THE LITTLE SCOOP: [THE BULLET POINTS]
EAT & drink:
We had a great meal at U Fleků – a great traditoinal beer hall experience with all the trimmings – sauerkraut, dumplings, goulash, the works. Much like beer halls in Germany, they serve only one draft beer and come around and refill your empty mug whenever you signal them. They tally up how many times they serve you and you pay at the end! U Fleků has a great dark house ale. Beer in Prague is cheap! The most famous are Pilsner Urquell, Budweisser (no, not the US one), Staropramen, and Kozel!
If you have a sweet tooth, try some trdelník! Also called chimney cakes, they are delicious dessert made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and often cinnamon, chocolate, and walnut, and even sometimes served with ice cream inside. You will see shops and stands selling them everywhere in the Old Town.
The Prague Marriott Hotel was excellent! Centrally located, with great service and a very close walk to the Old Town. We were fortunate to be upgraded to a suite for more space with James and he did just great in the provided crib. We love the concierge lounges in European Marriotts – free alcohol, free breakfast, free snacks. It’s an ideal place to refuel!
Check out the Prague Castle which like Lyon cautiously looks over the beautiful city. Enjoy the historic statues and views on the Charles Bridge, reflect at Wenscelas Square, check out the Lennon wall, be take the famed Astronomical Clock, and the “dancing” Fred & Ginger House! If you’re keen, Prague is very much a party town so partake in after hours!
THE BIG SCOOP: [THE WHOLE STORY]
I visited Prague in 2009 as the last stop on a study abroad spring break – truly broke as a joke with a very compromised liver, but was really captivated by the river views and the magical Old Town Square. The trips could not have been more different – in 2009, I went to sleep roughly eight hours later than I did on this visit, but the beauty really did hold up.
However, the secret about Prague is OUT. I’m not sure that I can remember a more crowded city in our travels as of late. Another reason we were in Prague was because B’s home NHL team, the Philadelphia Flyers, were playing the Chicago Blackhawks, in another effort to drum up international interest in American sports. You might recall last year the stars also aligned for him to see his home NFL team in London, as well!
We saw jerseys everywhere but even without them, the town was slammed with tourism. If you’re traveling with a baby – this can work in your favor. The best time to see the Charles Bridge and its incredible statues is early in the morning – where you can also hope to get photobomb-free shots of the Prague Castle.
There are 30 religious statues on the magnificent Bridge, which dates back to 1357, and, is named for Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Urban legend says that the bridge is so strong because egg yolks and shells were added to the mortar!
Another spot to visit early is theThe Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. It tolls each hour with a little performance. Installed in 1410, third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating, figures of the 12 Apostles rotate along each hour along with some of the “evils” of the day – greed, vanity, and death. It reminds me very much of the clock in Bern!
Wenceslas Square is named for “Good King Wenceslas” (of Christmas Carol fame) and the patron saint of the Czech state credited with bringing promoting Christianity throughout the region. The square is massive so you can visit really at any time! It’s particularly noted as a place for demonstration – many bravely protested Nazi occupation, and in the the “Velvet Revolution” students passionately protested Communist rule in the 1980s. This year, the square saw the the largest demonstration since 1989, calling for the resignation of their prime minister for alleged corruption. He’s still in office!
On your way across the Prague Castle, make a quick visit the John Lennon Wall, which came about as a tribute after Lennon’s assassination in 1980 when unknown artist painted his image. Since, fans from all over have added Beatles lyrics, homages to the artist and pleas for world peace. It’s been covered up many times but visitors continue to come back for more!
After the Wall, it is a steep walk up to the Prague Castle complex, which dates back to the 9th century and where the President still lives. It is so massive that they offer two day tickets to see the variety of palaces and churches. Regrettably, we couldn’t wait longer in the insane lines with drizzly weather and an impatient little babe, but I’d love to visit another time, and walking the exterior of the complex was lovely enough, as were the beautiufl views of the town.
On your way back into town, stop by the Dancing House, completed in the 90s , a collaboration between a Czech architect and famed American architect Frank Gehry, originally named the house Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts) – it’s a quick stop since there’s nothing to see inside – it’s all offices and restaurants!
While it would have been amazing to have better weather, it was a fantastic fall weekend in the Czech Republic. Our little man did a great job conquering yet another country and we loved seeing another gorgeous spot as a family.
Next up – a spotlight on a trip we took for my mom’s birthday to Vienna, Austria and Bratislava, Slovakia!