Eating Our Way Through Prague

Prague is easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe – with its beautiful cobbled streets and fairytale-like gothic architecture. However, its quickly becoming one of the hippest food capitals in the continent. Many people know that Prague is already famous for its cheap beer, attracting many a stag or hen do. Czech cuisine is meat-based, and there were plenty of places offering ‘traditional’ dishes. However, don’t fret travelling vegetarians – there are a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, as well as a large number of Asian eateries. We found that many restaurants were promoting ‘raw food’ dishes on their menus too, to cater for all. I didn’t think we’d find somewhere to rival Budapest for its great restaurants at ridiculously cheap prices, but we were wrong!

Before visiting, I always do my research – especially as a fussy vegetarian. I want to know the best places to sample the local cuisine. Here we’re our favourite places to eat. Please comment with your thoughts and additions.

Cafe Louvre

Arguably, the best thing about Prague for me was that magical feeling of being transported back in time. You feel part of a forgotten era. Cafe Louvre was the perfect example of this. A Parisian style cafe and billiard hall, dating back to 1902, quintessentially epitomises Prague cafe culture. In its hay-day, it attracted visitors such as Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein. However in 1948, it was closed when the communists came to power and wasn’t fully revived until 1992.

Cafe Louvre is open daily, offering a wide variety of dishes and beverages. I had the decedent Cafe Louvre hot chocolate and delicious apple strudel, while my husband had the club sandwich and a latte. Both were amazing and I would have happily eaten it all over again. The bill came in at just under CZK300 (£10).


Cafe Louvre, Národní 22, Prague 1
Lokál

If you’re looking for good, cheap beer and exceptionally fresh Czech cuisine, look no further than Lokál. We visited the Dlouhááá branch several times during our stay, as it was literally metres from our air bnb appartment. Lokál opitomises old Czech culture from the 1960’s and 1970’s, with its simple interior. It’s extremely popular, and although extremely big, fills up fast. It’s also a great spot for people watching. Both the drinks and food menus are extensive – even offering a range of non-alcoholic ciders – and the service is excellent. A really cool spot in the centre of Prague’s old town.

We feasted on the highly recommend Lokál speciality of fried cheese, with homemade tarter sauce and the Goulash of beef cheeks, with bread dumplings. The latter I’m assured was incredible. All washed down with a large Pilsner Urquell and homemade lemon soda, came to just over CZK300 (£10). An unbelievable price for homemade top-notch Czech cuisine, sourced from local suppliers. A must.


Lokál, Dlouhá 33, Prague 1.
Sisters Bistro

Just under our apartment, was the incredible, yet tiny Sisters Bistro, founded by a famous Czech food journalist. We gourged on their amazing chlebíčky (open-sandwiches) daily, and were always convince to buy more than we had intended initially. The light, healthy sandwiches were in high-demand and just too pretty to pass. We enjoyed the vegetarian beetroot and goats cheese, as well as the egg and ham.

Sisters Bistro, Dlouhá 39, Prague 1
Naše Maso

Alongside Sisters Bistro, lies Naše Maso “Our meat”. Both are located in the new Gastro Pasáž, a hip mini-shopping complex for foodies. Currently, only a few units are occupied, but they’re extremely popular and trendy places to visit. Naše Maso is an exceptional butchers and fast food eaterie, that serves beer on tap. The takeout burgers, steaks and particularly the meat loaf is very popular, with queues forming outside the shop throughout the day. As a veggie, I can’t vouch for the food, but I did find myself fascinated by the art of the butchery on display throughout several of the units. Quite an odd observation from a vegetarian, but the window displays were unintentionally captivating works of art. My husband, on the other hand, dived straight into the meatloaf at the first opportunity. It’s basic simple food, taken to a different level, without the hefty price tag. His words, not mine. Would highly recommend a visit – if not for the food – for a glance through the windows.


