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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hotel Lippert, Prague




Price
A medium priced hotel, and included in the price was the breakfast. The breakfast had plenty of choice with cereal, fruit, cheeses, sliced meats, bread rolls and also toast and cake.

Old Town Square

View from the room.

Location
Fantastic location in the old town. Right off the Old Town Square, which did mean at times with all the bars and restaurants around it was noisy, but with the double windows closed they blocked out most of the noise at night. From the train station if you walk it’s about 20 minutes away, there’s a metro stop 5 minutes from the hotel.

 Entrance



Facilities
The room was large with a separate entrance with a coat rack and wardrobe with room safe, big enough to place a laptop in. (New priorities when travelling with electronics!!) There was a room fridge with complimentary bottles of water, 2 small cans of beer and 2 cookies/biscuits, which was a nice touch. Room had kettle and tea/coffee making facilities which isn’t standard in Europe! Downstairs the hotel had a restaurant which gave guests 10% discount and was where breakfast was served and a café/bar, all had outdoor sitting areas. Importantly as it was an old hotel, there was a lift, but as is common with many old buildings where lifts have been inserted, they tend to go to a landing and then there are still steps to your floor. (6 in my case!) The wifi was free.



Optional Extras

The building dates back to 1892, so it fulfilled my desire for old and historic. The ceiling in the room was decorated in folk art, not sure if original or added later, but something different and nice. The hotel will arrange airport pick ups and drop offs with a driver, I used this service, quick and efficient and cost 750 koruna. (18 euros?)

The Ceiling

Great place to stay, perfect location, nice small family run hotel.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Prague, The Czech Republic

Pretty, pretty Prague.

Prague certainly lived up to its reputation for being one of the loveliest cities in Europe, or anywhere in the world for that matter.

Began the morning by doing a little tour, I saw the pseudo train in the old square last night and thought it would be a different way of doing a vehicle tour to get a quick overview. The tour headed across the river to what’s called “The Lesser Town”, it’s uphill and very steep in places. But it’s where Prague castle and St Vitus cathedral are located.



The tour finished back in the Old Town Square, which has entertainers at various sections of the square. This morning there was a Bohemian band playing traditional instruments and music, really enjoyable, later in the day there was a Jazz Band, then a soloist on a keyboard, all in the same location.

Bohemian band

My day was spent wandering around the old town, after yesterday’s shock with the amount of tourists and especially tour groups, I was able to find less populated areas to wander around in! I stayed the side of the river that the Old Town Square is on, so didn’t go up to the castle or cathedral, there was enough to see just in the old town. One thing though that did surprise me was there were a lot of big churches but they were all closed. Not sure whether it was to keep tourists out as hordes of them could be disrespectful. Two major churches were undergoing restoration, both were around the Old Town Square. It was just surprising since generally churches are open and free for people to enter.



I thought this little hotel was very sweet!


Another little observation, most of the buildings (at least that I saw wandering around) in the Old Town had at some stage been restored, across the river it was possible to see many in their unrestored state. Lots of restoration work is still going on in Prague, there’s a lot of buildings!

 Looking across to the Lesser Prague area with St Vitus Cathedral. The bridge is the Charles Bridge. 


This was my first visit so I was quite happy just to wander and get to know at least one little section of the city.

I saw this building from a distance and thought "how pretty" the laughed when I saw the Starbucks under the arches!

The apartment building in the foreground is so newly renovated I could still smell fresh paint! Next to it are apartments that looked as though they dated from the 1960s-70s, not all the old town is historic.

This beautiful building I think had been a synagogue, it was in the old Jewish quarter.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Travelling to Prague

I love train travel!

Left Berlin for Prague, I caught the train from the main Berlin Station the Hauptbahnhof and it’s huge. I think it may be the biggest railway station in Europe.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

View from a platform, all very streamlined.


 I love travelling by train, it’s relaxing, I plug myself in to music and sit back and enjoy the trip. (I’ve been travelling by train in Europe so long that I’ve progressed from listening to music on a Walkman, a Discman, an mp3 player to now an ipod!)


View from a train window, Germany

The Czech Republic, with no passport checks between certain countries anymore, there's no stopping at borders for the passport officers to come on board so only knew when we crossed the border by the signs, they weren't in German!


Once I arrived in Prague I thought I would get a taxi to my hotel since it’s my first time in Prague and don’t know the city at all. Weeeelllll, that was the idea until I went to the taxi rank, showed one of the drivers the name of the hotel I wanted to stay at and he quoted me 25 euros to take me there. (I’ll give you all a moment to convert that into your local currency and then be as outraged as I was!) I knew the hotel wasn’t far, and I only paid 6 euros in Berlin to go 3 times the distance! I said no, I’d walk!

So armed with a Google map (I always print off a map to take with me so I have an idea where places are, a note of caution though, Google maps aren’t always the most accurate. But in this case they served their purpose) off I went. Along the way I luckily passed a tourist information office and was able to get a much better map of Prague. They also helpfully showed me a quick easy route to my hotel. Found my hotel easily enough after 15 to 20 minutes of walking, stopping at tourist office and rolling suitcase over cobblestones (not that easy!). No way was it a 25 euros taxi ride!

Checked in, another perfect location, right off the main square. Then went out for a walk around and was blown away by the amount of tourists. I knew Prague was popular, that’s why I was there as well, to see it, but there are just hordes of people! I thought Dubrovnik was crowded with tourists and tour groups, Prague is Dubrovnik on steroids!


It is beautiful and I’ve only just seen a tiny bit at the moment, just very, very touristy!



Old Town Square, picture taken early evening, after the Military Parade that was there in the afternoon had all packed up!

On the Charles Bridge

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Mandala Suites, Berlin

The Mandala Suites

Great place to stay!
As it's a shared building part office accommodation and part hotel, there's only a discrete sign outside.



Once inside there's a large atrium with the lobby at the far side.


Price
Not cheap, but good value when you consider its location and the fact that it’s more of a hybrid of an apartment hotel and hotel. There’s no 24 hour front desk. I arrived 10pm on Sunday and it was the building’s security guard who gave me my information and room key. (Sunday the front desk closed at 5pm, weekdays at 10pm) There’s a minibar (with minibar prices, but no room service), breakfast which is an extra charge. Here I would be critical, it was 18euros, as much as the setting was lovely and service good, the price was a bit steep!


Top floor walk way to breakfast room.

View across the city from the breakfast room.

Location
The location was fabulous, it’s on Friedrichstrasse, the main shopping street. There’s a U-bahn stop 2 minutes away, Checkpoint Charlie is 5 minutes away by foot, Brandenberg Gate 10 to 15 minutes walking distance, the Reichstag too. There’s a supermarket 5 minutes away on a side street, and even a Starbucks across the road! Be warned though it doesn’t open early! Unter den Linden is 5 minutes the opposite direction to Checkpoint Charlie and the museum area. A taxi to the Main train station cost 6 euros.

Facilities
It’s called ‘suites’ so there’s a separate kitchen and a small balcony with chairs and table to eat at. The bathroom has a bathtub perfect for soaking in after walking around all day! Most hotels now seem to have just a shower. There’s a gym and a business centre on the top floor. Free wifi in the room.

The door on the right was to a walk-in wardrobe which was fantastic to keep your luggage in.

There was also this wardrobe to hang your clothes in, magazines under the TV was a nice touch. 

A well equipped kitchen.

The balcony.






Optional extras
Nothing stands out.


I was very happy with this choice of hotel and would certainly stay here again. The location is what made it for me, perfect!