Prague, Pretty and She Knows It

Part of my delay in writing about Prague was that I just... didn't like it as much as I expected to. Maybe this was because other travellers couldn't stop talking about it. How Prague is the best. So beautiful. So amazing. All this chatter got me pretty hyped about it – and that might be why it failed to reach these unrealistic expectations.

Each city has a vibe though. A feeling. And if I'm being honest, Prague wasn't giving off the right energy for me. It was overflowing with tourists, drunken British bachelor parties, and this strange sense of inauthenticity. Like it was a scene out of Disneyworld, all staged and dolled up for the tourists to come and gape at.

To be fair, we were in that horde of tourists. And to be true to this medium, I've written up a little recap of what Laura and I did during our time there.

Explore the Classic Sights...

Part of the reason Prague is so popular is because it's so. damn. pretty. Like storybook fairytale pretty. The buildings are elaborate, the streets have hidden treasures around each corner, and there's a sense of magic everywhere. The Astronomical Clock, a marvelous piece of human handiwork, is the epitome of this style. Gold and gilded and towering over the main square, this clock from 1410 still works today.

Every hour on the hour, the clock rings in the hour with a little show called "The Walk of the Apostles". The area around the clock gets packed with people and their cameras pointed upward, preparing to capture this moment. Feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic, we bowed out of waiting around for it – but seeing as this is the thing to do in Prague, maybe we should have stuck around.

However, onward it was! There was more that this stunning city had to show us, like the Charles Bridge that connects the two sides of Prague together. It crosses the Vlatava river, and there are 30 statues on either side of the bridge to keep you company as you cross over. It's a lovely stroll along it, with buskers and musicians and artists selling their wares.

On the other side of the bridge is the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. The walk up the hill takes you back in time as you walk on the castle walls, with tiny side streets and mills dotting the journey. This side of Prague had me enamored. It felt less crowded, more whimsical and tiny, a tiny town sprawled around the royals.

... and Sights off the Beaten Path.

The western side of Prague, where the castle and cathedral loom over the city, also has some interesting quirks and unique sights to see. Like...

Baby Butt Statues. My face says it all.

The Narrowest Street in the World. Complete with a walk or don't walk light because only one person can enter at a time.

And finally... The Piss Statue. Two young boys peeing into a pond in front of them. What even.

Just when we thought Prague was just a pretty face, we were surprised by these strange little things all around the city. This city sure has it's interesting, quirky side that can make you laugh, wonder, and appreciate the unordinary.

Enjoy Elevated Czech Cuisine. 

Who else travels for food? 🙋‍♀️ I know I sure do. Eastern European cuisine can start to get... similar. Bread and sausages and lots of grease. But I loved how unique and elevated the food in Prague was. Sure, we did enjoy a traditional Czech meal at a local spot literally called Lokal. But even then their food had some interesting additions – like fried cheese with tartar sauce. Delicious. 

We also took the opportunity to do some finer dining thanks to the favourable currency exchange ($1 Canadian was $18 Czech Krona). On our first night, we went to a restaurant called Mistral in the town centre. Many of the restaurants in this area are pretty expensive, but Mistral was great value for what we got. I had grilled duck breast with roasted gnocchi and red cabbage, and it was amazing.

Another extravagance that we decided to "splurge" on was a restaurant called Eska. Before travelling to Prague, Laura and I binged a bunch of YouTube episodes about the city from this guy called Honest Guide. He has some really great tips about Prague, and one of his videos focused on the best food in the city. This is where Laura and I first heard about Eska and their Michelin-star worthy food. 

We ordered what the Honest Guide had recommended – potatoes in ash with smoked fish, dried egg yolk, and kefir – as well as a smoked beef tartare with shallots and pickles. The flavours of these dishes were absolutely unreal. The potatoes were creamy and rich, and the beef tartare was so fresh and so delightful. 

The other thing I enjoyed about going to Eska was the neighbourhood we got to explore. It's a little east of the main downtown/tourist areas, and the crowds that buzzed about us earlier in the day had all but dissipated when we reached Karlin. It felt like we had discovered a true hidden gem of Prague. 

Drink Local. Party Local.

We had heard "the thing" to do in Prague is to go on a bar crawl. Sign up with one of the numerous organizations that offers a tour of the old town, and your night is set! Unfortunately, Laura and I were in Prague on a Sunday night, when most people were already recovering from the weekend's shenanigans. So we decided to do our own bar crawl and scope out some... interesting places that Prague offered. 

First things first – beer! Prague and the Czech Republic are practically famous for this golden beverage, specifically the brand Pilsner Urquell. And while I don’t favour beer over say…wine… when in Prague, you have to drink like the locals do. So at Lokal, we filled up our tankards with this easy-drinking pilsner and washed down our food with delight. 

Then it was off to check out a local bar. Lonely Planet’s City App (which is my right hand man when it comes to travelling anywhere) recommended this place called Vzorkovna. We nearly walked past it the first time because there’s no sign outside… just these strange turnstile doors that lead you to a subterranean den of dark passageways and borderline creepy hangouts. But there was a dog! And here we met some other travellers with who we continued our bar crawl with. 

Next up was Cross][Club, another Lonely Planet recommendation. This bar was in a completely different area of Prague that we ubered to, and the whole décor was steampunk. There was a lovely sprawling outdoor patio and a live band belting out metallic music. Also – another dog!

We finished the night at a downtown club called Chapeau Rouge that played the most common Eastern European genre of music – electronic. Here, locals mingled with tourists. And while there was no dog, it was a great place to end the night – and our time here in Prague. 

Despite Prague being crowded with tourists (fully acknowledging that I contributed to that) and dripping with restaurants, attractions, and sights that cater to those tourist’s every whim, I can’t deny that Prague looked and felt like a fairy tale. A stunning Disney-like city plucked straight out of Medieval times. Lovely to have met you Prague – but next post, I’ll be talking about the city that really had me head over heels. Stay tuned!