As a diversion from the talk of Roy Hodgson’s imminent departure – at least we hope it’s imminent – we’ve got something that we can try and look forward to.
Roy may get sacked, he may resign (although that seems unlikely) or he may go by the usual compromise of “mutual consent”. Deservedly so with the club now just four points about relegation – but he has managed to do what was needed to negotiate the first half of the Europa League season, meaning that there is still hope of some silverware to end the season with. It also represents the club’s best chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
The Reds are back in action in the competition next month, and although we’ve no way of knowing who’ll be picking the side at least those who are going to the match can plan how best to get there – and what to do either side of the game.
With thanks to Tony at Travelsupermarket.com, here’s our guide to Sparta Prague.
After Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool team finished top of group K in the Europa League, they were drawn against Sparta Prague in the second round, playing them away first on February 17th.
Rather than spending hours looking for cheap flights to Prague and back, below is a list of the flights still available:
Liverpool – Prague
There are no direct flights from Liverpool to Prague, so if you must fly from Liverpool, you’ll have to get a connecting flight. KLM offer flights from Liverpool to Amsterdam, then on to Prague in the shortest time, leaving on Wednesday 16th and coming back on Friday 18th.
Manchester – Prague
Getting there from Manchester is easier as there are direct flights, but you have to fly out on the day of the game, and return on Sunday 20th February, so have a look online for hostels, hotels, or see if you can rent an apartment for a few days between a group of you.
London – Prague
If you’re flying from London, there are three airports with direct flights to Prague; Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The following flights depart on Wednesday 16th, and return on Friday 18th:
Getting to the centre of Prague from the airport takes about 25 minutes, via taxi or a bus. If you can arrange transfers before you travel then do so, if not, try and agree a fare with a taxi driver before you get in, or if you want to get the bus into town, look for the following bus numbers: 119, 100, 225, 179 – they should say ‘Centrum’ on the front.
If you’re looking for somewhere busy before and after the game, then head to Old Town Square or Wenceslas Square. In the daytime, they are both busy places with plenty of shops around, along with bars and cafes to get something to eat. There’s a McDonalds and a KFC just off Wenceslas Square (both clearly signposted), or there’s other local restaurants and a TGI Fridays.
Don’t head into any of the pubs on the main streets if you want a few beers – head down a couple of the side roads where the prices aren’t a joke. If you want somewhere to sit back and get a drink head up to Duplex, overlooking Wenceslas Square. You can access it off the main street, and take a lift to the top floor. If you’re struggling to find out where it is, simply look up at the top of the buildings and you won’t miss it. A pint is about £3.50 in there, but on a sunny day it is a good place to be away from people getting in your way every 10 seconds.
A decent place to watch the Champion’s League games on the Wednesday night is the beer factory at the top of Wenceslas Sq. It’s a bit of a walk from the bottom end of the main road (about the same distance from Mathew St to Bold St in town), but once you are there, you will be given a pint glass, and then you can pour your own drinks & rinse your glasses at your table to save you queuing up as soon as you’ve finished. There’s a big projector screen and a few other TVs showing the footy, plus an electronic tally chart on the wall to see how many pints you and your mates have got had compared to everyone else. It works out at around a pound a pint in there, so probably one of the cheapest places in the centre.
Just 2 minutes walk round the corner from the beer factory is an Irish bar called Rocky O Reilly’s which again has quite a few screens for the footy, and also serves food in the daytime.
In the evening, steer clear of Wenceslas Square if you can help it, otherwise you will just be constantly hassled to going into bars and ‘cabaret’ clubs. Each club has someone working in the streets that just follow you and pester you until you either tell them in a far from polite fashion to do one or go with them. The downside is that soon as you get rid of one, the next one appears trying to drag you into their club instead. Ignore any promises of ‘5 free beers’, this is just a ploy to try and get you in. You’re better off ignoring them altogether, don’t even respond when they ask how long you are in Prague for or where you are going.
If you do head in to one of these so called ‘cabaret’ bars, don’t order a drink without looking at the prices first, otherwise you’ll get charged £10 for a standard bottle of lager. A small can of beer can be bought for around £1.50, but they are normally written in small writing in the corner of any drinks menu to avoid people ordering them.
Getting to the ground
Sparta’s stadium is about 2km from Wenceslas square in the centre of Prague, with trams stopping outside the ground from Tram Line A (Hradčanská). The following trams go to the Stadium: 1, 15, 18, 25, 26 and 57. If you get a taxi, it shouldn’t be more than 300 CZK (just over a tenner), so agree on a fee before you get in.
The trams are a popular place for pickpockets to target potential victims, so if you’re travelling in a small group or on your own then you’re best avoiding them if you can help it, but make sure you watch out for anyone getting too close to you. As soon as the tram hits a bump in the road, pickpockets try and steal whatever they can from the person they’ve identified, so try and keep your wallet and phone on you and hidden if you can. Also, watch out for a scam involving people claiming to be Metro staff; who will ask to see your ticket and try and issue you with a fine. If someone claims you have an invalid ticket, threaten to call the Police or ask them to do so, which should get rid of them.
Prague can be colder than the UK, the average temperature for February is just 1° during the day, while at night it can drop well below zero, so take a jacket or something at least.
The currency is Prague is the Czech Koruna, below is a guide as to what you get for your pounds sterling:
- £5 = 145 CZK
- £10 = 290 CZK
- £20 = 580 CZK
- £25 = 725 CZK
- £50 = 1451 CZK
If you need to get hold of the British Embassy for any reason, their phone number is: (420) 257 402 370