Naše Maso, Dlouhá 39, 11000 Prague

Grand Cafe Orient

Housed in the beautiful homage to the cubist movement, The House of the Black Madonna, is another of Prague’s ‘step back in time’ masterpieces. The Grand Cafe Orient originally closed in the 1920’s when cubism fell out of fashion and was renovated in 2005, retaining its original brass lanterns and buffet-bar. A truly magical experience for anyone looking for a light-bite or coffee. We visited the Grand Cafe Orient twice as it was so close to where we were staying. If you can, try to grab a booth by the window, as it provides a great vantage point both inside and out, helping you to reflect on what life was really like in 1911. I ordered the cheese panini and lemonade, followed by another delicious apple strudel. One thing I felt let the cafe down was the sour faced waiters, who were probably the only ones we encountered during our stay.

The Lake District – A photo diary

Our first encounter with the Lake District was a memorable one. We were so unbelievably lucky with the weather! Read about what we got up to here, otherwise, enjoy our photo diary. Photos by @foreacharoad.
Stunning skies over Crosby Ravensworth:


Ullswater:

Gowbarrow:


Aira Force:



The beautiful night sky:


What is your favourite destination in the Lakes?

A taste of the Lake District

This year was all about exploring our own country, as well as our adventures abroad. Luckily, we have had several weddings in opposite ends of the country, which has inspired us to make little mini-getaways. This time, after a lovely wedding in Newcastle, we hired a car from the airport and drove 90 minutes across the country to the stunning little village of Crosby Ravensworth, which is in the heart of the Eden Valley and approximately 4 miles from the M6. We booked ‘One Chapel Terrace‘ on Airbnb, which sleeps six for a minimum of two nights. It was a beautiful little cottage, with a hot tub, perfect for soaking aching muscles after a long ramble uphill. 


We ate at The Butchers Arms, a community owned pub in Crosby Ravensworth, and the only place to eat within 11km. It was a stones throw from the cottage and has just been taken over by new owners. The menu was small, but catered for all, with daily specials on the board. The fish and chips were one of the best I’ve ever had from a pub/restaurant. 

The next morning, we drove 26 miles to Aira Force and Ullswater in the Lake District. As soon as you catch a glimpse of  the lake driving through Pooley Bridge, you realise why people rave about the scenary and the tranquility of the region. I am a sucker for bodies of water with breathtakingly beautiful mountainous backdrops, so this ticked all he boxes. We were also blessed with glorious sunshine, although this resulted in half-term holiday makers flocking to the numerous National Trust carparks like the world was going to end. It didn’t help that the sunshine had not been forecast, so everyone was desperate to soak up every ounce of golden ray on offer. 

Aira Force is a 65ft waterfall, accessed by a fairly leisurely stroll through glades and woodland. We continued the walk up, following the stream. Being half-term, many families littered its banks, enjoying the sun. 


Ullswater lake itself, offers an array of different watersports and tiny secluded bays and beaches, to enjoy a paddle or a snooze. We (obviously) went for the latter, after scoffing a huge slice of cake from the National Trust tea room.


Albeit a tiny taste of what the Lakes have to offer, I can definitely see why so many people describe it as the most picturesque region in the UK. I was slightly concerned that I would be left disappointed after our trip to Snowdonia – however this boasted a different kind of WOW factor to that of North Wales. Ullswater was buzzing. Whether it was the half-term or general touristy feel, you felt it embraced the crowds and encouraged them to flock, enjoy and experience the scenary that we are so lucky to have in England. It is celebrated. 

A weekend in The Cotswolds

When you live and work in London (and have done your whole life), it’s important to plan an escape now and again. Where better, than The Cotswolds? This rural area covers six counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and is an absolute beauty of an escape from the city.

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Two of the best hotels: 

Barnsley House, Barnsely

Do you want the ultimate fairy-tale experience: four-poster beds, roll-top baths, secret gardens and delicious culinary treats, fit for royalty? Then look no further than Barnsley House. A ridiculously stylish grade II listed manor-house, within 11 acres of grounds, which were designed by critically acclaimed gardener Rosemary Verey. After losing yourself in the magnificent gardens, reward yourself with a treatment at the hotel’s gorgeous spa or a meal at The Potager restaurant, which serves fresh and seasonal produce from the hotel’s kitchen garden. The hotel operates a no-young-children policy during breakfast and dinner, but The Village Pub (situated opposite the hotel and part of the Barnsley House family) does welcome children of all ages.

