outside. Don't really need to know. The numbness in my nose and toes was enough of an indicator for me to guess that it was brass monkeys.

The first review and it would not normally be the sort of place that I would like to write about because it is a pizzeria and it is not because I am a bit of a snob, it is because I am looking for something unique and personal and pizzerias are normally much of a muchness. The place is called Trojsky Vrch and because it doesn't really have any competition in the area, it was no surprise to see that it was pretty full, though it was 12pm, so no surprises there. The menu was nothing new for a pizzeria but the staff were very friendly and spoke English. they also had an English menu. My SVG (sexy vigilant girlfriend) had the minestrone soup with parmesan and it hit the spot. So all in all it passed the grade and if we lived in the area, we would visit it, maybe on a regular basis, if we were too busy to head towards the centre.

Review no. 2

The next place of interest and again we were running low on fuel, well I was anyway, was Potrefena Husa and for the same reasons that I mentioned above, it is not usually a place I would visit because it is a chain, and a pretty successful chain, because they do offer an attractive menu with nice décor and professional staff but it is not what I am looking for although there was not much to choose from at all, which is really surprising for such a large demographic of potential customers. This time I did the eating and being a Brit I went for the blood sausage with boiled pots and washed it down with an 11 degree Staropramen, which was lovely, even more so because it was on special offer with the blood sausage for 12kc. The sausage was very nice though the boiled pots were pre boiled and microwaved, you always know with pots, they always have that, I've been left in cold water for too long taste. Again the service was good. They had an English menu though no English speaking staff were on duty, not to worry though because I had my SVG with me.

Special mention

a small cukrana with free wifi and very comfortable sofas

a restaurant run by the students of the catering college - the future of Czech cuisine

Other places of interest

Puppet maker                                         Family hairdresser / dog stylist
ul. Sopotska                                            ul. Katovicka

Massages                                               Irish Pub O'Connel's                                        ul. Hnezdenska

Bambusarium Rosteto                              Youth club                          

Internet toy shop                                     Moravian wine                                     ul. V Novych Bohnicich


Monday, February 21, 2011

My neighbourhood - Liben

View Larger Map

The journey begins in my newly moved into neighbourhood of Liben in Prague 9, which for any ice hockey fans or people who like going to concerts with a larger population than the Vatican city, is the home of the O2 arena or when I first came to Prague was called the Sazka arena. Sazka is the company that organises the Czech national lottery.

In the past Liben was home to CKD, which was one of the largest engineering companies in Czechoslovakia and was the world's biggest producer of trams, but since the revolution in 1989 and during the privatization process CKD was broken up into smaller companies and sold off.

So what could this area have to offer, not quite as attractive as some of the more populated areas of Prague, but with a little persistence and 4 hours of walking around I with my vigilant girlfriend set off to see what we could find.

Review no. 1

Our Giant Adventure begins and I say our, because as I mentioned before my ever vigilant and sexy girlfriend is with me to hold my hand and to make sure that I don't get lost or stuck in a sports bar, The first place that tweaked our interest was the fire safety/potraviny enterprise which featured on the previous blog, so there is no need to add a photo, I am sure that you have a good idea of why we were so intrigued by this ingenious business enterprise and then we walked and walked and walked until we reached our first pit stop Esprito Restaurant/sports Bar. It is attached firmly to the hotel Esprit actually. We made it our first port of call because, looking for a place to watch British Premier league and international games and the hunger pains that I was experiencing it seemed like a good decision..

I am not so fussy when it comes to eating out. I look for friendly and attentive service, good  value for money, interesting menu ideas and good beer. The restaurant seats 40/50 people max and they have those outdoor metal tables and chairs covered with white table slip cloths. The menu had a wide variety, even my veggie girlfriend was happy with the vegetarian dishes, which is usually a big problem in Prague, finding interesting choices, though this is changing and maybe due to the present crisis or the increased competition a lot of places are now recognising the advantages of being flexible with their menus, which was in complete contrast to when I first came to Prague and I find it very refreshing though I would never dream of eating a plate full of veggies. I like me meat. The service was very nice and the beer was pilsner, but not the best that I have tasted, though I am definitely a small brewery kind of guy. So all in all we were quite impressed, but the only problem that I could see from the sports side of the attractions was that the flat screen tv was in the middle of the restaurant, so I can only assume that they play games without sound which is something that I personally don't like and could be distracting if you are having a nice lunch with a table full of Everton fans crying over their team's terrible performance.

Moving on, the next little nugget was a non smoking cocktail bar on Kurta Konrada. it is hidden away in a small passage and is in a basement, which adds to the atmosphere don't you think? This is a Favourite of my girlfriends, one reason is the non smoking, which stops the chances of stale smelling clothes when you get home and the other reason is that they have a music theme for each night of the week and for me my favourite day is Saturday night is 80&90's night.

