The first beer of summer

Riegrovy sady, photo:

Last Sunday I had my first beer of the summer. Which isn't bad going for the middle of April. By first beer of the summer I mean my premiere pivo outdoors in one of Prague's great beer gardens, the existence of which is one of the many attractive features of life here.

If you're visiting the city, the beer garden at Letna Plain, near the Technical Museum, would probably be your best bet. There's a great view of the city and a choice of where to drink. You can go for the down-market wooden garden tables with beer in plastic glasses. Or you can enjoy the more classy surroundings in front of Letna Chateau (at least they call it a chateau - it seems a bit on the small side to me).

In fact the only negative thing I can say about the Letna beer garden is that there a lot of people bombing past on roller-skates, as they were called in my day. I have yet to see a collision, but given the speed some of those in-line skaters go at, it's bound to happen.

But when it does I won't be there. Because the tram ride from my place to Letenske namesti takes almost 15 minutes, and why spend a quarter of an hour sitting on the tram on a hot evening when, as I do, you have the easier option of taking a five-minute stroll up to Prague's other great beer garden at Riegrovy sady in Prague 3, between Zizkov and Vinohrady.

Riegrak as some call it (or Riegrac as others do) is generally dowdier than Letna, but the park is far from flat, so it doesn't draw roller-skaters whose attitude seems to be "I'm hurtling at 40 km an hour so I have the right of way".

Another great thing about Riegrovy sady is that they have a very big big screen, so every second summer when there's a major international football tournament on it is the place to go. And if you get bored watching the World Cup or European Championships, you can always challenge some of the regular players to a game of table football, not that you'd have the slightest hope of beating them.

The only drawback about Riegrak (and it's a substantial drawback, I must admit) is the actual beer itself, which really isn't the best. It goes down easy enough, but can often leave you seriously regretting the fifth one the next day. In fact, the pivo there is almost guaranteed to give you a headache if you have more than three.