Restaurace a kavárna Sovovy mlýny, Prague, Czech Republic


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We found a special offer on the Czech site – only 999Kc for a four course menu plus a bottle of wine. The restaurant is in Kampa Park (the park not the fine-dining restaurant that takes it name) and you have to walk through the park to get there. We booked in advance – for the 17th March 2018. It snowed most of the day and evening – the park was deserted.

We arrived at the entrance:

Inside we were shown to our table and given the slevomat menu (only in Czech).

The wine was a Czech Rosé – we asked if we could pay extra for something from their wine list, but they weren’t able to do that. As it was the wine wasn’t bad. We also asked for a carafe of tap water. Regular readers of this blog will know how much I hate it when restaurants over charge for tap water – here they charged a ridiculous 70Kc.

For our starters we chose, one of each of a duck terrine with salad and a goat’s cheese salad. There was no amuse bouche, nor bread – but then I suppose we were only paying 999Kc.

The interior was quite cosy and I imagine the terrace would be nice in the summer.

Other diners arrived and were served burgers. It was 45 minutes before our starters arrived – we initially couldn’t work out why these took so long. Then we realised that another couple, who arrived 30 minutes after us, were having the slevomat menu – the chef had obviously decided it would be easier to serve us all at the same time.

The salads were nicely presented and pretty good.

Now that we were in synch with the other slevomats, our plates arrived on time. The next course, a really delicious artichoke soup with rose foam.

For our next course we’d chosen one sea bass fillet with pak choi and one beef striploin with cauliflower puree. Both dishes were pretty good.

Pudding was a mandarin semifredo, which was okay. I would have preferred some warm chocolate cake – but having already been unable to change the wine, I didn’t even ask.

The bathrooms are downstairs; the basement area was a bit run down and messy – but the bathrooms were clean.

Overall, this was a good meal for a good price. I’d be tempted to return in the summer and order a la carte from their terrace. I see that a 0.5l Czech beer is 59Kc which isn’t a bad price for such a central location with view across the river – it’s true what they say about the Czech Republic ‘beer is cheaper than water’!

We booked a taxi from the nearest driveable location – Říční 563/1 about 5 minutes walk away.

Restaurace a kavárna Sovovy mlýny
U Sovových Mlýnu 2
Praha – Malá Strana
Zobrazit na mapě
+420 724 036 036

Saint Patrick’s Day March 17th 2018 in Prague


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Late afternoon update: all the Irish pubs are packed with a combination of those trying to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and those watching the rugby. Expect standing room only. I retired to Napa Bar where I have a seat – only bottled Guinness available for 75kc though.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a worldwide celebration that usually involves some parades and a visit to a pub for a pint of Guinness. Prague is no exception.

For the first time, there will be a parade from Hybernská Street around the city centre through Old Town Square, Národní třída and Wenceslas Square and back to Hybernská Street. I haven’t yet been able to find a time for the start of this parade.

Plenty of bars and clubs are getting in on the act, with Irish-themed activities, music and film. Jameson Irish Whiskey is sponsoring the parade and various events including the Rock Café and Prague University Kampus Hybernská. Their Facebook page is:

My choice will be pint of Guinness (109 CZK) in what I think is the most Irish of the Irish pubs in Prague – The James Joyce. My review from 2015 is here: James Joyce. The tables are already outside so let’s hope the weather stays as good as last weekend.

If you are in Vinohrady and don’t want to trek into town, then Becketts is a good option, they also have a garden. A pint (actually not completely sure if it is pint or 0.5l) of Guinness there is 95 CZK. My review from 2016 here: Becketts.

