May 27th 2017 Events in Prague to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Anthropoid

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Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination of Schutzstaffel (SS)-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office, RSHA), the combined security services of Nazi Germany, and acting Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The operation was performed in Prague on 27 May 1942 after having been prepared by the British Special Operations Executive with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Wounded in the attack, Heydrich died of his injuries on 4 June 1942. His death led to a wave of merciless reprisals by German SS troops, including the destruction of villages and the killing of civilians. Anthropoid was the only successful assassination of a senior Nazi leader during World War II.

Saturday 27th May 2017 is the 75th Anniversary of Operation Anthropoid and a whole day of events is planned in the Prague 8 district. All events are free.

09:30
Unveiling a commemorative plaque
Gabčíkova 1224/4 (nearest tram looks like Vychovatelna which is on the 24 route.

It’s about a 30 minute walk to the next venue (Tram stop U kříže). The 24 goes there but could be diverted because of the event. Nearest metro, I think is Palmovka and then a 10 minute walk.

From 10.25 to 10.45
Reconstruction of a military attack on Heydrich
The original location has been redeveloped, so the reconstruction will happen at the tram stop U kříže, which is similar to the original.

There will be some vintage trams and other vehicles to add authenticity.

11.30 to 19.00 – Program in front of the Municipal Authority of Prague 8, U Meteoru 6 – it’s only a five-minute walk to here from U kříže

12.15, 14:15 and 16:15
Scottish bagpipe band performance: The Rebel Pipers

12.30, 14:30 and 16:30
Training demo by the  Čsl. Independent Armoured Brigade

13.00, 15:00 and 17:00
Guided tour of Camp Democrat by RAF units. The Camp Democrat features:
Genuine Vauxhall staff Limousine 14hp 1939
Military Supplies Austin Tilly in 1943
Two small British trucks (Bedford)
Small staff car Austin 8 in RAF colours
Chevrolet C15 truck
Two American Jeeps
A 1:1 scale model of a Spitfire MK.IXc

 

13.30, 15:30 and 17:30
Reconstruction of street scenes of occupied Prague. Streets and buildings will be themed; posters, tailors shop, newsagent, post-raid civil defence office of auxiliary of the German Red Cross.

18.00 to 19.00 – concert by country-music band Taxmeni

May 26th at 21:00: There is also a free screening of the Czech movie ATENTÁT (1964, director Jiří Sequens) in the courtyard of Libeňského zámku, projekce Kinobusu Dopravního podniku – although I’d guess only in Czech and without subtitles.

Pizzeria Grosseto – Náměstí Míru, Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic

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This restaurant is part of a chain of five restaurants around Prague – although one is a bit further out in Průhonice. All offer a similar menu which is a mixture of pizza, pasta, meat and fish dishes. The Pizzeria name belies the quality of the environment, food and service – all of these are much better than you would expect.

The náměstí Míru location benefits from having a large summer garden. This was completely refurbished two year’s ago and now has a large, covered and boarded area:

This year they’ve refurbished the washrooms that are part of the garden – no need to walk back around to the main restaurant.

The restaurant and garden share a kitchen and menu, but there is no direct route between the two. If you want to visit the restaurant, you enter via the main entrance:

For the garden, you walk a few metres along the street and follow a passageway that opens up into the garden that is surrounded by residential flats on all sides.

The restaurant is modern and has a small mezzanine floor with additional tables. The restaurant is completely non-smoking. The restaurant tables are slightly too close together and the place gets a bit echoey when busy. Nonetheless, I quite like the main restaurant, but I think the real gem is the garden.

The garden tables are nicely spaced. The open air tables are smoking, the covered, but open-sided dining area is non-smoking. The downside of the garden is the Prague rule of ‘no noise within earshot of residential areas after 10pm’. This isn’t a bad rule for residents, but it looks like the residents have made life difficult for the restaurant as the staff are anxious to clear the garden before 10pm. The garden isn’t plagued by bugs – I would of course like my dream restaurant garden which would be enclosed on all sides by the same bug screens that surround Florida swimming pools, but that’s not going to happen.

Neither the restaurant nor the garden have wifi – I’d really like this to be available and free.

