Tag Archives: Holidays

My Prague City Break – Part 1

Praha

If feels like ever since I began my life in Europe two years ago, I have been hearing about how beautiful, amazing and inexpensive Prague (or Praha) is. Naturally I added it to the list of places I wanted to visit. Finding a travel partner can sometimes be a daunting task, and for the most part I really do not mind traveling alone. However going with someone is usually the better, and certainly cheaper, choice. For females, it is also a much safer choice.

So last fall I found a travel buddy, my old flat mate Sahar, and we got everything booked for a 3-night stay in Prague in mid-October. In just a few weeks I was finally going to visit this city that I had heard so much about.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

The Flight

We chose to go with the budget airline, Wizz Air. It’s similar to Ryan Air and Easy Jet, and they mainly fly to Eastern Europe. Wizz Air flies out of Luton Airport, which is an hour north of central London so it’s not the most convenient airport to fly out of for some people. Still, the return flight, including fees and such was less than £100 per person.

The Hotel

As I am sure I’ve stated before, I’m not keen on hostels. Perhaps with the right group, on the right trip, for a couple nights, I could get behind it. This was not that type of trip. Prague has a number of inexpensive hotels, including a number of Ibis hotels around the city.

We chose to stay at the Ibis Old Town location, which I highly recommend. It was slightly more expensive than the other Ibis hotels in Prague (by £8 or $12/night), but we couldn’t have been in a more perfect location. Ibis is a ‘no frills’ hotel, but it’s clean, they offer free Wi-Fi, and the rooms are efficient enough for a 2-3-night stay.

Transportation

Prague has a good public transportation system, which you can find plenty of information about online. There are buses, an underground metro and aboveground trams. A 90-minute ticket was less than £2 ($3), and that is plenty of time to get from the airport to anywhere in central Prague. There are 1-day and 3-day passes, but everything is so close in the city that taking the metro or tram is not necessary.

As with many other countries, you must remember to validate your ticket when you start your journey, whether it is on a bus or metro. We used public transportation 2 of the 3 days we were there, and were stopped twice by metro officers asking to see our validated tickets.

Day 1

By the time we got checked in and settled in the room, it was time for some lunch. We eventually wanted to get to the Old Town Square so we tried to chose a restaurant from the ones I had researched before that was on our route. The restaurant we ended up at was called Touch.

Touch, like many good restaurants, is tucked away from the main road on a street that eventually led us right to Old Town. The waiter that greeted us at the door was nice, the specials looked good and the prices reasonable. We were in!

Asparagus cappuccino soup with truffle oil

To drink, the waiter suggested we try some Hot Wine, or Mulled Wine, to help us warm up. We decided to give it a try, along with the asparagus soup with truffle oil (£1.57/$2.50) as a starter and roasted rabbit leg with mashed potatoes (£4.85/$7.75) for the main meal. I rarely order soup at restaurants, in fact, I rarely have soup period. However the asparagus soup at Touch was so delicious that after I tried a little of Sahar’s, I decided to order my own.

Roasted rabbit leg with mashed potatoes

As seen by the photos, the meal was large and tasted just as good as it looks. The entire meal for two people, including tip, came to 550 Czech Koruna (£20 or $30). If you are ever in Prague, you MUST visit Touch. There is plenty of seating, the food was delicious, and best of all it was inexpensive. Our waiter was even nice enough to give us a card for 10% off if we came back.

Just be warned: they are closed on Sunday.

After lunch, we continued to make our way towards the Old Town Square, home of the famous Astronomical Clock. The medieval clock is the 3rd oldest in the world and the only one that is still working.

Prague’s Astronomical Clock

Anyone who has been following this blog knows how much I LOVE to climb to the top of towers and duomos. So when we found out that we could go to the top of the Astronomical Clock tower, I was very happy tourist. The trip up to the top costs 100 Koruna (£3.50/$5.50), and unlike many of the other towers, this one has an elevator to take you up. Given its location in the center of the town, the tower offers a beautiful 360-degree view of entire city of Prague.

The view from the tower

From the square, we continued heading west towards the river. We passed by a number of shops and cafes on our way, including a delicious chocolate shop and one of many marionette shops. Soon we had made it to the famous Charles Bridge. The bridge was bustling with people, painters and even a band! It is also a great place to snap a photo of the Prague Castle.

On Charles Bridge

To keep us entertained at night, we decided it would be fun to try a couple different options. The first night, we made a reservation at The Medieval Tavern. Located west of the river, the tavern offers food, drinks, and on Friday and Saturday nights, medieval entertainment. There are a number of ‘rooms’ (they are more like cellars than rooms) descending floor-by-floor deeper underground, each with a bit of unique flair.

Our Medieval dinner

The food is very traditional, the beer is cold and the entertainment is worth the money!For about £20 each ($33) we ate a medieval meal, drank 3 large beers, a hot wine and were treated to a different show every 20-30 minutes.

