We took the train to Prague in the morning and I wish I had pictures to share just how incredibly lovely the countryside was on the way there. All through Germany and into the Czech Republic was so pretty and picturesque. Think rocky hills with cute little cottages and bavarian houses at the bottom. Horses in fields or drinking from small little rivers that run through the green landscapes. Little rowboats on little docks. So incredible. And as we got further into the Czech Republic, mustard fields that were electric yellow.
We arrived in Prague and hit the ground running with a few Czech beers. Pilsner Urquell to be specific because as we were told by the server VERY matter-of-factly, It Is The Best Beer! It was all Pilsner Urquell, everywhere we went but it's not like at home where Molson Canadian ads are everywhere but nobody really likes the stuff -- people here really seem to believe in Pilsner Urquell.
The city is full of majestic and elaborately decorated, colourful buildings. Elaborate bridges, beautiful gothic spires shooting into the sky, buildings that look like they're illustrations until you get get closer to them. Straight out of a fairy tale at points. But the place was absolutely swarming with tourists and it seemed as though the city had been fixed up accordingly. It sort of seemed to me that going to Prague is like stepping into a fairy tale on many levels. There are the beautiful buildings, which you're happy to admire (so much art deco!), but then you walk 10 minutes out and there you see the ugly step sister buildings that haven't had an abundance of money poured into restoration. And honestly, that's what gave this city some character, because it was just a bit too picture perfect otherwise. Those underdog buildings gave the city some grit and some real spirit, and made it feel more believable. But truth be told, I do LOVE a beautiful building so of course, I have tons of pictures of beautiful buildings...
Many of the bars and restaurants we went into seemed relatively untouched by time. Old school, traditional czech restaurants that weren't trying to be anything but an unpretentious place that served home cooking. They were really charming. While we, apparently, were not. We tried to speak to people with some basic czech words (please, thankyou, hello, two beers please) but our charms and 'sorry we don't speak your language' looks were certainly lost on them. In fact, at points it felt as though we were actually met with some downright hostility. By the time we left, I considered it a really positive exchange when I smiled at someone and they stared back blankly. (With a few exceptions, like the great dudes at Alternatif bar, and the man at the delicious restaurant Pivnice u Pivrnce, and a few other people along the way). As much as I would love to know it, the Czech language is super hard to just kinda pick up for a 3-day trip, you know?
But of course, we had some excellent experiences in Prague. The food was kind of crazy... in flavour, and as an until-recently vegetarian, in the total lack of vegetable matter. The food is based around meat, dumplings and gravy. And when I say it's based around those things, I mean that's it -- you get a plate and it's just meat + bread + gravy, and you're done. Oh, one night I got potatoes instead of dumplings. But that said, it was totally delicious. Just not exactly a well-balanced meal.
Interesting food we tried:
Pivní sýr (Beer Cheese) which is a soft cheese, mixed with raw onions and mustard, and spread on toasted bread (or in our case, "toast" turned out to be deep fried bread).
Trdelník, a traditional cake and sweet pastry, made from rolled dough, wrapped around a stick then grilled and topped with sugar.
Roasted pork knuckle, the picture speaks for itself. It's just like a GIANT pork knuckle. And a knife. With horseradish and mustard. It was Dave's meal but I helped him out a few times.
Three kinds of knedliky (dumplings) including potato dumplings, bohemian dumplings (kind of reminded me of just plain white bread) and bacon dumplings (a little bit little bread balls meet stuffing with bacon).
We also went to Kutna Hora, a small church decorated with the bones of 40 000 people, about an hour away from Prague by train. It was incredible. I kept walking through thinking I was in some kind of halloween haunted house with fake skeletons, and then would realize that they were actually real bones of real people. A pretty crazy place.
Lots of awesome folky art around town too, which I adored. Like this mammoth painted egg.
And I saw these awesome doughnuts in the grocery store and they were too cute.
We went to the Old Jewish Cemetery, and the Loreto (an outlandish baroque church which hosts statues of saints like St. Wilgefortis, the patron saint of unhappily married women who grew a beard as a tactic to avoid marriage to a heathen, and St. Agatha the Unfortunate who is seen carrying her severed breasts on a platter. Pretty dark stuff! I would have taken photos except that on top of the overpriced admission they CHARGE you to take photos!
And one more picture for the road... we found a really lovely café one day when the sun wouldn't shine, and it was just so nice and had tons of character. Felt like you were in France, which is a feeling I love.
Other than that we just walked and walked and saw and saw and ate and drank and ate. Overall, it was a lovely time but truthfully, I wasn't sad to leave the, at times, chilly Prague.
:::::::::::::: SEE MY PRAGUE PICTURES HERE ::::::::::::::