Review no. 2

The second place that we went to was U Kapitana. It was a nice little pub hidden in the back streets near to the metro station Vysocany. The general theme was nautical and there were lots of models hanging of the walls and on window ledges of old sail ships. My kids especially my son was excited about the models that were on view and he counted 6 in total and his favourite one was of a ship which looked very similar to the HMS Victory which presently sits in dry dock in Portsmouth and we have visited, so it was a great topic of discussion between him and the staff of the pub/restaurant who I have to say on the 2 times that I have visited the place have been very friendly and attentive, so a big plus for me and the 2nd big plus was the Bernard beer on draft, it was perfect. They had a 10 and 12 degree light beer, the 12 was non filtered and a 11 degree pale beer or polotmavy in Czech. Of course I had to try them all and they did not disappoint me. They were very clean and the taste was very pleasant, much more superior to the usual Gambrinus or Pilsner which are the usual suspects. The menu was very interesting and offered a wide selection of food. My hungry vigilant sexy girlfriend had an appetite on her so thankfully we were able to sample the menu, though she only tried the potato soup in a bread bowl, a typical Czech speciality and sweet dumplings filled with strawberries, which look amazing and satisfied her sweet tooth. We did go there in the afternoon and it was quiet, but our impression was very positive due to the décor and the friendly staff, a big plus in Prague or probably any capital city. We would definitely go there again and would be confident in recommending it to our friends.

Other places of interest                                  
    24 hour carwash                                 Adventure park                          
     Basketball shop                                  Electronic shop and service                

    ene bene                                   Fish shop 
    ul. Na Brehu 3                          ul. Sokolovska 312

     Hairdressing wholesaler           Health food shop       ul. Staromlynska 2

    Indian Hamock shop                           Ironmongers                                   ul. Parikova

    Moldavian wines and carpets              Music shop for musicians
    ul. Sokolovska 310                   

    Pizzeria Tiamo                         Ski bazar and rental            ul. Kurta Konrada 20

BMC Spanish goods

Hany Bany fitness centre

Monday, February 14, 2011

get adventurous

Hi there, well this is my first experience writing a blog and my reason for doing it is to try and change my bad habit of always talking about doing something and never doing it. My idea was born from living in Prague for 10 years and all that I have to show, apart from having visited all the known sites are the few pubs and clubs that I frequent, because of my nationality or maybe my generation, not quite sure which but I tend to be contented in visiting the same old places and knowing the names of the regulars and bar staff and enjoying that comfort.

Then when people have come to visit me and I have tried to show them something or place interesting I have been forced to resort to guide books, which in my opinion usually have the usual suspects and although they are fairly reasonable they all tend to be focused on a small nucleus of the city and don't necessarily add anything unique or interesting, so I thought that I would like to open up the city by taking to the streets and seeing what is out there. Many times while walking around the city I have seen interesting sites, graffiti, playgrounds, galleries, shops and of course bars and restaurants and thought "hey that looks cool" and 20 min later forgotten all about it. My loss and definitely a huge shame, especially seeing as I am trying to change the person that I am and my bad habits.

So the reason for this blog is my therapy, the discipline of writing a blog and getting out there and discovering new things and pushing myself to not be such an introvert. I live in Prague 9, so this is where I decided to begin my journey and my plan is each weekend to spend 2 to 3 hours walking around all the streets in a particular area and documenting all the places, whatever they may be and put it to paper, now i am not an IT expert so if anybody out there is able to help me with the technical problems that I face then please drop me a line, for example I want to have a map on the blog of the area that I covered and pin all the places that I have visited, as well as documenting all the places of interest for example I found a small shop selling fire extinguishing equipment and parek v rohliku, which for those who don't know is the Czech version of the hot dog, normally forced into the roll poking out of the end of the roll and looking very similar to a part of the male anatomy and served with or without ketchup or Czech mustard or horcice, which is Czech for mustard of course.. but that in itself probably wouldn't be so interesting and walking around the city for 3 hours is pretty hard physically and mentally, so because I love food and drink, and I also  love to cook, I will write about restaurants, wine bars, pubs and put up some photos and just a basic description about it and paying particular attention to good friendly service and atmosphere.

fire extinguishing equipment and parek v rohliku shop

The plan is to spend 1 year on this project to see how much of Prague I can get around and open up to an otherwise uncharted city and the thoughts and reviews from the readers out there and also any additions to the blog of possible places that I missed are very important to this project so please please give me your feedback and recommend new places in areas that I have visited.