Prague, Czech Republic
We decided Prague would be the destination for us for the long weekend of Columbus Day in October. A friend of mine had just went to Prague a couple weeks earlier and gave some great recommendations for our visit, thank you Jeanne!
This was our first major road trip in Europe! We loaded up our trusty Stuart the Subaru and set off for the Czech Republic!
Our drive took about 5 1/2 hours, with a stop for gas and a vignette (certain countries require vignettes to drive in the country--sort of like their version of a toll). We made our way into Prague to find our Airbnb to get settled.
We use Airbnb fairly often on our travels. It's a great way to get immersed into the local feel of a city, stay in a neighborhood rather than the city center and the host usually has great tips that we would have never found out about. We almost always book with a "superhost" to know we are getting a trusted person and a good "find" of an apt. If you are thinking about using Airbnb on your next trip, use this link to get $35 towards your first trip!
After driving all day, we knew we weren't going to be exploring a lot on the first night so we decided some local beer would be on the agenda. We found ourselves venturing to the Prague Beer Museum (which is not really a museum at all). This place was amazing! It reminded me of the taprooms we would frequent in the Pacific Northwest that featured an array of craft beers. The menu listed at least 30 Czech beers to taste. We both chose 5 to sample and had some local "pub food" to accompany the beers.
We woke up early and headed to the Old Town area to start our first full day in Prague. We wanted to get to the St. Charles Bridge before it got too crowded with tourists. What a beautiful bridge and view! While at the bridge, we spotted the Prague Castle in the distance and decided to make the trek to it. It's quite the climb but definitely worth it! We stopped to take pictures at the courtyard of a Starbucks, which we decided has one of the best views in the world! We didn't pay to go inside the castle itself, but wandered around the grounds. We walked down closer to the Old Town area and decided to have breakfast at Art & Food Had (about a 15 min. walk from the castle). I had found this restaurant recommendation from a blog, but I'm sad to report that the service was awful and the food didn't impress us.
We made our way to the Pinkas Synagogue, the second oldest surviving synagogue in Prague. There was an exhibit featuring children's drawings who were incarcerated in the Terezín ghetto and the synagogue is home to a memorial of more than 80,000 Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust. We exited the synagogue to the Old Jewish Cemetery, one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds with the earliest tombstone dating to 1439. It was such a sight to take in and meander through.
We had a late lunch at a Lokal, a fitting name as a favorite dining spot for locals specializing in traditional Czech food. We shared the "Talián" sausage and a meat/dumpling dish. Definitely hearty food that can't be eaten at every meal! (We didn't have a reservation, but I would recommend having a reservation as we snagged one of the last tables, even at an off time of 2 pm). It started to rain so we decided to stop for a Czech treat, a trdelník -- a rolled dough that's wrapped around a cone and cooked, filled with toppings like chocolate, strawberries or ice cream! I had mine filled with chocolate and strawberries. The amount of whipped cream was a little excessive!
For our evening adventure, we embarked on a Czech beer and dinner tour. This was the second tour I booked through Viator. I'm really enjoying doing an organized tour while we visit a new city when we travel. They are pretty reasonably priced, even for both Ara and I to partake, and it takes all the pressure off knowing the details for an evening, the language and you get to meet some people from all over the world on the tour. We had a great tour host, stopped at three different locations and enjoyed beer at each one while we learned about the beer and how it was made. Our group also made our way to the Astronomical Clock at the top of the hour to catch the "show." The clock was installed in 1410 and is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world. Quite the crowd gathers for it! We came across the clock several times during our walking of the city and there was always quite the group of people congregated to watch it.
We started our day off with breakfast at Marthy's Kitchen, one of Jeanne's recommendations. It turned out to be a fantastic spot and we both agreed it was one of the best eggs benedict that we've ever had! And the fresh orange juice---yum! I can definitely get behind Eastern Europe and their love of fresh juices. After breakfast we headed to the Communist Museum. This was a very modern and well done museum, showcasing the country in its post World War 2 Communist regime. It was enlightening to take in what so much of the country and the people endured during that time frame.
It was a beautiful day out and we walked across the St. Charles Bridge to discover this amazing little street, Vsehrdova Rd. It is not even a 5 minute walk from the bridge and there were no tourists to be found and it was the most quintessential Prague street. And at the end of the road--a delicious Mexican restaurant, Alebrijes Bar Bar. We were there for a late lunch and even had the place to ourselves. We chatted with the owner, learning that he and his brothers came from Mexico City to start the restaurant. We left with bellies full of delicious Mexican food and decided we were going to tell everyone heading to Prague about this gem!
We wandered around the city a bit more before needing an afternoon pick-me-up. I wanted to check out the coffee scene and had looked up local roasteries which took us to Original Coffee. We both enjoyed a great tasting cup of hand-crafted espresso at a beautifully curated shop. It definitely checked the box for me on a delicious cup of artisan coffee and made me yearn for more coffee like this in Germany! We walked over to the Municipal Library of Prague and admired the sight of the "Book Vortex" -- definitely a must for any book lover!
That night, we walked to a restaurant for dinner that I had found via an unexpected google search. I'm grateful that Ara goes along with these restaurants that I randomly find! We walked into Eska, and knew immediately that it would not disappoint. The main floor boasts a beautifully lit and open kitchen leading you to the dining area upstairs. We decided to enjoy the 5-course tasting menu and I enjoyed the wine pairing menu--. We love doing tasting menus at restaurants, giving us the ability to try an array of food that we normally wouldn't be eating or making at home! Eska was awarded recognition by Michelin guide for exception and affordable food and we agree! (Reservation required).
We are big breakfast people and wanted to end our stay in Prague with a bang. I had heard great things about Cafe Savoy so we decided to make that our last stop before leaving beautiful Prague. The french toast was dream-worthy with huge slices of brioche topped with heaps of fresh fruit. Delicious fresh juice and coffee as well to round out a delicious breakfast! (Reservation recommended.)