[Trip] Czech Republic – Beer and Gastronomy Museum

We went to beer museum in Prague. After all, Czech is the country which consume the most beer in the world. The museum is 250CZK per person and that includes 4 beer for tasting after the museum tour. The first part of the tour is basically explained how beer is made, through the ingredients to brewery. We weren’t too interested in that part, as we have been to a few beer brewery in Europe and their main ingredients are basically the same, which are hops, malt, water and yeast. The way how they differentiate is the technique they use and as well as where the ingredient came from. There is a collection of different miniature beer trucks and as well as Czech made beer bottle display. The second part of the tour is the underground, apparently in the 16th century, Prague was levelled up by 4 metre above the ground in order to prevent from flooding. So the beer museum kept its original ground and also showed how beer was kept cold in the past. It was quite cool as in temperature underground. There is a pub where you can taste the free 4 beers, from light to dark.
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Also we went to the Gastronomy museum, it was located quite close to the hotel. The cost of entry to the museum is about 200CZK. It is quite interesting to see how cooking evolves in the beginning of time to how it is now. Through the different display it helped us to understand how smart people were in the past, first people were eating raw food and then they decide that they can cook the food with fire and then different type of technique. I quite like the modern kitchen toward the end of the museum, it is a good way to see what the future holds for the kitchen. Part of the museum, we got to try homemade honey mead, that was delicious.

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For more information about beer museum, please visit their webiste http://www.praguebeermuseum.com
For more information about Gastronomy museum, please visit their website: http://www.muzeumgastronomie.cz/en/home

[Trip] Czech Republic – Communism and Nuclear Bunker walking tour

So we decided to go on a Communism and Nuclear Bunker walking tour during our trip, we got some brochure from the hotel and it looks interesting. We went to the ticket office near the astronomy clock and it was 1200CZK for 2 people and we were so lucky to get onto the first tour, as the tour starts at 10:30 the second tour is at 2:30pm. Our walking tour guide is Honza and he was brilliant. He explains quite well on how Czech history and how it tied into his family. It was interesting to get an insight on how the country affects a family. His English is quite well, we understood him with no problem and he made few jokes along the way to keep everyone entertain. He was helpful and very knowledgeable about the history and the area. He took us to different parts of the city to show us how communism took place in the country.
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Nuclear Bunker was quite interesting, we were about 5-6 storeys below the ground. It was quite interesting to see the gas masks and other type of nuclear prevention that was in place in the 60s. The museum is only open to the tour, so we were the only ones in the bunker and the museum. The museum itself is quite unique, as it took us places to places to see how people may have lived during a nuclear war. Honza was very informative about the museum. He was able to show us how to put on a gas mask and as well as how people may have live back in the days in the nuclear bunker. I do recommend people take this tour, especially you are a history fan.

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For more information, please visit their website: http://www.prague-communism-tour.com/

[Food] San Marino

So I came across this café when my colleague brought me to it, the reason why I still like this café is their chicken coriander filling. It is one of the best chicken style I ever had. What it is fried chicken with a lot of coriander with a tinge of chilli. All the favour went so well together, you can get it in sandwiches, Panini or just in a salad form. This café is located at the corner of the Brixton outdoor market on the high street. To get there, the closest tube station is Brixton. You can also get there via buses which go to Brixton.

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It can be messy when it comes to ordering for your food at the café. Basically you order at the counter and pay to the cashier before finding a table. So there are always people crowded around the counter. Sometimes you don’t get to order until 10 minutes later since you have been in the restaurant. Also getting your food can be tricky, because they call the food item, but if there are more than 2 people with the same order, it can get quite confusing. Most of the time, I got my correct order and the price is quite reasonable. It’s about £5-6 for lunch (that is for a salad price and it is cheaper for Panini). The service is quite all over the place, but somehow they still get the orders correct. I wouldn’t say it is the best service I ever had. The speed of the food can be quick and yet can be slow, depending on who is serving you. The presentation is quite nice but the food is awesome. I always get chicken coriander salad when I’m in the café. I do recommend this when you do go to the café.

Address: 413 Brixton Rd, London SW9 7DG

[Food] Cafe on the Hill

Café on the hill is a café which I normally get my omelette for lunch. The one I normally order is tomato and mushroom omelette with salad as my side. Why we chose this café is because of the convenience (it is quite near my work place) and also the speed of the service. The café is located on Brixton Hill, it is about 15-20 minutes walk from the station, the closest tube station is Brixton. You can catch a bus from the station to the café, just make sure you catch the correct bus, the buses that go towards Streatham. The café is located on the main street with a bank of other smaller stalls.
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We normally order at the counter and find ourselves a table. The food comes within 15 minutes after ordering. It is quite fast and good. The price is reasonable, it is about £5 for an omelette and a drink. The portion is massive (if you have chips and baked beans as the sides). The presentation is pretty good and the service is pretty good from the staff. We haven’t had any problem in terms of our food. Sometimes it can get quite busy especially during weekday lunch time. But the speed of the service is still quite fast.

Address: 91 Brixton Hill London SW2 1AA

[Food] Refill Eaterie

Refill Eaterie is a takeaway restaurant at Brixton which specialise in Caribbean food. Basically this place is a takeaway place, the reason why I go to there is because of their chicken soup. For a large bowl, it is less than £4, quite cheap comparing to other places. Why I like the Caribbean chicken soup is because of the ingredient and the way how the chicken soup is made. In my opinion, the chicken soup is between Chinese and Western style. Chinese style has a lot of ingredient (basically if you make a soup large enough to be your main meal, that is how much ingredient they sometimes put in for a soup). Western style is being the type of ingredients that they put in. I think Caribbean chicken soup has its own culture and uniqueness. The favour empowers your sense and the taste is just amazing. The soup has some vegetables (carrot, parsnip, potato), chicken and Caribbean style of dumplings (basically it is just a dough). It is enough to fill me up for lunch.

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Refill Eaterie is quite messy in terms of trying to order the food. If they are quiet, they will only have 1 queue but if they are busy, there are 2 queues. On the left queue, that is where you order your main/soup and on the right, you can order patty. When it is busy, people are queued up all over the place, sometimes to a point, you don’t know what queue you are in. The speed of the service varies at times, sometimes you will be able to get your food in less than 5 minutes or sometimes it is longer, the longest it has been is 30 minutes to get my food. The service is ok from staff.

Address: 500A Brixton Rd, London SW9 7AW

[Food] Vera Cruz

Vera is a nice café on Brixton Hill, normally I get my omelette at this café but also I’ve tried other type of food from their menu. To get to the café you can take a tube to Brixton and it is about 10 minutes walk from the station. The café is on bank of shops between the Lambeth Town Hall and Lambeth’s Olive Morris House. The café is quite cosy and small, it is good to have a cup of tea while you are there. The staff are quite nice and friendly. They are pretty helpful as well and quick on their feet. The service is quite decent, although when it gets busy, they are quite short staffed. Their peak time are weekday lunchtime, sometimes all the tables are full. During their peak time, the wait time can be 30 minutes for food and about 15 minutes for a table.

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Overall, the food is quite good and quite fast. The size is quite decent, it is enough to fill you up. I do like their omelette with salad. It is more than enough for me if I have chips on the side. Their soup is quite nice as well, they have soup of the day, so to me, it is always a surprise to see what they have. Their burger is quite nice as well as the big breakfast. I quite like that you can get breakfast during lunchtime, to me, it sometimes messed up my routine, but yet sometimes I do feel like a big breakfast at other times than morning.

For more information, please visit their website: http://www.vera-cruz.co.uk
Address: Arlington Parade, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RH

[Tips] Theatre in the square

The boy’s workmate is part of this theatre, which they were doing a teaser for a major performance at Minnack theatre. So we decided to go and watch his performance, the performance took place in a church at Archway, up north of London. It was a bit out of the way, their performance was the Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This is a small theatre performance, so a lot of the audience knew each other and it felt like everyone is a family. It started at 8pm and went on 3 hours with 15 minutes break. It was quite nice to see how everyone worked together to have this performance, from the actors and the prop to the music and the shop keeper.

