Welcome back to Confessions of a Street-Walker. This month we're taking the brave step of crossing tram-infested Revoluční, and treading the hallowed ground of Dlouhá. You know the one - just off the top left of Old Town Square.
You've walked it a thousand times, so you'd be forgiven for thinking me a patronizing twat who should leave you to wander the city by your own more than capable feet, but I'm only trying to help. Think of me as your human magnifying glass.
I spot what you don't have time to spot, I try what you don't have time to try, and while you stride through Prague with your head down and your collar up like some Humphrey Bogart wannabe, I gaze about the place like a gormless fool trying not to get hit by an over-zealous Bike-Messenger.
Talking of gormless fools, have you ever been to The Roxy? This always-under-threat-thanks-to-meddling-neighbours nightclub at no. 33 is home to the most thumping bass this side of a scud missile attack. Upstairs is Nod Gallery, where the most bohemian of the artist scene gather for espressos and gossip about the latest grant-funded controvery.
Cover charges in the Roxy vary depending on who's spinning the tunes, but most nights will bring you into the company of roughly a million happy ravers thrusting their bits in a million different directions. The beer's cheap and the atmosphere second to none, with more smiling folk than any religious sects I've ever been a member of.
If you've managed to score with a Roxyette but are worried that she might go off you in the cold light of day where your eyes glow red, you sweat like a buffalo and you'd loses a conversation competition with Rainman, nip across to Bohemian Garnet (no. 28) and buy her a new ring.
If all you want is sleep, this place is still a decent option. Friendly more-than-helpful staff, brilliant location, and other good things that I can't spell, make it a more than acceptable stop-over point.
Kitty-corner to the Roxy/Travller's complex is one of those shops that sells fashionable home ornaments and things like pillows covered in beads, a lovely little shop your missus will insist on browsing called Apropos.
The master-mind behind this hugely successful business operation is a couple, Renata and her husband Robert. Being influenced by the the vibes of New York, the English country side and Provance, they became aware of a gap in the Prague market.
Nowhere could you buy orange elephant book-ends,scented pillows or candle holders, lanterns and candles. They set to work, and soon their shop was filled with "romanitc" memorabilia for tourists who couldn't afford the flight to France, and weren't that impressed by Bohemian crystal. All of their many supplier's best work is available here, and prices are lower than in similar stores.
Dlouhá is a credit to Prague's town planners, having everything you could possibly need to experience the highs, lows and mediums of human existence. There are trash cans for your 3-day old gum, there are walls to lean on when your walking abilities become impaired, there's tarmac for your car, paving stones for your feet, and even people walking in the opposite direction for you to bump into when you need a bit of human contact.
There's even creepy public art.
What more could you want?
A bank to give you money (Komerční banka, #34), a chemist to cure your headaches, a florist provides you with flora, and a shop selling bits of cloth gives you the chance to satisfy your textile urges and cover that moth-eaten sofa you've always wanted to cover. For door worshippers there's a shop that sells doors, and at Le Bourgin (no. 19) you can buy enough bottles of wine to fill that musty cellar below your over priced flat.
There are a lot of bars and restaurants to choose from on Dlouhá, making it the main party artery of Prague, to the lament of the folks who have to live there. Expect to see 'no drinking' after 11 signs and cops busting people for drinking themselves silly on the sidewalks. Most of them start at Cafe Vanity Cocktail Bar (#48) and work their way down to Caffrey's Irish Bar on the Square, if they make it that far.
Along the way, they more than likely will stop in at the infamous Bombay Bar before moving on over to Harley's (#18 - The Coolest Hell on Earth!) for some Jack Daniel's and a quick tattoo, before stumbling over to James Dean to enjoy some ol' school Americana with the Russian expat set. They might even make it to Follow Me Bar for some fancy cocktails.
Along the way, some will vomit.
Even those with vomit stained clothes can try to improve their quality of life with a quick visit to Belet Blanc at no. 20. And the requisite hardware shop makes an appearance for those with more space than money. Run by two old ladies who were last seen to smile in 1932. A nail to hammer your scrotum to a plank with will set you back about an eighth of a crown, and where can you get entertainment that cheap outside of my apartment?
An enormous pile of second-hand ring-binders occupies the left hand-side of the store, and the rest is filled with a lot of somewhat useful crap. Železářství, potřeby pro řemeslníky is more of a storage space than a shop in fact, but if you look hard enough you may find something that at the very least could be used as a weapon.
There is a nice little gallery tucked away at no. 39 should you be craving the creative. Galerie Dlouhá is what it says it is, and stretches back into an unborn shopping arcade. Opposite the entrance is a coffee bar, but if coffee's not your thing, panic not because tea-drinking is another easy option. Walk through the door of Herbata (Dlouhá 6) and you enter a world of rspices, tinctures, and the sort of tea that Tesco just refuses to sell. Prices start at around 50,-Kč, and the hippy dippy atmosphere is free.
Music choice is slightly suspect - a mixture of dying bag-pipe and depressed vacuum cleaner, but tea rooms were meant to be weird, and you won't be disappointed here. Unless you think that tea tastes like warm piss.
If you're hungrier than you are thirsty, potravinys are common for the cheap and easy, but pretty cheap and even easier is Pizzeria Azzurra at no. 35. As all qualified pizza critics know, the only moral way to judge this fine Italian product is by the number of olives per square inch of base. This place scores highly, and has the added advantages of friendly waitresses and complimentary cutlery usage.
If food sounds like too much of a healthy way to spend your time though, head for the Bed Lounge with its adjoining tobacco and pipe store. Emmulate the many great pipe smokers of history, from Ernest Hemingway to Sherlock Holmes and all the other really famous ones, by toking from a hookha.
If you've got money and taste (and who's got both?), the antique store opposite has plenty of things worth squandering your cash on. Fancy mirrors, sturdy tables, and plenty of other old things are available here. And for those wanting to get in touch with their melodic side, there's Antonius Music Store at no. 37 (just through that little courtyard) which sells the whole range of instruments, sometimes second-hand.
A couple of doors down is Nobis Life, a design store which makes a serious business out of being cool in the home. IKEA is as fashionable as a nose-bleed compared to this curvy chaired, bendy lamped centre of style, and if both your shoe laces are tied the right way they'll let you in between 9 and 7 o'clock Mon.-Fri. and 10 'til 4 on Saturday.
Dlouhá, or Long Street, has a history of being a fine place to hang out, and is where Kafka chose to write The Trial. In the fourteenth century it was home to 13 breweries, and the Communist Youth Association used to swap amusing anecdotes in what is now The Roxy. Dlouhá is where it was at, and where it still is. Go there.
Before you get across Revoluční, be sure to pop in to Opapa on the corner. Every other restaurant you'll ever visit in the future will feel like a trip down 5 star avenue after you've waited 40 minutes for overcooked grease with a dollop of yogurt on top. Could be where the Greek tradition of smashing the plates comes from. It may be just what you've been craving however, and the wine and atmosphere at this self-service fresh bistro are not bad.