Perfect Spots in Prague: Klánovický Les (Forest in Klánovice)

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling, when you move to the city in order to live and work here, or when you simply get stuck here as an expat in Prague due to the infamous coronavirus, you could (and should) discover there is so much more to see. And that these places are way better than the usual touristy places.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Klánovický Les (Forest in Klánovice)

Just around 25 minutes by train from the city center, at the eastern edge of Prague, there is a beautiful old quarter of villas dated back to the time of the first republic and surrounded by perfectly charming forest. The best connection to get there is simply to hop on S1 train on Masarykovo nádraží. You can enjoy a fantastic view from the window on the way and after about 25 minutes, you will get off the train on a stop called “Praha-Klánovice”. You will notice the forest outside the window yourself before you get there.

For me, this forest means childhood, games and visits at my grandma’s place. We used to go out with her and our grandpa, looked for the eatable mushrooms and my grandma never forget to carry surprise candies for us in her pocket. These were the times of innocence. ^^ Despite the fact that Klánovický les is grown for forest farming purposes, it remains to be as magical as I remember it to be.

A walk in Klánovice can be exciting on its own, especially if you admire old houses and villas from the beginning of the 20th century. There is lot to see and lot to admire and walking through the streets of Klánovice can ignite a spark of inspiration for your art. After all, the same can be said about the forest as well.

The forest is huge, and you can choose any direction you prefer for your walk – go west and your journey will lead you to Běchovice or Xaverov. Go east, and you can end up in Jirny or Úvaly. Go south and you will learn more about Újezd nad Lesy.

Don’t worry though, if you get lost, all of these points are easily accessible by public transport and Praha-Běchovice and Úvaly are also stops on the same line of S1 train. The paths in the forest are mostly arranged in a grid street manner so it should be easy to get a sense of direction. The forest is also crossed by the above-mentioned railway which can serve as a point of direction as well.

Forest in Klánovice remains an easily accessible area for connecting with nature for me. You will encounter lots of walkers, runners and families with small children as well, which just validates my words. Give it a try and you will see how charming the forest at the outskirt of Prague can be!

The Ireland Trip: Public Transport in Dublin

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

Everyone who has ever been to Prague has to remember our sweet integrated perfect system of public transportation. For me as a person who usually traveled abroad only by car to sea or with organized school trips it wasn’t always so clear. I heard the scary stories about public transport in the US or in Newcastle from my college buddies but despite that, I still used to take the way everything works here as granted. Well, not anymore after my trip to Dublin.

To be honest, I don’t have much to compare the public transport in Dublin with, except to Prague, so maybe in comparison to other big cities, it wouldn’t be bad at all. We experienced some misunderstandings already at the airport but who didn’t, right? Let’s start from the beginning.

Before our trip, I examined the options we had. I wanted something universal that would save us some money and allow us to use different kinds of transportation should we need it. I found that you can buy the Leap Card for 3 or 7 days and that it should let us use trams (luas), Dublin bus and even a rail. I said “Hallelujah!” and we decided to buy it so we needn’t be worry if we, for example, get lost (which never happened, but who could have known?^^).

After our plane landed, we bought the Leap Cards and a coffee and found ourselves a nice connection to our accommodation in a quarter called Drimnagh, finally found the proper bus and went in. We were so surprised when the driver, who didn’t even know how to speak English, tried to explain to us that the Leap Cards are not valid for this kind of the bus connection!

Okay, never mind. We left the bus with the sum we already spent on the bloody Leap Cards in our minds and found the proper Airlink bus where it was okay to use the Leap Card. The connection was kinda longer, but we didn’t mind as we were already tired from the travel. Then, another drama started.

From our evening wondering where the hell did we ended up after getting off the bus.

We knew we had to get out of the bus at the beginning of red luas line, The Point stop. What we didn’t know was that the driver will announce the stop after we passed it. So, we missed it, got off the bus one stop later and had to walk back. And we didn’t even know how to cross the streets since the frickin cars were going on the other side! We knew this is a thing in Dublin, but our brains weren’t ready for it. We dragged Janča’s superheavy bag back to The Point and hoped for the Leap Card to work properly on the luas.

So, what do you need to know before going to Dublin? Not every bus is same, I’d say. We are so used to our integrated system of public transport in Czech Republic that it didn’t even cross my mind that this might be a problem. The Leap Card was really helpful and after few walks throughout the city I managed to navigate us to luas stops if needed. It is just good to know that the Leap Card is not completely universal as Prague’s Lítačka which you can use on everything.

Eventually, we managed to get ourselves to Drimnagh and we found the accommodation, but we were rather exhausted.

Luas. Source: Wikipedia.org

Luas are a nice way to connect the city center with its peripheries and suburbs. But in comparison to Prague’s metro, these are super tiny and don’t go that often, resulting in really packed trams during the morning and evening rush hours. On the other hand, you can at least see those parts of the city which you won’t have time to properly explore.

Also, don’t mix the directions, especially if you are used to trams and cars driving on the right side of the road as we are. Trust me, it can be really confusing!

The Ireland Trip: Staying in Airbnb in Dublin

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

To be honest, we waited with booking the accommodation for too long. And as I have already said, we wanted to go on budget. That made the last-minute city-center accommodation offers out of the option for us. And therefore, we needed to dig deeper to find something nice, cute, clean and affordable. I know, our demands were not exactly simple. But we got lucky.

We found a perfect match on the periphery of Dublin but still on the red tram line in a quarter called Drimnagh. It was supposed to be around 30 minutes by tram from the city center and that felt completely alright for us. Neither one of us wanted to stay in the center anyway. So, we booked it for five days. The host Angélique was always on the chat to answer our questions and we simply couldn’t wait to be there.

