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Entries about prague

Czech It Out, It's The Castle!

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Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws –Franz Kafka

Foodie moment

Since we spent most of the day today on the other side of the river at the castle, we were in unknown territory when it came to choosing a place to eat. Lucky for us we had the Trip Advisor app on my phone, so by using that we managed to find a nice restaurant of whose name I can't remember sorry. We had the chance to finally order some of the well known garlic soup, which was great! I then had the meat plate which has sausages. pork and dumplings (who would have guessed!) and Lisa had something a bit different with a pork stir fry Asian style. We also had once again our old friend Shopska Salad!


Cultural moment

As you're probably aware by now, Prague does meat, lots of meat, really really well. Its impossible to escape the smells of roasting pork from where ever you are in the city as there are spit roasts cooking everywhere. I was in a constant state of hunger just wanting to sink my teeth into a big juicy leg of pork or ham. We couldn't work out how any of the locals could keep their relatively skinny physiques, either they have different genes than us, or they just don't eat the food that the tourists eat. I'm pretty sure I put on a couple of kilograms in just the 3 days we were there.


Wow moment

Today we went to Prague Castle, the most dominant feature on the city's horizon, which sits on a hill overlooking the old town and river. We hiked up the quite steep road to get the the front gate upon which we were then presented with the best views of Prague so far. The castle itself is more of a walled city, with many large medieval buildings throughout. The most impressive being the St. Vitus Cathedral which is incredibly tall, its spires soaring over the tops of all the other buildings. As surprising as it may sound, we didn't go into any of the buildings or take any tours. We couldn't justify the prices and it was really busy with uncountable amounts of tour groups stampeding around. We did get to see the change of the guard however, closer than I probably should have been, being only a meter or two from the soldiers. We also walked around the Royal Gardens and moat and even got to witness a robotic lawn mower!


What we learnt today

The Lennon Wall in Prague is a wall that graffiti artists from all over the world have used as a supposed memorial to the Beatles artist John Lennon and all things love and peace. We went out of our way to find the wall, which is hidden in a side alley, and were pretty disappointed with what we actually saw. I'm sure in its day the wall actually had some meaningful pieces of art, but today its pretty much just a messy wall where people come to tag their name or anything else unrelated to John Lennon. You have to actually look hard to find anything Lennon related at all. They should probably think about changing the name to the Fred Wall as his name stands out the most!


We also learnt the the Charles Bridge is a whole lot better when you are looking at it, not from it. It's lost a lot of its romanticism with all of the comic sketch artists and beggars working in teams lining the sides. Luckily it is made of stone because there were 1000's of tourists (I know we are tourists too) walking along it. The view was amazing however and if you were keen enough to get up for sunrise, its meant to be spectacular.


Posted by travellinglise 08:29 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague charles_bridge prague_castle lennon_wall Comments (0)

Have No Fear, It's Czech Beer... You're In The Clear!

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"In Prague, pork is king ... Welcome to Porkopolis, the land that vegetables forgot" - Anthony Bourdain


Foodie moment

After a confident recommendation from our helpful walking tour guide, we headed off to Prazska street where both the Beer Museum and LocaL Restaurant resides. LocaL Restaurant is a bigger than average restaurant that serves traditional cuisine. Yeah, more meat and taters! We had the beef cheek goulash with potato dumplings and the duck with apple cabbage and onion mash potatoes. Unfortunately, although the beef goulash was really nice, it was extremely on the skimpy side, with only no more than 4 pieces of meat. It was more like gravy soup with a garnish of beef chunks. Bummer! The duck however was substantially satisfying.


Cultural moment

After our lunch we crossed the street to check out the Beer Museum, which is in actual fact nothing like a museum and everything like a normal bar. What's special about it however is that it has 30 local beers available on tap! Now we're talking! The lovely waitress suggested we try the samplers, available in 5 or 10 glasses. We started off with a 5'er, but before we left Prague and after 2 visits to the Beer Museum, we had tasted over half the beers on offer. The tasting glasses are not a typical small size either, 150ml, enough for more than just a taste. On our second visit to the bar, it was later at night, and it was very very busy, the locals must know a good place when they find one. My favourite was the BERNARD ČERNÁ LAVINA, a dark chocolate beer and Lisa's was the blueberry beer ČERNÁ HORA MODRÁ LUNA.


Wow moment

Once again, its hard to pin point a single wow moment for Prague when the entire city (the old part anyway) is a wow moment in itself. We got to see a lot more of it today on our free walking tour and got an awesome overview from the lookout point at the metronome monument. It really is a spectacular city.