The house wine at 140Kc for a half litre carafe is pretty good -although two years ago it was 95Kc. If you are ordering food, you also are given a complimentary bread basket and butter – the bread is very nice and we always eat it.

The pizza, fresh pasta, meat and fish dishes are all really good and reasonably priced. Desserts are pretty good although we don’t normally order them.

I’d recommend a visit – especially now the summer is here.

PIZZERIA GROSSETO – Vinohrady
Francouzská 2, náměstí Míru, Prague 2

Reservations tel.: +420 224 252 778

Opening hours:
Mon – Sun: 11.30 – 23.00

http://www.grosseto.cz/en/vinohrady/gallery

Heathrow Connect – avoid the Heathrow Express rip off

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The Heathrow Express runs from London Paddington to London Heathrow airport. The journey is advertised as taking 15 minutes – although I’ve been on journeys that have taken up to 30 minutes. Fare is £25 peak or £22 off-peak. Their website has this little infographic:

What they don’t mention is the Heathrow Connect service. Journey time is 30 minutes. Fare is £10.30 – less than half the cost. The Heathrow Connect website doesn’t do much of a job selling the service and uses this tagline:
“When time is not an issue.”
Whereas they should say:
“Only 30 minutes to Heathrow for less than half the cost.”

I had been staying at the Hilton Paddington and so it was just a short walk from the rear exit of the hotel to the platforms and ticket office.

My Heathrow Connect train was empty:

I could see a full Heathrow Express on the adjacent line:

My train pulled into Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 on the same platform as the Heathrow Express. If you need T4 or T5, you need to change to the Heathrow Express, but that is free.

So unless you’ve just missed a Heathrow Connect, or cost isn’t an issue, just ignore the Heathrow Express and make yourself comfortable on the Connect train.

Café Lounge, Prague, Czech Republic

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Café Lounge is a cosy place, just a few steps away from the tram stop ‘Ujezd’ (castle side of the river in Prague). The entrance looks almost like a hotel; you could easily think from the name and initial glance that this is just a café that provides sandwiches and coffee. But step inside and you’ll find a fine-dining restaurant with friendly but professional service.

The interior of the restaurant is modern, but cosy.

At the rear, there is a small garden with several tables. One feature of the garden is a large, high wall. This is relatively unusual within the cloisters that are formed by the design of most buildings in Prague. Apparently, this is called the ‘Hunger Wall’ and was built by Czech King Charles IV. The wall looks a bit re-constructed, but adds something to the garden, especially in the evening when it is nicely lit with uplighters.

We visited on a Wednesday evening in May and sat outside. I didn’t see any wasps and even with lights on after dark there weren’t swarms of midges or mosquitoes. With the high wall on one side and the restaurant wall on the other, this would be an ideal place to screen in and make bug free.

When we last visited several years ago, there was an ornate pre-printed table mat (well A3 paper) with information about the restaurant and an artistic impression of its location in Prague. We didn’t see that this time – if that has gone then it’s a shame.

The wine list is a little odd – the majority of the wines you probably wouldn’t recognise. Plenty of German and Austrian wines which I avoid – probably because of the memory of Liebfraumilch in the 1980s. Our waitress announced that she was also the sommelier and was more than happy to talk us through the wine list. But people tend to be creatures of habit and have their favourites like Malbec, Chablis, Rioja and Merlot. We had the Unlitro 2015 Ampeleia, Roccatederighi, Toscana (IT) for 650Kc which was fine, but I would have rather paid 650Kc for one of my regular favourites.

We were given a carafe of water and fresh focaccia bread with olive oil. The carafe was also refreshed when empty. There was a charge of 20Kc showing the Czech for ‘side dish’ on our bill – I’m not sure if that was the water or the bread, but I’m fine with that.

To start we had Beetroot Ravioli (115Kc per) which turned out not to be pasta, but pieces of beetroot folded like ravioli with a ricotta filling. It was nice enough, but I was looking forward to ravioli. Ravioli doesn’t refer to the shape, it refers to the pasta – the chef probably thinks this is clever, but I don’t think the menu should mention ravioli.

