I’m not joking – we are really staying in a Horse Barn very close to Prague in the Czech Republic.
We left Montreal for Prague what feels like months ago – but was only the day before Yesterday. Travel is tough on aging bodies – and long air flights in sub-economy is not the stuff of luxury and relaxation. But given my lowly status – I faired pretty well.
I went on line to check in – and decided to ‘change seats’ – just to see if magically a free upgrade to business or first class with better food, nicer service, and a bed would happen.
Nope. Lowly cheap economy is where I was doomed to be.
But – I did notice that the back 4 rows of the air craft – middle section – were empty. Humm. If I take one of those seats – maybe I’ll have the row to myself.
So I did, and I did. I watched a great movie – Mr. Holmes – you should see it – ate a lousy dinner – jokingly described as an elegant chicken dish with heritage rice and a rich hand picked tomato sauce, served with a fresh salad, hot roll with virgin butter, and a rich chocolate cake, layed with love and 4 different types of chocolate. Would you like water with that?
In reality – it was mystery chicken in a plastic dish with plastic cutlery, a square of semi-fresh chocolate cake (highlight of the meal), a salad that might have been fresh in January, and I’ll agree – a hot roll. And yes – I’ll have water with that.
But it’s not about the food – it’s about the 4 seats in a row that were mine, Mine, MINE!
I ate, watched my movie – and then laid down to sleep. I know I slept because my dinner dishes disappeared – and a ‘breakfast bread’ in plastic wrap appeared when I woke up. Easiest long flight ever.
Unfortunately – I didn’t fare as well on the next leg – from Franfurt to Prague. Either the time change got to me or that mystery meat was a deadly error – but my stomack was in serious knots by the time the plane had landed and we’d found the rental car place. We drove about 15 minutes to our hotel – and I was so seriously sick – the hotel owner took pity on me and put me in the only room that had been cleaned. What did I care – I sunk into bed – and tried hard to make myself feel better.
Several hours later – much restored – I arose – and swore off mystery chicken on airlines forever. And finaly – got to explore my location.
We’re at the Dvur Hoffmeister in Cicovice, Czech Republic – it’s a small Pensionne 10 minutes from the Prague airport – just 7 rooms and a restaurant and a bar attached to the biggest horse training center I’ve ever seen. The training stable is amazing. It’s spotless clean – and filled with glorious horses. I feel in total love with a giant sweet heart of a horse – He’s what’s known here as a KWPN – Dutch Warmblooded Show Horse – and he’s huge! Seriously huge. My husband, Victor, stook next to him – and his head is probably 4 times larger than Victor’s head. And at 6′ – Victor could not see over his back. Huge.
According to Ria Hoffmeisterova – she’s the gal that runs the stable – and the sister of Ava Hoffmesiterova – the gal who runs the restaurant and Pennsione – and the daughters of the owner of the Dorf Hoffmeister – this horse is owned by an 18 year old gal who is on the Czech National Jumping team. No kidding.
Anyway – the stable has over 40 horses – ponies to huge jumpers like my friend, two indoor areans – one huge for jumping, one smaller Yurt shapped one for doing laps, at least 2 huge outdoor arenas, multiple outdoor pasture areas, at least 5 different stable areas for horss – we’re sleeping over one of these – a horse washing room that has a sunlamp section for ‘drying’ the hose – and a horse Gym!
I spotted the Ria leading a horse into what seemed to be a small – open at both ends – trailer. But it wasn’t a trailer – it was a treadmill for horses! No TV to watch – I guess it must get pretty boring, but the horse is lead inside, tied to the front bar, and the treadmill started. And the horse gets his exercise. Seriously. You ever heard of such a thing before?
Another odd thing – and maybe this is related to the fact that this is a super fancy horse stable – all the horses – every single one – had a blanket on. Big thick things, that fastened around the horse’s body – covering the butt as well as the entire body. And even when they were riding the horses in the arena area – they kept the blankets on the horses. just rolled a bit back to allow room for the tiny English saddles. Victor thinks it might be to keep them from growing winter coats.
Not that it is that cold here – maybe 45 degrees – warm by Montral Standards – but then the stables aren’t heated. In fact – they are interesting in themselves. I’ve seen lots of stables before – but these are the first I’ve seen with windows. And the horses seem to love standing with their heads out the windows – watching the action in the courtyards. To enter and leave their stalls – there are the traditional stall grates and fences – but every single stall had a window on the opposite wall – room with a view – for the horses!
We wandered freely around the space – watched the young ladies taking care of their ponies – exercising them, washing their feet, general stable stuff. There was no one working on jumping that we got to see – but it’s clear this is a serious place for training – and our host told us that this is the home to one of the National Level Training Schools for Jumpers in Czech.
Not surprised – it’s glorious.
Enough about the stable – on to the food and the rooms.
First – the food.
Victor booked us here because it was very close to the airport – and had good reviews. Well – the food totally justified the reviews. We ate dinner in the bar – the restaurant was reserved for a large party (more on that later) – but they offered us the full menu. I had octopus salad – made with spicy sausage – it was outstanding, and a su-vide preperation of pork belly that was also delicious. The pork meat was yummy- and the fat had been hard fried to a delightful crispness. Victor had a goat cheese appetizer that he thought excellent, and a deer filet dish that he also approved of. I thought my choices were better though. The only disappointment was dessert. I ordered a pear tart tatine – and I expected a tart – but it was deconstructed – so there was too much pear to pastry in my opinion. But I ate it all – so it couldn’t have been that bad.
Now the Lodging
There are just 7 rooms – and we were lucky enough to stay in 2 of them. The first was glorious. The walls leading up the winding stone staircase was filled with paintings and prints by surrealistic artisis – including Chagal, Dali, and others. Mostly sketches of course – but still. The room was ‘over the bar’ – and it was huge. Giant oversized bathroom with double sinks, and a deep European style tub, The room had a king sized 4 postered bed wtih draps tied back on all 4 sides, a giant sofa and arm chairs, and room to wander. The floor boards were at least 18″ wide – clearly old lumber, loving re-furbished to a high gloss.
The bed had those traditional European feather covers – two of them – once for each sleeper. Why they get folded sideways I don’t know – but opened up and turned 90 degress they are very comfortable. But who noticed – I was feeling so ill I just sank into the bed and pretended I wasn’t dead.
The bad news – this was supposed to be our room – but there was going to be a party that night in the bar – with a DJ going till 2:00 AM. And our host suggested that maybe – despite the beauty of the room – we’d be happier in a room that was smaller – but would be quiet.
Which is why we’re sleeping over the horse stable. There are 3 rooms loving rebuilt with lovely grohe faucets and comfy beds, huge sofas and TVs over the Stables. We walk past the horses – who lean out their windows to give us warm sniffs – up a metal staircase and into our hallway. Once in the hall – the space is modern and lovely and clean – and there’s no obvious evidence that you are in fact – above a stable. Our room – while not nearly as over the top as the first is quite comfortable – and our tub is a jetted double seating deep bather. It’s bath time tonight!
As for being over the stables – Except for the occasional horse moving around his paddock and the noise of the staff closing the big doors to the stables at around 6:00 PM – and I’m guessing we’ll hear them being opened tomorrow morning – but for now – all is dark, quiet, and peaceful.
Signing off to go snuggle back in bed.
The Soup Lady