Lovely Food in London

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If there is any truth in the existence of an after life, then logically it follows there must also be truth in the existence of former lives. I can’t rule both out. It sounds actually rather plausible to me, specifically since I cannot account in any other way for the wonderful, yet peculiar, sense of homecoming I get as soon as I set foot on British soil. I simply love being in the UK. The entire island that is, no restrictions whatsoever to just England.

The other day I read on someone’s blog that they preferred being sorry for things they’d tried, rather than being sorry for things they did not do in their lives. Boy, could I relate to that. My worst regret is having missed out on a year in a London college in my early twenties. I studied in France at the time and had the opportunity to attend college in London for a year. Due to circumstances I did not go at the very last minute. I try to not think too often about it, because it still makes me feel sick to the stomach to have made such a stupid mistake. And now, some 25 years later, I am visiting London several times because my nearly 21 year old daughter has the intention of studying in London and needs to go for interviews at Uni. (and before you wonder: no, I have never urged her to opt for London, she can choose Paris, Milan, New York, for all I care, but she chooses London. No complaints from me though…).

I come to the UK as often as I possibly can, but only rarely go to London, so these occasions to unite the practical with the enjoyable are very welcome to me. Since we had to come a few times, and since London is not the cheapest of places to stay, I browsed the internet for places which were affordable. I decided what the heck and be a daredevil so browsed the Couchsurfing website and was lucky to be invited to stay at the home of a very lovely lady. She turned out to have a daughter the same age as mine, so we stayed the night at hers. We all got along fine. A lovely experience. For free! Amazing? I suppose it does sound amazing. Truth is that in this world based on money and economy, there is a growing stream of people who are fed up with this system and who are looking for true sharing. Thus our first couchsurfing experience became a success. We only stayed one night because we did were flying home the next day, but still it was a nice way of doing it and definitely something to do more often.

The week after we flew back to London, unfortunately I was not able to find another couch for two at so short notice, and our wonderful host had already other couchsurfers staying, so we booked a hotel. It bore the odd name of ‘Accomodation London Bridge’. Turned out to be good value and considering that one spends but little time at the hotel when in London, an adequate place to stay. There is no restaurant, so no breakfast, nor a bar, but a pub around corner. The room was fine. Albeit quite small, it was simply spotless. The cleanliness of the room, the bathroom with nice bath and shower, tea and coffee making facilities, and not too far a walk from the underground made this a good place to stay. We stayed for 3 nights. The staff was very very friendly and helpful. So if you do not require a huge suite, it may be a place for you, if your budget is tight.

I really don’t mind that there was no breakfast at the hotel, it gave us the occasion to try out nice places for breakfast in London. It’s quite hard to actually say that a place is the best, because it all depends on what you are looking for and on your taste. My daughter and I have a few requirements which satisfies our ‘definite go’ demands. First of all the ambiance must be welcoming, nice, homely, cosy. It’s hard to find the correct term in English since in Dutch there is a word which covers all of the above in one word namely ‘gezellig‘, which does not translate in any other language that I know. Maybe you get the point when looking at the examples of our choice below. What we want is somewhere where you can sit cosily, enjoy not only good food, but healthy food. Where you get a decent cup of tea. Not just black but also green tea. We like the following places. The Wolseley is a grand café-restaurant located right next to the Ritz on Piccadilly.

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Sorry for the quality of that picture to the right below. You can still see the waiter. We were sat in the seats of the bar. Very nice. The reflection of the buildings opposite was non intended. My daughter is an absolute health freak and at the same time has a sweet tooth. Upon her compliments about the granola, the waiter explained the chef at the Wolseley prepares their own. That accounts for the great taste. Wonderful nuts and simply a treat to start your day with. We also ordered toast and porridge. Typically English you might think. However for Vata dosha, porridge is a good start of the day and soothing for the system.

The tea comes in silver teapots and the strainer is simply a cutie! I asked the waiter where I could get one. He gave me a flyer of the Wolseley and informed me there is a website from which one can place orders for teapots and tea and also the strainer. I looked it up. Price of the strainer is 70 pound. Photo below comes from their website.

