Elevator of Death

One of the highlights of our Prague trip was seeing and using a paternoster elevator. These elevators – also called the Elevators of Death due to their history of being unsafe are becoming more and more rare. When I found out there was a working one in Prague I knew it was one of those now or never moments.

PaternosterIf you also want to annoy a number of locals at their place of work on a normal day when you visit Prague – I suggest going to Magistrat Hlavniho Mesta Prahy – Google Map RBS, its just accross the road. Its a big local government building so its not exactly a “tourist attraction” but thanks to their elevator I think they get a fair number of people walking in. I asked at information for the elevator and the gentleman sighed, half smiled and pointed us down the hall. I think he gets asked where it is a lot.

The elevator isn’t anything very exciting to look at, as people use it everyday to get from one floor to another, but knowing this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride one we jumped in. I wasn’t brave enough to ride it all the way around but brave folks who do say the mechanism is really cool to see.

So not your traditional tourist attraction but its off the beaten path and its free – win in my book!

Sights and Sounds of Prague

After spending all day monday in a beer tent we decided we needed to make a point to see as much of the city as we could on Tuesday. Unfortunately the weather was against us – it was hot, much hotter then expected and rainy. Not a great combination for sightseeing in a walkable city. In spite of the weather we did see a number of famous sights.

When we travel I tend to be the one in charge of photography – with my phone and my Nikon but this trip Steve decided he wanted to use our GoPro Hero 4 to capture the sites. Unfortunately he decided this days before we left so I didn’t have time to order a handle for it – this you get fingers in most pictures.

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Dancing House

The Dancing house is right on the river which meant we got a nice breeze while we stood with a throng of other people taking snaps of this odd shaped building. I didn’t find out until later that it’s a hotel and we could have gone inside. Next time!

Our next stop was recommended to us by a friend of mine back in the US – U Fleku. She and her husband lived in Germany a few years back and traveled to Prague. They told us we needed to stop by this brewery from the 1400s and try their dark lager. I am so glad we did – it was amazing! I can’t remember what we ate but it was delicious and the beer was light and refreshing despite it’s dark color.

After the brewery we walked back into the center of the city in hopes of exploring Charles Bridge – another free tourist favorite. Unfortunately our luck didn’t hold out and the blue skies from earlier that day turned grey and the we we’re soaked within minutes of being on the bridge.

Not having been smart enough to bring our raincoats that day we slunk off to find a dry spot to wait out the rain and came across the perfect place to cool off and stay dry. Yes – it’s a massive touristy gimmick but I’ve always wanted to go to an ice bar. There’s a famous one in London but at £16($20+) just to get in with one drink its not worth it in my mind. Prague Ice Pub charges 200CZK which at the time was about £4 – a pretty fair price for a drink and 20 minutes of selfies.

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Astronomical Clock

After freezing for 20 minutes we walked around Prague city center, picked up our go to souvenir – Starbucks city and country mugs and made sure we got ourselves in front of the famous astrological clock for the display that happens every hour on the hour. As the time drew closer a huge hoard of tourists stood in the square looking at the clock waiting for the mechanical display. Right on the dot the bells rang and the saints circled around. This is one of those “must see” things that you only have to witness once. It’s more hype than anything else.

That evening we tried a few different spots for dinner but in true Ckz fashion if you don’t arrive early enough the small restaurants and pubs tend to run out of food. Thankfully we found Pivnice U Sadu, I can only describe it as a whole in the wall TGIFridays if that makes sense. The food was yummy and very traditional – like something your mom would make when you visit from college. Plenty of beers on tap and friendly wait staff who spoke excellent english. A real win after a long day.

Prague Beer Festival

One of our main reasons for visiting Prague when we did was it was the annual Czech beer festival and being “beeries” (foodies but for beer) we couldn’t pass up the chance. The Cesky Pivni Festival was held every day for about a month in May in a massive red and white striped tent just outside Praha 1, the main neighborhood in Prague.

cpf-fotky-02Steve and I were worried the tent would be super crowded on a Monday so we booked VIP tickets at the festival – meaning lovely waitresses got our beer and food for us as opposed to us getting it. Needless to say when we walked into the tent at 1pm on the monday we were surprised. It was empty. The VIP section had at least 50 long tables and only 3 people were seated in the area.

We could hear their american accents so we said hi and sat down at the next table over and of course we started chatting. What else do beer drinkers who are at a festival do when drinking pints of beer just after noon? Lucky they turned out to be really fun guys to chat with and they made our evening.

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This is the only shot of our friends. Notice the Michigan shirt! Go Blue!

