In order to celebrate making it to the end of my first term as a ‘proper’ teacher, Ian and I decided to treat ourselves to a few days in Prague. It was quite a last minute trip (I think we booked it about 4 days before we left!) which meant I couldn’t do my usual routine of spending ages on the internet looking at things to do and places to go – this time, we let ourselves be pleasantly surprised by this gorgeous city.
We arrived on Sunday evening and navigated our way across the city to our lovely hotel and after a quick cuppa set out to explore and sample some good Czech beer!
As soon as we started walking through the narrow, cobbled streets it was apparent I was going to love this place. It is such a beautiful city, with a real Bohemian charm and stunning architecture.
We spent our first night in a traditional Czech beer hall, U Fleků, where the only drinks on offer were a strong dark ale and a shot of the local tipple which I was assured tasted ‘like Christmas’ due to the cinnamon and cloves but I imagine would also act as a good paint stripper!
This bar was exactly what I was looking for – warm, cosy, friendly and I loved the beer glass chandeliers too! We opted for some traditional Czech food for dinner which introduced us to one of their staples…dumplings!
I had some really well-cooked roast pork, sauerkraut, two types of dumplings and a lovely rich, flavoured gravy, and Ian had a combination of smoked sausage, duck and roast pork with two types of sauerkraut and the obligatory dumplings. Both meals were hearty and delicious.
The atmosphere went up a notch when the Oom Pa Pa band started and provoked the whole room to sing along, banging our beer glasses on the table and generally getting down Czech-style…a great first night!
We started the next day with a hearty breakfast then set out to join a free walking tour I had read great things about online (www.newpraguetours.com). Our tour guide, Michael, was in his twenties and had been living in Prague for a few years. Over the next few hours we saw all the main sights across the city along with lots of funny and touching stories about the buildings and history of Prague from its very beginnings, through wars, revolutions, Nazi occupation and Communism. This was the first walking tour I have done, previously thinking they may be a bit stuffy and ‘touristy’, but I highly recommend this one.
After spending most of the day on our feet, we decided another beer hall was well-deserved so headed to U Vejvodu where we enjoyed beer, fresh pretzels and spicy sausages while perusing the menu.
I went for the East-European staple of Goulash (of course, with two types of dumplings), while Ian had a chicken dish, wrapped in bacon and served with a lovely gravy, green beans and roasted potatoes.
The evening we worked up our appetite for dinner by having a wander through the city and going back to some of the places on our tour that we wanted to explore, all fuelled by some hot wine which was available on almost every street corner!
We popped into U Medvidku, which had a great selection of beers – I found my favourite one of the trip here, a lovely fruity plum beer.
For dinner, we went to U Pinkasu where we shared a starter of smoked Czech sausage cooked in beer and paprika then I went for a local speciality of fried cheese (think breaded camembert) which was delicious and as you can tell from the smile on my face I had been really looking forward to trying this!
Ian opted for another local dish of smoked neck which was served with some very tasty potato rosti cakes and the best sauerkraut I have ever had.
Our final day was slightly overcast but we didn’t let this stop off and after a quick viewing of the astronomical clock striking on the hour (which is a must-see in my opinion) we crossed the Charles Bridges, stopping to rub the lucky statue, then began our ascent to Prague Castle.
On the way we passed lots of lovely little artisan shops that I couldn’t resist having a look around and after a steep climb we made it to the top and had the most fabulous views over the city…with another hot wine as a reward for making it of course!
The castle itself consists of several buildings including the stunning St Vitus Cathedral which my photos really don’t do justice to. On the way down, we went via Prague’s oldest vineyards which specialise in white wine and also offer a stunning outlook over the river and the red rooftops of the city.
We had enough time for one last meal before we had to head to the airport and so had our final few beers and a very tasty goulash soup, served in a whole bread bun which looked and tasted fantastic!
One tasty tip I will use when cooking stews at home this winter is to sprinkle over some thinly sliced raw onions or spring onions just before serving for an additional texture. Ian had a simple pork dish with mustard and one final serving of sauerkraut.
This was my first visit to this part of Europe and it has really converted me to the Eastern way, and I have already looked up mini breaks to Krakow, Berlin and Budapest since we have been back! I really can’t recommend Prague enough – it is beautiful, the people were friendly, it was quite cheap and I didn’t see one rowdy stag party! For any foodies, the beer halls are not to be missed for the drinks, food and atmosphere…and you will be a dumpling convert by the time you leave! xxx