Rough Guide: Raise a glass to Prague's very special brews

Two of the authors of 'The Rough Guide to Europe' describe the highs and lows of a trip around the Continent

Best beer in Europe

Every self-respecting student traveller seems to find themselves in Prague these days. And, just like everyone else, I was captivated by the beauty and charm of this city - and even more by the taste of the beer, which ranks among the best in the world. They include not just the famous Pilsner Urquell and Budvar (of which there are a thousand pale imitations), but also the wonderful darker local brews served in pivnices, such as U Vejvodu in the Stare Mesto.

Worst nightlife in Tallinn

It was my first full day in the Baltics and the prospect of being taken out by seven male RAF trainee pilots was quite appealing. They had, after all, been in this place one whole day longer than I had and would know where the action was. They took me to a dimly lit club. "I have just paid pounds 5 for a coke," gasped one of the pilots. We soon discovered why - this was a strip club. As the girls gyrated and I tried to slink into the shadows, I bravely lied and reassured the trainee pilots that I was not feeling particularly uncomfortable. But I knew one thing - this club was certainly not going into the "nightlife" section of my Rough Guide report.

Best trip in Ireland

Knowing how bus tours clog up the main route on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland in the summer, I expected this to be a crowded tourist trap. Happily, I was wrong. Most tourists view the spectacular scenery of the 110-mile trip without ever leaving their vehicle, and by mid-afternoon, the Ring is mostly deserted. The best way to experience the secluded beauty of this wild landscape is to make an overnight stop: we found a wonderfully laid-back youth hostel a mile or so from a tiny hamlet and far away from civilisation - the perfect place to experience the lingering, golden twilight over the Atlantic.

Essential Bulgarian phrases

Watch out in Bulgaria, where body language seems designed to confuse. Bulgarians shake their heads when they mean "yes" and nod when they mean "no". Worse, they sometimes reverse these gestures if they know they are speaking to foreigners, confusing things further. It took us a good deal of time, and a lot of confusion, before we finally figured it all out: the emphatic use of the words da (yes) and ne (no) should save any embarrassment on a trip here.

Best jazz club in Paris

Paris is renowned for its live music and there is excellent jazz to be heard in the numerous clubs around St-Germain and Les Halles. The best place we found was L'Eustache on rue Berger, one of many such bars offering cheap beer and good jazz played by local musicians late into the night.

Most harrowing journey

Let's look at the facts. I knew I was British and I knew I needed a visa to cross the Belarus border and reach Vilnius. My guidebook said it, but try explaining that to someone in Warsaw's international train information section. It was, however, my occupational duty to test the Rough Guide information and, okay, the ticket was cheaper! Maybe things had changed since the last update and there was now a miracle train that completely avoided Belarus? Only one real way to discover. It was when I was evicted from the train and dumped on the border that I could categorically confirm that this route was impossible for the visa-deficient. The moral? Go with your instincts and, most importantly, an updated Rough Guide.

Biggest let-down in Paris

The storming of the Bastille - the dramatic rescue of a handful of prisoners and a key event in the French Revolution. I expected to find an impressive ruin at the Place de la Bastille. But no. The Place is now a noisy and dangerous traffic island, while the site of the former prison is commemorated by a puny line of cobblestones.

Judith Bamber edited and Sharon Harris contributed to 'The Rough Guide to Europe 1999'.



Favourite places

Devil's Museum, Purvinskio 64, Kaunas. Home to an extensive collection of devil figures.

U Vejvodu, Jilsk 4, Stare Mesto, Prague. Good bar for Prague's special brews.

L'Eustache, 37 rue Berger, Paris 75001 (tel: 01 40 26 23 20). Open 11am-4am Thurs, Fri and Sat, with live jazz 10.30pm-2am.

An ige hostel, at Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, is open from May to September (tel: 00 353 66 79229).

Getting around

The Baltic Explorer is a useful pass for extensive rail travel in the Baltic Republics. Unlimited travel costs pounds 24 for seven days, pounds 35 for 14 days, and pounds 47 for 21 days and is available to ISIC, ITIC cardholders and under-26s from UK student travel offices.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor