This weekend I visited Prague with G and his parents, supposedly for his mum's 60th birthday, but in fact we had a great time too and felt more like a present to us than to her.
Prague is a truly extraordinary city. I visited it ten years ago during my student days on the obligatory month long trip around Europe on interail. I know I have grown up a lot since then, but Prague has changed beyond all recognition. The only things I recognised were the old town square and the Charles Bridge.
Otherwise, the city has had a total facelift. The one thing that struck me most is how much the Czech people have understood about tourism. At the hotel the service was top quality, in restaurants the wait staff were polite, smily and efficient, and overall everyone we met was totally open to new ideas, new people, new ways of doing things.
I love France very much, and I wouldn't change it, but when I think about the arrogance there is for all things French: wine, cheese, sauces, monuments, I can't help but think that the French are going to get a harsh wake-up call sometime soon.
Service in France is pretty chilly to say the least. Occasionally there are exceptions, but generally speaking people working in the service industry will do as little as possible to help if it means extra work for them.
The city of Prague is blossoming with new restaurants, bars, museums and parks all over the place. There are fusion restaurants sprouting up with glossy menus, crisp white table cloths and huge crystal wine glasses. Our hotel was modern, gorgeous, designed by Eva Jiricna and with a Philip Starke bathtub in one of the suites. No poky dark rooms there, and a far cry from the gloomy £6 a night apartment I rented for three days the last time I visited. It's a city with a sparkling future for sure.
On a personal note it was lovely to spend some quality time with G, he's been living in Chablis for two weeks now, and I miss him a great deal. He's back again tomorrow and I'm trying to think of something nice to do. It seems we've both been running around so much, perhaps I'll treat him to a little English fusion cooking at home.