My husband and I recently spent five days in Prague. We had a really nice time mostly cafe hopping and getting some “us” time which is difficult when you are working full time. Here are some of my recommendations from Prague:
- Golden Prague Residence: Few years ago, when I was in Prague for a short break, I stayed at Hotel Caesar Palace which is a fine place to stay except that it is a bit further away from the old town. They were also digging up the road right in front of the hotel which got a bit annoying in the end due to the constant noise. This time, I booked a serviced apartment that is part of the Intercontinental Hotel called “Golden Prague Residence” (GPR). I definitely prefer the apartment due to its proximity to the old town and also the Charles Bridge. Another perk of staying at GPR was that we could use Intercontinental’s recreational and spa facilities. The spa is definitely one of the finest I have been to. The swimming pool had natural salt water which was a first for me. The jacuzzi worked very well and each time we went there, my husband and I were the only people around. The spa area is covered with a glass roof with a garden around it. One evening when we were relaxing there, we spotted seven fighter jets flying in formation. Nice!
- Beas Dhaba: Last time my Czech friend had introduced me to a vegetarian restaurant on “Tynska” very close to old town. Its a buffet style place where you pay by weight. The food is amazing and very fresh. I have had lots of meals here and recommend it thoroughly. Must try their halwa dessert. It so melts in your mouth.
- U Zavoje: When I was last in Prague, my sister and I were out very late one night wandering around. We came across this lovely little wine bar with great selection of wines and apertifs. Unfortunately, I didn’t note down the name of the place. This time when I took my husband to Prague, I spent hours looking for it both via the power of google and also in person. Late evening on our second night in Prague, I finally managed to track it down. It was too late to have dinner there so we just had some dessert and drinks. Later in the week, we went back there for proper dinner. It is not cheap by Czech standards but very cheap if you are coming from the west. Pounds and dollars go a long way in Czech.
- Grand Cafe Orient: This again is a lovely cafe located at the top floor of one of the most famous cubist buildings in Prague, “The House of Black Madonna”. It is one of those places that immediately transports you back in time. The period furniture and the little balcony are preserved just so well. I can go back there anytime anyday.
- Dripstone “Spooky” wall: I have been told that there are many secret gardens and courtyards in Prague. When we were taking in the views from the top of Prague castle we spotted a weird looking installation. At first glance, it looked like lots of semi finished statues of people. I zoomed my camera to take a shot from the distance. When we climbed down from the castle we tried to walk roughly in the direction we had seen the site. With the help of a local policeman we went through a “passage” that lead us to what turned out to be a castle with tall hedges, a beautiful courtyard, an aviary and this crazy wall that we had spotted from the distance. I don’t quite know how best to describe it. It has hidden figures of gargoyles, animals, serpents, dragons and whatnot. (see images below). Very crazy and just the thing I like!
- State Opera House: One night we went to see Rigoletto at the Prague State Opera. Surprisingly, they had english surtitles as well as in Czeky. I have not heard many works by Verdi and only knew two pieces from Rigoletto. I was worried I would cry when Gilda is murdered though (I am the kind of person who can cry when watching Masterchef!). Admittedly, the fact that she sang an aria for a long time before she was actually dead took the blow away. I was just stupefied by the soprano. We used online ticket reservation website called “Bohemia Tickets” as they are considerably cheaper than buying it directly from the Opera House.
- Opera Barocca: One night we went to the baroque music festival at Clas Gallam Palace. This festival has only recently started taking place every summer. They not only play baroque music but recreate the costumes and settings too. They rotate different themes each evening. The one we attended was called “Segreto” and involved quirky pieces of music from 17-18th century including a very accomplished soprano and ballet dancer. The next day we went back to the palace to get a tour of the period costumes. The lady running the show is very passionate about the baroque period. She also organizes a carnival in February in Prague which concludes with a ball in the castle where the guests are dressed in baroque costumes. My husband is very keen to attend it next year so we shall see how it turns out.
- Karlstejn Castle: My husband and I love cycling and wanted to cycle in Czech countryside. I did some research before visiting Prague and it looked like one of the most popular day trips is to Karlstejn Castle (roughly 30 km each way). At first, I wanted to do self guided trip but was not sure how well marked the roads would be. So, we decided on group tour. I was recommended “Prague Bike Tours“. However, we had a bad experience with their bikes. Both our bikes were in very poor condition. The gears were not working, the breaks needed replacing and the chain some serious oiling. Considering how much they charge for this trip the least they could do is give us proper bikes. Also, the tour was a bit all over the place. We arrived in Karlstejn after 3pm with no stop for lunch! If I were to bike there again I would do it myself, and also make sure that the bikes are in good condition. The castle itself is very nice and the town is touristy but worth at least one visit. If you do go there make sure you have pancakes made by a guy at the patio in front of a small shop on the left as soon you as climb up the road going towards the castle. I had sour cream and forest fruits pancakes and it was one of the best I have ever had.
- Sandeman’s Prague Tour : We did their free walking tour last time I was in Prague. The guide was excellent last time and didn’t disappoint this time either. They give you about four hour tour of old town Prague and you pay in form of tip. It is a nice way to get an introduction to the old town and also some local advice. I would recommend this walking tour.
- Cesky Krumlov: We had booked a day trip there using the Student Agency’s buses but in the end didn’t go as I really wanted to see Rigoletto that was clashing with this trip. However, I have heard from many people what a romantic little town it is. I’ll keep this in mind when I next visit Prague.
So this concludes my first ever blog post. Hope you find some of this information useful in your travel.