Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Playing Around in Prague

I arrived safe and sound in the beautiful city of Prague. It is so lovely here, every street is cute and cobblestoned, and around every corner is an impressive looking gothic church. It would be so different to live in a city like this - though I think I think that about every non-North American city I visit.

I arrived last night after a pretty easy travel day (thanks to Jerry and business class aeroplan tickets!!) LOVE the business class seats that pretty much recline flat. And the airport lounges with free food and drink. So nice.

Leaving the airport, I took a bus, a subway and a metro to our hotel (easier than it sounds). The hotel is nice and modern, which is basically why I picked it. It's called the Red and Blue Design Hotel, with each room decorated in - you guessed it - red or blue. (We're in a Red room).

After I checked in, it was about 8pm so I headed back out to make sure that I stayed up until a reasonable hour before going to sleep. I walked down the major street near the hotel and checked out the big new shopping center around the subway station. Our hotel isn't in the main part of town, just a little bit away, so there isn't much going on right around it. After peering in a bunch of restaurants and looking at menus, I found a tiny cafe where a cute family was eating, and figured it was a good starting place to have dinner. I ordered smaszeny syr, which is basically battered, fried cheese. Yes, it's like my dream on a plate. It came with potatoes (apparently they could be served many different ways, I ended up with crinkle-cut fries), and mayonesa, which was actually a delicious fresh tartar sauce. Also, I had a nice sparkling raspberry juice. Not bad for about $4USD. I will try to upload a photo of the cheese soon, but you can probably imagine it - it's like a large, rectangular mozzarella stick. I couldn't finish it though, partly psychological (really, should one eat THAT much fried cheese in one sitting?), partly because it was just really filling.

After a quick stop at Tesco (a giant supermarket) for water, it was then back to the hotel to bed. This morning I woke up and had breakfast at the hotel (a decent buffet) and forced myself to go out and walk around. I was actually pretty exhausted from jetlag and the travel, so it was very tempting to just go back to sleep until Donald arrived. But I'm glad I went out, because it was is so enjoyable just walking around this city. Plus (a huge plus), the weather is awesome. It's quite cool right now, mostly sunny and not muggy nor rainy. Perfect sightseeing weather.

I walked from our hotel area (Smichov) up into Mala Strana (the are beneath the Prague castle) and then across the Vltava river via Karlov Most (the famous Charles Bridge) into Stare Mesto (Old Town). I didn't do much stopping/reading the guidebook/picture taking because I knew I'd just be doing it again with Donald.

I had lunch at a reastaurant that seemed a bit "off the beaten path" and had a lot of locals. I ordered a pork noodle dish that had no noodles. Sigh. I don't think Czech food is particularly tasty in general - hearty and filling, yes, but not really nuanced. (Yes, that includes the big slab of fried cheese I happily tucked into last night). And vegetables... hm... where are they? There is often one slice each of tomato and cucumber with your entree but that's about it. Let's hope I am proven wrong over the next couple of days!

I walked back over the Most Legii (a bridge south of the Charles bridge) and back to the hotel, where proceeded to wait for Donald's arrival (i.e., take a nice long nap). Donald came and we set out pretty much immediately for the Nove Mesto area, as we wanted to get tickets for a concert tonight. There is a summer music festival called "PROMS" on, and tonight they were playing Mahler. We go the tickets, then did some sightseeing around the concert hall. We went up the astronomical clock tower (probably the most commonly taken photo in Prague is of the clock), and walked around the Old Town Square. The concert was in the art nouveau Municipal Theater, which was recently renovated and is really quite beautiful. The concert was good, though I always wonder how people can fall asleep to something like Mahler, with all the sudden crescendos and accents.

After the concert we ended up at a microbrewery recommended by our guidebook. I'd gotten it into Donald's head that we should eat pork knuckle, a specialty here that I'd attempted to eat when I was last here 10 years ago. We got some (and picked it clean, all 1700 grams of it), along with some sour cherry beer (not bad!) and the ubiquitous dryish bread that is served here. (Again, bread, not a strong point of the Czech culinary scene.)

By then it was about 11 and we want to get up early tomorrow to tackle the Castle, so we came back to the hotel. Now it's a little studying of Prague history, and bedtime!

I'll try to post some pics tomorrow (I actually brought the camera cord this time...). It's nice to have a (Donald's) laptop and wi-fi! Hope you'll Czech out my upcoming posts! Hehe.

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