A Cheapskate’s Luxury Weekend in Prague Part 4: The King Of The Castle Plans His Retreat

As was the theme on this trip we started the day with an absolutely epic breakfast. Other than those amazing Indian breakfast buffet spreads I can’t think of a trip where we started the day so well, so often. La Bottega Bistroteka was just a short walk from the hotel and we were amongst the first to arrive along with some other tourists that seemed to enjoy photographing their food as much as I did!

I went à la carte, starting with a delicious flaky chocolate filled croissant that reminded me of our time in Rome, followed by a creamy rich Eggs Benedict served on a bagel with Italian prosciutto crudo.

As you can see we didn’t go hungry. This was truly another great spot for breakfast and very reasonably priced for the size and quality of the food served up. We definitely weren’t missing out by not having a hotel breakfast every morning on this trip!

With most of Prague’s museums closed on Mondays we decided to do the tourist run across the Charles Bridge followed by a walk round Prague Castle leaving ourselves enough time to catch our afternoon flight back to London.

It was a stunning summers day as we crossed the famous Charles Bridge.
We were treated to perfect views of Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral as we continued across the Vltava.
As we headed up towards the castle grounds I captured this priceless photo, his expression said it all!
It was turning into one of those days as we waited to enter the castle complex, even our photo-bomber was having a wonderful time!
The queue for tickets was pretty long so I took some snaps whilst Anne-So waited in line.

Our first port of call was the stunning St. Vitus Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece has quite the history with the first Christian buildings placed here in 930. Work on the current cathedral started in 1344 but amazingly it took almost 600 years for the structure to be finished off.

Our next port of call was St. George’s Basilica, the oldest surviving building on the Prague Castle grounds.

We then moved on to the main castle building.

Feeling a little rushed for time we quickly made our way down Golden Lane and despite being filled with souvenir shops, this area was in my mind at least, bizarrely not included with all the entrance tickets on sale. Our time at the castle came to an end with the sculpture of Youth whose penis you can rub for good luck, hence its shine! Maybe we should have joined in but it just felt a little bit too strange, even for us!

We were a little peckish at this point, so slightly rushed we headed back down into town and picked up some sausages and trdelnik. The former were decent, the latter had dried out to oblivion and beyond.

It was with heavy hearts we returned to the Hilton where we picked up our bags and headed for the airport. We made the short walk to the bus station where we caught the crappy airport bus. At least it was cheap…

We arrived at the terminal building and walked down to the far end where the BA desks were located. The check in queue was huge and we were glad we had access to the priority check in desks that day as it gave a huge time saving, helping us to drop our bags quickly and beat the security queues. It was a bit of a trek but we eventually found the Menzies Aviation lounge.

Menzies Aviation Lounge Terminal 1
Access For Selected First & Business Class Passengers and Lounge Club, Priority Pass & Dragon Pass

The lounge space was pleasant enough with reasonable views of the apron and a basic buffet.

Thankfully there was time for one last Czech beer before we headed to the gate.

Flight: BA861 Prague to London
Depart: PRG T1 17:15
Arrive: LHR T3 18:35
Seats: 1A and 1C (Club Europe – Business Class)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 G-EUUI (First Flight November 2002)

Priority Boarding was in full force for our flight back to London.
Our ride home was a fifteen year old Airbus A320-200, though with the excellent interior refurbishment you’d never have known.
It was time to settle in to row 1 again.
Whilst waiting to depart we were treated to a cockpit view, what a wonderful day it was to fly!

We continued our ascent into the blue and white paradise and as soon as our seat belt signs were switched off it was showtime! Though in my case at least it really wasn’t much of a show!

Anne-So sensibly picked out this rather attractive looking salad.
I asked for the panini and sadly even that was too much on this flight.

I was served only half of a panini filled with tasteless mozzarella and a few stingy slices of monstrously unripened tomato along side a small plate of potato salad. This was without doubt the most disappointing Club Europe meal I’ve ever had.

Whilst the short hop and apparently longer route catering was improved on BA’s Club Europe service in 2017, for those stuck in the middle distance routes like Prague there was a noticeable downgrade. Had we flown a few weeks prior this flight would have gotten a full hot meal service, not anymore. Prior to the 2020 Coronavirus changes BA had at least been trending upwards with their Club Europe meal service.

We enjoyed a safe flight back to LHR, arriving on time. This was followed by a quick Heathrow Express trip back to Paddington, the tube to St Pancras and the good old South Eastern High Speed to carry us home to Canterbury. Whilst the HEX/tube combo doesn’t necessarily save too much time overall and certainly costs a fair bit more unless you can get one of the bargain off-peak fares, it provides a significantly more pleasant journey than the Piccadilly line during rush hour.

Final Thoughts

I really loved our time in Prague, a friendly, modern city that’s easy to explore and in the main a world away from the stereotype of stag dos and lads on tour. The medieval city centre was stunning to wander around with its grand buildings and the lovingly restored Synagogues that commemorated the once thriving Jewish community who previously inhabited a noticeable part of the city. With the beautiful weather we enjoyed during our trip the reverent Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral stood peering proudly over the city streets like they still ruled over its modern day subjects was a sight to behold. Moving just a little way off the main tourist trail the fascinating National Gallery in its unremarkable facade opened up a deeper pain felt not just by this beautiful city but by the country at large. There were memories lying everywhere lest we never forgot the occupations, the divisions and the loss that also contributed towards making present day Prague the wonderful 21st Century city it is today.

Timing is everything and looking back from a transport and lodgings perspective I wonder how our trip might have been different if we’d travelled a month earlier or not used miles, points and/or status. First up BA’s Club Europe: for me this is an easy one, as when I haven’t had oneworld status and have had a little extra cash or a few spare Avios to burn and I’m travelling from London Heathrow it’s a no brainer. The joy of premium travel is removing the pinch points from arrival at the airport, to waiting for your flight, boarding the aircraft, the flight itself and the ease of getting away from the airport once you reach your destination. Being at the front of the line every single time certainly helps, having extra space at every stage of your trip helps, as does a few drinks and having access to a pleasant place to relax and enjoy them in. However, if you have sufficient airline status you get near enough the exact same benefits other than perhaps a little bit of extra shoulder space from a blocked middle seat, the benefit of a basic meal and a couple of drinks which in my eyes is often worth a lot less that the premium you’d pay to upgrade from a Euro Traveller fare.

With regard to our hotel stays it was great to get the upgrade at Courtyard Prague Airport but we didn’t really need it on such a short stay. If my Hilton Diamond status hadn’t have expired we could have had a suite upgrade, lounge access and free breakfast. The bigger room would definitely have been a boost, but I’m not sure I would have exchanged any of our wonderful breakfasts for the buffet at the Hilton. Yes, it definitely would have saved us money, especially on a cheapskate’s weekend but it wouldn’t have been quite as fun!

Resources

A Cheapskate’s Weekend in Prague Index

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