Prague was the starting point of my Czech adventure which took me to the heart of South Bohemia. This was my first trip to Prague and here’s a quick roundup of the medieval city from my point of view.
Prague is what it is supposed to be – beautiful, historic, beer and party capital of the world, but at the same time it is full of tourists and tourist traps, a little pricey and a bit too made up for me. As a first time visitor to Prague, I was of course taken by the history and the beauty, however I was left a little bit ‘wanting for something else’ from the city. I of course spent time in Old Town, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Big Clock and all the places recommended, and since enough is written about them on thousands of forums & blogs, I’m not going to write about them here. After a lot of hunting there were however a few gems I did discover, the memories of which make Prague special for me and that’s what this post is about.
Vyšehrad – Very few areas of Prague are as quiet and peaceful as Vyšehrad. A little bit of an excursion from the noisy city center, it’s a gem not yet in the many published ‘itineraries’! It’s a beautiful setting of an old castle on a height from which the entire city is visible.
You can spend a day just walking in the beautiful parks and soaking in the astonishingly beautiful views! The views of the bridges over the river Vltava from here as well as the castle are probably the most beautiful.
The St. Peter & Paul Church and cemetery set inside the park was really an unexpected surprise! Many of Prague’s great artists, scribes, musicians and politicians lie buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church.
There are many small hidden café’s inside and spending at least half a day here away from the hustle & bustle is highly recommended!
Another accidental find was the most quaint restaurant on our way out – its called U Šemíka, its nicely located just around the walls of Vyšehrad, it’s a cosy little place set inside an original library! The books around, the beautiful fireplaces and wood & stone work have a charming romantic feel to the place. U Šemíka is also a hotel and is definitely on my list for the next visit to Prague! Around the hotel are quaint little shops selling handmade artisanal products.http://www.usemika.cz/en/restaurant/about-the-restaurant/
In short, I would like to believe all of Prague at one point would have been like Vyšehrad– beautiful architecture, romantic views and soaked in art and culture, before the deluge of tourists hit the city!
The Prague Beer Museum
First off- its not a museum. It’s a pub. And yes, it’s in Old Town and its full of tourists, however, if you love beer and don’t have much time on hand, this is the place to go to! At first, you may be a little disappointed to see its like any other pub, but wait till you see the line up of their beers(pivo)! They have 30 beers on the tap! It’s really a tough job to choose from the selection – but not to worry, they make it easier by giving a friendly tasting tray of beer! You can choose the number of beers you want to taste and they are happy to serve.
One small beer drinking tip when in The Czech Republic – beer is measured by degrees here – in all menu’s you will find a degree number mentioned along with the beer name .The big degree symbol on bottles does not indicate the percentage of alcohol content. Instead, it is a measurement used by brewers to track the density of certain ingredients. A typical pub serves only one brand of 10-degree beer, one brand of 12-degree beer, and one brand of dark beer.
The other thing that obviously goes for Czech beer is that it is so cheap (.5l for $1.50-$2.00), much cheaper than water. No wonder Czech is the highest beer drinking country in the world, the per head consumption stands at a whopping 143 litres per head! A Czech joke says: A child comes to a pub and asks for a small beer, the waiter asks whether he shouldn’t better order a glass of lemonade. The kid says that he’d like to but lacks 3 Crowns”
A Performance at the Spanish Synagogue
You have to see one classical concert as a part of the Prague experience – one of the well known venues is the Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish quarters, which is an ideal venue with its beautiful interiors inspired by the famous Alhambra of Spain. It has perfect acoustics for a classical concert, which is what I experienced in the orchestra performance I went for. I’m not much of a classical music person, however, the performance really did had me stuck to my seat. A little pricey but highly recommended to experience to get into the Czech mood.
Don’t miss saying hello to Frank Kafka, standing tall just outside the synagogue.The tall black sculpture represents a headless male figure in a suit with a somewhat smaller figure of Kafka sitting on his shoulders – I guess it’s a take on his book ‘Metamorphosis’.
These are my top 3 recommendations while you are in Prague, other than the obvious ones which I don’t think need more content than what already exists.