Another wow moment, for slightly different reasons, is the metronome monument hill and surrounding parklands. Once (from what I can imagine) a beautiful place, it now has become more like an abandoned concrete jungle, taken over by skateboarders and graffiti artists. Its a "Wow" in the fact that the council could let it get into this much disrepair. It's gotten to the point where the skaters have ripped up the concrete stairs to build their own ramps and jumps. Pretty cool in a dystopian kind of way.


What we learnt today

Lots and lots learnt today on our free walking tour, however since I was too lazy to take notes, only one comes to mind. On the previously mentioned hill and parklands there used to be a statue, one of Stalin, which was built at the time of soviet rule. The story goes that in the process of its construction the citizens became so unhappy with its overbearing egocentric ugliness that the poor sculptor Otakar Švec actually committed suicide. It stood for 7 years to the embarrassment of the Czech government, until it was decided that it could stand no more. It was then that 800 kilograms of explosives were used to symbolically destroy the statue, upon which Stalin's head rolled all the way down the hill and into the river below to cheers from the watching crowds. In its spot was built a new monument, that of the giant metronome meant to represent time lost during communism, but even that seems to be reaching its end of days as the creaking rusting sounds it produces are like it's own mechanical death rattle and creepy to say the least.


Posted by travellinglise 14:05 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague stalin beer_museum metronome Comments (0)

What's To Eat? Potatoes And Meat!

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"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" - John Cleese

Foodie moment

Welcome to the land of pork and potatoes! On first stepping out of the subway station in the main square of Prague, we were presented with a cacophony of traditional Czech foods. Little huts with touristy priced dishes filled the air with the salivating smells of spit roast pork, wiener sausages, sauerkraut and fried potatoes. I (Mark) was in food heaven! Straight after checking in at our hotel, we went right back to the food square and got a potato pancake! I'm not sure what exactly was in it (potato obviously!), but it was crunchy and delicious!


For dinner we hopped into a little traditional restaurant called U Balbinu, which served a large assortment of Czech foods with locally made beers (you may notice the word 'beer' will appear quite a lot over the next few blogs). They had huge tanks of beer lining the walls (known creatively as Tank Beer) and a very warm atmosphere. We started with 2 beers, a wheat beer which was very nice and a dark beer, which was our first introduction to the deliciously chocolatey dark Czech beers which I will miss the most!


For mains we had the tenderloin with sour cream (not sour cream actually, whipped cream more like!), cranberries and home made dumplings and the roasted neck of pork with cabbage, spinach and dumplings. We also got a shopska salad for old times sake. These first dishes on our long journey of meat, dumplings and cabbage were really really good (if not a bit strange with the cream on meat and all).


Cultural moment

Absinthe, the green and highly alcoholic spirit, also known as the Green Fairy, is prevalent to say the least throughout Prague. Every corner store displays it in their front window in all sorts of bottles of different sizes. There are also Absinthe bars that specialise in serving only Absinthe cocktails, beers, ice creams and in the more traditional way which involves sugar cubes, ice cold spring water and fire! The history of Absinthe goes way back to Switzerland in the late 18th century where it rose to popularity among artists and writers because of its supposed creativity inspiring hallucinogenic properties. While it does contain trace amounts of thujone, the affects have been proven to be no different from any other spirit and over exaggerated. I may or may not have bought a bottle for myself.


Wow moment

Its no secret that Prague is a beautiful city, with thousands of tourists trekking there each year. It has a very prestigious and chic feel while still maintaining its traditional beauty with all of the original Gothic architecture. This is multiplied at night when the sun goes down and the town is lit up. Everywhere you look is another amazing Gothic building flooded in light against the black sky. It really is breathtaking, from the fairytale cathedrals to the cruise boats on the Vltava river against the backdrop of the Charles bridge.


What we learnt today

In Prague is an amazing clock known as the astronomical clock. It was built in 1410 by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel. It is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. The clock is made up of 3 parts, the dial which has the positions of the Sun and the Moon, "The Walk of the Apostles" mechanical puppet show and a calendar which has medallions representing the months. The puppet show happens every hour and has been described as one of the most overrated attractions in Europe, we kind of agree with that. However, the clock itself to just look at is really quite amazing. There is a legend that states that the clockmaker was intentionally blinded after he finished the clock so that he would never create another one as amazing. He then placed a curse on it so that it would stop working for 50 years, which apparently actually happened. The clock then mysteriously started working again once the curse had expired. True story, I swear!


Posted by travellinglise 09:56 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague meat absinthe Comments (0)

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