Here’s a list of some other Irish Pubs in Prague, in no particular order, with a link to their web page and the price for a pint of Guinness:

Rocky O’Reilly’s – Guinness 109

O’Che’s – Guinness 110

Irish Times – Guinness 109

The Dubliner – Guinness 109

Caffrey’s – Guinness 119 and this one is 0.5l and not a full pint which is 0,568 l

McCarthy’s – Guinness 100

JJ Murphy’s – Guinness 99

Merlin – A friend of mine observed that ‘Merlin isn’t an Irish Pub, more a Czech pub that sells Guinness”. The Guinness is served in 0.4l glasses and costs 69 – so a pint is actually 98.

Royal Mint new UK 10p coins – what would be the Czech equivalent?


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The UK’s Royal Mint has issued 26 new 10p coins, each featuring a design that is intended to reflect things that are quintessentially British. The 26 designs are one for each letter of the English alphabet. Test your friends as to what they think should appear for each letter – then test them at the end to see how many they remember.

This started me thinking about what would appear on a series of Czech coins. What would be quintessentially Czech? In the table below, I’ve listed the 10p coin designs, plus some ideas for what could appear on a Czech coin. I’ll then update the table with your ideas. I’m open to changing my Czech suggestions.

ABC 10p description Czech equivalent

Angel of the North


Á Not applicable

Bond… James Bond





Č Not applicable



Double-Decker Bus


Ď Not applicable

English Breakfast

Ema Destinnová

É Not applicable No Czech words begin with this?
Ě Not applicable

Fish & Chips

Franz Kafka


Greenwich Mean Time



Houses of Parliament


Ch Not applicable



Ice Cream


Í Not applicable




King Arthur

Karel IV



Loch Ness






National Health Service

Národní divadlo

Ň Not applicable

Oak Tree



Post Box


Ó Not applicable





Ř Not applicable





Š Not applicable

Škoda Auto





Ť Not applicable

Union Flag

URNA (Útvaru rychlého nasazení)

Ú Not applicable


Ů Not applicable No Czech words begin with this




World Wide Web



X – Marks the Spot


Yeoman Warder

Ý Not applicable

Zebra Crossing


Ž Not applicable


The letters Ě and Ů never occur in the beginning of any word.

The letters Q, W and X are used, I think, exclusively in foreign words.


Sia Restaurant, Prague, Czech Republic


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11th March 2018 update: Another great meal at Sia last night; the ‘duck with broth’ dim sum were amazing. This time we had two litre carafes of tap water (only two of us but thirsty – we also had wine) and were charged 75 Kč for each – the carafes have lumps of shungit (which is a bit like coal, but known for some anti-bacterial properties) in the bottom. Next time I’m just going to refill the first carafe myself in the bathroom!

Sia opened in December 2017. It looks like the Potrefená Husa chain of restaurants financed the place, although there aren’t any direct references. Head Chef is Jiří Štift, previously of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I remember eating there and loved the Asian-themed menu he’d put together.

Sia writes this on their webpage:

The Asian menu of the Sia restaurant is based on the traditional recipes, procedures and technologies which we connected with the experience and ideas of the international team of the chef Jiří Štift. Under his management, the menu is prepared in cooperation of the cooks from Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Moravia and China.

Sia is just a few steps away from the Marriott Hotel on V Celnici street in central Prague. I’m struggling to remember what was there before – the restaurant has been custom built from the ground up and must have cost a fortune.

We booked a basement floor table in advance as I’d read that the top floor can be hot – heat rising from the kitchens on each floor. We were led along glass walkways and down stairs, past steaming kitchens and ducks hanging in windows.

It already felt like a trip to Asia. Our table was just away from a bar where diners can sit and watch the chefs at work.

The waiter was friendly and I ordered a bottle of Malbec – a little expensive at 990 Kč. The waiter returned to advise that they had run out. So we chose to just drink the Cabernet Sauvignon 0.15l at 75 Kč per glass. We also ordered a carafe of tap water, which arrived with what turned out to be lumps of shungit (which is a bit like coal, but known for some anti-bacterial properties) in the bottom – that styling didn’t come cheap as we later found the carafe cost 75 Kč. I have to say that I really object to paying more than 20 Kč for tap water, no matter how they dress it up.

