72 Hours in Prague

Where did I go: Prague, Czech Republic

When did I go: December 2015

Sunday – 6th December

1400: Just arrived in Prague. Nice and easy exit at the airport, pre-booked taxi to the hotel, and we were all checked into our rooms within an hour of landing.

We (that’s me, my other half G and our friends M & J) are staying at the Boscolo Prague – a luxury 5 star located just off the centre of Prague.

1600: After a brief walk to stretch our legs, we decided to hit the hotel spa  – it’s got a sizeable pool, Jacuzzi, Sauna, Steamroom and a Plunge Pool. Thing to note: just like in many other European countries (But not UK) everyone goes in the Sauna “au naturale” – apparently it is unhygienic to wear your swimsuit in to the Sauna – does anyone know why? I’ve asked google and I have not come across a reasonable answer.

1800: At the Old Town Square. A huge and lavishly decorated Christmas tree dominates the square. Many twinkling fairy lights are draped over other trees and the square is dotted with little red-roofed market stalls of the German (or in this case Czech) Christmas market. The Church of Our Lady before Tyn towers above the square and looks like Disney’s sleeping beauty castle.

This is where the eating (and drinking) began. We started with mulled wine and beer and hot dogs. Now, as a vegetarian, I hit my first (and only) problem with Prague – if you don’t eat meat, the choice of food is severly limited. So I had to pretend to enjoy my (rather bland) corn on the cob, while the others gorged on hot dogs.

1900:  Moved on to another corner of the Old Town Square. Here, my companions found a ham roast and  I discovered “Trdelnik”. This is a sweet pastry popular in middle Europe and has Slovak origins.  It has a hollow centre and is baked over a fire pit and dusted with sugar. Trdelnik actually means “empty head” – quite appropriate given the shape of the pastry.

1930: On the famous Charles Bridge. It spans the river Vltava and connects the Old Town to the Little town below the castle. From the bridge, you can see the beautifully illuminated Prague castle on the hill.

Castle from Bridge

2000: Dinner. Very good food and beer. I had a very nice coconut beer, but with an alcohol content on only 0.25%, I’m not sure that it qualifies as a beer.

2130: Time for dessert and another beer at Lokal. A hugely popular place frequented by tourists and locals alike. Drinkswise they serve only Plisner Urquell – a lager brewed in the town on Plzen. But they serve it in four different “cuts” (See picture below) – which is something to do with how much froth the beer has (or is it “head”? I really should pay more attention when people talk about beer). Anyway, none of them tasted very good to me, although G, M & J thought they were very good.

local

Monday – 7th December

0945: On a city tour bus. The city of Prague is made up of four parts: Old Town (Prague’s most central, and busiest area), New Town (the commercial heart of Prague), Little Town (aristocratic houses surrounding the castle) and Hradcany and Prague Castle.  The tour bus take us to each of these in turn and drops us off with the tour guide at the castle entrance. From here, you get a great view of the little town below the castle and the old and new towns across the river (but you can’t see much today because of the fog).

little town

For a country with over four decades of communist dictatorship, Prague has only  very small number of what I would call “Soviet style” buildings. Here is a picture of one. However, many of the old buildings fell into disrepair during the communist era – many of them have since been restored.

soviet building

Prague has a history of well over 1000 years, during which it was an important centre of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was also known as Bohemia for much of its history.   It became the capital of Czechoslovakia at the end of World War I and was occupied by Nazi Germany during WWII. In 1948 it became a communist dictatorship backed by the USSR until the fall of the Berlin wall. In 1993, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with Prague remaining the capital of the former.

1130: Quick tour of the St. Vitus Cathedral located inside the castle. It is the largest church of the Czech Republic and an excellent example of Gothic architecture. The ceiling looks to be at least 60m high, but according to our tour guide, this is an optical illusion created by the narrow arches, which are only 33m high.  The church took nearly 800 years to complete and houses the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors  – among them the tomb of St. Wenceslas (the “Good King Wenceslas” of the Christmas Carol)

1315: After a quick tour of the castle courtyards, the tour continues down the hill, through the little town, over the Charles Bridge, finishing by the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. Built in 1410, it is the oldest working Astronomical Clock in the world.

clock tower

1330: Time for lunch (and more beer).  Excellent beer and food again (duck, chicken, and beef for G, M & J and a really boring Barley dish for me – it tastes a bit like stuffing, but without any flavour.)

beer3

1500: Shopping for some Bohemian Crystal glasses.

1530: Walking around the New Town and Wenceslas Square, which is home to several international department stores, including Marks and Spencer.

1600: Afternoon coffee/dessert at a café.  Many types of hot chocolate on offer: hot chocolate with coconut, hot chocolate with orange, hot chocolate with cherries (which is essentially a black forest gateaux cake in liquid form) etc. The café is warm and cozy and I could happily snooze until dinnertime, but my friends have other ideas.

black forest gatue

1730: Cocktails at Hemingway’s – this is a very popular cocktail bar in Prague and it’s supposed to be very difficult to get a seat if you haven’t pre-booked. However, today there’s only a few after work drinkers around, and we manage to get a seat and several cocktails. The cocktails are indeed works of art – and not too expensive either.

1900: At Cathedral of St. Clement for a classical musical concert: Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Completely unplanned, but got some last minute discounted tickets just because we were going past. Music provided by the string quartet of the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra in Prague and a Soprano. Beautiful music in a grand setting.

