Medieval times, lights and beers in Prague

Gothic architecture, beer halls and goulash in underground caves – sign me up. Prague has lost its stag do reputation of the late 90s, but the things that drove the tourists there are still going strong, so this winter we took a long weekend to check it out. 

It’s a pretty small town and, like most, we based ourselves in Praha 1 near the main square – yep, the one with the astronomical clock. It’s pretty touristy, but, after arriving late we took a wonder anyway. We weren’t disappointed. 

We decided to do all our site seeing on the Friday to get our bearings, avoid some crowds and leave Saturday to the serious business of meat and drink. We joined a free walking tour which covered the old town and our guides goal was to tell two stories about every stop – one factual and one urban myth. I won’t ruin the stories, but they were hilarious and provided a great context to the best walking tour I’ve been on. 

Our guide told us stories around the main square, taught us the origin of the phrase “holy shit” and the word defenestration before we explored the Jewish quarter, the Charles bridge and the castle.

Halfway through we stopped in at an excellent cafe for coffee and cakes and learnt about Franz Kafka. 

 After a few more sites in the trendier parts of town we concluded the tour with a spot of lunch: traditional goulash and dumplings at Pivnice Stupartska. Delicious!

 Loving the morning’s tour so much, we signed up for the castle tour in the afternoon. We started at a monastery where the monks brewed their own beer: Pivovar Strahov, before admiring a great view over Prague. 

 It was then onto the castle where the sculptures got the last laugh against the cheap skate king who cut their pay – note their “ano” (anus) not “anno” (year). Ha! We proceeded to the the royal cathedral (complete with Asian bride) and we finished with Katie rubbing up a spot of good luck. 

 It was a huge day, maybe best spread over two, and make sure you reserve for dinner; we didn’t and ended up having a not very local Mexican meal at Agave. It was great but wouldn’t have been the go to. 

The next day it was about the beers. We were told you judge a bar by the prices of the beer and water. The beer should always be cheaper, otherwise it’s a tourist trap. Let the crawl commence… We started at U Medvidku where the Budvar, the original Budweiser, is brewed on site and was ice cold and crisp. U Vejvodu has the same set up for Pilsner Urquell. 

It was then onto U Fleku; a huge sprawling beer hall with about eight different areas including a beer garden. It only sells darker beers which aren’t our favourite but might be yours. 

We head back to the main square for a bite enjoying some meat-by-the-pound and a cinnamon roll type thing whilst Katie inspected some local musicians. 

 Back on the hunt we ventured downstairs to U Zajice. An underground cavern with a rabbit theme. 

In the evening we took to the streets to see the light shows of Signal. This was the highlight of the trip. With scores of exhibitions all over town Signal transformed the city’s buildings and entertained families with interactive shows. 

 To close out the trip we wandered the Charles bridge at night and retired to our beds exhausted. 

A great trip and highly recommended. Until next time…
– M

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