From my experience, Drimnagh feels like a nice suburb full of brick terraced houses everywhere. We didn’t know much about the neighborhood and I still do not have an idea about possible criminality rates there, but from our experience, it is a lovely place with normal to lovely folks living there. This last sentence might sound awkward, but it links us to one of the stories from our Ireland trip.

One evening, right during the evening rush hour, when we took a fully crowded tram to get us back to Drimnagh, one of the passengers realized we talked Czech. She was also a Czech, so she engaged a conversation with us. At first, we thought it is kinda nice to meet a fellow countrywoman in such a big city, but then she asked us where we are staying. We told her and she was, well, slightly terrified and told us to be careful there. It felt so weird because our experience with that suburb couldn’t be more different! So, we decided not to give a shit. And we had no problems there whatsoever.

We stayed in a cute tiny garden house with even tinier bathroom which we had just for ourselves. There was just enough space for us to fix us a warm drink in the morning and eat a snack or cold diner. It was maybe the first time I realized that as a vegan in unexplored area I could probably use a proper kitchen on my next trip but just for the couple of days we spent in Dublin, this was completely sufficient. It was cute, cozy and for these few days, ours.

Except of the two little spiders I had to take care of and owner’s cute and innocent cat that almost made Janča go crazy, we had 100% privacy. The only thing we didn’t count on was a fact that we had to go through our hosts’ house to get to the garden but we never had a problem with that either.

Houses in the city center.

I can only recommend staying further from the city center in Dublin, especially if you manage to stay close to the tram (luas) stop. It is definitely cheaper, and the suburbs are more peaceful and quieter. On the other hand, if you are planning to go to the bars and go crazy for the whole and every night, the center might be a better option for you. The only disadvantage of the periphery is that you always have to take the luas. And when you want to go home at the same time as the rest of the city, you might stand on someone else’s foot for almost 30 minutes.

But let me tell you more about the public transport in Dublin next time.

The Ireland Trip: Remembering the First Time Flying

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

The trip with my friend Janča was special to me in advance for several reasons. First of all, I never flew on board of a plane. Second, I never went anywhere abroad just with my friends. And third, just a few months before the trip I regained my freedom after years after I had quit one long, energy- and soul-consuming relationship, and in Dublin I was supposed to taste the real freedom for the first time. Also, Janča is pretty badass so there were no doubts that this vacation is gonna be epic.

Everyone was asking me if I am scared of flying. Maybe that was the only logical explanation to them for a 27-years-old girl who never flew anywhere. The answer is no. I am not scared of flying although the procedures you have to endure on the airport felt always too complicated to me. So, I guess I was always slightly scared because of the bureaucracy and I knew that flying for the first time would be much more comfortable with someone who knows what to do and not with someone who never flew too and who would have to be forced to go with me in the first place (ehm, ehm, you remember that relationship I mentioned above, right?^^).

I was so lucky that this wish could come true thanks to Janča. Not only she is an experienced traveler and seeing new locations is her true passion, she also used to work at the airport back then, so she knew and understood everything perfectly. And not only that, she was willing to explain everything to me, the traveling noob by her side.

Thanks to my friend, I didn’t have to worry about much, the controls were smooth, and she always knew who is going to want to see what. It felt crazy to me, but she was obviously on her own playground. That is why I was able to enjoy the flying part itself, of course, sitting next to a window so I could stare outside on the clouds beneath us for the whole time of the flight.

The experience of flying felt unbelievable. I remember I wrote on my Instagram: “The take-off feels like falling in love. This shimmering in your stomach that can be addictive. And all those objects you see as the plane gets above the clouds – other planes, clouds, cities, rivers and wait – is that a sea? Where did the impossible sun go? You are almost touching the edge of the universe here.” See? Incredible.

When we started to land down and I saw the lights of the city in the dark, I felt extremely lucky for the whole journey I had to take to get myself into this moment (still unaware of my personal journey ahead, but ignorance is a bliss, ain’t it?). I remember also feeling totally disoriented as I didn’t even know from which direction we came. 

It was a funny experience.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling, when you move to the city in order to live and work here, or when you simply get stuck here as an expat in Prague due to the infamous coronavirus, you could (and should) discover there is so much more to see. And that these places are way better than the usual touristy places.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

This might come to you as a surprise, but I learned about this treasure hidden right in the heart of the city from my American best friend whom I was so lucky to meet through an exchange buddy program during my studies. She had a professor at Charles’ who probably knew Prague perfectly and recommended her this Vrtba garden, which I of course never heard of before, right next to Malostranské náměstí. She asked me if I’d like to join her and the journey began.

The first part of the adventure with Vrtbovská zahrada is actually the effort you have to make to find it. It’s hidden almost perfectly, and no big ugly sign will scream on you, so it might to take you several walks along the busy Karmelitská street before you actually notice the entrance. Inconspicuous doorway will take you right into the block of recognizable baroque buildings of Prague’s center. In the main hall, you will pay an admission fee, which varies between 80 to 100 crowns, depending on whether you are adult, senior, junior and so on, you know the drill. 

And then, you can finally enter.

I was so surprised to see such noble beauty can sprout in the middle of a city I used to think I know. Although I prefer the untamed beauty of wild nature, this was (and still is) worth seeing. The garden stretches more in height then width and this simply adds more uniqueness and a dreamlike touch to the actual experience of discovering the place itself. You rise, level by level, up up up, until you see the city from an angle you have never seen it before from. And it’s breathtaking.

The Vrtba Garden is, like most of Prague’s gardens, best to visit during the spring, summer and autumn time, since it stays closed from November to March. It’s unique position in the middle of the city center, ability to stay hidden, like a secret whispered in the wind, and relatively low admission fees make this a perfect spot, whether you want to run away from the world or just to see another nice corner of it.