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I thought it was quite clever the way how they move scene by scene through the use of the doors. They have 4 doors which represent the different parts within the play. The actors were brilliant, they were all in their characters. I can see how hard they want to make the performance work, everyone was sweating by the end of it, as there wasn’t any air con in the church. Everything went pretty well in the performance, I did read part of the book when I was little, however I ended up using Wikipedia for the plot. The reason why the performance went for 3 hours is because they follow the plot, they didn’t miss a thing. All the dialogues were quite long, I was so surprised to see everyone remember their lines. I do recommend to see a small theatre performance if you have a chance in London, a great way to support them

For more information, please visit their website: http://www.theatreinthesquare.org

[Trip] England – Southend

We decided to go to Southend for a day trip in one of our weekend. It is about 1 hours direct train trip from London Liverpool St station. When we first arrived, it remind me of Manchester main train station (for some unknown reason). It was quite a sunny day when we arrived, we walked through the high street before getting to the pier (be careful of scammer in the high street). When you got to the end of the high street, that is another view. This time, it reminds me of typical US beaches from TV/movies. Anyway, we wandered around down the beaches and the arcade opposite of the beaches. Basically there are about 6 arcade game store, they are quite big ones as well. The beach was packed with people as it was quite sunny hot day. There was an adventure island which is a theme park at the entrance of the pier, there is no admission fee to go inside, but the rides do cost. We didn’t go on the rides, we saw a lot of teenagers and children going on the rides.
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We walked through the longest pier in UK, it is about 2.5 km long, there is a train that can take you to the end of the pier. We chose to walk it, it took us about 20 minutes to get there, it is quite a nice walk. At the end of the pier, there is a surf living museum and a conference centre. There was a wedding which took place when we were there. There isn’t much to see at the end of the pier, but it is quite nice and relaxing to enjoy the sea view while having an ice cream. When we got back to the shore, that is when the low tide was. We saw the muddy side of the beach when the low tide came. To me, it was 2 different views. A nice beach during the high tide and muddy shores during the low tide. For lunch, we had skate and chips at a kiosk next to the beach. I think it is a family owned kiosk, as we saw almost everyone from the family helped out including the kids, as it was a holiday during that time.

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[Tips] London Russian Ballet School Performance

So we went to a ballet performance recently, because my workmate’s daughter is in the London Russian Ballet school. I never have been to a ballet performance before, so I might check it out. The performance is done for a charity. The performance is held at New Wimbledon Theatre, it is quite close to Wimbledon station. We picked this one because we haven’t been to Wimbledon town so we might as well check out the town itself. Wimbledon is quite nice, the town has everything you need, from supermarkets to clothing stores to café. It doesn’t feel like an English town, it is more like a London suburb (then again, Wimbledon is part of London as well).

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The ballet started at 7:30, it has 3 parts to it. First and last part is ballet and second part is contemporary dance. There is a 30 minutes break between second and last part of the performance. The first part has a solo pianist which play for the entire first part of the performance. All the ballet dance danced to their music, it is so elegant. You have to put in perspective that these dancers are under 18, to perform to an audience it takes some gut efforts. All of them did really well in the performance, they are so flexible and graceful throughout their routine. The second part is a big change from the first, where it went from ballet to contemporary. It was pretty interesting to see the performance and the story line. The last part was back to ballet with pre-done music. I quite enjoy the performance from the students at the school. I felt so amazed and it was an enjoyable night.

For more information, please visit their website: http://www.londonrussianballetschool.com

[Trip] France – Paris

Paris is the capital city of France, it is also known as City of Love or City of Romance. When we first arrived, it was cold and beautiful, I finally understand why they called it city of Love. You can get to Paris via car, plane or trains from London. Flight will be fastest, it takes about 1 hour to get there. Eurostar takes about 3.5 hours to get there, driving would probably take you more than 12 hours, depending on how fast you drive. We have been to Paris by flights and trains. In France, most speak French. But if you do give your best effort in French and they can see you are trying hard, they are quite nice to switch to English for you. We had no problem getting around Paris with our limited French. In Paris, it uses Euro as their main currency, you can withdraw Euro via ATM in London or Paris or go to money exchange stalls. Paris weather is quite nice in summer and winter. It can get cold during winter so be prepared to bring some winter clothing. Summer is nice and cool, not much of the humidity.

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To get around Paris, it is quite easy via their metro. You can get the daily pass or 48 or 72 hours pass which allows you to be on the public transport. You can get the tickets at the metro station, it is quite convenient. The metro comes regularly, so you don’t need to worry about catching it at a specific time. However this cannot apply to Eurostar and other regional French city trains. We haven’t caught a bus at Paris, so I’m not too sure how it goes. Paris is structured by district, so just remember where the tourist attractions are in what district. This may help you to get around in Paris. Paris is quite big and quite far distance between one tourist attraction to another. It is much easier to go there via metro if you are in Paris in a limited time. We got lost a few times, ended up going to the attractions via metro.

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