We had breakfast twice in ten days at the Wolseley. Besides breakfast one can have lunch or dinner. Or indulge in a fabulous afternoon tea. Be sure to book a table in advance. It’s a very popular place. We did not book for breakfast but the waiter told us, booking is needed for afternoon tea.

Le Pain Quotidien

We happened upon this restaurant when we were dying for a cuppa in Covent Garden. So we went in and had tea and cake. See for yourself:

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I asked for a scone and got one…

As we found out later Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of restaurants which is located in many places in London. We actually had breakfast in the one located near Borough Market (15 Winchester Walk, Blows Yard SE19AG), lunch at the one at St Pancras station, and tea at the one in covent Garden. Their food comes from the same bakery, so whichever you try, the food is good in any. Staff was friendly. So a nice place to get a decent breakfast.

Another place we like is Jamie’s Italian in Westfield. We are a fan of Jamie’s because he is a nice guy and we have got 4 of his cookbooks at home. The food we usually order is great. One of us was a little disappointed with his pasta, which contained hardly any fish and was dry-ish. When he told the waiter, this nice man was willing to go get something else to satisfy this customer, but that was not needed. Nice staff. Mostly nice food. The only thing we recommend is Jamie add some brown bread on the menu.



Paris – spring 2012

Paris is a city I know quite well. As a young woman I studied at Sorbonne University. I used to love living in Paris, felt as if I was on a perpetual holiday. Even the peculiar smell of the Parisian underground did not bother me. Over the years I have returned to Paris many times. I used to run courses there, travelling to Paris on the Friday returning on the Monday. Such lovely memories. It has been a while since I was in Paris last, maybe as much as two years or even a bit longer. A friend who recently came to visit brought a book by Sempé, one of my favourite illustrators. His drawings are such a delight. He is very famous in France and quite well-known even abroad, particularly in America because he has done many covers for the New Yorker magazine. Anyway, my friend told me that currently there was an exhibition of Sempé’s art on in Paris. He also said this exhibition was ending on the 31st of March. I immediately arranged to go to Paris. And so there I was, on a train, nothing could stop me. I simply have to see this exhibition.
TGV (DSCN1185)
From Amsterdam, travelling to Paris is best done by train. No long waits at the airport and no hassle having to leave your toiletries home because of strict security regulations. Besides with Thalys it’s only 4,5 hours away. Since I do quite a bit of air travel, travelling by rail is a nice change. There is a special feel to it. But then I do like travelling in general. Once I’m settled in my chair, be it in an aircraft, or a train, there is this sense of letting go. You definitely cannot go anywhere, so you just allow yourself to relax where you are and indulge in reading, napping and in my case: writing.

Also in a train you see far more than in an aircraft. Besides scenery outside, people are forever walking by, going to the bar, to the loo or just for a walk. Take just now for instance. This elderly couple, grey haired and by the looks of their clothing quite well off, just came back from the restaurant carriage. The lady carefully walks by. I can see her looking intently at the numbers above the seats. She moves determinedly towards her seat. Her husband however stops a few rows back from mine. He looks at his wife wearily. Shaking his head he calls her name. She simply walked right past their seats. He smiles almost in a fatherly way. She quickly turns round and walks back up to him, smiling apologetically. There is an underlying sense of compassionateness to this couple. A lovely thing to spot. I feel quite content already and my journey has only just begun.

Another couple caught my eye. This couple had to be about 65ish. They entered the train at The Hague and were both carrying quite heavy rucksacks. They carried walking sticks and on the gentleman’s rucksack was a sticker of St Jacques pilgrimage in a prominent position. Obviously this couple were on their way to doing a walk. No need to be a detective here. I supposed they were on the Saint Jacques de Compostella trail, but I could not be sure. However what I intend to do is go and have a chat with them at some point. Since I am planning on doing a long distance walk for the very first time in my life this coming summer, who can give me better tips than those who are accustomed to walking. Dyed in the wool walkers so to speak. Although I am quite determined to go and ask them, I get a little doubtful a few hours later. Maybe they will take it as prying. Just as I am debating in my mind whether I should go and talk to them or not, the gentleman passes by. He’s off to the toilet. This is my chance. I follow him and await him in the corridor outside the loo. Not exactly the nicest of places on a train, but I wanted to chat to him and not have other passengers listen in on us. So there I was. The gentleman came out, I asked him would he mind if I were to enquire about his intended walk and he said not at all.

