Prague(Nov 2005)

Sod the sight-seeing photos

Probably a good time to visit, still lots of visitors but you do have the chance to take the odd picture not full of tourists. Didn't go to any of the tourist trap "night clubs" in the centre, lots of touts trying to get you go to their club or sell you drugs (and I'm nearer 50 than 40).

I have been disappointed with my previous absinthe sampling i.e. nothing more than a pernod type drink. I have been told Czech Republic is the only place you can get real absinthe - in town you get it with sugar which you burn and then mix in with the drink. It was quite palatable - the stuff at the bar later tasted much rougher either because we had no sugar or had been sold meths.

The Cross club/bar is located way out from the centre near Holesovice Railway station. It's artwork is as good as any in a gallery, outside it has bangy, chimey, rotatory things.

The Cross comprises an upstairs bar + drinks patio, and a maze like underground, including two "dance floors", a bar, chill out rooms and rooms with Fussball tables in them. The upstairs bar shuts at 12 but the rest is open all night long, and drink prices were less than half what we were paying in the centre.

I don't know if it was the atmosphere or the absinthe but I was actually dancing at 5.30am and for first time in life was totally relaxed doing it (i.e. not self conscious). In hindsight no doubt I was making a fool of myself.

The upstairs bar shuts at 12 but the rest is open all night long, and drink prices were less than half what we were paying in the centre.

Thinking of hostelling in Prague?

Initially I stayed at AO/Arena Hostel, because its only 5 mins walk from where the Berlin train stops (Holesovice Railway station). I thought this place was a real rip-off, even though its a number of underground stops from the centre a dorm bed was similar in price to central Prague hostels. You had to pay extra if you wanted breakfast (4 euros - you can get a meal in city centre restaurant for that) or sheets (I luckily got mine free after changing my mind about using my own silk sleeping bag liner).

My dorm had been crammed with as many bunks as possible. Internet was an extortionate price, and its bar was charging double the price being charged by some bars and restaurants in the centre. When I arrived the Hostel did not have any maps of Prague left and it could provide little information. The only reason to stay there is that it is within staggering distance of a night out at the Cross.

I moved to the Golden Sickle Hostel which had a great location in the centre, which provided free internet, breakfast, free coffee/tea until 1200 and had a decent cheap bar next door. This Hostel was fine, but apparently there are even better value hostels in the centre.