We stayed until about 10pm at which point Steve and I had both had approx 14 pints (almost 2 gallons) of beer each as well as a few local dishes (all our money couldn’t go to booze). The details on how we made it back to our hotel are a little fuzzy but I’m sure if I pull up my uber account I will see a $4 ride back to the hotel.

Unfortunately I didn’t get many snaps from the festival and the ones I have are blurry and make no sense but were probably funny at the time. I did get a snap of some of the yummy food we had.

Unfortunately I dont remember the names of the different beers we had or the breweries they were from but I do know if we find a cheap BA holiday we’ll be going back next year for more fun!

 

Prague – The City Of Beers

I’m about 90% sure that is not the tagline for this ancient city but today we’re just going to go with it because why not right? For Steve and I it was one big epic pub crawl – perfect sort of holiday in the heat!

Before I go any further with pictures of what we visits and recommendations of things to do and not to do I need to give a shout out to Honest Prague Guide. I found this youtube channel on a friend’s pinterest page and it was a total lifesaver! When we travel I always use my well worn copy of Lonely Planet’s Europe On A Shoestring. It’s the perfect mix of things that are inexpensive and yet still worth seeing. Plus its saved us a lot of money as we dont buy individual country travel books. But sometimes you wish you had a local to point you to the best spots you would miss since the book can only hold so much.

Thats where The HPG comes it – its a duo based in Prague who make informational videos for tourists on how to best spend their time visiting their amazing city. The videos explained how to take public transport from the airport to the city center (saving us about £30 in taxi fare). It covered the best places to eat for under £5, best place for a cheap beer (1 pint for less than $1) and alternatives to the super tourist spots. It does take awhile to watch all of them but it’s time well spent!

We lucked out with a great BA holiday – meaning we got our flight and our hotel together making them much cheaper than if we had booked them on our own. Our hotel Luxury Family Hotel Bila Labut a little ways away from the main tourist area but thanks to amazing public transit it took about 8 minutes to be right in the hub of things. We bought 3 day travel cards so we could take the subway, bus or street cars as much as we wanted. Very helpful and it worked out to be about $10 a day for the 2 of us. Occasionally we took ubers (when we were too drunk tired to navigate) and thanks to the great exchange rate we didn’t ever spend more than $5 a ride.

Our first meal in Prage was at Provaznice – an amazing and cheap Czk restaurant/pub just a few steps from Wenceslas Square – a major tourist attraction. Aside from cheap beer they had delicious food! We tried a few different things that looked good. Everything was amazing – I’d go as far to say it was the best place we ate as we went twice over our 4 day trip.

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Beer cheese, garlic potato pancakes and more local cheese

We spent the rest of our Sunday wandering around Prague, getting lost, popping our heads into lots of little bars and student hangouts recommended by HPG. We didn’t do much “sight seeing” as we were pretty tired from our 4am wake up call, so we called it an early night.

Our first dinner in Prague wasn’t traditional Czech, but its a favorite of Steve’s and mine and its not available in Reading – Pho! We have to travel into London for it and thanks to health and safety its nothing like what we get at home with raw beef.

Remember Vietnam was just next door to our hotel which made it a super easy place to grab a bite. Steve’s head cold made it even more perfect – a bowl of pho is known to cure any and all colds!

It wasn’t the same as what we get back in the US, but it was still really good. I imagine when it’s cold and damp in Prague in the fall and winter this place is packed with people warming themselves with these giant and inexpensive bowls of soup!

I’ve got 3 more days of sights, sounds and tastes to tell you about! Stay tuned.

Hurghada, Egypt

Steve and I just got back from an amazing 7 nights in Egypt where we had a really spectacular time. The weather was perfect – I didn’t see a single cloud in the sky the entire time we were there.

This was our first “package holiday” with Thomas Cook and we learned a lot. Some good and some bad – but that’s the best way. We got ourselves a very good deal on our trip by booking it about 10 days out. It worked for us because we’re pretty flexible with holiday etc for our jobs. We also knew they needed bodies in seats on the charter flight so waiting meant saving a lot.

If you follow my instagram you will have seen a number of photos from our holiday. Lots of sun, san and sea – just the way I like it! Here are a few snaps from our trip – I’ll go more into detail of where we stayed and what we did after I do that for Prague!