We were given a complimentary sake-style cocktail:

Our food order was the reason for our visit: two types of dim sum and Peking duck – both really hard to find in Prague:

  • Shaomai – steamed dumplings, pork, prawns, soy sauce (3 pieces) 169 Kč
  • Har Gow – steamed dumplings with prawns, ginger and soy sauce (3 pieces) 169 Kč
  • Half Peking duck served in two courses: 595 Kč
    First with 10 pancakes, ginger, cucumber, cantaloupe melon and plum sauce
    Second boneless duck legs with fried rice, egg, spring onion, carrot and sesame

Everything was absolutely delicious. If I could change anything, I’d order a side of hoi sin sauce for the duck pancakes as the Sia sauce, although I’m sure authentic, wasn’t what I like to complete my pancakes.

The bathrooms were spotless, with shared hand basins and a sign that took a second look before I could decide which was my side:

Our total bill (we had four glasses of wine) 1308 Kč.

We took a walk around the other floors – they were all busy with diners and kitchens:

The top floor wasn’t hot – although it was -5 °C outside. I think the basement was the right choice and I’d book to sit there again. Our clothes didn’t retain any food smells.

I’d certainly recommend a visit – but you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.

Sia restaurant
V Celnici 1034/6
110 00 Praha 1

+420 220 199 380

Monday – Wednesday 11:00–24:00
Thursday & Friday 11:00 – 01:00
Saturday 12:00 – 01:00
Sunday 12:00–23:00

Dishoom Indian Restaurant, Covent Garden, London, England


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Dishoom is already a success story, with five restaurants in London and one in Edinburgh. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to visit one. We chose the Covent Garden location – just a few steps from Leicester Square underground station.

It isn’t possible to book a table for less than six people after 6pm – you should expect to wait in line outside for up to one hour and we did (picture above was taken at 11.15pm so no line). As it was, I hadn’t seen my friend for several months and we had plenty to chat about while we waited. The line manager, who also registers you when you join the line, also offers hot Masala chai. I regretted not bringing a hip flask filled with whiskey. It isn’t possible for both to leave the line and visit a nearby pub – you’d need to take turns.

Once inside, the décor is that of a Bombay café – these Irani cafés of Bombay were set up by Zoroastrian immigrants who resettled there in the mid 1900s. Apparently only twenty-five remain. We were seated at quite a small table for two – others who were luckier sat at booths for four. I’m not sure if you can hold back and wait for the table of your choice.

The menu and wine list are on a double-sided piece of A3 paper. I found it difficult to read the 7pt font descriptions of each dish without the light from my iPhone. Our waitress, originally from Poland, was really friendly and helpful. My friend, Vrinda, assured her that we (actually not me) knew all about the food. We ordered a bottle of Terre di Monelusa Primitivo – good value for the location at £27. Tap water was free.

Vrinda went a bit crazy with the starter orders, explaining that each was a chance to try Bombay street food. All the starters were good value:

Vada Pau – a deep-fried spiced potato patty in a bread roll £3.90.

Pau Bhaji – a bowl of mashed potatoes with a bread bun for dipping £4.50

Dishoom calamari – small fried pieces £5.90

Bhel – cold and crunch puffed rice with pomegranate and spices £4.50 – forgot to take a picture of this.

The Vada Pau and Pau Bhaji were delicious. The calamari batter was a bit too sweet. The Bhel was, to me, like a bowl of spicy breakfast cereal without milk – Vrinda assured me the Bhel was good and pretty much how it should be.

It was a good experience and a nice change to the pappadums and samosas that I order without thinking.

For the main course, we ordered Mahi Tiikka £8.20, Jackfruit Biriyani £8.90 and a Chicken Ruby £9.50.

The chicken ruby was as good as any chicken curry I’ve eaten.

The biryani was authentic – apparently you can partly tell by the piece of inedible pastry left on the edge that is the remains of the cover. The biryani was really tasty.

