Magical Listicle Tour I – Cheap

For my birthday this year I had an aim: find the cheapest night out possible in Prague. I figured it had some non-birthday applications, like for showing visitors an affordable and decent time. Fortunately, from the pubs desperate for some early afternoon custom to the drinkeries of Zizkov trying to tempt people despite the area’s bad reputation, there are several places where drink can be got for a song.

Here’s a handy guide on how to have a great night on a small amount of  money. Everywhere is within a 10-minute walking distance. The plan does require that the night is a Tuesday.

Unlike a traditional crawl of 1 or 2 drinks per place, I recommend you stay while the drink is cheap.

Ingredients

200 crowns, at least

1 woman, at least

A birthday boy (optional)

1. Soma (5 – 6)

(Budecska, closest to tram stop Vinohradska Trznice)

I found out about Soma when my girlfriend moved to a place near there last year. I had heard whisperings of the place and it’s legendary drink deal, formerly between 5 and 7. Being able to take advantage of this deal on my birthday was especially useful.

Of course, I planned the birthday crawl on pretty short notice so it turns out other people were not available between 5 and 6 on a weekday. A nice quiet start for me. It’s very rare to be the only person in a bar.

The place feels earthy. Like a “real” place, no gimmicks. Not like one of those Mickey Mouse pubs where everything has been produced in some big anonymous factory then made to look individual. A comfortable place to spend a couple hours.

10 crowns for a small beer here. It’s possible to buy 2 at a time on occasion, though sometimes the people on the bar are not as keen on that as you’d hope. A good place to warm up with a few.

2. Ananas Bananas (Before 8)

(A cocktail bar on Seifertova. 66 crowns per cocktail, and they’re fairly delicious.)

This place is open every day of the week and has cheap cocktails before 8pm. The interior is cool, dark with soft coloured light. The back room seems a bit more grunge than the front, the front is more Americana.

An ideal place for the middle of a crawl as it’s affordable yet varied. At Soma, beer is the only cheap thing on the menu, and Bukowskis has a similar issue. The good thing with Ananas Bananas is that you can have whiskey, vodka, rum, or gin-based cocktails and they are all only 66 crowns (about £2, for the UK people, or $2.40, for ‘Mericans).

The name also translates to Pineapples Bananas.

3. Bukowskis (Till They Run Out)

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(Borivojova, opposite the bowling clubs)

What Tuesday is complete without free sangria? Very delicate procedure to produce this, if you’re a bloke, anyway.

1) Be with woman.

2) Woman gets sangria pitcher from bar.

3) Bloke has to order glass of red wine.

4) Empty.

5) Refill with sangria.

The sceheme relies on you not being obvious to the bar, as sometimes their staff are more strict on it. It also relies on the woman you’re with not being snitches and wanting to share. I have had no problems with women grassing on me, nor have they been particularly territorial.

Bukowskis is alright, pretty well-decorated on at least one wall. It’s open pretty late too. My one complaint would be with their prices. Generally, standard big drink prices for small beer. I understands it’s craft beer, but this means your paying almost double, and does craft beer ever taste that amazing as to justify double the price?

Still, on cheap sangria the place is a jewel.

The Pit-Stop: Burrito Loco

(Corner of Namesti JZP, top of Vinohradska hill)

Okay, so even on a birthday, when several lovely friends bought rounds, the night’s expense ran up a little, primarily because I had not eaten dinner when I started. Who eats dinner before 5 anyway? To go home would cost valuable cocktail time.

The best bet, and between Soma and Ananas, is Burrito Loco.

I feel like Burrito Loco deserves an Epic poem. I used to live near one, and another is being built near my new place, and it reminds me of the Robbie Williams song “Angels”:

And through it all

She offers me protection

A lot of love and affection

Whether I’m right or wrong

Burrito Loco is that place you go, that’s open 24 hours, when you’re hungry. It’s delicious. While lots of people like to rally against it for not being “authentic” Mexican, those people can fuck off to Mexico because what the hell do they expect in an extremely landlocked Central European country? If they’re so annoyed they can start calling it Czexican instead and nobody with any sense will care because it’s great.

If ever you are part drunk and very hungry, now you know where to go.

and this concludes our Magical Listicle Tour.

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Hungary Like The Wolf

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It’s funny when you’ve moved country how travel retains the same sense of wonder and confusion. Most recently, for the Easter Weekend, I was in Budapest. Here are my thoughts thereof.

My girlfriend and I took the bus from Prague to Budapest, via Brno, Bratislava, and some Hungarian town which I think was called Gyro, but with accent marks I cannot readily recall. Due to holiday traffic, the journey was annoyingly delayed. On the upside, we did get to see the countryside at length, especially beautiful on the westernmost part of Bohemia and the easternmost part of Moravia. On the downside, we arrived in Budapest quite a bit later than originally hoped. There’s a big advantage in a four day weekend, though, in that we had two days of no travel to see the city. As an additional benefit, Roland, the landlord of our AirBNB, a good-sized flat in a leafier, hillier district on the Buda side of the river, was able to give us a lift from the bus terminal.

We met Matthew, a friend she’d made while at university, and who has lived in the city for several years now. He was a very excellent guide to the cool places on the Pest side. Always good to have allies in foreign cities as they know how much things are supposed to cost and where the most is happening. With him the nights we had in the city were far fuller than they likely otherwise would’ve been.

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Some thoughts in the coming city in comparison to Prague; bigger, quite a bit dirtier and smellier, more differences between streets as far as architectural style, more pubs with different flavours though primarily fairly punkish. A hell of a lot of character. When I said dirtier and smellier back there you might think it’s a criticism, but I personally love lived in places. And the smells weren’t all bad necessarily. The food is more spiced than food in Prague, especially paprika, and it drifts throb the streets. Really, it smells like any European city; meat, coffee,  chocolate, alcohol, occasionally piss in the streets. It smelt of gyros and life.

The place was tense. Years of political unrest appears to have led to a fomentation of protests. Most recently, the government shut down Central European University. Students, already prone to protest, having not been made fully cynical of the world yet, now have nothing to do but protest. As a result, there were a litmus of events in the city related to these protests. From small demonstrations in the streets to full on shutdowns of the public transport network. I hope they get the University open again without any violence bubbli over. But it appears the government is doing its best to further stoke up resentment between protestors and the police. At any rate, not nearly something I can comment much on beyond acknowledging the injustice of trying to quash dissent while simultaneously making the operation of NGOs more difficult, so I will abruptly stop commenting here.

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To conclude, definitely worth a trip. Beyond the standard things that make cities worth visiting, this is an especially vibrant and vivid place. Watch yourself on the money front, as Forints are a totally different beast from Euros, Pounds, Dollars, or Crowns. They look very good, I think former Communist countries do their best to outdo each other on note design, and the value of the Forint is very different. Multiple 0s different. Also, look out for the protests when the Rendorseg (Hungarian is the one language where police is so different) are in an offensive mood.

Also, thank you to my girlfriend for paying for a lot of the trip, and happy birthday to me!