- The ACCA’s flagship Public Sector Conference event is on from 28 Feb – 1 Mar in the colourful, cultural hub of Prague, Czech Republic.
- CA ANZ’s new president Stephen Walker FCA will be leading a session as well as Maggie McGhee, ACCA’s executive director.
- Add on a couple of days to take in Prague’s lively arts scene and fabulous food.
By Matthew Brace
At the geographical and cultural crossroads of Europe, Prague has masterfully blended its past and present. Its numerous preserved buildings reflect its thousand-plus years of history – reminders of major events, bloody and beautiful. Equally, its design cachet and enviable arts scene underpin its reputation as a thrilling, avant-garde capital.
Where to eat in Prague
Prague’s winter menu is hearty and soulful – comfort food at its finest. From goose thigh, beer-marinated sausages, pilsner goulash, roast pork knee, to copious dumplings and bread, you won’t go hungry. A visit to the V Kolkovně restaurant in Staré Město offers most of these dishes, plus a delicious potato soup served inside an oversized bread roll.
Two more great spots to enjoy Czech food are Klášterní pivovar Strahov by the castle, and U Medvídků near the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, which has been a brewery since medieval times. Don’t miss dessert – the beer ice-cream is unique.
Speaking of beer, the Czech Republic drinks more per capita than any other country in Europe and has held this record for 20 years. The many bars, restaurants and clubs in the Malá Strana, Staré Město and Žižkov districts are clearly major contributors to that statistic. Look out for Lokal, a chain of gastro pubs across the city with flavourful Czech cuisine and well-priced pilsner.
It’s not all beer and sausages, however. There is plenty of fine dining, including two Michelin-starred restaurants: Field and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise. For cafes and bistros, try La Bohème in Náměstí Míru, or Můj šálek kávy and Eska in Karlín. Go to manifesto.city.com for new eating options.
“Prague’s design cachet and enviable arts scene underpin its reputation as a thrilling, avant-garde capital.”
The pick of Prague hotels
The hotel that best reflects Prague’s mastery of blending past and present is the Hotel Josef. It is minimalist, but when you’ve spent the day steeped in a millennium of history, art and architecture, minimalism is what you need. It also offers a rooftop gym, a sauna and a massage room to make you feel good.
For something less cutting-edge cool, try the Hotel Pod Vezi, which is listed as one of TripAdvisor Australia’s top three for Prague. It’s in a superb position, on the west bank of the river, between the Charles Bridge and the castle. It’s also near the KGB Museum – a destination not to be missed by any Cold War history buff.
BoHo Prague is another hotel worth visiting just for the experience. It’s a chic boutique property with a cool, gilded atmosphere close to Republic Square and the huge Palladium shopping mall. It’s definitely the place to see and be seen.
Totally impressive in another way is the Imperial, a five-star monument to art deco with its lavish decoration and colourful past. The reception area and Cafe Imperial are stunning and ideal for a post-conference wind-down. Note, though, that you have to book ahead for a table at the cafe.
If you’d rather ditch hotel accommodation, Prague’s Airbnb scene is growing. Visitors can stay in remarkable places, including some inside the castle walls.
On and off the Prague tourist trail
Essential visits include the fabulous Astronomical Clock (circa 1410), which displays the position of the sun, moon and zodiac constellations, as well as the time. On the hour, the skeleton, Apostles and other colourful characters are set in motion.
Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge are “touristy” but worth seeing, as is the Baroque Library in the Klementinum.
Off the usual tourist list are the Dancing House building near the national theatre, and the brutalist Žižkov TV tower. Until recently the tower was decorated with babies crawling up its length – surreal statues by Czech artist David Černý. They were removed for renovation in 2017 and are scheduled to be replaced soon.
Prague has hundreds of buildings romantically illuminated after dark. It looks especially dramatic in winter, when frosty air gives the city a real fairytale feel. But if you’d rather stay indoors, the Dvořák Symphony Orchestra Prague plays at the Klementinum’s Mirror Chapel during the conference dates. And there’s jazz at Cafe Mozart in the Old Town Square.
“It’s not all beer and sausages. There is plenty of fine dining, including two Michelin-starred restaurants.”
GOOD TO KNOW
- Currency is the Czech koruna (or crown). Most places accept the euro but you may get a poor exchange rate. At the time of writing A$1 = CZK16, NZ$1 = CZK15.
- In late February, Prague may be seriously cold and snowy. Thermals, a good coat, rubber-soled boots (non-slip) and a fetching beanie are advisable. Buy a pair of fluffy earmuffs when you’re there to complete your Euro-cool look.
- Avoid tourist scams by checking online in advance (go to travelscams.org, prague.fm/safety, Trip Advisor, etc) and by asking your hotel reception for the latest scams happening around town.
ACCA International Public Sector Conference
The International Public Sector Conference is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ (ACCA) flagship event for finance professionals in the public sector.
“We will examine how we can harness digital developments to innovate and transform finance and accounting,” says Iain Mansfield, ACCA’s head of public sector.
“We will explore how accountants can play a pivotal role in tackling organised crime, corruption and money laundering, and how we can develop and build an accounting profession the world’s public sector organisations really need.”
Stephen Walker FCA, CA ANZ president and executive director of Audit New Zealand, will lead a session in which auditors-general from around the world discuss the principal challenges and developments facing Supreme Audit Institutions.
The conference will also focus on the challenges and opportunities of developing a sustainable regulatory system for the accounting profession, and how to develop talent in an increasingly mobile world.
Maggie McGhee, ACCA’s executive director – governance, will reveal findings from ACCA’s latest quarterly Global Economic Conditions Survey, essential intelligence for all those in public sector organisations.
“One of the highlights of the conference will be the launch of a new flagship report Bridging the Infrastructure Gap that quantifies and categorises the public sector infrastructure gap while considering how accountants can play a role in supporting financing, project selection, delivery and evaluation,” Mansfield says. “We look forward to seeing you in Prague.”
ACCA INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SECTOR CONFERENCE
28 Feb – 1 Mar 2019
Marriott Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic