Czeching Out Prague

Over the last few months we have heard so many people tell us how much they love Prague. We didn’t really know what to expect when going there, but we were so pumped to explore this new city based on what everyone else has said.

As per usual, we arrived pretty late to our hotel – we stayed at Hotel Maximilian, which is hands down the nicest place we’ve stayed during one of these city breaks. It is a luxury hotel in a really cool area, right between the center of the city and Josefov, also known as the Jewish quarter. I knew this was going to be an awesome place when I booked it… they had the option to choose red or white wine as your welcome gift, and you also have the option to have a goldfish in your room, which we of course added on!

Joe’s co-worker had recommended the cocktail bar, Hemingway, as a must-go while in Prague. They are master mixologists of specialty cocktails, using the likes of absinthe and rum in majority of the drinks. They even got super creative with how they were served, which I thought was so cool, never seen anywhere do this! We taste tested a few including:

  • Hulky Smash – absinthe, lemon, cucumber, grapes, mint, and candy, served in a Hulk cup!
  • Lights, Camera, Action – buttered popcorn infused rum, egg whites, popcorn topping
  • Mezcal Sour – mezcal, lemon juice, pickled corn, chilli powder
  • iDrink – sherry, egg white, apple cider, marzipan apple – served on a CD coaster

We were nervous that going to Prague in January was going to be brutal, the temps were about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so not terrible, but definitely not ideal for walking around all day. For this trip we were well prepared since our experience in Stockholm, so we bundled up in multiple pairs of socks and headed out for breakfast at Muj salek kavy.

We weren’t completely sure of a game plan for this trip, so spent a part of the morning walking around figuring out what we really wanted to see. After a bit of deliberation, we decided on the Prague Castle. This is the largest castle complex in the WORLD, dating back tot the 9th century. It housed many of the countries leaders including the presidents of Czechoslovakia, and currently the president of the Czech Republic. The most famous building here is St.Vitus Cathedral as this is the building that is most visible as part of the Prague skyline. It is a huge, Gothic masterpiece and as you know, we have seen A TON of churches since moving to Europe, and this surprised me as one of my favourites. The stained glass windows in this place were insane. So colourful and detailed – I literally couldn’t stop taking pictures of each one. It was amazing how many small pieces of glass went in to some of these works of art. It was seriously magnificent. I also love the contrast of the dark, stoic, Gothic architecture against these vibrant windows. They are certainly the focal point of the cathedral.

We also stopped in St.George’s Basilica, the Old Royal Palace, and Golden Lane – which are the tiny houses where the defenders of the castle lived. Now it houses a museum that replicates the housing, a hall of armor and an archery shoot, as well as some small shops. Although we were slightly disappointed that this wasn’t a real castle (in our minds at least…), it was still a first for us on our Euro adventures and certainly glad we visited.

Prague Castle is actually on the other side of the Vltava River, opposite the center of the city. It is perched at the very top of a hill, which provides for spectacular views of the city. Ironically, the best spot for pictures is actually on the roof of a Starbucks. We spent quite a bit of time snapping some selfies and taking in the incredible views of Prague. Once we could pry our selves away, we kept on walking, heading towards the Charles Bridge.

The city of Prague is really beautiful – to me it felt like a mix of Paris and Stockholm. There’s a romance about the restaurants and architecture that feels so French, but with a bit of medievil thrown in there. I love all of the colourful buildings in Europe, Joe and I are constantly pointing out neat looking places, which is definitely something New York City lacks.

Once we arrived at the bridge, the signs for Trdelink were everywhere. Have you seen these pastries before? They are a tubular, sugar & walnut crusted cake, often filled with chocolate. Of course we couldn’t resist, and picked up a fresh one as we continued our chilly walk over the bridge. Until then we had barely seen a crowd of people in Prague, and then suddenly we realized that all the tourists were on the Charles Bridge! This is probably Prague’s most famous landmark which is why it always seems to be buzzing with people. We got some good shots of the river and were on our way.

We were cold & hungry at this point, so all signs pointed to lunch! We went to U Medvidku – which is a classic, Czech microbrewery & beer hall. It is a no frills restaurant known for good beer & even better food. They only serve light or dark beer & once our drinks were taken care of – it was on to the food. We split a sausage, some dumplings with gravy, and the one and only beef goulash! Everything was delicious. It was a true comfort meal that warmed us to the core.

Our next stop was Old Town, which is probably what you envision when you think of Prague. This is one of the most picturesque European squares we have been in. All of the buildings are just so old & historic – it’s truly amazing to see it in person. The famous buildings that anchor the square are St.Nicholas Church, Tyn Church, and the Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock. Everyone told us to not miss the top of the tower, so that was the first thing we did. The walk to the top was pretty quick, and even if their was a wait, the views from the top are certainly worth it. You get to walk completely around the top for a 360 degree view of the city. To no one’s surprise, I couldn’t stop taking pictures. The plaza below with the Tyn Church is one of my favourite images. I also couldn’t get enough of the colourful buildings with their red tile roofs. The sun was also just going down, making dusk a beautiful time to be up there. It was the perfect end to our day of sightseeing.

For dinner we had made reservations at an Italian place, but had a list minute curveball thrown at us when I had a friend recommend Kampa Park. We called and luckily they had a 9:30pm reservation which we quickly snatched up. When we arrived at the restaurant I was SO happy that we made the switch. The restaurant is tucked away behind tons of trees & shrubbery but following the candlelit path takes you straight to the entrance. As soon as I walked in I knew we were going to love it. The upstairs dining room had rustic communal tables mixed with gorgeous, grandiose chandeliers. We were then led outside, through their outdoor seating area and down a set of stairs that was blocked by a huge, heavy curtain. When the hostess pulled it open, we were entering a wrap around porch with floor to ceiling windows, right on the water. Our table was so cozy, right under a heat lamp with blankets on the chair to keep us toasty. We had an incredible view of the Charles Bridge too. We couldn’t have asked for a better spot! The restaurant was also not busy at all, so the dim lighting and light music made for the perfectly quaint dinner. We shared scallops, steak, and a halibut – all were to die for. I probably sound like a broken record, but this was hands down one of our best meals.

After dinner we headed to Vinyl Bar for a post drink cocktail. Fast forward 30 minutes and I needed to get out of there…. One thing that sucks about Eastern Europe is that people are still allowed to smoke in bars. Patrons AND bartenders were just puffing away, and I couldn’t handle it. We downed our drink and carried on. From there we bopped around to a bunch of bars, testing out all of the different scenes of Prague nightlife. Buddha Bar was excellent for specialty cocktails & Chapeau Rouge was great for people watching and dancing.

We woke up pretty early and went for a stroll along the river. It was literally dead, we barely saw anyone on our walk – which made it so peaceful. It was legitimately freezing, so we tried to quickly see everything we still had left on our list. I planned to have breakfast at Maso A Kobliha, but when we pulled up it was closed for renovations. This isn’t the first time this has happened to us, so we now have a running joke that I take us somewhere that’s not open on every trip. We ended up at Cafe~Cafe, a very hip spot, with a luxe industrial feel. After our list bites of croissant and sips of cappuccino, it was time to say goodbye to Prague. This was a very special city that we both fell in love with. Another one to add to the “Must Go Back” list ๐Ÿ™‚

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