Indeed they were on their way to finish off the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage. They had started it ten years ago at Pieterburen in the Netherlands. A hint of pride rang in his voice as he told me loads of pensioners say they are ‘doing Compostella’, but actually they only walk the last part from the Pyrenées to Compostella in Spain. Not them though. They did part of the pilgrimage every year and were now off to finish it. They intended to do the final 800 kilometers in approximately 7 weeks. I asked him if he could give a starting walker like myself any hints or tips. His creed was: ‘Anything you leave home is a bonus’ (alas the pun is lost in the translation from Dutch). No more than 3 sets of clothing, food, a light weight sleeping bag for colder areas, (maybe just a sleeping sheet for France where it’s quite warm), some Teva sandals for the evenings. And some first aid kit for insects bites or blister band aids.

I asked him if walking sticks were recommended. He said they both used sticks. He explained that two walking sticks was not his thing. It gave him a restless feel (reminded him too much of Nordic Walking, which is a sport that has gained some popularity in Holland over the past years, mainly with people who want to lose weight). However, just for the tougher climbing parts he did carry a second stick which was folded away until needed in his backpack.

Sleeping they did at pilgrims hostels. He said they could be quite cheap ranging anywhere between 5 to 10 Euro a night. He also told me to check out a website Which I obviously did upon coming home. On that site I found for this particular pilgrimage you can get a pilgrims passport which is handy because among other things it allows you to sleep cheap in hostels.

I thanked Mister Walker profusely and wished him a wonderful finish. He wished me luck on my first camino to come. Upon arrival in Paris, him and his wife were the first to get off the train. I simply had to take their pictures and so forgive me for the quality, they were taken through the window.

Mrs Walker Mr Walker

See the big rucksacks they are carrying? They must be quite heavy. Mr Walker told me that each time they arrive at a hostel they wash some clothing. That’s why they are using special lightweight and quick drying stuff.

The sun awaited us in Paris. Quite a relief. Holland was dreary, after a period of lovely sunny weather, the cold had returned and clouds turned everything to grey. Not so in Paris. Know that song, ‘I love Paris in the Spring time..’ Well I agree.

We headed for the RER, the underground in Paris is the fastest way to get anywhere you want. We bought ‘un carnet’ which is ten tickets. There may be cheaper options, but we just went with what we were used to. However the Métro stops as each station, so sometimes it’s handier to take the fast train for part of the journey. The RER. Which we did.

Ticket machine Paris Metro Paris

Metro Paris metro sign

We crossed Paris to Montrouge where we had reserved a small hotel. As I can be quite obsessed sometimes I actually hoped we could quickly drop our luggage off and then be in time for the Sempé exhibition at Hôtel de Ville. So we went back to the city centre and walked across the Ile de la Cité towards Hôtel de Ville. Nôtre Dame was still standing. Majestically. We quickly walked on. Arriving at Hôtel de Ville at 18.30. Too late to enter the exhibition.

notre dame de ParisSo we strolled back and wandered back to the Île de la Cité. I had done some research before coming here, just the day before leaving I found there had to be a little park at the tip of the island. We decided to have a look.

Notre DâmeParis garden  Ile de la Cité

Quite a nice little spot to sit in the sun isn’t it?

We strolled along to the other side of the island on our way to get a bite to eat. At a corner of a street a lovely little band were playing. I made a little video. My first ever so please make allowances for the quality.

Notice the lady in green dancing to the left. Isn’t that lovely?

