Introducing a new correspondent, John Plunkett, a finder and connoisseur of good lodgings at bargain prices.
Prague's Villa Eva
Everything about Prague is twice as good as you've already heard. I think it is the most beautiful city I have ever visited. Even more enticing, Prague is also a bargain bonanza. We loved the Bohemian food and were surprised to pay only $5.00 each for dinner with beer at the best-known restaurant in the city.
But our favorite Prague hotel is the greatest find. Located just ten minutes from the city center, the Villa Eva is a place that we highly recommend. its owner, Milan Matousek, is a most congenial host in the true Bohemian style. He offers eight clean and comfortable guestrooms with toilet and shower. Our corner room on the third floor offered a fantastic vista of the old city center a few miles away.
Breakfast is special with boiled eggs, cheese, four kinds of meat, good bread and superb Czech coffee. The first morning, Mr. Matousek gave us an excellent city map and a week's supply of tickets for the streetcar and bus.
The bus stop is less than 100 meters from the Eva and the streetcar stop is about three blocks away.
If you are arriving by train or air, take a taxi to the Eva. If by car, call Mr. Matousek when you reach the outskirts of Prague and he will drive out to meet you and guide you back. We managed to find our way there because we happened to buy a city map at a gas station a few kilometers outside of Prague. Mr. Matousek parked our car at his front gate so it would be safe. Warning: car theft is getting to be common in all former eastern block countries. Be smart when you park; empty the car of all your belongings and consider buying "The Club" or another theft deterrent for your rental car. We did and slept better each night.
The Villa Eva is for all travelers. Both vacation or business travelers will find Mr. Matousek and his villa to be a delight. Besides that, it's a terrific bargain. The double room with breakfast for two persons is about 50 DM ($31).
The location is excellent though the neighborhood looks a little seamy. We weren't concerned, however, once we discovered most of the residential neighborhoods look the same. There are no problems here.
• Villa Eva, Franty Kocourka 14, 150 00 Praha 5, Smichov, CSFR, phone 00422/534776.
Villa Eva: II G $
Zell Am See, Austria
The Kleeblatt is on the east side of Zell Am See high above the village of Thumersbach. It has four double rooms with shower and is handsomely decorated. The Kleeblatt's most outstanding feature is its view. The bedrooms' balconies offer a phenomenal vista of the lake and the town of Zell Am See on the opposite shore. It is a sight that I will take with me to my grave.
To the southwest, about 10 miles distant is the Caprun Glacier enshrouded by several other Alpine peaks.
The village of Thumersbach is nothing to get excited about, but the town of Zell Am See is great fun. It's marvelous for strolling, shopping, dining (we recommend the Hotel Steinerwirt in the stadtplatz), and all the other compelling reasons we love to visit the beautiful cities and towns of Europe.
Getting there by car is part of the beauty. From Zell Am See, drive around the north end of the lake (Zeller See). When just entering the village of Thumersbach, turn left, then right and start up the hill. The house is easily identified with its name printed on the wall. Ample parking is available in the yard. Frau Kleeblatt speaks zero English but don't let that deter you.
A double here with shower and breakfast is 500 AS ($45). The breakfast is excellent.
• Landhaus Kleeblatt, Erlberg 78, A-5700 Zell am See, phone 042/6664.
Landhaus Kleeblatt: II $