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This was the view from our room at sunrise one morning (I couldn’t sleep)

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The view of the Red Sea from the pool area

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Steve and I snorkeling in the Red Sea – it’s very salty which makes photos blurry

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Hurghada was hit very hard by the Egyptian recession and much of it is half finished hotels and tourist destinations

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A rather unflattering photo of me trying Hookah for the first time. It was not successful – but as funny as it looks

Now that we’re back in the UK we’re having a heat wave – its 89 degrees here today! Thankfully the office has AC but our house doesn’t – most dont – so its fans and open windows and a lot of laying around and moaning about the heat.

Prague Beers

For those of you who know Steve and I personally know we are big beer drinkers – so when we visited Prague in May we drank a lot, and I mean a lot of beer! I didn’t get photos of every pint we drank but nearly.

Here they are in all their glory – the beers of Prague

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Beers from the Festival

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Beer Ice Cream

Pineapple Chorizo Dinner

Everyone needs a few meals in their arsenal that they can a) cook really well b) is a total crowd pleaser and c) has ingrediants you always have on hand. For me this Pineapple Chorizo rice dish is one of mine. When I tell Steve its on our weekly menu he gets super pumped. And honestly so do I. I love making it and I love eating it more.

I found the original recipie for this dish over at How Sweet It Is – a great blog with lots of yummy recipes. The first time I made it I followed her directions and recipie and it was amazingly delicious – but also on the expensive side to make. Which is fine, but if its a go to meal I like to see if I can tweak it to be more budget friendly.

This is my recipie

4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 packet of chorizo – cut in 1/4 circles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 cans of pineapple
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
any other veggies you have in the fridge – zucchini, carrot, celery, radishes and eggplant are all delicious

Start cooking the rice right away – its a fast dish to make and it’ll be easier not to have to wait on the rice.

Cut up all your veggies, your chorizo, onions and garlic.

Oil the pan and let it warm up before adding onion. Saute for a few minutes and add garlic. Add chorizo and cook for 5 min. Chorizo is an already cooked meat so dont look for it to turn brown.

Take the chorizo out of the pan and toss in the pineapple. The oils will cook it quickly. Once its soft and a little browned remove it.

Add more oil if need be. Toss in the veggies including the peppers in order of hardness. Carrots before eggplant (for example). Saute the veggies and add the salt, pepper and paprika.

Add the chorizo and pineapple back to the pan and mix all together. Let it cook a little more so all the flavors mix.

We skip the sauces – they’re good but not necessary for this dish.

Serve hot over rice, with green onions as garnish.

This is such an easy dish to make – takes about 30 min and is pretty healthy as long as you load it with veggies. I like it because I always have these items on hand. Chorizo is a staple in my house and lasts for ages – so does canned pineapple. I use whatever veggies I have and voila – a meal everyone loves!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures on this post – last time I made this it was gone so quick I didn’t get a chance to snap any!

What are some of your go to, easy, always on hand meals?

Cooking For An Army

I have to apologize to you, dear readers, I have been a slacker of a blogger here lately.

Honestly I have been working a really odd shift at work – 12.30pm – 9pm which has thrown me totally off my game. Thankfully it’s temporary!

Since here lately I’ve been going to bed super late (hello trying to wind down at 9pm) and sleeping in – cooking has gone out the window. Theres 0 point in trying to cook something super early for that evening – especially when I should be at the gym working out. So I’ve taken to batch cooking on sundays to make my life just a little easier and so Steve doesn’t order a takeaway every night.

Batch cooking is essentially exactly what it sounds like – cooking in large quantities and putting the food in the fridge to be reheated throughout the week. If I was really on my game I’d do crock pot meals for during the week but I’ve been lazy so microwaved leftovers have had to do.

The first thing I make when I am batch cooking in veggies – cause let’s be real, they are the last thing you want to cook fresh every night when you’re making yourself dinner. Plus I find if they’re cooked and in the fridge I tend to add them to my meal.

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Rainbow of veggies

This was the tray of veggies I made this past weekend. From left to right its plumb tomatoes halves, red peppers, shredded carrots, yellow peppers, onion, green peppers and asparagus. A good mix and flavor profile. Put some rapeseed oil with oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and crushed garlic over the top. 20 min in the oven – boom! rainbow of veggies ready to grace any plate.

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I also made a tray of shrimp in the same dressing. It was warm on saturday and a shrimp, veggie salad was the perfect meal. Plus we had shrimp and rice with veggies for the dinner monday night.

What isn’t pictured is the Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki I made and the One Pot Spinach Pasta. I actually subbed in chicken instead of shrimp for this recipie – its what I had thawed at the time. Both super easy, I cooked all of this at the same time so I could do one load of dishes.

Are you a fan of batch cooking? What are some of your favorite recipes you like to cook in bulk?