Monday, April 29, 2013

HRADCANY





This week was spent cycling around Hradcany, not for the first time and probably not for the last either. A large large part of this area is within the castle wall, in fact it is the largest castle construction in the world allegedly and dates back to the 9th century so pretty impressive. It is probably the most visited area of Prague though there are not so many places to choose from for the blog so for that reason I decided to add a list of great views that can been seen from the four corners of this district.
             Before I visited Hradcany for this post I was out with one of my good friends Petr for a few Pilsner Urquells (probably the best Pilsners in Prague) at U Jelinku close to Jungmannovo square and he was telling me the story of his Father as a young man and the time that he was arrested crossing the Czech Border, strangely back into Czechoslovakia and how he found out lots of interesting things about him when he was on National Service and working at the National Archives in Prague, so imagine my excitement when I found myself standing outside the national Archive in Hradcany. I asked Petr to write me a few lines because he is a better story teller than I am and also it is his story to tell so I didn't want to do it an injustice, hopefully this article might inspire him to write something for the blog and if he does then I will attach it below.
        There isn't much to say about Hradcany that can't be found in any one of a hundred books, history books or guides. I hope that in travelling around every single street in Hradcany I might of found a little secret
corner or two that you might have missed and a few bars and restaurants worth visiting, though i am sure that there are going to be a few rip offs i hope to have found you some little gems.The main thing to do when visiting this district is just to enjoy every single moment of it and don't mind the tourists

Review


I was invited for the first time to visit the Valasska Pivnice by the manager of the Pivnice Jiri Bednar whose family also run the Minipivovar Bon Zasova in Valasske Mezirici that produce the beer which is sold at the Pivnice. I have passed this place a few times but I initially thought that it was a very small space on the ground level but on entering I found out that the small space is under refurbishment so it is not clear what will become of it and the pivnice is downstairs. If there is one thing that Czechs do well, or maybe I should say Wallachians, and that is beer cellars, as the Family's roots are firmly rooted in the Valassko region which borders the mountainous region around Vsetin.

I was invited to visit on a Monday evening and on arrival I was happy to see that the Pivnice was not empty and that there were a few tables seated and enjoying the bright cosy cellar. The majority of the tables were large tables with a bench on either side and a few smaller tables were scattered around in the spaces left. The Manager had written to me, in Czech I have to tell you, and wrote that he would not be able to make our meeting and on arrival I should introduce myself to the waitress who had been informed that I would be visiting, and I hope given instructions that I was a guest of his, not that I minded paying of course.



I sat down away from the bar and close to an arch way, which from where I was sitting and the tools on show looked like an old coal mine but later on I was to find out that it was part of an old tunnel stretching from the Monastry above to the castle below. They had 3 beers on offer though when I was there they didn't have any wheat beer available, which considering it was a Monday was not too surprising and if you add to that, the fact that I don't particularly like wheat beer, was not such bad news. I ordered a small light beer, not wanting to be greedy and was pleased with the result, it was served cold and with a smile and had an original taste, slightly sweet. As I was sipping my beer I focussed on the other 2 tables that I could see and they were both Czech and were both served pretty swiftly and both of them had ordered some food off the menu. The most popular orders seemed to be the sausage and cabbage soup and the gnocchi.



The walls were decorated with tools and implements related to Farming and that is what the region of Valassko is known for apart from its beautiful nature of course and there were also a few frames which had been filled decoratively with Czech beer labels so I had a count of the number of beers that I had tried and not surprisingly I still have a long way to go until I have tried them all but I have managed to get through a fair number of them it has to be said. The waitress came back to me and this time I ordered the dark beer which had a real sweet treacley favour. This is the one distinct thing that differs Czech dark beers from others, their sweetness.



During my 2nd beer I was greeted by Jiri Bednar, the Manager of the pivnice and as I found out the 10 apartments which are above the bar and he started to speak to me in Czech so suddenly I was a little concerned that we would be left sitting there in an awkward silence but with my maly cesky and his little English, we managed I hope to discuss the bar and their brewery and his thoughts.

The first thing that I learnt was that his family and the brewery are from the Valassko region of the Czech Republic and the decor of the pivnice is decorated accordingly, as I mentioned before they are known for their farming especially livestock and on each of the benches/chairs are draped with sheepskin pelts. The food on the menu is from Valassko and though there are some familiar names, they are slightly different, for example there is also a Slovak influence on the food such as halusky and gnocchi for example and an awful lot of hard alcohols such as the one that I ended up trying, which was a beer brandy and although it was clear, it had a rough whisky quality to it.