I forgot to take a picture of the perfectly presented Mahi Tikka – the piece I tasted was delicious and I’d be tempted to order that as a starter on another visit.

The (clean) bathrooms were downstairs. I was surprised to find another part of the restaurant downstairs – sadly lacking the same character as the upstairs and also quite claustrophobic with low ceilings.

I would recommend always asking for an upstairs table, preferably a booth – even if that means you have to wait in line for longer.

We’d seated at 8 and suddenly it was 11.15. 12.5% service charge was added to our bill and I was almost tempted to tip our waitress a little more.

We really enjoyed our time at Dishoom. The food was excellent, waitress really great and the prices really reasonable. The biggest downside is having to wait in line outside. I think I would try and arrange to visit as a group of six to avoid the line.

12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9FB

Simpson Travel Ambassador Competition


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Simpson Travel is a family-owned, UK-based, travel company that offers bespoke package holidays to Europe and Turkey. I’m guessing that I’ve just reduced my chances of becoming one of their travel ambassadors, by using the word ‘package’ – their website doesn’t mention the P word. In my defence I did prefix it with ‘bespoke’!

The Simpson website has a competition to become a Travel Ambassador. Much as I like the sound of the title, I also like that the winner is also given £5000 to spend on a Simpson Travel holiday. The competition (closes in two days) is here:

I almost didn’t bother to enter (BTW @ Simpson T – this is my entry so don’t give up yet) as I tend to book flights, car and accommodation separately for the majority of my holidays. I like to choose travel providers based on my loyalty status (currently BA Gold, Hilton Diamond and Hertz President’s Circle), some trip advisor reviews and price. However, it does look like Simpson Travel are able to tailor their holidays to suit specific requirements, rather than offer one-size-fits-all packages.

I’ve never taken a Simpson Holiday. They ask ‘We’d like to know what inspires you about our holidays‘. I decided to take a look and was immediately impressed at the level of personal service they provide – this isn’t a company that just sends you some flight tickets and a hotel voucher. It seems that every hotel and villa has been visited by a member of their staff. Personal chef? Nanny for the children? All possible. I was actually surprised that you can select and book a holiday via the Simpson website. I book almost all my travel online, but that’s probably the last thing I’d do with Simpson – I’d want to call and chat about the accommodation, how many steps to the Sea and, of course, are their mosquitoes or wasps?

The Simpson destinations include; France, Spain, Italy and Turkey. What I found exciting was that despite visiting all these countries, Simpson seem to have found places that wouldn’t be immediately obvious, nor found by a Google/Trip Advisor search. And I suppose that is their unique selling point; truly local knowledge and bespoke service.

I really enjoy the television series ‘The Trip’ starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. They visit unusual places and dine in some fantastic restaurants – plus it’s very funny. I would imagine that Simpson Travel would be able to organise something exactly like that – they should contact Michael Winterbottom and offer their services for the next ‘Trip’.

Before I post a series of my favourite holiday photos, I should also mention some minor things that I’d change about Simpson Travel – no doubt further reducing my chances of becoming a Travel Ambassador:

  • I struggle with the name Simpson Travel – I want to write Simpson’s Travel, or, because they are a family concern, Simpsons’ Travel.
  • Their ‘On Travel’ magazine is A4 Portrait size and that makes it awkward to read on a screen.

Now to the holiday photos (all taken using my iPhone). You can guess the location for each picture – answers at the end:


I’m also posting some oil on canvas paintings by my partner, Martina Krupičková, as we travel together:



Saint Valentine’s Day 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic


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Saint Valentine’s Day isn’t a Czech tradition – the ‘Czech Day of Love’ or ‘Svátek zamilovaných’ is celebrated on May 1st. Prague lovers tend to visit Petřín hill and kiss under a blooming cherry tree. Legend has it that a girl who is not kissed will wither and die in twelve months.