Enjoying a beer before the first round of entertainment

The entertainment included a belly dancer, a sword fight, a juggler and even some tricks with fire…

One of the entertainers – A belly dancer with swords

The final show of the night at the tavern

The Medieval Tavern was a fantastic way to spend our first night in Prague and definitely a unique experience. While the tavern is open during the week, the shows only take place on the weekend, and it’s highly recommended that you book in advance.

That’s all for part one of my Prague weekend. Stay tuned for part two (yes, I promise there will be a part two).

Ciao,

Sheila

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Thankful

That’s my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Daughter by Loudon Wainwright III

Being overseas for any American holiday always makes me a little homesick. This is especially true during Thanksgiving. Despite everything that went wrong with our Thanksgiving dinner last year in London, I laugh whenever I think of the hilarious day spent cooking with two old friends in a foreign country.

This year I do not have access to a big oven, so no cooking. Instead I will be going to a restaurant, Texas Embassy, for Thanksgiving dinner…on Friday night. I know, it’s a little off, but the way I look at it, people eat leftovers all weekend so as long as I have some turkey this weekend it counts. More on that later…

I am thankful for a lot of things this year: great family (the whole extended bunch), amazing friends (old and new), and the ability to see out of both eyes are all high up on the list.

But at the very top of the list are my parents.

Mom, Dad, and I at my cousin's wedding (Aug. 2010)

When I told them I wanted to study music business, they said ok.

When I told them I wanted to move to Nashville, they said alright (after visiting Belmont and several long discussions).

When I said, “I think I want to take cooking lessons in Italy for a month, and then move to London,” they both agreed it was a good idea.

When I was struggling with what to do next, they suggested school (okay, they brought up law school, we compromised on a masters in music business).

They flew out for showcases at Belmont, drove from San Diego when I needed to have my tonsils removed so they could bring our dog, and helped me pack up my Nashville life before driving all my stuff back to San Diego.

Any other parents would have probably traded in this high maintenance girl for another model years ago, but not my parents.

Piazza Navona - Rome, Italy (Nov. 2009)

As kids, we think our parents are super heros who can save the world. When we become teenagers, this bubble bursts and our biggest fear is turning into our parents. Once we hit our twenties, we realize that despite our best efforts, we are turning into them anyway. People always tell me I look like my mom. But those who know the three of us would also tell you that my personality is very much like my dad’s. He has been teaching me how to be street smart and to think logically ever since he said, “You want a Happy Meal? Here’s $5, go order it.”

I was 4 years old at the time.

Mediterranean Cruise (Nov. 2009)

I learn lessons from him constantly, and it is the most recent one I would like to share.

It was not long after my surgery in August that the medical bills started coming in. Since I have not been working and had been living overseas, I did not have insurance in America (and still don’t). Vanderbilt gives patients without insurance coverage a 50% reduction, however half of a $30,000 surgery is still a large amount of money (I don’t know the exact cost of the surgery because some of the bills came after I left for London, but I know with the discount it was still over $15,000). On top of all this, we needed to pay for my tuition and housing in London by the beginning of October. I felt sick about the whole situation, especially knowing how much I was costing them in the month of September alone. My dad told me not to worry about it, and that he would figure it out. And that is exactly what he did.

Stating his case, he wrote a letter to the hospital (on my behalf) telling them my situation (unemployed student with no insurance) and asking for help with the enormous bill. We waited for weeks for a response, hoping for any good news. Finally, a few weeks ago, my dad received a letter from Vanderbilt. After reviewing my case, they decided to cover 100% of my hospital bills.

100%!

I could not believe it. None of us could. Just like that, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I know my parents felt the same way. My dad, in his masterful way, took care of it. I think even he surprised himself with this outcome. Even at 26, I feel like a young grasshopper when my dad does everything in his power to make something happen.

Much to learn you still have – Yoda

I hope everyone had an incredible Thanksgiving!

Ciao,
Sheila

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My Life These Days

Ring of Fire

My life these days consists of a variety of things:

-Classes

-Studying for classes

-Parties with friends from class

-Quality time getting to know my classmates

Yes, my life revolves around school right now. November is going to be a long month, with papers, projects, and exams all due  in the next 3 weeks.

All this going on and I feel as if I have nothing to say.

So instead, here are some photos from Halloween (my favorite holiday).

Lots of characters celebrating Halloween 2010

The German contingency (Alex and Florian) on the bus

Yeah, I go to school with these guys...

Sometimes acting your age is way over rated…

Showing the international kids how to play Beer Pong using an ironing board

Round 1 of Ring of Fire (aka Kings)

Finally finished reading 1984.

Trying to pick my next fun book to read, but school books are taking over.

And who knows when I’ll get to that 27 before 27 list.

On that positive note…

Ciao,

Sheila

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Filed under Book Reference, Bucket List, Friends, School