prague – stop 1

This post is the first leg of the three city trip. April 2016.

As a kid, my family and I lived in Prague. The Berlin wall had come down a mere 3 years before and the country was just getting onto their feet post-Communist rule. What happened afterwards in 1990s Prague has been likened to the artistic expression fostered by 1920s Paris. Many ex patriots came to the city to work and live and that’s exactly what brought my family there.

My younger sister and I have a lot of memories from this time: going to school, playing in the massive amounts of snow, goulash, our sweet old lady neighbor (who I got to reconnect with on this trip!), and more snow.

Flash forward to March 2016 – another chance to return to the “the golden city” and this time with Daniel. Not only was Prague on the agenda, but we would also train to Vienna and Budapest with our friend Vikas.

Having the chance to be in Prague this time of year was amazing because of the Easter markets! Every few blocks, you’d find another one. It meant hordes of tourists, but it’s hard to be upset with a warm trdelnik in your hand.

The biggest, most diverse Easter market was set up in Old Town Square. The Jan Hus statue, blackened and intimidating, looks grumpier than usual surrounded by pastels, painted eggs, and laughing children yielding pomlazkas. 

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Here, we tried a lot of different food stalls: sausages (or páreks), cheesy potatoes, spit roasted hams, and the aforementioned trdelnik which was by far the favorite.

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This picture doesn’t capture the steam comin’ off!

This roly-poly thing is wrapped around a wooden spool that is then slowly rotated above hot coals. This means, the inside stays kind of doughy while the exterior gets crunchy. They then take it off the spool and roll it in cinnamon sugar. I even saw some filled with ice cream.

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Vikas is vegetarian and managed to find a treat amongst all the meat – Langoš. Originally of Hungarian descent, this flat bread is covered with a ton of garlic, cheese, and ketchup. So weird, it works.

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Also served piping hot!

We ate our treats under the Astrological Clock, where every hour on the hour, a small door (like on a cuckoo clock) opens and figures of Christ and his 12 apostles go ’round.

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A few minutes walking, Wenceslas Square has its own Easter market with more of the same delicious food and mulled wine.

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To get off our feet and put a few Pilsners under our belts, we went to Vytopna. Perched above the square, you have great people-watching views but the main attraction here is the 400 meter miniature railway that loops through the entire restaurant – over drawbridges, through tunnels, and delivering drinks right to your table. The best picture I could get is a bit blurry because the trains can reach speeds of 20km/hr.

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After the welcome beers, we met some friends at Restaurant Mincova, located right off of Old Town Square. Our airbnb host recommended this place not only for the food, but for the Pilsner served straight from large, copper tanks. We filled up on goulash and beer before bar hopping the rest of the night.

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Two particularly fun bars we were told about were Chapeau Rouge in Prague 1 and Cross Club, a bit north of Prague 3. Chapeau Rouge is a wild place. Once inside, you have three stories of bars and dance floors to explore. The farther down you go, the more dance-y it gets.

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Cross Club is another subterranean bar with a kind of mechanical/steampunk vibe. Near the bar, you could sit in these booths that kind of felt like cages and the dance floors had cool lights and typical euro-techno. But to be honest, everything post-Berlin has felt like the contrived, Disney version of “~crazy clubz~”. In Berlin, you really are in a vault in the basement of a former Communist bank that is now a pool in the summertime or some shit like that. But here, it felt a little plastic. I don’t mean to complain…I think I’m just Team Berlin.

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Fortunately, getting home every night was easy since our airbnb was under the TV Tower, we just had to scan the horizon and head that way. We were also down the block from a nice Italian place, La Bottega Gastronomica, that became our almost daily breakfast/wifi combo.

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Another great cafe in Prague 3 is Café Pavlač. Stylish and cozy, they serve food all day and have wonderful coffee.

Our last full day was spent hiking up to Prague Castle, there were Easter markets up there too! Halfway down, we stopped for drinks on the Villa Richter terrace, whose panoramic view includes at least 5 of the big Prague attractions (TV Tower, National Museum, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and Petřín Hill).

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Our last day happened to be Easter, so we decided to have a special meal inside the TV Tower before catching our train to Vienna. It was a beautiful view and a relaxed way to spend our final hours in Prague.

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Vikas, in his infinite wisdom, bought train snacks for us and on we went!

 

 

 

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