All in all I had a really nice time and although Jiri did recommend that I should try the pork fat with bacon bits, I decided to go for the sausage which was different to the typical Prague sausages, served with the traditional accompaniments of mustard, horseradish, pickled cucumber,pickled chillis and bread, and it was very nice. Throughout the evening music was being played from the sound system at a comfortable level I should also say, and as I am quite a superstitious person so it was nice, when I heard one of my favourite songs being played (Rod Stewart's 'I don't wanna talk about it') I knew right then that it was going to be a great evening. I finished off the evening with a rezane beer and a Beer Brandy and this was my favourite beer of the night. I was also happy that I was able to talk to Jiri and between his English and my Czech I was able to get an idea of the family Bednar and their passion of good traditional food and drink. I was also surprised that the brewery is fairly new, about 10 years old and apart from the 3 beers that they produce, they do bring out specialist beers for celebrations and Christmas. The Pivnice is in the main tourist hub and it was nice to see reasonably priced food and beer. A large beer was only 29czk which was made in their brewery in Valassko and delivered to Prague. I would definetely go there again with friends. It is a great place to go to get your night off to a good start.



Restaurants, cafes & bars

Kafe u Zelenych Kamen
web: www.uzelenychkamen.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d3622845-Reviews-Kafe_U_zelenych_kamen-Prague_Bohemia.html


Valasska Pivnice
web: www.valasska-pivnice.cz/


Host restaurant
web: www.hostrestaurant.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d2225940-Reviews-Host_restaurant-Prague_Bohemia.html


Mash Hana - Japanese
web: www.mashhana.cz/index.php?language=en
review: www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d3510178-Reviews-Mash_Hana-Prague_Bohemia.html


Cafe Pointa
web: we-like-it-fresh.wix.com/cafepointa
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d3510107-Reviews-Cafe_Pointa-Prague_Bohemia.html


Lvi Dvur
web: www.lvidvur.cz/en/galerie/bistro/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d1095913-Reviews-Restaurant_Lvi_Dvur-Prague_Bohemia.html


Velka Klasterni Restaurace
web: www.klasternirestaurace.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d2255656-Reviews-Velka_Klasterni_Restaurace-Prague_Bohemia.html


Maly Buddha
web: www.malybuddha.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d694844-Reviews-Maly_Buddha-Prague_Bohemia.html


A divadlo pokracuje...
web: www.adivadlopokracuje.com/a_divadlo_pokracuje/home.html
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d2618574-Reviews-A_Divadlo_Pokracuje-Prague_Bohemia.html


U Labuti
web: www.ulabuti.com/
review: www.tripadvisor.fr/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d1881234-Reviews-Restaurace_U_Labuti-Prague_Bohemia.html



Places of interest

Josef Sudek's Gallery
web: www.sudek-atelier.cz/


Svet Zdravi - alternative diets
web: www.svet-zdravi.cz


Space 4 Kids - furniture for kids
web: www.space4kids.cz/


Divadlo Ungelt - theatre
web: www.letniscena.cz/


Museum of miniatures
web: www.muzeumminiatur.com


Antique music instruments
web: www.antiques.cz/


Sights


















Sunday, April 14, 2013

LIBEN reunited




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I seem to be slowly running out of areas to visit so this week I have decided to go back to the beginning when I first started writing the Blog, way back in 2011 at the same time that I started going out with my SVG (sexy vigilant girlfriend) and I found out that I would be a father again. The blog was a bit of fun to begin with and as I looked back at all the posts, it seems that it has grown and evolved along the way and today's post has been on a gradual journey as we have uncovered more secrets in the streets of Prague.

One of the first areas that I covered was Liben, it was the area that I had recently moved to and was a great starting point because as I thought at the time, I didn't have too far to travel but little did I know of the area and little did I know of how much distance would be covered in the process. In the previous blogs it seems that I have unbeknownst to me had 3 posts on the area of Liben but in fact none of them covered the whole area and the first part actually had parts of Vysocany, but back then I used the grids of a city map to carve up the districts but the Prague districts are a lot more complex than my initial simple idea for dividing the many areas of Prague.

In this post we have included the whole area of Liben and this time I went around on my bike and found the trip was a lot quicker and we have a few surprises for you and also a few of the original favourites from the past, so just to refresh your Liben fun facts: Liben in the past, due to the surrounding hills and river valley was a popular destination for all young lovers and still today there are plenty of nice walks nicely hidden behind Liben bridge and towards Holesovice. The famous playwrite Bohumil Hrabal lived here and you can see many wall paintings close to the bus station of Palmovka and a small museum and wine bar that carry his name. A name synonymous with the 2nd World War Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated close to the Bulovka Hospital though it did take him a while to die and from what I read he only died because of his own stubbornness to be treated soon after the attack. There was also a very large Jewish community that lived in Liben and next to the bus station you can see a synagogue which stands as a reminder of this and finally a new piece of information that I discovered thanks to Google translate is the first tram tracks started in Liben so voila.

Review

Finally i managed to go to La Maler in Liben. Previously there used to be an Italian restaurant there so when i saw the new banners advertising a new restaurant i made it my local civic duty to investigate and see whether it would be an improvement or a disappointment to the area which in my neighborhood hopefully would be the former.

