First, my apologies for this very long post, but I just have a lot to show you!
As some of you may have already seen on Twitter or Instagram, I spent last weekend in the beautiful city of Prague. I was there for 3 days, with my sisters. The entire historical inner city has been chosen as World Heritage by Unesco, and walking through it you can’t help but fully agree, it’s truly a wonderful place. The Czech are known for hefty food and lots of beer (a normal serving is half a liter and their beer intake per capita is the highest in the world!), but we were fully prepared to embrace Czech cuisine. We did have our fair share of traditional goulash and dumplings (knedlíky), but also found that there’s a big offer of Italian, Asian and other non-Czech restaurants.
We stayed in a great 19th century apartment in the heart of Prague, an ideal basis to explore the city by foot. The first day we started with a long walk through the old town, of course after we had a good breakfast to kick start the day!
Our walk led us via the Donau to the old town square, where the main attraction is the century old clock which puts on a whole show every hour. Something no tourists wants to miss, resulting in big crowds in front of the clock every hour and it’s hard to even see the ‘performance’. You can also climb the tower, which we did, to have a fantastic birds-eye view of the city.
We sat down for some drinks at Cafe Cafe, where I had some fresh ginger tea. It reminded me of a trip to Vietnam a few years ago, where I used to drink it all the time. Turns out it’s very popular in Prague as well, they served it (with honey) at every place we went to.
We weren’t very hungry yet, so no lunch at Cafe Cafe, but I’m sure it’s a good place to eat. The food I saw coming by looked pretty good and the restaurant is really nicely decorated.
When we finally sat down for lunch, we were so hungry we didn’t have time to look for a real Czech lunch and ate at a sort of British inspired restaurant called Fish & Chips. However, it was packed with locals, something we all search for when we want to have an ‘authentic’ eating experience abroad, aren’t we? After long (and I mean looooong, we can be very indecisive!) deliberation, we all took the same. A cast iron pan with shrimps and herbs, served with garlic bread and fries. Just what we needed to face the cold outside!
The rest of the afternoon was spent on sightseeing, no shortage of lovely views in Prague!
And, of course, a small snack on the side. Because of Carnaval there were small markets everywhere in town, where you could buy beer (what else?), mulled wine and all sorts of local food. Like these tredlnik, roasted sweet pastry with cinnamon and almonds. A perfect pair with some hot wine on a winter day!
We went to a Tesco supermarket near our apartment to get some drinks and snacks, and we were amazed by the butchery. Or should we call it, the sausage department? What a huge variety of sausages, whole and ready-cut, to choose from. Czechs must deeply love sausage!
Since we didn’t have Czech food at lunch, we looked for a place to eat some goulash for dinner. You have to eat early in Prague, most restaurants close around 21.00-22.00, so don’t be late or you’ll find your choice very limited. We found a nice restaurant (U Dvou Sester, two sisters) that offered Czech specialities as pork knuckle, dumplings, pickled (!) brie and Prague ham. The Prague ham was served with fresh horseradish and mustard, and the pickled brie was surprisingly good. We had goulash with bread dumplings (the goulash was great, but next time I’ll skip the bread dumplings), pork in mushroom sauce and pork ribs. All washed down with a big beer of course! After dinner, we headed to the old town square to have a drink at the rooftop terrace of hotel U Prince. The city looked magical at night, and we imagined J.K. Rowling being inspired to write the Harry Potter books after visiting Prague.
On the second day we tried another place near our apartment for breakfast, Národní Kavárna. I don’t know about you, but I get pretty cranky when I have to wait too long for breakfast, so it was great to have many options in the immediate vicinity. The breakfast menu offered plenty of options, and if that wasn’t enough it also stated that the chef would be more than happy to prepare anything else at request. Well, we tried that, my sister asked for baked tomatoes instead of bacon with her eggs, only to find our waitress telling us it wasn’t possible. And when we pointed out what was written on the menu she replied that we could only order from the menu because otherwise she wouldn’t know what to charge us. A bit odd, but maybe she was new or it’s not normal to actually ask for something else, even if it is written on the menu.
Anyway, we had a perfect breakfast there, my eggs were great, they gave us a basket of fresh breads and butter with chives, and my sisters pancakes with plum sauce and crème fraiche were to die for. The Czech bread we had, in this restaurant but also elsewhere, was often made with cumin, very flavourful!
Our second day was completely devoted to Prague castle (Pražský hrad), which lies majestically on a hill, overlooking the city of Prague. When it was time to have lunch we stopped at the first restaurant that looked decent, where we had some great Czech food again. Unfortunately I forgot to write down the name of the place. They proudly claimed to have hosted many celebrities, including Vladimir Putin, to whom they served baked sausages with mustard (yes, this was mentioned on the menu!). So of course we ordered this (originally an entree, but it was big enough for a main course), along side with roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables and roasted pork neck with pickled gherkins. All very tasty, even more so with a big pivo (beer)!
After a long walk in the city, we sat down at Cukrárna Mysák. A famous, recently re-opened patisserie, that was founded more than a 100 years ago. A good place to get a rest with a hot drink and one of the many cakes they sell. My pistachio cheesecake was delicious, even the wobbly stuff on top!
We spent saturday evening at a charming Italian restaurant, Alriso, with great wine and even better food. The host was very kind and came to check if we needed anything regularly (and yes, we did need more wine every time he came by!). We had fennel and rice soup, a carpaccio that was just great and a huge caprese (a whole mozzarella was a bit too much for my sister). We chose three different kinds of risotto for mains and finished of with Italian cheeses and a chocolate cake.
Our last day in Prague was a lazy one, with a big breakfast at Pragues very famous Café Louvre. Open since 1901 and the regular hangout for Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein. What a fantastic place, I could just sit there all day and watch all the people come and go, not to mention the staff, they are so professional! The food was incredible too, from the fluffy pancakes with cream to my scrambled eggs and cake with ice-cream for dessert (and yes, dessert after breakfast is the way to go if you ever go there, the cakes are not to be missed!).
Our last hours were spent drinking and eating, we did some walking again of course, but we mainly sat down and enjoyed our last hours in Prague in sudden sunny spring weather. Our final restaurant was a tip from a local (well, a Dutch expat), Marina Grosseto Ristorante, a boat-restaurant that never leaves the dock with a great view on Prague castle. Besides the location they have great food, so be prepared to wait for a little while if you don’t have a reservation. Sitting on the deck outside in the sun with a big pizza was just what we needed to give our tired legs a rest and contemplate over a great weekend!