Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ferdinand comes to stay

My colleague has the most adorable Sheltie puppy, called Ferdinand (named after the Czech beer). I met the little fluff ball last week when we went on a day trip to Cesky Krumlov together (more of that another time). Wherever we went, he would get adoring glances and people running up to say "Jezis! To je krasny!" (OMG, he's so cute!).

Imagine my delight when I was asked to look after Ferdinand for a weekend while his owner went away to Germany!

Here's what the little fella got up to during his stay:

Satruday - exploring in the garden

Sniff, sniff, sniff

Hmm, is it edible?


Racing back inside

Tired out

Sunday morning - what's going on out there?
A much better view from my flower pot throne!
I had such a great time with Ferdinand and also met a lot of people. Czechs love dogs and I think I spoke to more people this weekend than I have in the whole time I have lived here!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

I Love Paris in the Winter Time

I finally made it to Paris last weekend. Beautiful, beautiful city of lights. I was lucky enough to live in Paris for a year in 2000/01 when I was a student. Going back 12 years later brought back a lot of good memories. I managed to fit in a lot of sight seeing as well as visits to some of my old haunts and met up with two friends I hadn't seen in years.

On Friday evening I did a lot of walking. My colleague was keen to visit some of the main sights, so we started off at the Eiffel Tower. I had never got to it from Trocadero before, but the view was brilliant. It does look amazing at night.

We walked over the bridge and under the tower.

After some dinner in a traditional little bistro we decided to keep walking through the city and headed towards the Champs Elysees. By this time it was 11:30pm and I was amazed that a lot of the shops were still open. I resisted the temptation and we walked up to the Arc de Triomphe. It was actually really nice to do some touristy things, as when you live in a capital city you often avoid such crowded places.

The next day the sun was shining brightly - really perfect weather to head to Montmartre. I hadn't been to the cemetery there before. It was like a little town for the dead with road names and even rubbish bins. Although, I don't think the deceased use those.

The tombs were incredible. I found this row under the bridge, which carries the road above, particularly fascinating.

Lots of famous people are buried in the Montmartre cemetery - mainly writers. Degas is there somewhere too.

We walked on to La Butte Montmartre and scaled the many steps to Sacre Coeur, dodging the myriad bracelet makers and handbag sellers.

I don't think I've been to Sacre Coeur on such a clear, bright day. The views out across Paris were breathtaking (as was the trek up there!).

After the obligatory croque madame in a nearby cafe, I headed off on my own to do some shopping. It was so busy at Boulevard Haussman though, that I didn't stay long and instead went to one of my favourite places   - rue Mouffetard for a wander round. I used to spend a lot of time here when I was 20. I love the little shops, cafes and restaurants. It was much the same except for the price of my grand creme. I did gulp when I looked at the bill and saw €5.20.

I'm pleased to say it was a very good coffee and I had a table on the terrasse with overhead heaters. I wrote a couple of postcards and watched the world go by. Ah, Paris...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An Unexpected Trip to Dresden

My first foreign trip of 2013 was supposed to be to Paris. Unfortunately, the snow put a stop to that as my flight was cancelled. At the last minute I decided to go to Dresden instead. Only 2 hours by coach from Prague, it makes a good weekend destination. The last time I was in Dresden was 2001, so I was sure there would be lots of new things to discover.

Boris the backpack waits at Burger King for the Friday night Eurolines coach to pull in.

I stayed at a very nice "aparthotel" on Louisenstrasse, which just so happens to be the restaurant, bar, cool-small-independent-shop part of the Neustadt. I was recommended a walk up Louisenstrasse and onto Alaunstrasse and then on into the city centre, which I'm really glad I did.

First stop was Fruehstueck at the very pleasant Cafe Eckstein (corner of Louisenstrasse and Alaunstrasse). There are various breakfast menus to choose from as well as a "build your own" breakfast.

Freshly-baked rolls, Edam and a Bio-Ei - my perfect breakfast :)

Fortified by a hearty German breakfast, I was ready to head out into the cold (-6 that weekend!). I stumbled across the arty part of Dresden known as the Kunsthofpassage and spent way longer than I meant to there. It has lots of lovely little craft shops and interesting architecture. So nice to see artisans making and selling all in one place.

Before I made my way further into town, I made a warm-up stop in the form of a savoury muffin and fruit tea at Fraeulein Lecker.

Muffin burger!

It was then time to head through the snowy streets and over the Augustusbruecke.


Dresden Altstadt from the Elbe.

Dusk on Augustusbruecke

I was particularly pleased to see the East German Ampelmaennchen when crossing the road. There are also female versions with pigtails and a dress! 

Green Ampelmaennchen at dusk.
I was excited to find some Ampelmaennchen earrings at the station just before I headed back to Prague and had to get them. Nothing like a bit of Ostalgie (East German nostalgia).