Last week, Gareth and I took a few days off to visit the most beautiful city in Europe, the Czech city of Prague.
The trip actually came about in a funny turn of events - while slightly squiffy after a night out in May, we decided to be spontaneous and tie in a visit to a city we've both always wanted to see with a date to see a Paramore show.
We stayed right in the centre of Prague, in a super gorgeous apartment via AirBnB. This is our second stay using AirBnB and I can't recommend the service enough. Our studio apartment this time was cozy, modern, clean and ridiculously comfy. For just £60 a night we also got daily room refreshing and breakfast tied in, because the apartment was in the basement of a hotel which was pretty cool! Our host even rang through to ensure that a complimentary bottle of fizz was waiting for us on the second day, as there'd been a mixup and the airport transfer didn't turn up for us. Amazing service.
We're both agreed that our favourite jaunt was the Bone Church just outside of Prague at Kutna Hora. Even for the most inexperienced of travellers, navigating the direct train from the main station was really easy, so don't bother paying over the odds for a guided tour. The decorations in the Ossuary itself is the work of an artist, who has created chandeliers, sculptures and even a coat of arms from the bones of the cemetary's past resters.
Charles Bridge is a marvel in more ways than one - the multitudes of 17th century religious statues that line it's path are intricately beautiful, and the sheer quantity of tourists is pretty breathtaking from afar. Wander along it at night for a gorgeously eerie walk, and the river at night is super pretty too.
We loved our meal at Cowboys Restaurant and Club - situated just beneath the Castle, the rooftop terrace offers the most stunning panoramic views of Prague. Don't let the slightly dubious name put you off - we dined on gorgeous steaks, creamy dauphinois potatoes and perfectly cooked spinach in the company of Prague's suited and booted. Our meal came in at around £25 a head including a drink.
Our favourite lunchtime spot was Michael's Cafeteria, situated in the Old Town. The set menu at 150 crowns (around £5.70 with June 2013 exchange rate) changes daily but I had a delicious gazpacho, chicken salad and cherry cake combo with a soft drink included. They also serve traditional Czech cuisine; Gareth braved the biggest plate of mixed meats and dumplings I have ever seen! In the battle of Man vs Food, Man definitely won that one. Sit in the courtyard and while away a couple of hours watching tourists walk by.
Paramore were playing at the Lucerna venue in the centre of Prague. It is a wonderful large concert hall, with tiered balconies and plentiful bars. I don't consider myself to be a 'gig conosieur' of any sorts, however the acoustics were incredible and the staging bright and colourful. Real kudos has to be given to the crowd - Czechs sure know how to party, with everyone even right to the back getting involved in the music. Prague obviously missed the memo about being too cool to show appreciation for the band that seems to have hit the UK hard!
Unless debauched pub crawls are your thing, I'd stay clear of the Old Town Square at night as it can get pretty messy. Instead, discover some of the side streets, and find your way to the Absintherie for everything absinthe themed. I thoroughly enjoyed my absinthe mojito, all muddled brown sugar and bruised mint, but the absinthe Icecream was nothing short of vile. Probably best to start your evening here, as the Absintherie shuts at 9pm each day.
We'd definitely return to Prague as we felt we barely scratched the surface in the 3 days that we spent there. We'd approached the break with less 'must dos' than our usual city break itenery. I'd probably go in the winter next time though - mid 30 degree heat is just no good for this English rose, and of course in winter you can really make the most of the rib-sticking Czech cuisine!