We passed quite a busy street with terraces on either side. One restaurant was called the Café de Paris and since I liked the look of the salads which other guests were having, we decided to sit and eat right there. It was a good choice to have French food as our first meal. It had been too long since we were in France. Do you like the look of my salad? As a vegetarian it is quite easy to eat in Paris. Just have ‘une salade crottin de Chavignol’, a goat’s cheese salad.

goat's cheese salad

It was lovely. The French Garçon (waiter) chatting as they do about the wine. Smiling, joking. It was nice to be back. Only a train ride away awaits a totally different world. Travelling definitely opens up horizons. Do have a look at the other pages of my blog to read all about the exhibitions, bookshops and Parisian parks.

Tea and veggie food in Prague

On our way to the Kafka museum we passed a tearoom with a sign stating it was the first ‘non-smoking’ tearoom in Prague. This tearoom we obviously had to visit. We decided to do so after visiting the museum. By the way: when you are walking through Prague, you pass through all kinds of nice streets and find lots of little treasures. Galleries, small shops, cafés and restaurants. During our weekend in Prague we did everything on foot even though there is a very adequate network of trams, metro and buses. We never took any. This time there was no need for us to do so, however when we will go back to visit the city in another season, we intend to take a tram to the end station and see what’s cooking on the outskirts. Back to the first non-smoking tearoom.

It’s got a nice painting of a sheep above the door and for art overs an art gallery next door.

Inside it was like this:


Note the crockery. It had been made by an artist and was for sale. As it happens I needed a little burner like that so that is now neatly sitting underneath my teapot at home:


Looks nice doesn’t it? Name of the café which theoretically is not a tearoom is Café Kafíčko, addres  Míšeňská 10, Praha 1-Malá Strana, close to metro Malostranská or Malostranské náměstí.

The cakes were home made, I had a honey cake which was quite nice. My friend had a carrot walnut cake which he ate with considerable speed so it must have been a treat as well. Real friendly staff although communication was a little difficult due to our non-existent Czech skills and their modest English skills. I must say I actually rather like that when travelling. It makes you resort to a lot of gesturing and even doing little drawings to make yourself understood.

As related elsewhere in this blog on Prague, we found this fantastic veggie restaurant named Maitrea.(Týnská ulička 6, Praha 1 (behind Tyn’s Church, street off Old Town Square) tel. +420-221-711631


Paradise on earth for the book lover. That’s Hay-on-Wye in one sentence. I visited this little town in 1991 with my husband. We had heard about this village which was at that time described as the village with most bookshops and second-hand books in Europe. So we went. Indeed it was a great find. I still remember our surprise upon finding that some of the shops had a message up saying: please put money in the tin.

Years later I eventually returned to Hay.

It was January 2012. The weather as you can see was not particularly appealing, but Hay was and I insisted on taking a pic of the sign with the name of the village on.The sun came through several times though.

We left the car at the car park and walked into the village. At that point we did not have any map so we just followed our noses and I haphazardly took pics of any bookshop that came in sight. It’s quite amazing to see such a small village with such an amount of book shops. Every corner you turn you bump into a new one.

The name of another shop caught my eye:

In 2000 I trained with Deepak Chopra to become a meditation teacher at his network. The type of meditation we were taught was PSM (primordial sound meditation). Seeing this sign made me smile. One of the things we were told was to always beware to meditate in the sun. So seeing PSM outdoors made me reminisce..

The Hay castle bookshop has two departments (so to speak) outdoors as seen above right. The sheet attached to the pole says:

Honesty bookshop! Just put your money in the red box. The books were rather casually stacked in the cases and some had suffered some severe damage caused by dampness. This of course accounts for the very low prices. The other department is inside the castle and in there one can browse for a considerable amount of time. Not us though, since we arrived at this particular shop quite late. We walked out and around the corner only to find more ‘departments’ (or maybe book sheds) filled to the brim with books. There were at least 4 of them. My friend said: ‘give me any number between 1 and 4’. I said: 3. ‘Okay you go to the third book shed. Stand in front of it and close your eyes. Now start walking straight ahead’ So I walked straight ahead eyes (semi) closed. It was very dark inside anyway. At a certain point near the back he said: ‘turn left’ which I did. ‘Walk on 6 paces’ which I did. Now lift your hand above your head and point forwards. Lower your hand, a bit more, a bit more, more, stop. Bring your hand to the shelf. Open your eyes. Start with your hand at the left and very slowly move it in front of the books. Stop. Now take out the book which is right there in front.’ And I did and it was:

