Latte Cats

visiting cats in cafes around the world

Summer Travels

Kavárna Kočičí

Ahh, Prague. It’s one of my favorite cities by far. It’s full of amazing architecture, beautiful parks, delicious cheap beer, and friendly people. Prague is also home to several cat cafes. Located in Karlín (Prague 8), Kavárna Kočičí is a family-owned cafe that is the permanent home to nine former shelter cats. The cafe also is very involved in charitable work, having raised over 60,000 Kč ($2500) in the past year and a half for shelter cats and to support the spaying and neutering of street cats.

The cafe is spacious, with tables and chairs on the ground level and a lounge area below. The lower level, with exposed brick walls and rustic decor, would be a nice place to curl up with a book and a cat on a winter day. The lack of windows makes it a less than ideal spot if you’re interested in taking photos, so be sure to get your fill of cat pics before you descend the spiral staircase.

Both vegetarians and celiacs will find something on the menu;  food offerings include vegetarian soup, salad, quiche, pastries, and cakes (including vegan and gluten free). Beer and wine are sold alongside the typical tea and coffee drinks.

More views of the cafe are available on their YouTube channel.

Location: Křižíkova 22, 180 00 Prague 8
Hours: every day, 11:00-20:00
Admission charge: 20 Kč ($0.85)
Reservations: Yes
Price of a latte: 60 Kč  ($2.50)
Price of a beer: 39 Kč ($1.60)

If you find yourself planning a trip to Prague (which you must), the absolute best place to stay is in an Airbnb room hosted by Monika. I had such a great experience with her during my first trip to Prague in 2015 that I returned to visit again in 2016. You’ll want to check out some of the major landmarks in the city center, but the surrounding neighborhoods are much more appealing if you wish to avoid the crowds. Monika will share her tips for sights that are off the usual tourist trail and show you were locals spend their time. Thanks to her for acting as a translator when I spoke to the cafe owner!



Whiskers Cat Pub

Several days ago, I was wandering around the neighborhood where I was staying in Budapest and noticed the sign for Whiskers Cat Pub. The place was clearly a new business, and there was a bit of construction still going on inside. Fortunately, they opened their doors a few days later, four hours before I had to head to the airport to leave Hungary. I had the honor of being the pub’s first customer and spent my last afternoon in Budapest there. Whiskers is owned by the same people as Cat Cafe Budapest (review coming soon).

The first thing you notice when entering the pub is the glass walkway overhead. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the underside of a cat or two perching above you. The cats are confined to a glass-walled upstairs room and a walkway that leads from the cat room to the enclosed spot above the front door. There are plans for another walkway on the other side of the pub, providing more opportunities for cat viewing.

The downstairs room has a simple and clean décor, and the high ceiling makes it feel even more spacious that it is. There are a few details that let you know it’s a cat café, including the engraving on the tables, the table legs made into scratching posts, and the cat paintings on the walls.

There are four resident cats. One is a Cornish Rex, and the other three are rescue cats of various colors. All were quite friendly, with the Cornish Rex winning the award for the most affectionate café cat I’ve ever met.

The pub offers a variety of cat-themed mixed drinks such as a Purricaine and a CATmopolitan, as well as draft and bottled beers. Coffee drinks are also available. Pub snacks such as nachos and pretzels are sold, but they don’t offer full meals. Service is friendly, and English is spoken.

As a solo traveler, it can be difficult to walk into a pub at night and strike up a conversation with strangers. I anticipate that it would be much easier in a cat pub, as you instantly have something to talk about with anyone you meet. I’m looking forward to returning to visit at night the next time I’m in Budapest. I’m sure it won’t be too far in the future.

Location: Semmelweis utca 17., Budapest 1052
Hours: 12:00 – 24:00
Admission charge: No
Reservations: No
Price of a 0.5 L mug of beer: 490 Ft ($1.80)


Flying with Hello Kitty

FullSizeRender 13In 2008 I was at the Taipei airport on my way to Bangkok when I looked out the window and saw Hello Kitty plastered on the side of an airplane. I slightly freaked out. I learned that the Taiwanese airline EVA Air operates several Hello Kitty themed planes. Ever since then, I’ve been dying to go on one.

While figuring out the logistics of my trip for this summer, I knew I had to get myself onto one of the HK planes. I found my way to the route planner that shows where and when the planes fly and was glad to see that a flight between Osaka and Taipei fit into my schedule. The only downside was that unlike the other airlines flying between the cities, EVA Air wasn’t offering one-way fares for half the price of a round trip. So I booked a roundtrip flight and reasoned that paying extra was justified in this situation. If I’m spending the summer visiting cat cafes, I can’t NOT fly on the Hello Kitty plane. My only fear was the fine print that said the Hello Kitty plane wasn’t guaranteed and could be substituted for a regular one if needed.

Once at the airport, I found an EVA Air self check-in kiosk and printed my ticket. I then located the bag drop, knowing it was the right place when I spotted the monitor sporting Hello Kitty. I handed over my passport and generic boarding pass, which the woman at the counter poo-pooed as she printed a proper ticket worthy of the HK flight experience. Seeing my excitement, she also gave me a carry-on bag tag and an extra sticker. And then another airline employee offered to take my photo.

imgres.jpgAt the gate, I was disappointed to see that the jetway was very long and bent in such a way that it totally obscured the plane, so I only caught a glimpse of it through the jetway windows. Based on what I did see, it was the Hello Kitty Around the World plane, which is my favorite one! As I boarded, a flight attendant sporting a gold Hello Kitty pin offered me a deck of HK playing cards. The plane had standard seats and such, but was decorated with HK pillows and headrest protectors. The video screens and the seatback items, including the barf bag, all featured Hello Kitty.

Before takeoff, a flight attendant came to confirm my vegetarian meal. EVA Air gets bonus points for that; I’m at around 60% success overall when it comes to my requested meal making it to my seat. I had seen some photos of the plane meals when I was researching flights, so I was a bit disappointed that there were no cat-shaped items. I’m guessing it was because my flight didn’t originate in Taipei. At least there was Hello Kitty ice cream, although apple pie should have been the dessert, as it’s her favorite.

If you’re hoping to catch a flight with Hello Kitty, all of the routes start or end in Taipei. FullSizeRender 25Destinations include Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo, Bali, Seoul, Guam, Fukuoka, Paris, Singapore, and . . . Houston. So yes, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of one of the planes in the US!

Oh, and when I arrived in Taiwan and went to the 7-11 to get a bus pass, there were a few design options from which to choose. It’s not a surprise which one I picked.