Last week I spent the weekend in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. There were a few things I had in mind when travelling there. I wanted to discover the beautiful, old architecture this city has to offer. Find out what the culture is like in the Czech Republic. Drink a few beers. And last but not least, make some amazing photos. Although this last one was quite the challenge considering the clouded weather.
The first evening in Prague
We arrived in Prague on Friday, march 10 at 5.30 pm. At the airport we got our bags and ordered an Uber. The city center of Prague is just a 30 min ride from the airport (Václav Havel Airport Prague). Our Uber arrived within 5 minutes and we were on our way to the hotel. It’s during this ride that I noticed one of the first differences between Western- and Eastern-Europe. Comparing to drivers in Belgium it felt like I just stepped in a car with Sébastien Loeb. My guess is that the traffic rules in Prague are either not existent, or not enforced. The man could drive though. Prague lesson 1: Those driving skills of eastern europeans you see in movies, they are real.
Bags dropped off at the hotel, we went out into the city searching for food. First thing I had in mind, and was on my Foursquare list, was Lokál Dlouhá. This place was recommended to me for the local food and the ‘Czech atmosphere’. Well, a Czech atmosphere it was… I could have ordered a rack of ribs there and it would have been smoked by the time it arrived at our table. Enter lesson 2: You are still allowed to smoke inside buildings, restaurants and bars included, in Prague. Luckily I saw a pretty nice Argentinian restaurant just next door, La Casa Argentina , let’s try that one. The nice lady at the door welcomed us, “Smoking or non-smoking, sir?”. And on our way we were to a cozy, non-smoking, table at the very back of the restaurant. The ‘Striploin steak’ is very much recommended. They also have quite a nice wine list.
After dinner we went looking for a nice place to get some drinks. Preferably a place where they had a nice wine selection. I then remembered someone told me ‘Vinograf’ was the place to be for a nice wine in Prague. Back to my Foursquare list and it appeared this place wasn’t even that far away. Once inside we were greeted with an enormous wall completely covered with bottles of wine. At our table we received a tablet with the wine list on it. This was pretty nice for finding the right wine for me.
Charles Bridge and Prague Castle
We started day 2 with a walk to the Charles Bridge. You’ve got to see this one when you’re in Prague, right? Appears the bridge is quite scenic to look at from a distance. But walking across it felt like I just had entered Chinatown. It was way to crowded to be any fun. Since we already wandered to the Charles Bridge we thought it would be a good idea to continue our walk to the Prague Castle. And we couldn’t be more right! We had to climb quite a couple of stairs to get there. But once arrived at the top the view was magnificent! At the top of the most Northern stairs there was also a bar with a nice seating area with quite the view over Prague.
After lunch we found our way to Choco Cafe “U Červené Židle”. A nice and cozy place were the hot chocolate isn’t like you know it… At this place they will heat very pure chocolate until it’s just the right temperature… and here you go sir. No added milk, just pure heated chocolate! You won’t drink three of these in a row, but it’s very delicious. If you love chocolate, I highly recommend this place!
In the evening we went to the Hard Rock Café. When you’re going to this place anywhere in the world you know what to expect. But the Hard Rock Café in Prague was one of the larger ones I’ve been to. There were about 3 floors and just as many bars. Unfortunately there wasn’t a nice surprise act like when I was in New York last year, but that was fine for me.
The Scenic Views of Vyšehrad
When I asked a friend for nice photo locations in Prague, other than the obvious ones, he recommended ‘Vyšehrad’. So on day 3, our last full day in Prague, we went out to visit Vyšehrad. This historical fort is located a bit outside of the city centre. I thought this would be a good time to discover the metro system in Prague… not my best idea of the day it turned out. I had a feeling the metro system was designed to keep out tourists. It took me more than 5 minutes just to figure out how to get a ticket… Uber to the rescue! “You’re going to Vyšehrad, sir? Excellent choice for a Sunday walk! Did you know Vyšehrad means ‘The Upper Castle’?” No I did not, but ‘upper’ it was. This was literally one of the most amazing views I would see this entire weekend. And, as I was told, not that many tourists found there way to this place. The cover photo of this post was taken in Vyšehrad. Unfortunately it still was a bit clouded, but a very nice view anyways.
When we got back to the city we went on to the ‘Old Town’. There are a lot of cozy little streets to just wander around. Something I really enjoy doing when on a trip.
In the evening we went to Hemingway Bar, a place that also was recommended to me. And for a good reason it appeared. Regarding to Foursquare, Hemingway Bar is the #1 cocktail bar in Prague. A nice cozy place (starting to see a pattern already?) with a little bit of a classic touch to it. Really nice! We were lucky enough that there was still some place at the bar. Because about 20 minutes after we had taken place people were already waiting outside until there was a place available for them. The place had a nice list of ‘house cocktails’ and besides that list you could ask for about anything. If you can explain it, they can make it. If you find yourself in Prague and like cocktails, Hemingway Bar is the place to be!
Quite Parks and Trdelnik
On our last day in Prague we just wandered around. This time in search for the quite public parks that Prague has to offer. First we went to Wenceslas Square between the ‘Old Town’ and the ‘New Town’. This place was recommended in some guide, but it wasn’t the most interesting place in my opinion. Alright, moving on to ‘Karlovo náměstí’. This is a nice rectangular park just a 10 minute walk from Wenceslas Square. Think of it as a small version of Central Park. Minus the lake, the rocks and the castle… This appears to be a place were people who are working in the neighbourhood come to quietly eat there lunch.
We then went on to ‘Františkánská zahrada’, a small park surrounded by buildings. We had to walk through what appeared to be a hospital to get there. But again a nice little park to just relax for a moment. And, like all the places in Prague, it was very silent. I don’t know if this has something to do with the communist history of the Czech Republic, but it was something that struck me. The people of Prague were very introvert and everywhere you walked it was just so silent. It was like the opposite of New York City.
Alright enough parks for today. Back to the old town! Because there was one thing I saw all over Prague this weekend but haven’t tried yet… Trdelnik! I know, I didn’t even try to pronounce it either. This was like some kind of pastry rolled on a stick and baked above a wooden fire like pork on a spit. It’s served warm and filled with Nutella if you want (you know you want the Nutella!). It was delicious! If I had tried it the first day, I swear it would have been my daily snack for the weekend.
Last but not least
It appears ‘pils beer’ was invented in the Czech Republic, which explains why you can’t walk a street at night without spotting someone with a beer in hand. It also explains why you’ll always get half a liter of beer if you just order a beer. Needless to say it was a great weekend!
Prague is highly recommended if you want a relax weekend with some cozy places to visit. Prague is also very much recommended for the photography enthousiasts amongst us. All the places I mention in this post, and some additional ones, are bundled in my Prague list on Foursquare.