The fun thing about this was that a friend of mine in Holland had told me the week before that I should pick up Conversations with God part 1 again and do a re-read. And there it was, it fell right into my hands in Hay while playing this fun game. And there were no other books on spirituality on that shelf nor on the shelves above or underneath. I checked.

I was of course intrigued so picked up the book standing next to this one. It happened to be the diary of Teresa of Lisieux. This book I purchased years ago in France while on a personal pilgrimage to Lisieux visiting the Basilique and doing the Teresa walk through the village. Teresa was a very devout girl who wanted to join the Carmelite convent at the age of 13. However it was not allowed for anyone that young to take such a vow. The next year the family went on a pilgrimage to Rome to see the Pope. Teresa was instructed to not look up and definitely not speak to the Pope. He would bless each pilgrim while placing his hand on their head. When it was her turn, the by then 14 year old Teresa looked up and asked the Pope if he could please allow her to enter the convent right now. It is said that the Pope smiled and was somewhat amused but said to her she should ask her local bishop.

Anyway, at the age of 15 she was admitted and she took up the brown robe. Little Teresa was now a Carmelite nun who chose the name: Teresa of the little child Jesus (actually when Mother Teresa took her vows she chose her name in honour of this Teresa and not after Teresa of Avila).

How come I am writing all this? Well to me the little saint Teresa has been a stunning example of a person who was content being only a small flower, a simple daisy.  ‘Dear God let me be a tiny daisy which is nothing compared to the splendour of the Lily and the Rose, let me be this little flower which makes the others shine and stand out  to even greater advantage’. She was modest and totally fine with being so. She trusted Jesus would shed his love on her as he would on every blade of grass. She was forever trying to not be judgemental and praying while doing her work. I was very touched by her life. She was asked to write about her life in the convent by the Mother superior. When she was 23 she contracted tuberculosis and was severely ill. She died with a smile on her face. Totally trusting she would be awaited by Jesus. She said: ‘Je veux passer mon ciel à faire du bien sur terre’, meaning I want to spend my time in heaven helping those who are on earth. After her death her diary was found and published. The purity of her mind and the unconditional trust and love of the girl were such that she was made a ‘docteur de l’Eglise’, i.e. she was made a saint by the Pope. Saint Teresa of the Small child Jesus. Everyone who prays to Saint Teresa when in need can ask her for a sign. This will mostly come in the form of a flower on your path. I myself have had flowers appear miraculously on my path in times of great distress.

I learned about Saint Teresa through my nan. My grandmother once told me a story. It was during the war and she had no money. Nothing to buy food for her 3 children. Grandmother always used to pray to Saint Teresa. She would then ask for a sign that all would be well. After leaving the church she crossed the street and found a ten guilder note on the pavement. In those days that was a lot of money.

I have always felt that it was all right to be small and modest. Not everyone can be a rose. That is probably why Teresa struck such a deep chord within me.

This is Teresa as a child. The caption says:

I am happy to be small because only children and those who resemble them are to sit down at the celestial banquet.







In catholic churches you will recognise Saint Teresa by her brown clothes and by the flowers (roses) she holds. The roses are covering a cross she carries.








This bust of Teresa sits in my house. I came across it one day while visiting the Museum of Holy statues in Enkhuizen, the Netherlands. The lady of that little museum has over a hundred statues in her basement. She also had a nice statue of Teresa.

I asked her which Saint she preferred and she told me Saint Nicolas, he is what Santa Claus is to the English and Americans. She asked me which Saint I preferred. I told her Teresa. She turned out to have this bust of Teresa which she was happy to sell. I said I probably could not afford it, but she gave it to me for 10 pounds. That made me realise this bust was meant to be with me. And it has been for over 10 years now. Reminding me of the purity of this little French girl.

