Meandering the streets of Prague

There is no denying it. Prague is beautiful.
‘What’s so great about Prague?’ someone asked me the other day.
For me, the colorful tall buildings of the Old Town combined with the sound of street musicians playing Jazz in the Square and the smell of hot wine from nearby street-vendors mixed together into the most perfect Autumn scene.
But, for others Prague is something completely different.
I already wrote a fee post about Prague: Prague at Night and Foodie Haven in Peague — so check them out for some other pictures and my first impressions of the city.

20121112-220240.jpg
The Charles Bridge is the most famous image of Prague. Statues line the walkway and during the day there are artists, musicians and beggars as well. Every tour book will tell you to go during off-peak times such as the morning or at night. I went around 7:30 pm and it was fairly quiet, but I’m sure if you went in the early morning it would be better. If you’ve got a good camera you could get some amazing foggy-morning photos!
I walked this bridge everyday on my way to sites and just to be there. It’s crowded, but don’t rush across! Take the time to stop and admire the view.

20121112-220832.jpg
My advice: head to the bridges on either side for some great views of the bridge itself.
Next I wandered to Kampa Park.

20121112-221014.jpg

20121112-221021.jpg
As I mentioned in previous posts, I love Autumn! This park was beautiful and I found the creepy baby sculptures by David Cerny.

20121112-221217.jpg
Then, not even a 5 minute stroll away is the Lennon Wall.

20121112-221633.jpg

20121112-221643.jpg

20121112-221652.jpg
Then, up to the next bridge, outside of the Kafka Museum, I found David Cerny’s Proudy (stream) sculpture. Or, as most people call it: two guys pissing.

20121112-222204.jpg
What’s really interesting is they move and the streams spell out famous quotes from Czech Literature into a puddle shaped like the Czech Republic! Hilarious!
Next up is a not-so-hilarious statue: Don Giovanni, in memory of Mozart.

20121112-222959.jpg
Yeah, it’s pretty frightening!
Next up is a Church. Yes, I know, I said I didn’t like churches. But this church was free and took zero effort to get to! Awesome! And, it does look pretty phenomenal inside and there is a severed hand hanging from the ceiling! Say what!?! Cool right!?

20121112-223214.jpg

20121112-223354.jpg
Above is a view from halfway up Petrin Hill. GO THERE! And, don’t be lame like me, go to the top! Views are free!

20121112-223530.jpg

20121112-223555.jpg
There are still old-style looking trams in Prague, but don’t be fooled, as they have some of the most modern transit I’ve seen so far!
Music in Prague
The real reason I left sunny Spain and Portugal for cold and dreary Prague was for the music. I had met a woman when I was in Paris last time, and she raved about the Opera she had seen, and told me how Prague is really famous for orchestras as well.
The first concert was an intimate performance with a quintet playing in the small Spanish Synagogue.

20121112-224201.jpg

20121112-224218.jpg
They performed the Best of Gershwin and it was an awesome performance.
But, it didn’t compare to the following night.

20121112-224409.jpg
I watched the Czech Philharmonic perform in the Rudolfinum! Wow! They played symphonies by Dvorak and their conductor, Jiri Belohlavek was superb! I had goosebumps the entire performance! Honestly, the best solo moment of my entire trip!
And there you have it. That was Prague. I think I’m going to need to return – who’s with me!?

Foodie Haven in Prague

Hey everyone!
I’m counting down the days: only 19 more to go before I’m back in Canada! And yes, despite all of the awesomeness that is Europe I am really looking forward to being back home; but more on that later!
FOOD!
I had done my research prior to coming here, so I knew that there were plenty of vegetarian options in the city. For instance, The Vegan Backpacker has a post from 2010 and it made me drool.
So what have I found?
First of all: PEANUT BUTTER! I literally eat PB everyday back home, so finding it was the highlight of my day! Also, in the large Tesco Supermarket they have soy-meat! Awesome! So, if you have access to a kitchen, cooking for yourself is really simple!
Anyways, back to the important bit.
Dhaba Beas

20121110-135726.jpg
Lucky for me this place is less than a minute walk from my hostel and it’s really affordable! I’ve spent less than 100 Czech koruna ($5 CAD) each visit, and I’m always in a food coma by the time I finish eating.

20121110-135941.jpg
Pictured above: some sort of bugler-wheat salad, cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, a samosa and some mango chutney (yummy!) and a sweet bread pudding. Obviously it’s an Indian restaurant, so curries and potatoes are plentiful. I’ve eaten here 3x already, not only because of the price, but because the options change, so it’s a surprise each visit! So far, Dhaba Beas is my favourite veg find: delicious, nutritious and affordable! Also, vegan items are clearly marked!

Country Life – Cafe and Store
I read about this place on Vegan Backpacker, and I was really excited to try it out! So, what did I think?

20121110-140539.jpg

20121110-140550.jpg

20121110-140559.jpg
Just like Dhaba Beas, Country Life is buffet style and you pay by weight. The options were plenty-a salad bar, a variety of hot dished including a vegetarian style goulash typical in Czech. There was also Pizza, lasagna and roasted potatoes with a spinach sauce. They also had many dessert options, but I was looking for the highly acclaimed Vegan Kokoska (look at this Vegan Backpacker post). But, no luck! There were cakes, but none really caught my eye.
I (stupidly) did not take a picture of my purchases but it was less than what I usually get from Dhana Beas. A cucumber-dill salad, some ‘tenderloin sauce with chick-peas’ and some potatoes with spinach sauce. Cost: 193 Czech Koruna – double the price of Dhaba Beas, and not worth it. The only reason I plan on returning is to look for the dessert!
The store was small but had a lot. But, unless you are staying a while or cooking for more than one, I think a $5 dinner from Dhaba Beas is a way better idea.

