Saturday, June 30, 2012

Love and the Four Seasons in Prague



Good morning from the Four Seasons Prague, the favorite hotel of Russian presidents, the choice for most heads of state, and our home away from home in the Czech Republic. It's a Saturday here and I'm typing this out from the breakfast terrace with a view of the river and Prague Castle in front of me, and an uncharacteristically large breakfast is in front of me as well.

I usually don't order the "works" for breakfast as it's usually just a mix of juices for me in the morning; but for some reason, I felt like having a bit of everything today.

So in front of me is a big plate of cold breakfast fare consisting of smoked salmon, cheeses, capers and tomatoes; and I've ordered an omelette with fresh buffalo mozarrella as well, and added an extra order of crispy bacon for good measure. And of course I have my standard carafe of carrot juice and hot chocolate as well.



ANYTHING BUT BORING

It's a very extraordinary breakfast, I know, but as you probably are guessing by now, Travelife is anything but ordinary. Call as anything you like, but we're never in the middle, average or boring. And to complete my Saturday morning here in this most picturesque of cities, I have a copy of the FT Weekend in front of me as well. This weekend edition is the only newspaper I read from cover to cover, and it really makes my day.



Yesterday was our "relax day" in Prague. We decided to take it easy and just go with the flow of the city -- this most beautiful under-the-radar city in Europe. We spent the morning walking around Prague castle on top of the hill, and I even passed one of the old ancestral homes of the Hon. Karel Von Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and scion of one of Europe's grandest aristocratic families.

I had a one-on-one afternoon tea with him during his very short visit to Manila a few months ago, and he'd then regaled me with stories of his family and his life during the Communist regime, when he lived in Vienna but was nevertheless trying to help out friends and associates stuck in Prague.

LUNCH ON A ROOFTOP



Then we made our way down the hill via the palace gardens to have lunch on the rooftop terrace of one of Prague's nicest boutique hotels. This was a short stop from a vintage boutique I'd chanced upon on my first day in the Czech Republic a week ago, so I decided to visit the boutique again to see a couple of things I wanted to re-try.

Well, I must be a Prague local by now, because a Czech lady I'd met on my first visit here last week was there again. She didn't even live in Prague but about two hours away, and on that first visit we'd struck up a conversation about some very interesting shoes that she thought I should definitely get. She'd told me then: "You'll never see them anywhere else."

And yesterday, there she was again, and there I was again. What are the odds of that happening?

DINNER BY THE RIVER



For dinner last night, my two friends and I dined at a fancy restaurant by the river here in Prague, with the most beautiful view of the Old Town. It's become our favorite place so far, and last night, we enjoyed wine, food and the scenery, as well as a couple of incredible laughs that so made my stomach ache afterwards. It was such fun and rather surreal actually, to sit back, relax and laugh so much amidst such breathtaking beauty.





THEATER IN THE DARK



Afterwards, I decided to watch a Black Light performance in the Old Town. This is basically an entertaining show of music and special effects using black lighting to mask how everything is done, and  it's become a tourist attraction in Prague. I got the idea the other night when we'd had dinner with other friends from Manila who'd happened to be in Prague at the same time, and one of them had wanted to watch a Black Light performance but there hadn't been any time.



There were lots of things I wanted to see in Prague as well but we didn't have any free evenings either. But last night, there was a Black Light show at 930 PM and so it was a chance to see this on my one free evening in Prague after dinner. My friends were tired out -- we'd walked the whole city in the morning after all -- so I went by myself. It was very enjoyable, and I still have to discover how on earth they did some of those special effects.

SOLO WALK AT MIDNIGHT

I took this last night while walking on the bridge...
The show ended at 11 PM and I wasn't too tired yet, so I decided to take a walk by myself along the Charles Bridge, from the Old Town to the Lesser Town and back, listening to music on my iPod and enjoying the marvelous view of Prague all lighted up at night. I've seen this view a hundred times by now but I never get tired of it. Last night, I even got a little breathless looking at the view for the nth time.

What a romantic city Prague is. Everywhere you look gives you a lump in your throat, especially on a beautiful June evening with clear skies and fine weather, and everything is lighted up just like in the fairy tales.

And just as I was standing right in the middle of the Charles Bridge taking my 1000th photo of Prague at night, I decided: I'm so happy that my two friends joined me on this trip to the Czech Republic and they truly are the best and most enjoyable company in the world. But the next time I come here, I'm going with someone I love.

Good morning from Prague, and best wishes for a wonderful weekend from all of us at Travelife Magazine.




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