Our main was one of two specials (there isn’t an à la carte menu for mains); cod with chickpea mash and asparagus (310Kc per) – this was pretty good, fresh and perfectly presented, but missing that wow factor, considering the chef only had two dishes to focus on.

As the Unlitro wine was literally ‘a litre’ rather than 70cl, we decided to share a cheese plate (210Kc). There was a really good selection of Czech cheeses, plus some delicious apricot, pumpkin and ginger chutney.

This time we didn’t have coffee. But I’d recommend the coffee from my previous visit, as it’s presented with a great deal of theatre, or perhaps a science experiment. A vintage coffee percolator is set up at your table; gas burner underneath and spherical glass container with another glass on top of that. The heated water rises through a central tube to fill the upper glass. Then they waiter adds coffee and that filters back down into the spherical container.

Our total bill 1730Kc plus tip. Would we go back? Would I recommend this place? I really like the décor, the garden and the service. I like sitting outside there on a warm evening. But then, I don’t really like the wine list and the food isn’t as impressive as it should be for the price. As you can probably tell from this review, I want to love this place but we’re not quite compatible.

Café Lounge
Plaská 615/8
150 00 Praha 5
Czech Republic

+420 257 404 020

mailto:cafelounge@prague.coffee

http://www.cafe-lounge.cz/en/

Mo – Fr: 7:30 – 22:00
Sa: 9:00 – 22:00
Su: 9:00 – 17:00

Churchill War Rooms, London, England

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We were staying at the Hilton Paddington. On Saturday we took a tour of the hidden tunnels of London Euston and then had dinner at Mughal’s Indian Restaurant near the hotel. With a few hours spare on Sunday morning, we decided to visit the Churchill War Rooms. This is the formerly secret WW2 bunker that tells the story of Winston Churchill’s life and legacy – the place is run by the Imperial War Museum.

There wasn’t a queue when we arrived and we were able to purchase our tickets without delay £19 per adult with donation £17.25 without. I’m pretty sure that nobody says they won’t donate, even though it isn’t clear what the donation is for – I’d hoped it was for ex-servicemen, but having looked since, it seems it goes to the Imperial War Museum, which at least is free to visitors.

Each visitor is given a ‘phone’ where they can listen to various guides in their chosen language.

Once inside, I was surprised that the bunker was so close to street level – I’d hoped and expected it to be far underground.

The place is quite large and you could spend several hours reading the text that accompanies all the exhibits in the central hall. There’s obviously been some money spent and the various wartime rooms, offices and living quarters are decorated and inhabited by mannequins.

There’s even a door that appears to have come from No. 10 Downing Street.

We enjoyed our visit, although would of course preferred to discover the place prior to the refurbishment as a museum – perhaps abandoned as it looked several years after the war.

I think £19 per person is expensive – £9 would be about the right value. But that doesn’t seem to deter tourists as there was a long line waiting when we left.

Churchill War Rooms
Clive Steps
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AQ

9:30am – 6pm every day

Flight Simulator in the Centre of Prague, Czech Republic

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We were on our way to Café Lounge for dinner and that meant jumping off the tram at Ujezd. Just by the tram stop was what I thought was a bar themed around air travel. We went in to investigate and found that this was actually a flight simulator.

The first room looks like a bar and I’m still not sure whether you can just pop in for a drink. I thought the ‘pilot’ was just a bartender dressed as a pilot, but I think that he was actually a real pilot!

The room to the left contains a reconstruction of a Boeing 737 cockpit and a few rows of passenger seats:

We were handed a leaflet that described some of their experiences; fly with an instructor, extreme flight and/or emergency situations. It wasn’t clear if you could just be a passenger, maybe sit and have a snack and drink served by a flight attendant. Looking at their website, it seems that you can pay for a pilot experience and bring up to ten ‘passenger’ friends; four in business and six in economy. There doesn’t appear to be an option to just be a passenger.

The simulator is also static, so it isn’t like one of those boxes on hydraulic pumps that moves about.

It may be that they make enough money selling pilot experiences. Otherwise, I think they should consider running the place like a bar, where you sit and are served drinks like on an aircraft. Or they could offer ‘experiences’ for those who are scared of flying. None of these would appeal to me that much, but I’m sure some people would pay for that.

