Friday, January 6, 2017

Stellar Spots in Prague

Hi all,

As many of you know, upon first moving to Europe, I started out in Prague.  To me, the city was like something out of a bewitching, slightly dark, Hansel & Gretel esque fairy tale.  The castle dominating the background with its sharp edges and swirling spires.  The cobbled lanes and streets.  Homes and buildings painted in a variety of earth tones, a few sky-hued pastels thrown in.  Inviting swatches of green otherwise known as parks (though these were small ones) beckoned for lazing in the sun on autumn afternoons.  Leaves exploded into color as autumn began and pushed forward into its heart.  Gingerbread stars dusted with powdered sugar, tasting how I imagine Christmas might.  Trdelnik, the namesake for this blog, a swirl of sweet dough wound around a metal cylindrical rod, baked over an open flame, finished off with a puff of powdered sugar & cinnamon, or a sprinkling of crushed nuts, or a smear of Nutella.  The Charles Bridge, packed to the gills with tourists by day, enigmatic and more mysterious by night.  The soot dusted statues standing on high alert at periodic intervals along the bridge.












I absolutely loved this city from the moment I stepped foot in its streets.  In some ways, a small part of me wishes I hadn't left so quickly.  But everything happens the way its meant to, and if I hadn't come to Germany when I did, I would not have met all the amazing people and developed the life changing friendships that I did.  So while I wouldn't change anything, I do sometimes feel nostalgia for the short but very sweet time I spent in this amazing city.






My list of stellar spots to explore isn't the longest, for the reason I just explained (I only lived in Prague for a few months).  I know without a doubt that it would be much longer if I had stayed only a few months more.  However, in light of the time I did spend here, I invite you to check out these fabulous places and things:


Krusta Bakery.  This is where I happened upon Christmas in the shape of a small edible star.  This small sweet is moist, cakey, a spiced gingerbread flavor with small ginger chips sprinkled inside, a cloud of powdered sugar sprinkled on top.  Delicious.  I enjoyed a number of these while living here.  God, do I miss these.  (In Czech, the name is Perníková hvězda).




Cafe Savoy.  While I do think this place has grown a bit touristy and overpriced, I did really enjoy food here.  I sampled an excellent soup (the carrot soup with grilled chicken breast) and their Sacher Torte is especially yummy.  The atmosphere is rather swanky, though still cozy.  The style of the cafe is Parisian, the ceiling is beautifully decorated so check that out for sure.  I have heard they serve a fabulous brunch here.  



The U Prince Rooftop Hotel Bar is a place with a view.  Granted, this time of year it would be a tad on the chilly side, but this is a really nice spot.  Set in the heart of Old Town Square, one has a nice panorama of the city of a thousand spires (you will find yourself thinking that Prague is so aptly given this nickname upon sitting in this bar).




U Fleku is the oldest beer hall in Prague.  Its also incredibly famous, having made it into the book "1,000 Places to See Before You Die."  There is a legit reason for this.  The beer hall is like a snaking labyrinth of rooms, going on seemingly forever.  The heavily wooded interior is warm, cozy and laid back.  Certain rooms almost have the feel of a long-since-past medieval room tucked deep within a castle where the workmen might head after a long day to converse, laugh and drink the night away.  The sounds of boisterous cheers and chatter can be heard throughout the snaking rooms.  Platters of glistening meats, cheeses and vegetables are placed on tables, huge mugs of beer clinking together in the jovial spirit of U Fleku.  The place is atmospheric and fun.




Bella Vida Cafe.  This spot is perfect for sitting right alongside the river in Prague and taking in the sweeping view.  I came here a number of times for tea and cake, sitting and reveling in the relaxing atmosphere, before meandering down to Kampa Park for a rousing game of chess with my boyfriend at the time as we giggled at one another over the tops of our ice cream cones, or to lounge, chat and read books with friends.




After having tea and drinks at Bella Vida, we crossed the Charles Bridge and continued our explorations... ;-)

Cantina.  This is a pretty decent Mexican restaurant.  As an American (and one who loved Mexican food at that), I can attest to the fact that there is almost no good Mexican food to be found on this side of the pond.  At least not in Germany nor in Prague.  However, this spot was good comparatively to everything else I have sampled in the meantime.  If you are looking for Mexican food, go here (though in the nature of full disclosure, it still does not measure up to American standard of Mexican food).




Prague Castle is a must explore for those visiting.  It evokes thoughts of Hogwarts Castle to be sure (for Harry Potter fans ;-)).  For those who aren't into Harry Potter, its a gorgeous, Gothic, multi spired, sharp edged, beautiful castle.

In connection with Prague Castle, just behind it there is Golden Lane.  Another must wander spot.  This little street is a last remainder of actual small scale homes that are from long ago.  Those who lived on this lane were defenders of the castle (servants, goldsmiths and the like).




Old Town Square.  Enough said.





The Tavern.  This place has a great atmosphere.  Low lit, intimate, romantic, cozy.  And the burgers are DELISH!!!




Kampa Park.  When the weather is fitting, I loved sprawling out on this small stretch of grass in the sun.  A number of other people seemed to agree, though the park never felt over crowded.  I always felt a sense of peace and quiet coming here, even on the warmest of days.  Bring a blanket, a book, some snacks, maybe a chess or checker board, and a friend.  Its easy to wile away the afternoon here.







The Gingerbread Museum.  This is such a neat thing to see.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  A small museum devoted entirely to gingerbread.  The intricacy of how some of their cookies are decorated is fascinating and awe-inspiring.  Cookies are of course available for purchase as well.


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