However, February 14th (a Wednesday this year) is the name day for Valentýn (the day of Svatý Valentin). Western influences have resulted in plenty of Czech restaurants and florists embracing the event.

A number of Prague fine-dining restaurants are already advertising a Valentine’s Menu:

Bellevue – An expensive five-course Menu for 2890 CZK per person

Mlynec – Four courses for 1390 CZK per person

Kampa Park – Five courses for 1 795 CZK per person

Hergetova Cihelna – Five courses for 1 125 CZK per person

But the best value for fine dining in my opinion is:

U Emy Destinnové – with a good four-course menu for 800 CZK

If that’s still exceeds your budget, the James Joyce Irish Pub is offering a Valentine’s Day menu for two for 985 CZK (for two not per person) including a free bottle of Bohenmia Sekt. Click on the image when the link opens to see the menu.

The Royal Theatre is screening the classic Audrey Hepburn movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Two tickets and a bottle of French wine for 690 CZK. I’m glad the Royal have started to be innovative again as they seemed stuck in a rut of repeating burlesque shows.

If you hate everything about Valentine’s Day, there are places for you:

Beckett’s Irish Pub has an anti-Valentines Day Party with live music from Neil Brooks. They promise that there won’t be a love heart in sight. And only a few hundred metres away, California Republic has the same idea with another anti-Valentine party with a welcome drink, free comedy show and live DJ.
Obviously romance is out of style in Vinohrady – well I guess the Royal Theatre still counts as Vinohrady.

I’ll leave you with the first stanza of the poem Máj (May), written by the romantic Czech poet Karel Hynek Máchay:

Late evening, on the first of May—
The twilit May—the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose’s fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven’s clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps.

Byl pozdní večer – první máj –
večerní máj – byl lásky čas.
Hrdliččin zval ku lásce hlas,
kde borový zaváněl háj.
O lásce šeptal tichý mech;
květoucí strom lhal lásky žel,
svou lásku slavík růži pěl,
růžinu jevil vonný vzdech.
Jezero hladké v křovích stinných
zvučelo temně tajný bol,
břeh je objímal kol a kol;
a slunce jasná světů jiných
bloudila blankytnými pásky,
planoucí tam co slzy lásky.

And a picture of the famous photograph ‘Kiss by the Hotel de Ville’
by Robert Doisneau:




How secure is the safe in your hotel room?


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I’ve seen a number of stories over the years regarding the security of hotel safes. These are the keypad operated safes that you find in most hotel rooms – you press reset, enter your own code, close the safe and press close. Obviously the hotel has a secret code that can also open the safe – otherwise the safe would be unusable if you forgot your code. That means someone in the hotel can open your room safe, although we hope that the secret code is kept secret.

The safes tend to be stand alone and battery operated. That’s probably a good idea as otherwise your valuables would be inaccessible during a power outage. Equally this means they aren’t connected to a centralised system, where each safe can have it’s own secret code. My guess is that the same secret code is used for all the room safes – can you imagine a hotel bothering to keep a log of secret codes, different for every safe?

But imagine if the hotel didn’t bother setting the secret code for every safe that was installed. What if they left the default code set by the manufacturer? The video below is by a YouTube user called ‘LockPickingLawyer’:

I’ve no idea if pressing # twice followed by a series of 0s, 123456 or (Hitler’s Password) 999999 will actually work, although I intend to try next time I’m in a hotel room with a safe. If you decide to experiment with your hotel room safe, don’t store your valuables, nor a bottle of Lagavulin – just in case there is some security lock out and you can’t get back in.

Even if the hotel has changed the default to their own secret code, your room safe is only as secure as the security procedures within the hotel.

Obviously any potential thief also has to gain access to your room, but that includes cleaners, maintenance and turn down service. In the past you could leave ‘do not disturb’ on the door handle, but following the gun attack from a hotel room in Las Vegas, hotels have stated that they can ignore those signs if the room is reported inaccessible for over a day.