I went there with one of my good friends Martin and as it was my recommendation i was hoping that it would be a good decision on my behalf. On arrival it was clear to see that it had a very strong western as in the wild wild western style with lots of wood and large brass lights and antiques scattered around the floor and walls, The style i would call rustic with a capital R, which reminded me a little of a Harvester restaurant which takes me back a good 25 years so i am not sure if they are still around but they were a chain so i imagine that they probably are, that is not to say that this is part of a chain, quite the opposite i think.

When we arrived there were 5 tables already sitting at 19.00 and we sat at the back, so as to have a good look around and see how the other tables were looked after as well. I ordered a small Staropramen and Martin went for a large Stella, looking around i should of noticed that most of the tables were drinking the wine so with hindsight i should of tried the wine, but i wanted to see if it was cold and tasted good, well it tasted ok but could of been colder considering we were the only people drinking beer but when you go to a restaurant the beer is mostly disappointing, no surprises there really. I went for the ribs with a blackcurrant marinade and garlic bread and Martin whose idea it was to come to a restaurant suddenly decided that he wasn't so hungry and chose a side order of mashed potato with spring onion. The food came pretty promptly and the ribs portion was very generous so i gave a couple of them to Martin, because i felt guilty and a little bit to do with the size of the portion and i was a little afraid that i would not be able to eat them all. The ribs were very tasty and tender though i think that they could of trimmed a little bit more of the fat off as there was just a wee bit too much for my liking though it was very soft so my reason was just a health issue and not that it detracted from the quality of the dish.
       I also had a glass of red wine with my ribs, Frankova to be more precise and it was not too bad as   Czech wines go i have to say. The waitress was alone in the restaurant as far as i could see and we were satisfied with the service and tipped accordingly, well Martin did as he kindly paid for the meal and seeing as he only had a small plate of mashed potato, was very generous of him, so thank you very much Martin for a lovely dinner. I also notice a high chair there so i would go there again with my partner and son. They have a very broad selection of dishes from Czech to Italian and South American to Mexican, well in fact it was just from those types of cuisine so it was only geographically broad so to speak.








Restaurants

Curry House
web: www.curryhouse.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d1573305-Reviews-Curry_House-Prague_Bohemia.html


Govinda - vegetarian
web: www.govinda.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d739434-Reviews-Govinda-Prague_Bohemia.html


Pizzeria Tiamo
web: www.pizzeria-tiamo.cz/
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d2054432-Reviews-Ti_Amo_Pizzeria_Ristorante-Prague_Bohemia.html


Masarycka
web: www.masarycka.com/
review: www.ceske-hospudky.cz/restaurace/praha/masarycka-18878


Rana
web: www.pakistanirestaurant.cz
review: www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d798050-r19864378-RANA-Prague_Bohemia.html


Spadla Pec
web: www.spadlapec.cz/


Com Viet - Vietnamese
web: comviet.cz/index.php?sid=52lk3irkrub4fkadk8mms0e813


La Maler
Cihákova 4


Drevak
web: www.palmovka.eu/


Vecerni Skola
web: www.vecerniskola.eu/


Bars & Cafes

Cafe Decada
web: www.decada.cz


Bar Napalme
web: www.napalme.cz


U Jagusky
web: www.jaguska.cz/


Cafe Martin
web: www.a-mano.cz/os-martin/cafe-martin-treninkova-kavarna.html


Vinarna U Hrabala
Na hrázi 11


Knoflik cafe bar
web: www.facebook.com/knoflikcafe


Restaurace u Rokytky
web: www.urokytky.cz/
review: www.pivni-filosof.com/2008/03/those-good-old-days.html


Na Stare Rane
web: www.stararana.cz/


Bar Bohemia Classic
Kandertova 13
web: www.pivobohemiaclassic.cz/osvezovny.html


Pivovar u Bulovky
web: www.pivovarubulovky.cz
review: www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d1008284-Reviews-Pivovar_u_Bulovky-Prague_Bohemia.html


Places of interest

Domestav - healthy furniture
Sokolovská 364/202


Sportcentrum Palmovka
web: http://scpalmovka.cz/


Children's centre Kulich
web: www.os-kulich.org


Pivni Mozaika
web: www.pivnimozaika.cz/


Madarsky klobasovy dum - Hungarian delicatessen
web: www.klobasovydum.cz/


Lazerfun - laser games
web: www.lazerfunpraha.cz


Mexicali - Mexican delicatessen
web: www.hot-shop.cz


Trafo - art gallery
web: trafacka.cz


Trapper - knives
web: www.trapper.cz


Culinari Atelier - Cooking school
web: www.atelier-culinari.cz


Celiakie - life - Italian gluten-free products
web: www.celiakie-life.cz


Na Korabe - Sports and entertainment facility
web: http://nakorabe.cz/en_main.php?view=1


Cyklosport - Second hand bikes
web: www.cyklovrakoviste.cz