And then one day I am in Hay-on-Wye and I pick up not only Neale Donald Walshes book, conversations with God, but also come across the English version of Saint Teresa’s book. Is that a miracle? To me it is miraculous that is for certain. And before you ask: no I am not a catholic. I am a person who believes in this great big field, this reservoir, this field of full potential, from which we all come and in which we all thrive, even when unaware of it.

And in this field of consciousness, miracles happen. I have lived many.

The red box for the money at the Hay castle book shop.








This is also one of those typical shops that makes one just want to step inside and browse endlessly. I love detective stories and have read a great many. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit this shop. Still I console myself saying that I will shortly return to Hay and then will make up for all the things I missed last time..

Terrible goose me, I forget the name of this shop. However I will find out later and let you know. In any case this is a wonderful shop. It’s all wood and books. And a very nice tearoom to add to that.

Notice my wonderful walking boots please. Not elegant, but soo comfy..



Great shop innit? And then I suddenly came across a heron. As you can see above. Now to me the heron has a particular meaning. (yes, yes, I attach great meaning to things other people raise their eyebrows over. I consider myself the Fool, the numberless number in the Tarot, so just bear with me ok?). In the secret language of animal totems the heron means: going after your goal aggressively, without hesitation. Also it means: do things alone. Don’t wait for other people’s approval. Just go your own way and you’ll be fine. The heron has been my totem for umpteen years. In Holland, where I live, herons galore, but very often one specifically crosses my path. Sitting down on the roof of my house, or at the pond just below my house. Or sitting down on the street lantern in my alley. Really quite conspicuous. Anyway. I hope the pic below is clear: you can see both the heron and me mirrored in it.

For any information on the language of animal totems I can refer you to the books by Ted Andrews or to his Totem Animal Tarot deck.








Above shop sign is a tyre. Name of the shop: Rest when tyred…

I like drawing as well. This sign above left is simple but to me lovely with the drawn books. And the trompe l’oeuil above I found in a street painted on an outside door. The man is stealing upstairs with a pile of books in his hands. I can relate to that. Nothing better than coming home from a second-hand-book-find-spree with a stack of books. Making a cup of tea and nestling oneself on the settee with the new found treasure.

So this was Hay in January. Good news: there is a book festival in Hay-on-Wye which takes place in June. This years dates: 31st of May – 10th June. The Hay-on-Wye festival is a must for book lovers. Find out more on the official website:

Prague Bookshops

Every person has their addiction. Mine is reading. I think I must have been reading as from the moment I could sit up. Reading is a second nature to me. Apart from tea I think books are the only thing I can’t live without. Voracious reader, I think, is the term. Not to say that I have a perfect memory, so nothing special there, but still books, and consequently book stores are to me like a casino to the gambler. Problem one might encounter in Prague would be the language barrier. So I wifi’ed English book stores and found two. One we tumbled upon unexpectedly while staring at the entrance of a church was the Big Ben book store.

As you will find on below pictures this book shop is a delight.

I’m a Woody Allen fan.

Not only I found a book of his, but Big Ben Bookshop also turned out to have a bookmark with a Woody oneliner on.

When my friend finally managed to tear me away from the shop we walked through an alley and tumbled

upon this announcement board. Some czech stand-up comedian was announced.

He did Woody Allen comedy. (top right hand corner)




Was I satisfied with this one lovely bookstore? Are alcoholics ever satisfied with one pint of beer? So on we toddled and that in the direction of the Globe..



And joy of joys, the Globe turned out to have a tearoom as well. Entering the shop you will find the books, second hand books upstairs. At the back there is a café where you can eat as well. It was quite crowded with people in there and it seemed to us they were meeting up for happy hour.

The sales lady was a friendly girl who happened to speak English quite well. She said we could order our tea in the bookshop, advice we most readily followed.

