I’ve wanted to visit Prague for over a decade, ever since I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being in my early twenties. The book also has significance in my relationship with my husband, too. On our first date I asked him his favorite book and he said, “Unbearable Lightness of Being,” and I was like, “HOLY SHIT ME TOO!” Then I practically forced him to marry me. And LOOK! I bought the book in it’s original Czech while in Prague. Isn’t it beautiful? Can’t read it but it totally looks badass on my bookshelf. Aren’t books sexy?
I’ve stalked blogs, read travel guides, and spent a weird amount of hours googling photos of the city so it’s weird that it took me so long to get there. Life sometimes gets in the way of travel. However, the wait was totally worth it because this city, folks, is the stuff dreams are made of. If Dracula and Hemingway made a baby, the baby would be Prague and it would be gloriously handsome and smart. Honestly, even our drive through the Czech Republic was stunning. The landscape is just so green, speckled with wildflowers and there’s so much space. And little forests, there were a lot of really vibrant patches of trees. This was right outside of a truck stop where people were peeing outside a lot.
As soon as we arrived to our apartment, that we booked on FlipKey, I was in love. Our apartment was right in Old Town Square in the city center of old town and awesome! Tip for parking in Prague if you drive: You cannot park on the street, ever, not even for five minutes. Park in a private garage, and they will make you pay up front in cash. Also, if you plan to drive throughout Europe, don’t rent a car in Amsterdam through Europcar, they won’t allow you to take their cars into eastern Europe.
This is right outside the apartment. Can I get an amen? Can I also add that I love using Flipkey because sometimes it’s just awesome to have an apartment when traveling and they are amazing to work with.
TO DO IN PRAGUE:
As per usual, Francesco and I mostly just wandered around looking for fun things to do and it wasn’t difficult to stumble upon things. I had a lot of help from some really great locals, too, you guys gave me great recommendations. We both love different things about the city, Francesco is really into architecture and I like to stalk people. I love people watching and Prague was definitely the place to do it. The interactions between the little shops and the massive groups of tourists were fun. The shop workers would just start laughing really hard when things got weird which I liked. Nobody was mean, just bemused by it all. We found this place that makes homemade cookies with Maka (poppy seeds). I went everyday because it was delicious. The women didn’t speak any English but they were kind enough to try and teach us some Czech and one of them giggled with delight every time we repeated the Czech word back to her. She loved her language, but not in a “Asshole tourist learn my language or die,” way, she just thought we might want to know and she was thrilled to teach us. MAKA!
Old Town Prague is incredibly walkable. We walked from one end of town to the other multiples times over and saw really cool stuff without even trying. Aside from the architecture, there are wonderful statues and massive art instillations all around. Markets with the brightest fruits and little trinkets. And weird posters.
I have to admit that there were more tourists than I expected but most of them were clustered together in the Old Town Square watching all of the street performers do really cool things like play music, blow bubbles for children, or do theatrical performances.
On our second day walking around we also found this sex machine museum that also looked kind of like a torture chamber depending on your flexibility.
We went to the castle, which is the largest castle in the world (18 acres!) and wandered around for a few hours. It’s easily within walking distance from the city center and the walk was actually nice and I felt really safe in Prague (with the one exception being near the train station, that area felt crazy sketchy). The architecture is absolutely breathtaking. The only thing I didn’t like about the castle is that you need to have cash, and everything costs money (like seeing different sections of the castle). But honestly, it’s worth it. And the views from the castle are spectacular. Tip: Don’t pay to eat in the cafes etc with a “scenic view.” When you’re headed out of the castle and walking down you’ll come across a little off side area that sales food and there’s a vineyard. Absolutely stunning. Also, I bought little wooden hand carved egg cups. You know, those super weird mini cups that you put a hard-boiled egg in to eat it with a spoon? No, I don’t know how to do it but after watching everyone do it in Munich I’m determined to become a professional. Francesco was not very excited about my purchase and kept groaning because he clearly hates fun. Or he’s jealous because I’m going to seem super refined, like a Queen and he’s intimidated by all the egg cup parties I’ll have. This reminds me that I need to find YouTube videos for How To Use Egg Cups.
This was me in Prague, so excited to finally be there, photobombing Francesco because I was telling him a story and he wasn’t listening. BAM. I’m all up in the camera.
And, of course, there’s this guy who I saw EVERYWHERE in Prague when he wasn’t performing.
