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Published: September 13th 2018
Our second day in Prague started with the usual battle in the shower. I don't know why, but both the bathrooms in Vienna and Prague had a miniscule glass partition in the shower that didn't even cover half of it. It was a daily struggle to take a shower whilst making sure that water didn't flood the bathroom floor completely. Try as I may, it seemed the darned optional hand held shower head would point to the corner, which wasn't properly sealed.
Then we set out on a mission! We had been told to make it to the Castle District by 11 AM, or we would be waiting in long security lines. There are three entrances but, truthfully, I'm not sure which one we went to. Our trusty google map led us through some of the Mala Strana streets to one of the entrances, and up we went!
Aye! Another steep hill, steps and steep climb, more steps and another steep climb. I was hyperventilating towards the end. Then we had to go through the security check but, luckily, we just made it before the line got bad. It moves very slow. One person at a time, empty all
pockets, put all metal on a table, open purses, and then go through the metal detector. This particular entrance opened to a platform with great views of the city, so it was constantly fairly crowded as it was also the nearest exit after the Golden Lane area.
Once we went in there didn't seem to be much direction. The weather was bad so we took refuge under an arch with a store where we bought our second umbrella of the trip, the first one being our first day in Vienna. I had been prepared with a rain poncho, which I left in the room, and my friend left the Vienna umbrella too. Our oversight as we had been warned by the concierge before we left the hotel that the weather was going to be bad, but we foolishly trusted weather.com that it wouldn't be until the afternoon. Ha! Never learn.
Thanks to the rain though, we saw the plaza on the other side of the arch where the ticket office was and headed that way. Our second disappointment in Prague. St. Vitus Cathedral was also under restoration and partly covered in scaffolding and plastic! Then, to add insult
to injury, we found our that the President of India was in town and so the Royal Palace and some other areas were closed for the day. Yikes!
Anyway, we decided to stay and see the other landmarks and play it by ear the following day whether we wanted to go back or not.
I think my favorite was the Basilica of St. George. It was homely after the scale of some of the previous churches, certainly compared to St. Vitus, and I found it lovely inside.
The Golden Lane area made me smile. It reminded me of a Renaissance Festival grounds. Some of the tiny houses are museum pieces that show how the castle guards who were housed there lived, but other are specialty items shops, like beer cosmetic products. I considered it, but nah.
One house in particular, Number 22, is full of memorabilia of Franz Kafka, who used this house to write between 1916 and 1917. Understandably, he's very big in Prague and sculptures of him abound, and even a museum.
After we exited Prague Castle, we were in need of refreshments in the shape of some good beer, so we made
our way to U Krale Brabantskeho (Medieval Brabant Tavern) and had their home brewed beer. This tavern, which is one of the oldest pubs in Prague, is supposed to have been established in 1375. At night they have a medieval dinner and show, but we already had plans for the evening. I could not help myself and sneaked a peek at the "banquet hall" deep under ground down a flight of stairs. The skull studded ceiling was my favorite! The beer was excellent too! Supposedly, it made the way it was in the medieval ages for authenticity.
Then we did a bit more exploring of some landmarks around Mala Strana.
We visited Kampa Park to look at the controversial baby statues, Lenon Wall, and Our Lady Victorious Church to see the Infant Jesus of Prague.
The Lenon Wall stop was fun. It no longer has much political content, but it's still a self expression place and very lively.
Afterwards, we made our way back to the Malostranske Namesti Square, and Mostecka Street, eventually crossing the bridge to the Old Town side and our next adventure, a beer tasting at Pivovar U Tri Ruzi!
is also a micro brewery, and we did their six beer tasting, which was delicious. It was very relaxing, sitting by the window looking at the crowds passing by, and laughing at the poor souls obviously trying to find their way with google maps. It was a relief to realize we were not the only ones that often could not even follow the directions.
The bartender here was a friendly and entertaining guy, and told us some sad truths about Prague. It has fallen prey to the same problems that we are facing here in New Orleans. He told us that few Czechs live in the area anymore because foreigners are buying the places and using them as Air B&Bs. How infuriating.
Anyway, after our tasting it was time to meet a friend of a friend who lives in Prague for dinner. As usual, there was supposed to be an eight minute walk, which turned into a forty minute walk because of convoluted directions, but we eventually found it right before we were late! The restaurant pub was U Pinkasu, a well known establishment that boasts the best beer in town! It was very good. There is a
proudly displayed plaque that claims that their first Pilsner Urquell beer was drawn there in 1843. What can you say to that, just bring me one!
We were sat at an upstairs room, by an open window, and I loved the old tavern atmosphere and décor. Our friend confirmed what the bartender had been telling us. After forty years under communism, many of the buildings are in serious need of repair which some of the owners can't afford so they either sell or rent and, voila!
Here was my first exposure to their beloved dumplings. What can I say. Yuk!!
I ordered a recommended local specialty, a pork dish with cabbage, and it was very tasty. However, the accompanying side left much to be desired. I happen to be a bread lover, but these bland lumps resembled bread that had not been baked and, even dunked in the sauce like they are supposed to be, were bland and not appealing to me whatsoever. Don't misunderstand, I'm sure they are great by other people's taste, but not mine.
Fortunately we had wanted to try to fried cheese dish and roasted potatoes, which gave me the excuse of
being full for not eating most of the other dish.
They don't rush you in Prague. You basically sit at the table until you are good and ready to leave. Actually, sometimes you may be ready but, I found out, you are not to wave or try to attract the attention of the waiter. I raised my arm and it was practically slapped down by our friend, and was told that's considered very rude. Oops! Eventually, the waiter will look your way and you nod and let him know you are ready. Oops!
Our way back to the hotel was, unknowingly and unwillingly, the long way. We ended up at Wenceslas Square which was very lively at that time, but we were too tired to linger and just were happy for a quick look since it would have been sad to miss it completely. This is the place where the Russian tanks rolled in in 1968, and the place where all political demonstrations, and freedom celebrations took place.
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