The Making of a Garden

Barnsley House truly is the perfect hideaway – with magnificent, modern rooms, boasting outrageous luxury and comfort. I’m not ashamed to say that took a photo of the pillow labels and bought some when I got home. Judging by the company’s website – I’m not the only one. Now, given the high level of luxury, rooms do not come cheap – starting at £200. If you can afford it, The Rosemary Verey suite is pure heaven and the bed is like something from a Disney film.

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Breakfast is included and can be ordered to your room at no extra charge – something which we took full advantage of. We made the most of our eggs florentine in the beautiful conservatory of the Rosemary Verey suite, in our dressing gowns.

I loved our stay at Barnsley House and I’ve been back several times, just to walk through the grounds and have a drink. It is Cotswold luxury at its best and in and in a perfect location, close to Cirencester and beautiful Bibury.

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The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach

Now the Wheatsheaf is the epitome of Cotswold cool. Without a doubt, ‘Room 1’ boasts the best bath tub that I have ever had the luxury to soak in. We honestly could have spent the whole weekend just in the room, wrapped in a dressing gown, sinking into the ridiculous comfort of the bed!

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The restaurant uses seasonal and local produce, cooking rustic food and presenting it beautifully. The menu changes daily throughout the week and the restaurant also offers private dining. It is well-worth booking, even if you are a guest at the hotel – something which is recommended when booking.

The hotel has 14 rooms, which have either a power shower or bath – some have both. Every booking includes a complimentary continental breakfast, however a cooked breakfast comes at an additional cost. This is something that, for the amount charged per night, should be included. Saying that, the staff are extremely accommodating, and as there are no such facilities in your room, will happily bring tea and coffee to you as requested.

Even when we haven’t stayed at The Wheatsheaf, we will always make sure we pop in for a drink, as it is one of the coziest drinking spots in the Cotswolds. During the summer months, the beautiful garden has a buzzing atmosphere. The reviews don’t lie – with accolades from Mr & Mrs Smith, Tatler and Open Table to name a few -alongside a glowing review from Jay Rayner in the Observer, you must book a stay ASAP and experience the delight that is, “Doing Britain Proud.” Rooms from £100+

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We have spent plenty of weekends in The Cotswolds and it’s a special place for us. Although we have been lucky to stay in some remarkable hotels, we have also spent many-a-night at the Travelodge in Burford. It’s literally 2 hours door-to-door and we can always get a good deal. The location is excellent, it’s opposite The Cotswold Gateway (lovely food and friendly bar) and in walking distance of beautiful Burford, which is littered with shops, restaurants and village pubs. It is also a ten minute drive from Cirencester and half-way between Cheltenham and Oxford. Worth a look if you’re looking for a base to explore the area without breaking the bank.

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Photos by @foreacharoad

The Rough Guide to the Cotswolds: Includes Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon

Climbing Snowdon

Those of you who have read my first post will know that I turned 30 this year – prompting me to review, reflect and plan my travel goals for the next decade. One of my aims, was to explore as much of Great Britain as I could. We booked a few days in Wales over Easter and were blown away by the breathtaking and captivating beauty of Snowdonia. We stayed on Anglesey, an island off the north-west coast of Wales, surrounded by stunning coastlines and beaches. For the past seven years, I have longed to return to New Zealand, a country that without a doubt, leaves a huge impression on everyone that visits. Wales definitely filled that hole and left me shocked, that such beauty could be found only a two-hour drive from Manchester!

Anyway, as part of our stay, we had decided to attempt a hike up Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. I’m not going to lie, currently I’m not the fittest I have ever been, but I felt prepared enough to give it a go.

It’s important to note here that we did do our research. We weren’t able to find a great number of books, but purchased ‘The Ascent of Snowdon’, by E.G.Rowland on Amazon for £2.99. We did laugh when it arrived, as it was tiny and first published in 1975. However, it proved to be one of the most useful things we read (as well as information online – climb-snowdon.co.uk have some great guides and tips).