20121110-141402.jpg

20121110-141409.jpg
*sidenote: Country Life is closed Saturdays*

Friend’s Coffee House
I have a ‘secret’ to share: I usually find hidden gems via the website Spotted by Locals. There is a version for many major European cities: London, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon (just to name a few).
I found a write-up for this cafe via this site.

20121110-141751.jpg

20121110-141800.jpg
I had some fresh ginger tea with honey (so good) and treated myself to a home-made carrot cake. The cake was perfect: fluffy, cream-cheese icing in the middle and on the sides and soft raisins and pieces of walnuts to add a bit of crunch. It was fairy large, and it was the type of place I felt like I could sit for hours reading or writing. And, they have free wifi! I hope to return one more time: I just read on their site that they have a library and a food menu!

Globe Bookstore and Cafe
This isn’t really a hidden gem, as most English speaking expats in Prague surely know of its existence. It’s not just a cafe, but also a bookstore (English), bar and restaurant!
I stopped in to look for the third installment of Game of Thrones (no luck) and decided to stick around for some more ginger tea.
Their menu is extensive and includes many vegetarian and even vegan options! The staff are all English, and they also have happy-hour specials. It can get fairly busy, and the crowd is a mix of students, professionals and travelers. They play jazz in the background, and there is enough light to read, but it’s dim enough to have a feeling of intimacy. 45 Koruna for a tea isn’t the best, but given the atmosphere and the area I would definitely pay it again! And yes, I do plan on returning to nibble on some menu items, so stay tuned!

20121110-142930.jpg

Campanulla Cafe
When you head over the the John Lennon Wall, you’ll pass an adorable cafe.

20121110-143253.jpg

20121110-143309.jpg
Had myself a ginger tea with lemon and honey, and because the staff was so very friendly I’m going to suggest that you stop in and do the same!

20121110-143609.jpg
Trdelnik is a typical pastry made by rolling dough around a stick, roasting it over a fire then rolling in while it’s still hot in sugar and walnut pieces.
I didn’t need to eat it, but the smell was too much to resist.

20121110-144605.jpg

Prague: A must see at night

20121106-214804.jpg
This is the view I had as we made our way into Prague.
If you know me, you should know that autumn is my favourite season.
1. I think it’s the most beautiful with all of the colors of the changing leaves and how crisp everything looks in cooler weather.
2. I love wearing sweaters, scarves and hats!
3. I don’t necessarily like the cold, but there is something to be said about having that chill in the air and how clean everything feels (no more constant sweating in Ontario humidity).
4. Autumn means Christmas is just around the corner: family and food (apple pie, pumpkin pie, tofurkey, Mumzie’s amazing cheesecake, cookies, muffins, hot chocolate, gravy, stuffing and so much more).

Anyways, the site of the colourful trees gave me goosebumps!

Side note: Although Barcelona was a great city to visit, I don’t think I would go back. I found it over-priced and too crowded, even in low-season and despite being told my numerous sources a taxi would cost mea 30 euro mine cost me 40! I was so shocked! There is a bus but I had to be at the airport for 5am and didn’t feel safe waiting for public transit alone at 330am.
But Prague has excellent transit and there is a bus every 10 minutes (maybe less) that connects you with the metro! Cost? 32Kc ($1.70 CAD). Woo hoo!!
The outskirts of Prague leading to the inner-city were green. Lot’s of space and very clean looking. I knew right then I was going to love it.

Now, I had been sick the past few days, so my plan was to just stay at the hostel and relax but after a free beer from the hostel, and a 20 minute nap, I felt like exploring!

First I had to buy a hat and mitts (oh how I’ve missed you), and then I just decided to try and see as many sites by night as possible.

20121106-220154.jpg

The first thing I noticed was all of the large sit-down cafes! They are everywhere! That is one of the things I miss about home, so I was so ecstatic! I guess I’ll have to go to a few and try their pastries (for the purpose of this blog, of course).

FYI: I will post pictures now of what I saw, but a few won’t have an explanation as I wasn’t sure what I was looking at–but that’s half the fun! I’ll go and see them during the day and get back to you!

20121106-220418.jpg

20121106-220429.jpg

20121106-220440.jpg

20121106-220452.jpg

20121106-220501.jpg

The above picture is of the Old Town Square. November isn’t the ‘best’ time to visit Prague because it’s obviously a bit chilly for some people, but it worked out really well for me because that meant less crowds in my pictures! Restaurants still have outdoor seating with heaters, and despite being able to see your breath, a lot of people were taking advantage.
Now, my favourite site of the entire night: the Astronomical Clock.

20121106-220809.jpg
If you’ve read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern this clock may remind you of the book. That’s part of the reason I loved it so much. Also, I got some really great photos!
I went around the corner and the most amazing smells hit me: firewood, sausages mixed with the smell of crepes and hot wine. I stood there just smelling the air.

20121106-221119.jpg
Next I ventured to the Charles Bridge (Karlův most). I want to see it early in he morning to miss the crowds (and a photo with the morning fog would be awesome, eh?), but thought the evening could be nice as well. Unfortunately the iPhone just doesn’t do night-pictures very well, but I’ll share a few anyways.

20121106-221421.jpg

20121106-221428.jpg

20121106-221457.jpg

20121106-221510.jpg

20121106-221515.jpg

I’ve been in Prague for 8 hours and I’ve already seen so much! Can’t wait to share more pictures with you!
Live Orchestra, city views, parks and of course hot wine and food await!
Xo
PS — only 3 weeks left! Excited and sad at the same time: saxcited?