On the way to Prague, we stopped in a teeny town called Mikulov. This is another advantage of going with a tour group - I never ever would have know of the existence of this place otherwise. And even if I did, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how I’d figure out how to get there. It was so small, and hilly. The part where we stopped was on top of a hill with a scenic view. It felt like an alternative universe in some ways. We also grabbed a quick lunch at this cafeteria style place that was a part of a rest stop (I think?). But to call it a cafeteria really doesn’t describe it accurately. The food was incredible - tons of premade salads, fancy sandwiches, grill options, and ridiculous pastries. I loved what I ate!
So, three things come to mind when I think of Prague… beer, beer, and beer. In fact, upon arriving in Prague, our tour director explained that “beer is liquid bread”. The funny/sad thing is that I don’t drink beer. Beer doesn’t like me, I don’t like it. I did order and try beers while I was there to experience it, but I didn’t finish any.
In Prague we walked around the Prague Castle and caught the changing of the guards, toured St. Vitus Cathedral, walked the Charles Bridge, saw the astronomical clock ring, and took a guided tour through the Jewish quarter. Again, history nerd here, so I found it to be very interesting, and was really moved by some of the exhibits within the Holocaust museum that we visited. I was particularly struck by the artwork that children made while they were in concentration camps. Having used art as a form of therapy myself (though what I went through pales in comparison to what they endured), I had all kinds of emotions swirling around inside.
On a lighter note, I tried Trdelnik pastries! Though, I think the Trdelnik smelled better than it tasted, and was no match for the cakes we had in Vienna. But they were still quite yummy! For dinner the girls and I randomly found a spot where we had a carnivorous feast - so many anecdotal things occurred at that dinner. This was how I described it on my Facebook post, “Once upon a time in a lovely city named Prague... four American girls stumbled into a Czech bar featuring live country music (sung in Czech), placemats with NHLers who have been to this fine establishment, a man dressed as a knight, and a punch-dummy that guards the bathroom stating that if one is not satisfied with the service to punch him. So they ordered a meat platter with seven different types of caveman inspired meat that was then was presented ceremoniously to the girls as a turbo charged sparkler was lit up and placed in what might have been the duck. What remains of said platter after the carnivorous attack is an assortment of bones. To celebrate the victory, the cowboy rewarded the girls with a shot of God-knows-what. Needless to say that although dessert wasn't ordered, they walked out as legends.”
After dinner, one of the girls and I rallied and went out to a bar that a friend of mine recommended. There, I tried a cider and a dark beer. The fact that I didn’t make a face and took more than one sip of the dark beer is a pretty strong indicator that the beer is phenomenal, even if it wasn’t my preference.
The last day in Prague, the girls and I did some shopping! We went to this amazing antique jewelry store that our tour director told us about the day before. I ended up with a bracelet from the 30’s, and two rings from the 40’s. I’m not normally a huge jewelry person, but I was that day!
Afterwards we went to a “beer bath”, which is basically a beer spa where you can soak in these huge vats of beer. It’s supposed to be good for your skin or whatever, I just thought the whole concept was ridiculous and had to do it. Right outside the baths they have beer taps for you to consume as much beer as you please while you bathe in it. It proved to be quite a relaxing experience!
After the baths we went to the John Lennon Wall, it was cool to see that wall as it was in that moment, as it’s always evolving with new art being painted on it. We didn’t realize that the paint was still wet, so we ended up becoming a part of the art! But I don’t know if I would have had it any other way. After the wall, we went to this adorably charming cafe that had all of these flowers and antique trinkets hung throughout. We had a light lunch of salad, and washed it down with elderflower lemonade (oh how I love elderflower flavored anything!). While we were eating outside it began to pour, so we went inside to wait for it to die down some. The inside of this place was tiny, maybe 3 tables. A French couple saw us walk in and welcomed us to join them at their table. It was so fun to talk with them. Another one of those moments where you just feel so connected.
- Out of the three cities, Prague had the most tourists.
- Find the quiet side streets - they have the best bars, shops, etc.
It was so hard to leave to head back to “reality” the next morning. It was such an incredible trip. I loved all three cities differently. But something pretty cool happened on the way back. On my flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, I sat next to a Polish guy who was about my age. He spoke English, and we chatted a bit. I found out he was taking his first trip to America. It all came full circle in a sense - just two weeks prior to that moment I was in an airplane excited and anxious with anticipation about getting to see new cities/countries, and now I’m getting to watch someone experience the same excitement. Marek, wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying America and experiencing the beauty of my country as much as I enjoyed Europe on this trip.