I won’t be reviewing this place as I’m not planning to pay for a pilot experience. If you do happen to reserve a pilot experience and would like a passenger, please let me know – I’d want to sit in business class though!

My Airlines

Vítězná 18
118 00 – Praha 1
Czech Republic

https://myairlines.cz/en/

Opening hours:
Monday :  13:00 – 09:00 PM
Tue- Sun : 10:00 – 09:00 PM

 

The Mughal’s Indian Restaurant, Paddington, London, England

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We were staying at the Hilton Paddington and so I spent some time looking for a good local Indian Restaurant. We didn’t want anything overly fancy such as the Cinnamon Club, more something like The Punjab.

Mughal’s looked perfect and so I tried to book a table via their website. The booking process is a bit odd as you have to choose an hour from a clock face, then ok to display the same face again and choose the minute. After completing, the details, the submit button didn’t appear to do anything. I waited a day or so and didn’t receive any confirmation email. So I sent them a reservation request by email. Another few days and I realised that I’d need to call – table booked.

We arrived at 20:45 following pre-dinner drinks in the Hilton lounge and were seated immediately. The place small, tightly packed and was exactly what we were looking for. Large bottles of Cobra beer were quick to appear.

My Sister had joined us and spent several minutes discussing her vegan dietary requirements – the waiter was really helpful. With all the vegan conversation, we forgot to order pappadums.

The main courses were all around £10 and delicious – we added rice, naan bread and an aubergine dish.

More drinks and the total bill was around £62 – a 10% service charge was already added. Good value I thought.

We weren’t offered a digestif – which does happen often in Indian restaurants.

I would recommend Mughals to anyone who found themselves near Paddington station – just call and reserve a table the old-fashioned way.

The Mughal’s Indian Restaurant
11 London Street Hyde ParK London W2 1HL

020 7262 3030

http://www.mughalsrestaurant.co.uk/

info@mughalsrestaurant.co.uk

Open Hours
Monday – Friday Noon – 11:30pm
Saturday Noon – 11:30pm
Sunday Noon – 11:30pm

I returned the next day to take some outside photos:

Star Alliance Million Mile Competition

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The Star Alliance is celebrating its 20-year anniversary with a competition to win one million miles that you can then spend on flights. There are 21 prizes, one for each of the 21 frequent flyer programmes that are part of the Star Alliance. But you can only enter once – usually your entry would be associated with the frequent flyer programme where you are a member. You can join a programme and then enter.

Closing date for entries is 31 July 2017.

If you aren’t a member of any Star Alliance programme, or even if you are, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Should you join the programme of the airline that you would use the most if you won? You should be able to spend miles with any alliance airline.
  • You could consider joining the smallest programme as there would be less entries competing against you. I would guess the smallest is ‘Miles + Bonus’ run by ‘Aegean Airlines’.
  • 20 out of the 21 participating programmes are offering miles (or an equivalent metric). SAS’s EuroBonus Programme is offering four round-the-World Business Class tickets. Usually when you spend miles, you still have to pay some taxes and fees – the SAS prize sounds like four free flights. So if a round-the-World trip in Business Class is what you’re looking for then join EuroBonus.

I actually entered using my Lufthansa Miles and More number – that may have been a mistake as Miles and More is Europe’s biggest frequent flyer programme; includes Adria Airways, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS.

All entries should be submitted here: http://mileagemillionaire.staralliance.com/?language=en

The first thing you need to do is submit two photos:

  • A photo of yourself against a plain and simple background (no patterns), with you in the centre.
  • A photo of a cultural experience from your library that you’d like to share, making sure it’s in the same format and orientation as your portrait (i.e. both jpg files in landscape or both in portrait).

The reason for the above guidelines isn’t obvious until you upload both photos and then find that they are used in a mashup picture. I had to go back and choose different photos until I got it right. My cultural experience was a picture I’d taken in Kyoto, Japan and this is how the mashup appeared:

I liked the way that the bamboo lined my face – not so much how the carriage was cut off at the top.

You then need to write a few words about your experience, add your details, frequent flyer membership number and submit your entry.