Fun thing was that a friend of mine happened to mention a new book she had recently purchased. She told me it was really interesting and I told myself to look out for

a second hand copy myself. And lo and behold, in the second hand section of the Globe, neatly displayed for me to grab a hold off I found the copy of Ask and it is given. The name says it all, n’est-ce pas?

Yet another brand of Earl Grey tea






After a very nice intermezzo at the Globe we continued our wandering in the city.

A perfect façade, however even in Prague modern life has found its way into the well preserved architectural beauty: the hardrock café is situated in this building…

This idyllic shop we encountered and I was enraptured by the simplicity of the enamel signpost. Besides it featured the picture of my all time favourite dog: a teckel..

And on our way to the Kafka museum we totally unexpectedly tumbled upon yet another English Bookshop called Shakespeare.

Oh reader, such a delight, the Shakespeare is a shop in which you easily think yourself to have been transported directly to Britain itself.

It’s an English language book readers paradise. Please look at the pics below and marvel at the sheer splendour of nooks and cranny’s of this shop. Easy chairs galore and books, books and books..

In the shop window an English version of ‘Die Verwandlung’, the Change, by Kafka. Gloomy story I read in highschool and which I never forgot for the sheer pessimism and loneliness portrayed in this story. I remember I wondered at the person who had written this book. Where would one get such horrid fantasies from. The Kafka museum we were to visit later was going to answer that question. But I am ahead of myself. Please take a look at the Shakespeare and enjoy!




The bookshop was a delight. Easy to spend hours and hours leafing through books on all kinds of topics, art, biographies, novels, you name it, this bookshop had it. I even found a new book with work of my all time favourite artist (cartoonist for the New Yorker and all) Sempé. Unfortunately the books were rather pricey so we came away out of this shop empty handed, but I must admit this was due to the fact that the sales person was chatting with another customer and was so lengthy that we gave up and left. Of course we had no clue what the conversation was about, but we did not want to wait any longer. Ah those impatient people from Western Europe..

Praha i.e. Prague

Never really seriously considered going to Prague (Praha). Of course I’d heard about it. Actually heard real promising things. That it was supposed to be really beautiful. Anyway, I got invited to go to this city in the Czech Republic and went. The weekend of 11th of february to be precise. We flew in from Amsterdam on an evening flight thus arriving in Praque by night. A taxi was waiting for us at the airport. Good job too as it was freezing. LIterally I mean, it was minus fifteen. The taxi ride through a seemingly deserted city was promising as well. Since it was snowing vigourously, the taxi could not speed and the city looked rather fairy tale like, what with the snow, the friendly street lanterns and the beautiful buildings. The mere sight of this gave me a hunch saying this weekend was going to be a real treat.

We stayed at the Deminka Palace hotel. Grand name for a reasonable apartment hotel. We had a King suite consisting of a bedroom, a kitchen annexe lounge, a good bathroom with bath, bidet and a spacious hall. A very nice suite indeed with balcony and high ceilings. Wonderful wooden parquet on the floor, yet also freshly stylish. Actually I can recommend staying here. The breakfast buffet was good and next door was the Deminka restaurant/bar/cafe so all very handy. Weirdest thing on the bar menu though:

Somehow drowned man with swollen stomach did not seem very appetizing…

Another surprising fact: non-smoking policy had not yet reached Prague. So in every bar, restaurant, café, smoking was allowed. Fortunately we found some modern places where smoking was not on.

The hotel was in a street next to the Narodni Museum (National Museum of paleontology and mineralogy etc) which is at the end off the  Wencelas Square. Although a tube station is in front of the museum we preferred walking. I must admit I had to cover my face with my shawl in order not to have my nose freeze off at times even though the blue sky was spotless. So we walked over to the Old Town square to find the Astronomical Clock.


Although a nice piece of craftmanship, I was not too interested in it. I’d seen a nice clock in Paris as well, so I was more interested in the square itself and the buildings surrounding it. It looked charming to me.

As a bit of a flora and fauna fan I immediately spotted a row of pigeons sitting closely together in the sun on the St Nicolas church.

