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Our European Quest

Day 3: Bratislava to Prague; three hours by road

By CNN's Richard Quest

Richard Quest hard at work shooting links in Prague.

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Richard Quest

(CNN) -- If you are anxious to see much of the Soviet-style Eastern Europe, then Prague and the Czech Republic are probably not the places to be. The difference between the two old states of Czechoslovakia is very noticeable indeed.

While Bratislava is charming, with an old town that is being renovated but still needs money spending, Prague preens like a peacock with the hundreds of thousands of tourists who are already visiting.

In fact as soon as you cross the border the change becomes clear. The roads seem to be better maintained, the building have been renovated. The Czech capital all give the appearance of a country that has been in Western Europe for decades; we could have been in Austria or Germany.

But before you think I am going to put my blinkers on and wax lyrical about Prague -- I am afraid there is one very sorry fly in this ointment.

I know it is always said that staff in the former communist countries have yet to learn about polish politeness but frankly add to that, waiters, airport check-in counters, taxi drivers and a host of other people whose job is in the service industry.

Time and again on our short trip through Prague our team met nothing but surliness. Which is surprising since the Czech capital is now among the leading weekend tourist spots in Europe. Why this rudeness should be I can but speculate.

Maybe they have not yet understood the link between a smile and tourism's economic success. Maybe they simply have yet to shake off all the yolks of four decades of totalitarianism. Of course it could be simply that they didn't like me. But no matter. It was a day's work to get a smile.

Extra thought:

Some of you thought I was being unfair to Bratislava in my last report by only concentrating on the football ground and stadium. Let me say outright, we found the Slovak capital a delight, with the people being among the most friendly we have experienced on our trip. There was a genuine delight to have us in the hotel, in the restaurants in the city; I would describe Bratislava as a forgotten jewel to be visited as soon as a low-cost airline comes to an airport near you!

A final thought:

I hope you forgive me if I delve into personal areas that, perhaps are best left between me and the night ... but I feel obliged to take you into my bedroom!

What is it about European hotels that I can't get a decent double duvet (comforter, blankets, call it what you will).

Even though I am sleeping in large king-size beds the hotels insist on giving us those ridiculous single sized duvets, one on each side of the bed.

Why no double duvet on double bed?

Now, for most people this might not be a problem but I am 6'2" and if I stretch out, move around the bed, even turn over during the night, some part of my anatomy becomes exposed!

I have tried overlapping the duvets, without success, then I feel a leaden weight on me. I have tried putting a blanket on top to hold them together; that merely heats up the bed to ridiculous proportions.

Only once has my request for a large, double duvet been met with success. Everywhere else it is a look of "those strange British." And a quizzical look as if to say "what is he doing in bed that requires such unusual bed linen?"

And lastly:

Please keep your e-mail questions and comments coming. A selection appear on the Web site (click here) and I will answer them over the weekend and post my answers. The e-mail address is

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