Before I get into the highlights, and the food and all that, one thing that happened on this trip that I couldn’t stop thinking about was how Prague was a communist country only 20 years ago, which is pretty insane to think about. And you’d never think it just exploring the city that they’ve only been democratic for that long.
How did they regroup so fast? In communist countries, they don’t own land, how did they divide it all out once communism fell? How’d they sell it? Same with businesses, how did it all come together so quickly? Say you were born in Czech Republic and are 40 years old, you’ve lived 20 years of your life with communism, and 20 years of your life without. What would that be like? Just couldn’t help thinking about this during my trip…
Anyway, here were some of the highlights:
FOOD & BEVS:
1. Sushi time at Cafe Buddha
Sushi?! In Prague?! Yes. Go to Cafe Buddha for some yummy mango-infused rolls and the nicest Scottish waiter you’ve ever met. We went here our first night in Prague, and during that time we were a bit surprised because of how unfriendly some of our first encounters were. Our waiter, who had moved there, and lived there for several years assured us, “Oh yes, it is kind of startling at first. But once you get passed the stone faces, they’re really nice people.”
2. Cafe Americano at Kaaba
For delicious coffee and croissants in a cute atmosphere, head to Kaaba. This ‘60s-inspired diner had awesome wifi and an atmosphere that reminded me of how I decorated my one bedroom apartment back in Boulder. They have a full breakfast menu and a large wine selection as well, depending on what time you want to Czech it out (sorry, promise that’s the only one).
3. Din din
We had a fabulous dinner at Brasserie Meating Point, near Old Town Square. I would suggest the split pea soup or the beef goulash. Don’t order martinis here though, they kind of skimp out on filling up the glasses up all the way, and my cosmo was way to sweet (not to sound snobbish, just being honest). Maybe go for a traditional cocktail instead.
Americky Bar is pretty cute. Apparently it’s the oldest bar in Europe, although that’s hard to believe. I do have to hand it to them though, as I sipped my gin and tonic, the the art nouveau design and exquisite interior design reminded me of a scene straight out of Grand Budapest Hotel.
My favorite bar we went to was Hemingway bar (a National Geographic Traveler recommendation). I tried absinthe for the first time and saw how it was mixed with water and sugar. It was certainly strong — 75% proof or something like that. But I’m not really one for black licorice-like tastes, so I doubt I’ll drink it again … maybe. Our server was from Slovakia, and he was the best. He told us all about his favorite things to do in Germany and Europe, and wrote it all down on cards for us. The atmosphere here is super cool too. Traditional, with rich wood and low lighting. When you sit down, on the drink menu there are listed “rules”. Some of them being: No talking to the people next to you; No using your computer; If you want to go to an internet cafe, we’ll suggest one; No being loud; If you want to buy a drink for someone, go through your server for first and your server will check if that person wants it. Overall, this place is just really unique and cool, and next time I go to Prague, I’ll definitely pay another visit.
5. Dope rooftop spots
If you’re looking for a dope rooftop spot and awesome food and awesome drinks, hit up the very-trendy DUPLEX. This place is in the more modern part of Prague, where the Velvet Revolution took place. You can get a beautiful view of the city, especially at night. If you need a suggestion for what to order, might I suggest the delicious salmon, or yummy risotto? Bonus: Excellent cosmos and blankets for those who tend to get chilly (*cough*).
Another, more low-key rooftop restaurant that we hit up was Terasa U Prince (The Terrace Sky Restaurant), a great spot. While we were dining, there were these Indian guys who must have been having a bachelor party together (or something similar). They were pretty amusing during our whole meal, laughing, and cracking the most inappropriate jokes. They even came over to our table to have a chat. They said, “We’re just friendly Indian guys … You guys should come out later if the parents will let you.” Most people might not find this quite as amusing, but I thought they were pretty funny, and just having a good time. Between our conversation with them, and catching the sunset while sipping beer, there probably couldn’t have been a better way to spend our last night in Prague.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Take a bike tour!
We were able to view many of Prague’s parks, famous sites, and works from one of Prague’s famous artists, David Cerny. We did a guided tour, so we could learn about some of the history while gallivanting the town. Yes, I know about my nerdish qualities.
2. Hang out in Old Town Square
We spent a lot of time in The Square. Drinking Pilsen Urquell and Budweisers — both of which are not the same brands as the ones in the States. Had to of course eat some sausages too.
When we stopped here on our bike tour, we learned about the Thirty Years War that started here and how Prague was affected by WW2.
There are also lots of street musicians in Old Town Square, one pianist in particular was astounding one night as we listened to him during a drizzle. If I can tell they’re hustling out there, and I’m feeling it, I’m never shy to give them some spare change. They’re working, and polishing off my atmospheric vibes.
