A bookshop is a precious thing: a treasure trove of stories, worlds and adventures waiting to be uncovered. Finding a new one when you’re travelling is a thrilling experience and shouting about it is like bookworm philanthropy. So, here goes…
I recently spent a weekend in Prague exploring the ancient cobbled streets of this beautiful city. After taking part in a free walking tour, I scoured the tour company’s city guide for places to explore and grab a bite to eat without being robbed. Tucked away between the adverts, safety guides and Czech language tips, was the Globe Bookshop.
It was listed under the food and drink section as a place to get good food for just a few crowns. But, what it also held within its hallowed walls was Prague’s first English language bookshop. Described as the “literary epicentre” for the city’s expats, it drew me in immediately and I knew I had to visit. The fact it was on the same block as my hotel was a serendipitous sign I could not ignore.
Shelves of magic
The bookshop section of this trendy ensemble is fairly small, but packed with bookish goodness. The serving counter sits a few feet high above the floor, giving the bookseller a perfect perch from which to guard the tomes within.
Tables strewn with classics and contemporary titles sit on a huge vintage rug, while the walls are filled from floor to ceiling with perfectly stacked books. There are a few nooks for reading and writing, and corners decorated with specialist displays.
Stairway to heaven
A wrought iron ladder leads up to a second floor that features more bookshelves and table displays. From there, you can look down upon the glory of the ground floor and take in the full expanse of this book-filled land.
Many of these books sit on my shelves at home. I’d read several of them, was familiar with a lot of the others or could easily pick up the newly discovered ones in my local Waterstones.
But, there’s something strangely satisfying about discovering something so familiar in a foreign land. Like the H&M clothes I buy outside the UK (even though the exact same stock is available from my nearest high street), there’s a tingling thrill to importing a book across a border. Those bought there will forever have an exotic quality despite being just as easily purchased on a Saturday afternoon in my hometown. What can I say, I’m an old romantic?
The cafe and bar provide sustenance for famished readers. The menu is quirky but satisfying and the drinks are very reasonably priced.
An outdoor courtyard allows you to enjoy an alfresco read shaded from the baking Czech heat, comfortably nestled at one of the Parisian-style coffee tables. I saw a guy there two days in a row who embodied the very essence of European hipster: hand-rolled cigarettes; unkempt man-bun; skinny jeans; backpack; and a thin, dog-earred book that screamed Hemingway.
Once I’d discovered this little gem, I had to go back to spend my last hours in the city in its secluded courtyard. You really must visit if you’re in Prague.
Just make sure you’re there on a Monday night so you can enjoy the literature quiz.