We arrived in Prague on a Monday afternoon as the business men and women were finishing their days and heading home for the evening. Luckily, our place was only a 5 minute walk from the train station (9 minutes if pulling luggage over cobblestone), and about halfway between the train station and Old Town Square. We stayed on Jindrisska Street, which had street cars running down the middle and a great looking gothic church at one end. It was an impressive urban European venue, and a stark contrast to our yuppie filled neighborhood the days prior in Berlin.
Prague, and Old Town in particular, is a very visually stimulating place. The curved streets reminded my of the Forum Shops at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and I kept waiting for the sky to change colors and fade from day to night every 8 minutes as in Vegas. The allure of the buildings and architecture is quickly overshadowed (at least for me) by the miles of little tourist trinket shops. You know the stores, typically manned by purveyors who have little interest or knowledge of the local culture, wear big glistening watches, and wear Addidas sweatsuits. I can handle the occasional souvenir shop, but its pretty grotesque how many there are on every street around the main square, and really all over Old Town.
I could write so much about our trip, as there are many interesting observations. However, I’ll provide some general overview comments in the interest of time:
Prague is a very hilly town, and you can get great views if you hike the hill/park across the river from Old Town. We chose to do the Segway City tour, which is fantastic! Segways are a great way to get around a city like Prague, and our guide Mike (his Americanized name) was fantastic. He even took us to a monastery that produces it own beer. There were some fantastic views that I’m guessing at least 90% of visitors to Prague fail to ever see, and we felt like we got a great perspective on this centuries old city.
Stay away from the St Charles bridge during the day. It’s a crowded mess, even in October when we were there. Better, go late at night, say after 10pm. The city lights are spectacular, and the crowds are much thinner.
The opera is pretty neat, if you’re into that kind of thing. The inside of the theater is exactly what you’d expect from an old European opera house, but they were remodeling the outside when we were there so the entrance was nothing special. We saw a pretty low budget, ho hum performance of Debussy’s “Palleás et Melisande”. Our first opera, so not really fair for me to criticize, but it did cause me want to go see another just to compare.
The beer is really good. I’ve had my share of beers, and so I do feel like I’m in a position to properly judge the quality of Czech beers, and I was sufficiently impressed. In particular was the IPA from the Strahov Monastic Brewery. The ubiquitous Czech beer is Pilsner Urquell, a brew I quickly took a liking to. I know I’ve seen it in the States, but I’ve never had it, and I’m hoping to find it on draught next time out.
Staying in Old Town, it was really hard to find true local watering holes, although our AirBnB hosts made a great recommendation in U Rudolpho. We scouted it out, which took a while given all the curvy streets, but eventually found it. There were no other tourists present, but luckily we chatted up a local named Peter who helped to guide us. He gave us some recommendations for the best non-tourist watering holes around Old Town: U Rudolfina, U Hrocha, U Jelinku, U Tygra. We were only able to get to U Rudolpho, but based on the discussion I’m pretty sure they’re all pretty good.
If you have the chance, I’d highly suggest visiting Prague, primarily for its beauty and representation as an Eastern European city.