Places to eat in Hay on Wye

the Granary Hay on WhyIt was Sunday and I went for a bite to eat in Hay on Wye. There are some very nice places for food to choose from. I have been many times to the Granary. It’s a lovely place to go for soup or tea and cake or breakfast. Why? It’s just the ambiance. I’m not the only one who thinks so, there are always plenty of customers there. No wonder, there is a nice open log fire and a cat who has its own little white fluffy rug on the window sill, right next to a central heating element. He is ever so cuddly. It gives the place such a homely feel. They usually do 2 or 3 different soups with a roll. You can help yourself to it and pay at the till where you also order your drink. Very friendly staff and if downstairs is too crowded, no worries because there is plenty of space upstairs where you can sit quietly and spend as long as you like. The Granary is a lovely place and the other day I had a slice of their lemon meringue for the first time… It was just heavenly.

Oscar's bistro, Hay on WhyContrary to my habit I did not go to the Granary yesterday, I felt it was time to try Oscar’s bistro. While wandering through Hay the other day I had walked past it. It’s opposite the Oxfam shop in High Town (odd street name). At first I thought it was a tea room so I did not go in because I’d just had lunch. So in I went yesterday. Oscar’s is also a real nice place ambiance-wise. A nice old wooden floor. Wooden tables and in the corner a bookshelf with second hand books for sale. Loos are upstairs and on going there I noticed that there is plenty more seating upstairs and also a very nice second hand book arsenal. Well, it is Hay of course, but still to find the love for books extends to eateries is a big plus to me. After a few days of not heaving eaten all that well, I decided I needed some veggies. So I chose the veggie meal of the day which was a coconut and vegetable curry with a choice of salad or rice or chips. I ordered the rice. It was simple and nourishing and nice. I liked it a lot. I had not noticed but it was help yourself to cutlery and stuff, however the friendly waitress did not mind at all getting cutlery for me.
Oscar's bistro, Hay on Why
While eating I noticed there was music playing in the background. Not very loudly I am happy to say. However this particular song I knew very well. It was Mississippi by a group named Pussycat. Now you probably do not even know this song, let alone the group, but I did because this happens to be a Dutch group and the song had been a smashing hit in the seventies and had gone to number one in many countries even in the UK! So I said to ‘Oscar’ who happened to clean some tables nearby that I appreciated his music choice. Oscar said he thought the lead singer should have gone solo to get a big career. I told him she probably did not do that because the other girls were her sisters. However I looked it up later and she did have a solo career later as well. After lunch Oscar (whose name wasn’t Oscar) showed me the cd:
the Dutch group Pussycat
He told me he really liked their music and we had a nice chat about it. He said he actually had to pay in order to play music in his cafe to 2 different organisations. He said that should he have over 5 persons working for him in his kitchen and play music he would also have to pay for that. How weird a world is it we are living in?

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

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.