If you don’t mind the crowds, go to the top of the Bell Tower here. We paid a few bucks, or crowns I should say, to go all the way to the top for a magnificent view of Prague. Well worth it.
3. Take a visit to the John Lennon Wall
Lennon didn’t actually come to the John Lennon Wall at any point, but it was a tribute to him and the Beatles, and their free minded thinking — a subtle protest wall, if you will. We were lucky enough to catch someone playing guitar and singing some Beatles’ tunes while we were there.
4. Go to an orchestra
Another one of the Prague bucket list items for us was watching a live orchestra. We watched and heard a beautiful string quartet, inside the Cathedral of St. Clement, part of Prague’s Clementinum, play The Four Seasons.
Being inside the cathedral for so long brought up weird memories from going to a private Catholic school as a kid, like confession and kneeling, stations of the cross. I’ll keep my own views out of it for now, but one thing I do miss about going to church is the singing. Boy did we sing. And my sister and I would try to break each other’s hands during the Our Father. That was fun.
5. Visit the Prague Castle!
The fourth largest castle in Europe (everything is the oldest, or the largest, or the first, haha) is the Prague Castle. The church inside the castle really steals the show. More art nouveau is found within on the stained glass windows. The ceilings inside were probably ten stories high or more.
Inside the castle, there is some seriously old shit. Armor from the 1st century, A.D., jewelry from years like 98 (not 1998), artifacts from actual dukes who turned into saints — like St. George. Not sure what made someone a saint at that time … There were also swords, even gowns that they found buried in coffins that belonged to royal families.
As kids we hear about stories from the medieval times and watch movies about princes and princesses. It’s crazy that so many people actually lived like this in real life all over Europe, all over the world, less than some odd 200 years ago, in real feudalist societies. One night we all asked each other what role we’d play in a feudalist society. Rules: no belonging to royalty (the Kanye’s and Kim’s of the times), and no choosing a man’s role if you were a woman. Colton’s mother answered a gardener, Chelsea’s boyfriend answered an artist, Colton said an advisor. I had an especially hard time with the question because all roles for women at the time basically sucked. I opted for a pirate — yes, they had female pirates. And they at least got to travel.
6. Check out Fresh Labels streetwear shop
I usually do hardly any shopping while I travel, preferring to save that money for experiences and beer, but we walked passed a store on our way to a museum, saw what styles they had in the window, and had to walk inside. It’s called Fresh Labels, and let’s just say that they have a killer buying team. adidas platforms, RVCA jackets, Herschel bags … oh man. I opted for a pair of clear Komono shades, since by others broke. Although the apparel was cute, sadly there was no room for anything in my pack — this time!
7. Mucha Museum
If you’re looking to go to an art museum with art that doesn’t actually bore you to death, check out the Mucha Museum. Mucha was a pretty rad dude for his time. He is responsible for the Art Nouveau movement of the early 1900s. To me, his art kind of looked like flower child hippy art of the ’60s. He was obviously before his time. My favorite pieces of his were his illustrated movie posters he did for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Whoever that is.
Sadly, when Germany took over Prague during WW2, he was one of the first persons captured. He got sick in the prison where they kept him, and not long after he was released, he died. One day when I have an apartment again, I’ll buy a large print of Mucha’s to hang somewhere. Maybe one he did of Sarah or his take The Princess.
8. Go outside the city
If you can. We met up with our friend Martina who was on the Board of Directors with us for the CU Snowboard Team. She actually grew up in Prague and returned after college. She took us to a local Czech bar outside of the city. We had a great time drinking beer, then later sipping wine, and reminiscing about our youthful college days and shredding with the team.
9. Look at weird art from Prague’s David Cerny
This artist is pretty cool with all of his political / disruptive art pieces. The one he did with the giant babies with the barcodes on their faces is meant to bring awareness around consumerism’s effects on children. His style kind of reminds me of Banksy’s and his political artwork, except Cerny’s work is not anonymous. I was kind of surprised to hear how Cerny was basically allowed to display his work anywhere. Our bike tour guide assumed it was because of the recent fall in commuism. He said government rules saying what people could and couldn’t do were really lenient because everyone was still healing. It’d basically be a bad look if government told this guy he couldn’t have his opinionated artwork expressed on the streets.
THINGS NOT TO DO
1. Watch the show at the Bell Tower
Don’t watch the “show” at the Bell Tower that happens every hour. It’s a bit disappointing. If you are really curious, I found a video of it on YouTube.
There ya go! What you should and shouldn’t do in Prague. If you’ve visited before, let me know some of your favorite things in the comment section. Next time, I’m going to tell you what to do in Salzburg, Austria. Spoiler alert: It’s even more epic than Prague.