The Ascent of Snowdon: The Six Classic Routes Up Snowdon

We decided to park in Llanberis and take the Llanberis Path (the gentle one), 5 miles/8km long, total ascent of 980m/3,198ft. It was very busy, we were overtaken by plenty of children and young families – which did nothing for my self-esteem. Although the first couple of km were steep, it soon became easier.

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After approximately two hours, we reached the Halfway Cafe, which sells everything from coffees to cupasoups, homemade cakes to fridge magnets. There’s no running water up the mountain, so the cafe’s owner has to carry water, food and gas bottles two miles uphill every day. We refueled and warmed up, before taking on the next few km up to the train station at Clogwyn.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway runs from Llanberis to the summit in the Summer months, but currently only travels to Clogwyn, due to the snow. An online adult return stands at £29.00.

By now, we were walking into deep snow and many families with younger children were choosing this point to turn around. We continued towards the summit, where conditions became slightly treacherous and scary. Where the snow was powdery and fresh earlier in the day, the sheer volume of hikers had turned it to ice, and even with good walking boots, the ascent was slippery and hard work. Visibility was also now poor.

The final ascent to the summit was understandably tough, not just due to the volume of hiker traffic, but the snow here was extremely thick and the steps were covered in ice. However, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment at the top was unreal. Never had I ever thought that I would be able to achieve something like this! Exercise is not usually my strong point. Unfortunately, the summit was engulfed by a thick grey cloud, therefore we couldn’t see anything from the top. Also, my iPhone couldn’t cope with the cold and died. Goodbye Facebook profile photo selfie…

As wonderful as it was to reach the top, the realisation that we had to begin our descent, down the icy, crowded steps, hung over us. However, if the man with a baby on his back – yes, a baby on his back – could do it, then we could. We decided to take the train track path (not necessarily a suggested route), as the snow was fresher, and didn’t seem as treacherous. We ended up following a group of hikers onto the Snowdon Ranger Track, which was also fairly easy and takes you down a beautiful route, providing some pretty spectacular views on a quieter path. Once to main, steep descent was over, we were completely alone, leaving us to enjoy the stunning views of the mountain we had just conquered (minus the cloud, which had now disappeared).

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The Snowdon Ranger Track finished at the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel, which was nowhere near our car. This is a massive mistake we made, so take note! We were aware that there is a bus which connects all the paths, allowing you to use two different routes and get a lift back to your car. Unfortunately, although only just 5:00pm, we had missed the last bus and had no mobile phone signal. There was also nobody in the YHA. Hmmm.

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Luckily, a lone YHA worker happened to cycle past and called us a cab. My legs were now dead and the quickest route back to Llanberis would have been back up the Snowdon Ranger Track and 1.5 miles over a hill – not something my legs would have allowed.

All in all, a fantastic experience, although it has taken nearly a week to walk properly again. We were as prepared as we could be, took plenty of water, chocolate and layers, and made it all the way to the top.

So the question now is, do we complete the set and climb Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. We have trips to The Lake District and Ben Nevis booked for this year? Have you climbed all three and completed the three peaks?

 

 

How Wales Cured My New Zealand Withdrawal

I doubt that you will ever meet someone who has left New Zealand without falling in love with the country’s majestic, captivating landscapes. Even though I last visited the country nearly seven years ago, I never hesitate to exclaim that is the country I dream about returning to on a daily basis.

As part of our ‘turning 30’ lists, we had decided to spend more time exploring Britain. Therefore, we booked a short 3-night break to North Wales. We stayed in Holyhead, Angelsey – which gifted us with a beautiful view of Snowdonia National Park. From there, it was a 40 minute drive to Snowdon. Photos from @foreacharoad.

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Pentraeth – Red Wharf Bay

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Holyhead – South Stack

FullSizeRender (7).jpgCaernarfon – Nant Peris

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Hiking Mount Snowdon

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Holyhead – Trearddur

Of course, nothing will ever live up to our beloved NZ, but the beauty of Snowdonia and North Wales, is a taste of Aotearoa, 90 minutes from Manchester.

We are on the hunt for other destinations around the United Kingdom that help to heal the withdrawal symptoms of other faraway beauties…