Good luck!

London Euston – The Lost Tunnels (Tour)

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London Transport Museum regularly run tours of disused Underground stations and tunnels. These tours are always popular and sell out really quickly. I previously visited the old/disused Strand/Aldgate station and really enjoyed that – so was pleased to get tickets to a new tour of the lost tunnels of London Euston.

The Museum website wrote this about the tour:
Discover a labyrinth of dark and deserted passageways which were once used by the travelling public and see a gallery of preserved vintage poster fragments that have been hidden for over 50 years. This secret space is located below a busy Tube station that serves almost 42 million passengers each year and Euston national rail station.
Tour duration: 75 minutes approx.

We met in Melton Street, outside one of the original station buildings at 17:45 – tour scheduled to start at 18:00.

Tickets and ID checked, high-vis ‘Hidden London’ jackets issued and we were ushered inside the old station building. There wasn’t much to see there, but the room was used to display some slides and allow our guide to talk about the history of Euston Station. Our guide was well-informed and obviously keen on the subject, but as they always hand out a booklet related to the tour, I can read that later – so you can imagine we were a little impatient and keen to see some hidden tunnels after 30 minutes.

We were taken into the main station and down the escalators to a regular underground platform.

At the end of the platform was a normally-locked door – we were lead through into a series of disused tunnels.

The most impressive sight was an old ticket booth, where tickets were sold to passengers connecting between two different railway companies:

I couldn’t resist a picture as the spooky ticket seller – the light really helped with that.

Most of the tour then decided it was a good idea and quite a few similar photos were taken.

The posters were in pretty bad shape and not as interesting as those in Strand/Aldwych.

We walked along a completely circular tunnel.

Viewed an old elevator shaft, now used for ventilation (this picture taken looking straight up).

And looked down onto a working platform above:

We enjoyed the tour, although nowhere near as much as Strand/Aldwych. There wasn’t as much to see and only 40 minutes our of 75 were spent in hidden tunnels.

Ed’s Easy Diner, London Euston, England

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We were looking for a quick beer and burger before our ‘Lost Tunnels of Euston’ tour – we had to be there for 17:45. Ed’s Easy Diner is part of the Euston Station piazza. Piazza being too good a name for a scruffy piece of pavement with wooden tables full of smokers, the odd busker and a few homeless asking for change. Apparently it’s part of a chain, with over 30 UK locations.

On entering, I could smell the burgers cooking and decided that maybe the ventilation wasn’t working as well as it should. We were seated straight away and ordered a couple of beers and burgers; 33cl Corona £4.75, burgers without fries around £7.50. You can pay £4 extra for fries, onion rings and coleslaw, but we didn’t as we already had a 20:45 booking at Mughal’s Indian Restaurant in Paddington.

The interior is classic American 50s diner and done quite well:

The waitress was friendly. The burgers were pretty average. They reminded me of the burger you get when you visit a friend’s barbeque where they bought a few packs of burgers and buns from Sainsburys. The breakfast options may be better and more authentic.

I went to visit the bathroom. A girl was standing outside a door that said ‘Toilets’. I asked “is there only one?”, “yes”. “Are you sure, as the sign says toilets with an ‘s'”, “yes, I just saw a girl go in there”.

While we were waiting, some guy arrived and asked me “is there only one?”, “yes” and the conversation followed the same pattern.

When it was my turn, I found it was indeed a single facility, also with provision for those with mobility issues. It was smelly and scruffy – the toilet cistern had a disconcerting sticker tape wrapped around it:

I wonder what sort of things were being hidden in the cistern to warrant such a seal? Certainly not a practical place to store illicit goods as you’d find yourself in a line waiting to go in!

I probably wouldn’t go back unless I found myself stuck at London Euston for over an hour – and then I’d try the Café Rouge place next door.

Ed’s Easy Diner – Euston
Unit 2
Euston Piazza
Euston Station
London NW1 2DY

0207 388 6967

Monday to Thursday 7:00am-10:00pm
Friday 7:00am-11:00pm
Saturday 8:00am-11:00pm
Sunday 8:30am-9:00pm
Breakfast Until 11:30am daily