Prague: a city known for its architecture, history, gastronomy and magnetism for British stag dos. The latter being, oddly, the reason I came to this city second time round (the first I was interrailing aged 20 with my best friend – enough said.)
No, I wasn’t on a stag do, the boy was – and since flights were insanely cheap he suggested I join him after the lads had returned (and his broken body remained in a state of beer-induced disrepair.)
So, in negligence of the fact we’re meant to be saving, my inner travelista remains a force to be reckoned with. And off to Praha I flew last Sunday.
I’m not so much of a rigid plan-maker when I go to new cities, I prefer to mostly just wander and see what I can find, though there were some particular sights and activities we were recommended. So I give you a list of highlights from 4 days in the Czech capital…
Yes it’s an obvious one, but missing this out on a trip to Prague would be pretty sacrilegious. The bridge itself provides a glimpse into medieval Prague (pre-cartoonists and postcard vendors, obv) and there’s nothing like a bit of history on your holidays to make you feel cultured.
It connects Prague’s old and new towns and is just a lovely space to wander around. Leading onto the Old Town’s gorgeous old cobbled streets, which are lined with old beer houses, squares and medieval buildings, the piece de resistance is the multitude of bakeries selling Trdelniks – or ‘Chimney Cakes’.
Oh god the Chimney cakes.
Round pastries coated in butter, rolled with cinnamon sugar and almond and filled with nutella, jam, ice cream or fruit, trdelniks are everywhere in Prague and were the sweet lining to my hol.
If you want to feel like Daisy Buchanan for the night, this is ya place. I’m a total sucker for anything novelty/vintage/retro – anything that reflects a different time period, basically.
So when I heard about this little speakeasy tucked among the cobbled streets of the Old Town near the river Vltava, I took little persuading to go in and sample a cocktail or two.
Entering through a thick, velvet curtain, you’re led into a small, candlelit bar. There’s classical music playing and the waiters wear bow ties. The cocktail list is immense, and the drinks are served in a variety of oddball container. I had the “Magic Moment” cocktail of Beefeater gin, mallow and nettle cordial.
“Part of the magic is made by you” the bartender told me (flirt), before presenting me with an odd looking little potion bottle with 2 different openings. You mix the gin and then the cordial and the drink changes colour, which provides a lot of excitement for a simple gal like me – especially after a couple of wines already. It also tasted pretty dang delicious. I could’ve inhaled any of the cocktails on their list – peruse it for yourself here.
Oh and just in case you require any further persuasion, Hemingway Bar has been listed as one of the top 50 best bars in the world. In short, you gots to go.
We heard about this art deco place through my dear old dad as a jazzy little spot for lunch or dinner so we thought we’d check it out. With over a century’s history behind it as one of Prague’s best-loved restaurants, I knew we’d be in for a bit of a treat.
I didn’t get any photos of the inside (one food pic on my phone was already pushing the bf’s limits), but the ornate ceiling, golden intricacies of detail and bow-tied waiters (do I have an underlying fetish for this?) made for a very luxurious restaurant experience.
I had a “US Hanger” steak – nope, not entirely sure what it is either, but I can tell you it was unbelievable! Good house red wine too.
Who knew the Czechs held such an affinity with the Beatles’ bespectacled lead singer? On the other side of the Charles bridge, into the Old Town, there’s a whole graffitied wall which serves both as a shrine to JL and a canvas for the city’s enthusiastic spray-painters.
Random to us, yes, but apparently after his death, the music icon became a pacifist hero for oppressed young Czechs living under communist rule.
It’s a mish-mash of JL imagery and the words he stood for – peace, love… also now ‘beer’, which you can see emblazoned on his forehead – but the common theme that belies it all is one of inspiration and political freedom. It’s a pretty cool place to visit.
It’s also really close to the Trdelnik street I mentioned earlier.
Want to be where the [Czech] people are? Then this is ya boy.
A friend of ours who lived in Prague for 6 months told us about this place and it was just as she described – lively, full of young locals and with a gigantic list of different craft and local beers and wines, I felt like this one one of our more ‘authentic’ Prague experiences.
We got probably the most lethal “Grog” I’d ever tasted – as in, probably could’ve got drunk from the fumes alone – and a pint of raspberry beer which was (dangerously) tasty. There’s an array of local food as well, i.e., potato dumplings and sausages, but we were content with our novelty bevvies.
Great little spot for day or night drinking (I don’t discriminate), and probably your best bet to sample some of what the Prague locals eat and drink.
So it seems the Czechs love beer so much they bathe in it. After a heavy night but with a determined “when in…” attitude, we marched to the nearest available spa. Mainly for the lols, if I’m honest.
And lols it did bring.
We were led into our own private spa room with two deep, wooden baths at one end. These were filled with hot water and a mixture of malt and hops. In the corner there was a little fire and a “traditional hay bed” (no we didn’t really know what that was about either).
When our host eventually left and we had recovered from our laughing fits, climbing into a bubbly bath of beer with access to an unlimited beer tap next to you proved to be one hell of a way to spend an afternoon.
And yes we eyed each other cynically when the host started talking about the benefits of malt and hops on your skin, but I gotta say we were softer than a couple of peachy baby bums after that sesh. With the added benefit of finely sculpted abs from laughing for an hour straight….
It’s a city I’ve now experienced in both summer and winter and both times it’s been equally as beautiful – and very good fun. If you visit, there’s no other way for me than an air bnb – we got this beauty for £23 a night. Praha, I’ll be back again some day.