This church was the first we entered and it was amazing. Unfortunately pictures are nothing compared to the real thing but here goes..

After visiting this lusciously decorated church we took to the right in front of the church, just around the corner is the birthplace of Franz Kafka. Since we were on our way to the Bedrich Smetana museum to kick off the weekend we decided not to visit the house just yet but this is what it looks like on the outside:

We walked to the river. Splendid sight. We were so very lucky to have this wonderful sunshine.

Then we passed the Charles bridge which we would cross after visiting the museum. The museum is but a block away from the bridge. It’s very happily situated overlooking the water.

The Smetana Museum is situated in a lovely building overlooking the Moldau. It is not a huge museum but it’s a little gem for the lover of classical music. Besides all the photographs and paraphernalia of Smetana, there is the following feature which I personally loved:

The conductors stand with examples of Smetana’s music. Just pick up the baton and point it at one of the chosen music pieces and the orchestra plays at your command..

For a minute you feel like a conductor yourself…

The Lafka is the café nextdoor. We asked to sit near the window overlooking the river. With a hot chocolate and the view we were quite content.

We continued our route and walked back to the Charles bridge. Since it was friday and february there were surprisingly few tourists about.

Everywhere you look, you find something beautiful, both the statues on the bridge and the views from the bridge are picturesque and lovely. The wonderful state of the buildings creates a sensation of being somewhere where graffiti and ugliness have not yet darkened the aspect of the city. Such a surprise. It gave me a feeling of having set foot in a place where beauty is revered and where time has nearly stood still.

Prague castle taken from the left side. Quite the fairy tale castle..

A little down the road we stumbled on a restaurant. They advertised their meals on this board outside, however instead of attracting us they repelled us with the following:

Pig slaughter soup and Pig slaughter goulash… all but appealing for a vegetarian..

Walking back to the bridge we passed the oldest vineyard overlooking Prague. We were starting to get a little peckish. A colleague of my friend had advised him not to eat in the places directly on the squares but rather look into restaurants a few streets off the main squares. Better value for money and nicer food, or so he said. So we walked up a street behind old town square. We could not really find the restaurant recommended to us, but I noticed a sign saying ‘Maitraya’. My attention was drawn and I proposed we try this restaurant. Oh and what a good choice that was! Not only it turned out to be a vegetarian restaurant but it had the Tibetan Mantra Om Mane Padme Hum painted delicately on the walls and it simply turned out to be a wonderful find..

Besides, the tea came in a soupbowl and the food was simply delcious. I had the loveliest selection of salads and as you can see on this picture indulged in a fantastic lemon pie with cream…  YUMMY!






In the evening we went to a concert that took place in a monastery. It was a modest concert with 4 musicians (harp, harmonium, violin, alt voice) but it was well played and we rested while enjoying the performance. When the harp played ma vlaste by Smetana in a smashing solo performance I felt really happy. I think this melody is so beautiful..

There weren’t very many in the audience, and those present were tourists, but still it was a nice concert so I wondered at the fatigued faces of the performing musicians.

The old town square looks very nice by night as well.

Then we called it a night. We walked back to the hotel, had a lovely bath and a nice cup of tea.

In the morning we set off to the Mucha museum. Alphonse Mucha is well known for his Art Nouveau posters. When you see them, you will probably think they look familiar. Nice posters. However, when you visit the Mucha museum, it will dawn upon you what an exquisite artist Mucha was. And such a prolific one. We were in awe of his work and I would recommend anyone to go to Prague if only to visit this museum.

Unfortunately taking pictures inside the museum was prohibited. The above pics are of the outside. We went over to the theatre designed and decorated by Mucha. I took pictures both outside and inside. Pics below are street view and view from the inside of the facade.

The grand café looked a marvellous place to have a tea, unfortunately we discovered in here that smoking in public places was still allowed in Prague. The only downer here.

The tea was good and the lovely ‘chariot de desserts’ made ones mouth water..

Calories galore, but since we did everything on foot, we could indulge and not get overweight in the process.