Monday, 18 July 2016

Czech Republic - The ultimate A to Z (W to Z)

Dobry den!

This is the final instalment of my A-Z based on living in the Czech Republic for the last three years.

W is for…wafers
Honourable mentions: walking, winter

Amongst the beer and other tacky souvenirs in Vaclav Havel Airport you’ll find a box with a disc-shaped wafer on it called Kolonada. These oversized snacks (admittedly you don’t generally eat a whole one on your own in one go) originate from the spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Big Kolonada!

Karlovy Vary
Before arriving, I would have assumed that Prague would be the most expensive place in the Czech Republic. However, I now think that dubious honour goes to Karlovy Vary.

The promenade in Karlovy Vary

One thing you don't have to pay for: a pretty view
It is a place of glamour and splendour, aside from the horrific tower block that soars up towards the northern end of the town. Part of Casino Royale was filmed here, lending further credence to its claim to be a powerhouse of cinema. Its famous film festival has been running for over fifty years.

The hotel in Casino Royale - in the film they say it's Montenegro

007 pose in front of Casino Royale hotel: check...
In spite of this, I didn’t get the happiest vibe from visiting Karlovy Vary. There are more vibrant cities, prettier spa towns and generally better places to spend your time in the Czech Republic.

Karlovy Vary: nice but nothing spectacular

X is for…Xtreme Rafting

Yes, it’s spelt wrong. Good luck finding a suitable word beginning with X. For Kazakhstan I used xenodocheionology, which I still have to look up every time I see it. Anyway, using ‘Xtreme rafting’ gives me a chance to tell you about the Czech Republic’s crown jewel: Cesky Krumlov.

Cesky Krumlov: picturesque 

A view of the historic town centre from the raft
Rafting – the extreme part is ironic, it was sedate enough for my parents to enjoy – along the Vltava as it bends through this historic town’s centre is beyond pleasant. Beers in hand, enjoying the sunshine and the stunning old buildings – bliss.

A booze cruise through Cesky Krumlov was a great way to end
the first year of living in the Czech Republic

Enjoying a family rafting trip on the Vltava
If you visit Prague any time in the future, be sure to include time – and proper time, not just an in-out flying visit – to visit and raft through Cesky Krumlov.

Y is for…Yam-Yam

Yam-Yam is a Thai restaurant found in multiple locations across Prague. I’m not sure if they do it any more, but when we first went there it had a section called the ‘Hell Menu’. Even my teenage upbringing of a vindaloo (followed by sticking my head in the freezer) every Saturday night hadn’t prepared me for the six-chilli effect of this food. I slurped my way through half of the soup and about a couple of litres of water.

Grung Tab Tom Yam - my Kryptonite

The other food Yam-Yam provide is really nice, and it’s one of the many restaurants I’ve enjoyed visiting in Prague. You’re spoilt for choice, here, as I’ve mentioned before. Amongst the plethora of Czech restaurants you can find anything from Korean to Mexican, and just about any other country in between.

Enjoying high-class food in Sansho

One of many meals in Budvarka, my favourite Czech restaurant
If you fancy dining in, Prague has an online company called Dame Jidlo which works in a similar way to Just Eat in the UK. This time last year, I would have said it is a brilliant scheme. In the last 12 months, however, we’ve had plenty of problems with them, particularly delivering our takeaway curry.

Curry - much better and reliable when ordered in a restaurant

Speaking of that cuisine, I’ve been informed that Malawi has ‘the best curry in Africa’. I’ll be the judge of that…

Indian food from Pind

Z is for…Zdeněk

Undoubtedly my favourite Czech name. Pronounced Zden-Yek, it looks and sounds…ugly. I wanted to give it a better reputation, so when we rented a small Škoda to drive around the west of the country, Zdeněk the car was born.

The beloved Zdenek, made by Skoda as (probably) 90% of cars are in the Czech Republic

Driving here will be viewed as easy and a pleasure when viewed through sepia-tinted eyes as our car runs into problem after problem in Africa. The roads are good, traffic isn’t too bad (unless you’re trying to leave Prague on a Friday when many others go to their cottages in the sticks), the country is small enough for you to drive anywhere in a reasonable amount of time: what isn’t there to love?

The beautiful Czech countryside

There is certainly a lot to love about living in the Czech Republic (I really hope they don’t change their name to Czechia). Three years have flown by and I’ve enjoyed something on every single day. I also think that living in Prague has brought me back towards preferring a European lifestyle after the time I’ve spent living in Asia. Perfect time to move to southern Africa, then…

Ready to fly to the next adventure!
Love you all


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