It Felt Like A Secret

One of my favorite places in Prague burned to the ground on March 22.

It was a restaurant called Koliba, in the forest near the village of Roztoky, northwest of Prague. The cause, as far as I know, has not yet been determined. Electrical problem? An open fire that got out of control? Arson?

In the end, for Koliba's many fans, the cause doesn't really matter.

It's gone.

And at the worst time, just as summer -- when Koliba really shined -- is right around the corner.

I'll never forget the first time I saw Koliba.

My good buddy Stewart had come across it on a bike ride, and couldn't wait to show me, too. It was a cyclist's dream, and with its chalet-style building covered in ivy, and the small pond out front, it looked more like a too-perfect movie set than a real place to sit down and enjoy a few half-liters.

Koliba was the kind of place we always enjoyed taking visitors to. It felt like a secret, a slice of Prague that not everyone had a chance to enjoy -- good food, including fish and meats grilled on an outdoor fire, and great beer (Budvar) in a bucolic setting.

Even in the three years or so I'd been going to Koliba, it had changed ownership a few times, and service was often spotty. But we kept going back because it was so pleasant just to sit back, let the setting sun warm your face, sip a beer, and watch the carp jumping in the small pond out front.

I often felt compelled to take pictures of Koliba every time I passed on my bike, even though I already had plenty. I've put together a little slideshow of some of the pictures I've taken at Koliba over the years. It ends, sadly, with shots taken by my friend Fiona Gaze earlier this week, after the fire. It's now just a charred skeleton.

I had a lot of good times at Koliba, and I'm going to miss it greatly.


Anonymous said…
I think many people will miss that place. I hope that had insurance!
Grant Podelco said…
I can't bear to go down and take a look for myself. Ugh.
Vanessa said…
oh no! I found your blog this autumn and at that time got a great new bike. I decided when the weather warmed up after the winter season, this was to be my first saturday trip! (I live in Prague 6 as well) What a shame.
Grant Podelco said…
That is a shame, Vanessa. At least we had a chance to enjoy it! Enjoy your rides, though. That area is (still) a great place, and there's always Hospůdka Zvířátka (
Vanessa said…
Great! Thanks, Grant! I'll be sure to check it out! Today I dusted off the bike and got out after too long a hiatus.
MiGrant said…
How sad! We were there maybe twelve years ago. Your post was the first time I've seen Koliba (we always called it "kobliha" -- a kind of donut) mentioned since we left the ČR.
Anonymous said…
Hopefully, it will be rebuilt?

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