We found two exceptionally cool bars in Prague and I’d recommend going if you get a chance. We went to Hemingway’s where I tried ABSINTH for the first time. I felt like a proper writer, very fancy, and also unstable. Hemingway’s is like being in a scene from Mad Men, it’s organized debauchery, and has a hilarious list of rules that made me giggle, for example, “No talking with people you don’t know, no swearing, etc.,” in a bar that serves a fair amount of crack liquor. Also? I don’t think they enforced the rules or my ass would have been tossed after my first few sentences. They played jazz and international music, the bar was dim lit, charming, and elegant. And LOOK AT MY ABSINTH! It tasted like Fernett. Like licorice. That big glass decanter thing is full of purified ice water. They put the absinth in the glass and drip the cold water into it slowly until the liquor swirls a little cloudy. If you like it sweet they put a slitted spoon with a sugar cube over the glass to sweeten it up. Or, if you want to be like the actual Hemingway, you can order your asbinth with prosecco or champagne.
For a really artistic cocktail and gourmet tapas, head over to Bonvivants. I’ve never been to a place that was more magical and weird. I felt like we stepped back in time to the twenties. The owners, servers, bartenders, chefs trio do it all and they’re bloody good at it. And they serve really artistic cocktails like this delicious smoky thing served in a tin can with a spaghetti noodle straw. They also refer to everyone as “madam” and “sir,” and the tapas were delicious. Tip: Order everything on the menu. Portions are tiny but delicious.
Something that I really loved about Prague was the really interesting mix of old and new. The old wood and decor of a lot of the restaurants, bars, even bookstore felt like being tossed back in time. The locals seemed friendly but not overly cheerful like some cultures. I definitely noticed a lot of alternative types, rock and roll guys, men in leather pants, and all that fun stuff. Overall the energy was calm but also kind of dark in a romantic kind of way. The city at night is very romantic. The gold highlights on the buildings glimmer in the moonlight but a lot of the buildings in general are darker so it’s a bit eery too. It reminded me of a vampire film in a good way.
PLACES TO EAT IN PRAGUE:
The food in Prague was diverse and delicious which shouldn’t be a surprise since it was the first country in the post communist eastern bloc to get a Michelin Star. Go Prague!. You’ll find everything from typical Czech food to Italian and Japanese. We were warned about the Czech restaurants in any touristy locations with the exception of one because the touristy czech food is often “terrible,” and “expensive.”
Someone recommended Mincovna which IS in a touristy location but it’s new and most of the people inside eating were speaking Czech. The menu is traditional with a bit of a twist and the food was good.
A few of you badass readers also recommended some great places like Lokal which we tried and really liked mostly because it was so lively. I felt like I was eating in the mess hall in Harry Potter. It was a bit touristy but there were also Czech people inside having a beer. It’s communal seating and the waitresses do not fuck around. Ours told us, “No, you can’t have that,” when I ordered something off of the menu that she deemed “not as good today as usual.” It was hilarious.
Mistral Cafe was a great place for lunch. It wasn’t typical Czech but the food was delicious and they had great coffee.
Grab a Plzen beer from Tankovna for “unpasteurized, unfiltered, all yummy goodness.” Thanks again for the suggestion Paul! You’re the best!
La Bottega Bistroteka on Dlouha 39. Great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Had the conssume and it was badass.
Palffy Palac located at 14 Valdstejnska street for modern Czech cuisine (a top restaurant in the city).
DISH Rimska 29, according to the Wall Street Journal one of the best lunch places in Europe.
CLUBS FOR DANCING AND SHAKING THAT ASS
Magnum: New with diverse music. Stefanikova 25
YES Club: French managed, electronic music. Skretova 1
Club 80’s: An 80’s club covered in glitter and awesome. V Kolkovne 6
Mecca: Prague’s largest nightclub, often has big name DJ’s. U Pruhonu 6
U Maleho Glena: Cafe and restaurant upstairs, tiny live music downstairs. Karmelitska 23
All in all, Prague was an beautiful city with so much to see and do. I’d definitely recommend going if you get the chance, and spending at least four days exploring the city. Do the tours, see the castle, dine, and try some absinth at Hemingway’s. And, if you’re feeling really bold you can buy some too. We bought ours from the Absintherie. Wander the streets, a little buzzed, absorbing the moonlight and the taking in the romance of a country with so much history and a city that’s seen it all from monarchy to totalitarianism. Hold someone’s hand and stuff your face with some Maka.