2030: Dinner at an Italian restaurant. Centrepiece is fish. I also get the chance to try some non-alcoholic beer, which is quite nice.

2230: Another restaurant for dessert.  Really tasty fig cake and fried cheese (yes I know). To finish off the day, a cup of mint tea (although a beer would have been cheaper)

fig pudding

Tuesday – 8th December

1000: On the tram to the Prague castle – we are going to the Strahov Monastery next to the castle.  Taking the tram in Prague is easy. You can buy the tickets at any tram station – a one way ticket is 24 Krona and is valid for 30 minutes from when you start your journey. When you get on the tram you insert it into the machine in the tram which puts a time stamp on the ticket and validates it.

tram

1100: At the Strahov Monastery. It is home to the unique Strahov library, which is the largest monastic library in the country with over 200,000 books. The library is located in two large halls, with floor to ceiling bookcases and Baroque ceiling frescos.

1200: It’s just gone past mid-day, so must be time for beer! I’m having an eggnog coffee – latte with egg whites and rum.

eggnog coffee

1330: Walking down the hill from the castle to the little town, stopping a few gift and souvenir shops along the way.

1430: It’s been more than 5 minutes since our last drink, so must be time for another beer :). You guessed it, I had the hot chocolate! My alcohol tolerance level is much lower than the others, so I have to pace myself.

Beer

1530: At the John Lennon wall. Its a normal wall which has been filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti. Apparently, the wall started in 1988, when young Czechs who opposed the communist regime would write grievances on the wall and subsequently this led to a clash between hundreds of students and security police on the nearby Charles Bridge.

Wall

The wall continuously undergoes change and the original portrait of Lennon is long lost under layers of new paint.

1600: At the John Lennon pub – just 50m from the Lennon Wall. This is where I tried Grog – Rum (or Whiskey) with hot-water and lemon. The others had beer. (You may have noticed by now that I have a taste for the spirits unlike the others who keep on the beer. See, my view is, why drink down a whole pint when you can get the same amount of alcohol with a teaspoon of the strong stuff? )

Also tried their excellent double skewer kebabs with fries.

1800: Walking back to Old Town via the Charles Bridge. Quick stop on the Bridge to rub two Brass Plaques on the side of the bridge. One of St. John of Nepomuk, which makes your wishes come true, and another of a dog, which ensures your return to Prague.

1900: Dinner at a restaurant in the Jewish quarter. Spinach pancakes covered with Cheese for me, meat for everyone else.

JQ food

2030: At the Old Town square Christmas market again. Time for a spot of Christmas gift shopping – but, things on sale are exactly the same as what you would get at a Christmas market in the UK – the handcrafted and personalised chocolates I got for the grandparents, the lovely embroidered apron I got for my mother-in-law, the beautiful, hand painted candle hold I got for an aunt – it’s all here! It’s kind of makes me cynical about Christmas markets – there must be a factory somewhere Churning out these “authentic” products for every Christmas market in Europe.

tree

2145: At the Municipal House. This is one of Prague’s most lavish and  exuberant buildings – both inside and outside. Built in the early 1910s it’s been carefully restored in the 1990s in the Art Nouveau style. A lot of consideration and effort has gone in to the restoration of the building and it is clear for all to see. Take the café just inside of the entrance – It is like a walk-in museum for the Art Nouveau style and I feel really under-dressed in jeans and boots.

municipal building

It has a wonderful 1920s atmosphere, and a dessert trolley! There’s something very glamorous about being served dessert from a trolley. Oh, and the hot chocolate – It’s worth visiting Prague for this hot chocolate alone. It is actually melted dark cocoa, so thick you could almost make the spoon stand-up in it. And of course, it comes with a shot of rum – especially for me 🙂

Wednesday – 9th December

0900: Taxi from hotel to airport, quick check-in and through security.

1000: One last Czech meal before we go.

Airport food

1200: And we are off. Good-bye Praha – until next time.

Wander Mum

12 comments

  1. I’ve only been to Prague in the summer but it looks really beautiful at this time of year with all the Christmas lights. The food looks delicious too. Sounds like a fab trip, I must go back sometime. Thanks for linking #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can imagine Prague must be tricky for vegetarians! I seem to remember mostly existing on meat and beer 🙂 The hot chocolate sounds great though and it’s a wonderful time of year to see the city. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I went to Prague about the time you were putting this post together (shortly after January 1st, 2016) and I did a lot of the same things you did. Including drinking hot chocolate while the people I was with drank beer! Prague was so magical with all of the Christmas lights up! But I have to agree, even though I’m not a vegetarian, I too struggled to find foods in Prague that I would like. (I prefer vegetables to meat.) I was only in Prague for two days, so a bit shorter than you. We didn’t go to the monastery, Hemingway’s, or Cathedral of St. Clement so I might consider going should I ever return. I’d love to know what cafe you had all of the hot chocolate in? Thanks for sharing your 72 hours! It was fun reading and comparing my trip to yours! 🙂

    This is my Prague post if you are interested in checking it out – http://aandj8804.blogspot.com/2016/04/exploring-prague-in-snow.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mandy,
      Thank you for your lovely comments. I had a read of your post, and it brought back some great memories (I left a comment there too). There were lots of cafe where I had hot chocolate, but my favourites were Choco Cafe U Cervene zidle in town (this has a LOT of chocolate options) and the Municipal house with the dessert trolley. Klasterni pivovar Strahv near Strahov monastery was good too, but I think the beer drinkers enjoyed it more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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