The good news is that in all my hotel stays across the world, I’ve never had anyone steal anything from a room safe.

Momoichi Japanese Coffeeteria/Restaurant, Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic


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Momoichi opened in Vinohrady mid-2016. They actually call themselves a ‘Coffeetearia’ and I’m not sure if that is a deliberate misspelling in line with the trendy theme or simply a mistake.

I’d pretty much ignored Momoichi until they announced they would be running a special dim sum day on Saturday 13th January 2018. We booked for 7pm.

Once inside, the place has a modern, stark, cool theme – it isn’t cosy. The friendly waitresses all wear black t-shirts with fun slogans such as ‘smile for me’ and ‘ask for a hug’. Trendy lounge music was playing. The place was busy and attracted a young eclectic crowd:

The waitress poured us two glasses of water. These were topped up during our meal, although I noticed other tables had a carafe. The dim sum menu looked good:

We went for two dim sum sets. The sake was pretty expensive and I’m not that big a fan of sake anyway. We took a look at the standard menu that also listed some wines. The choice of wines was really limited and the prices completely ridiculous: 1dl of Austrian Frankovka was 85Kč – so a large glass of what is already an over-priced wine in the shops (maybe 280Kč a bottle) was 170Kč.

The dim sum was excellent:

It was so good that we ordered a third plate to share. I couldn’t face another glass of the world’s most expensive Frankovka and went for a Gin OMG & Bohemsca tonic 135 Kč. The waitress returned to say that they’d ran out of that gin and only had the more expensive Gin OMFG & Bohemsca tonic limited edition 165 Kč – I accepted that, but really I think they should have just provided the more expensive version at the same price.

The standard menu had some interesting items on it, but was almost impossible to read with the font size 5pt or less.

I realise that this a place for young people, but I coincidentally had an eye test at the optician a few days before and was told I had perfect vision without need for glasses – luckily the Momoichi menu wasn’t part of my eye test as otherwise I’d be walking around like Harry Potter now!

An electronic Japanese toilet is installed in both mens’ and ladies’ washrooms:

I didn’t try this version, but my previous experiences in Japan have mostly resulted in a disconcertingly warm seat and water spraying upwards – don’t press the buttons while looking at the pan!

We asked for the bill and were told to pay at the counter. I suppose that’s fine for a coffee shop – less so for a restaurant. And that leads to the question – is this a restearant (sic.) or a coffeetearia (sic.)?

The food was good, but I don’t think I will be back because of the wine choices and prices. If you decide to visit – take a magnifying glass!

Momoichi Coffeetearia
Římská 1199/1199/35,
120 00 Praha 2-Vinohrady


Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

E-mail: lukas.kubin@momoichi.czPhone: +420 721 364 002

The Best of 2017


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Thanks for being part of – here are my favourites from 2017:

The New York Bar from Lost in Translation, Park Hyatt, Tokyo, Japan

Bugs of Peru

The toboggan ride in Funchal, Madeira

The Prisoner Convention at Portmerion Village, Wales

Events in Prague, Czech Republic to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Anthropoid

Beauty Contest in Czech Nuclear Power Station causes sexism row

The Borrowdale Hotel, Borrowdale, Cumbria, England

Papilonia Butterfly House, Prague, Czech Republic

Pasta & Vino Restaurant, Salzburg, Austria

Sightseeing in Nuremberg – The Rally Grounds and Documentation Centre

R2-D2 appears on top of a nuclear bunker in Prague, Czech Republic

Mail Rail at the London Postal Museum, London, England

Nervous Trees and where to find them

Santa vs. the Mazací tramvaj (Grease Tram) in Prague, Czech Republic

I’d also like to thank my guest reviewer for these excellent restaurant reviews in August:

Upstairs at No 1 Cromer Restaurant, Norfolk, England

The Grove Restaurant, Cromer, Norfolk, England

The Gunton Arms Restaurant, Norfolk, England

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!