Monday, June 1, 2009

in love with prague

I hopped on the daily Czech Airlines flight to Prague from Istanbul and arrived a mere two and a half hours later in Prague. The flight was a little bumpy, but it was made more pleasant by the friendly flight attendants and their tasty sandwiches. I met my friend Jen at the airport, dumped my bags at her place, then we took off to a fake beach on the Vltava river. Even though I was on holiday, the fake beach made me feel like I was on holiday from my holiday— the sand was warm under my feet, people were sunbathing and dancing to deejayed music, the mojitos were just right. After a hot dog from a nearby stand, we carried on with the evening by enjoying many of the city's fun and interesting pubs.

Having returned at 4 a.m. and slept for a couple of hours, the next morning Jen and I stumbled out of the apartment barely awake, to have a fabulous brunch at Bohemia Bagel. The food was absolutely delicious, and since they have several locations throughout the city, I highly recommend you find a Bohemia Bagel if you happen to be hungry in Prague. Breakfast is a must— they even have huevos rancheros (you San Franciscans know what I'm talking about!). Add some Czech sausage and you've got a meal from heaven. As Jen went to work, I explored the city, walking over the famous Charles Bridge to St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle Complex.

Feeling the inexplicable desire for sand between my toes and refreshing beverages, I met Jen at the fake beach again. We decided around 9 pm-ish to perfect the evening with homemade pasta at Ambiente, a lovely little restaurant off the Old Town Square or Staroměstské náměstí. I still can't believe how much you get for less than 20 bucks— a large portion of fresh pasta and a couple glasses of wine, both incredibly delicious— and oh! The table bread was phenomenal.

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The next day I got up early to wander around mapless, hoping I would bump into all the things I wanted to see. I had been told about a wonderful café to have breakfast in, Café Savoy, and as luck would have it, I ran into it. After my tasty scrambled eggs, I headed to Museum KAMPA on the river, which houses one of the most expressive and interesting collections of Central European modern art. You can't possibly miss the boxy white building with the queue of yellow penguins and giant faceless baby sculptures out front. Here, I was introduced to the gritty graphic work of Max Beckmann, a 20th Century German artist who is now a favourite.

On the opposite side of the river, I managed to find the Mucha Museum, dedicated to the work of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha whose posters I am absolutely in love with. It's a small museum, but packed full of large ornate posters, sketches and photographs. It is definitely worth seeking out, even if you aren't a Mucha lover. After the museum, I walked and walked and walked without any destination or purpose in mind. I came upon an entrance to a little courtyard off one of the main streets (I don't know which, but it's near Palladium) with people chatting over tea at small tables. Being the tea fanatic that I am, I quickly found myself in the cutest tea house at the end of the courtyard— Dobrá čajovna, which I learned means "Good Tearoom." Dobrá has a warm and colourful ambiance with touches of the Far and Middle East, with an enormous selection of loose leaf teas expertly brewed for maximum flavour. I chose their Russian Caravan, which is a blend of mostly Lapsang Souchong— my all-time favourite tea (it tastes like a mountain).

My last dinner in Prague was on the terrace of Café Louvre, a charming Parisian style café that's been around since 1902, and was apparently a favourite haunt of Kafka and Einstein's. The potato dumplings were exactly what I envisioned eating on my trip— doughy and filled with meat.

I had such a wonderful time in this unique city, marvelling at the architecture and history, hanging out with an old friend and new ones. Prague is an easy place to get around in, by foot or by tram. Even the metro and bus I took to the airport was super-easy. It felt safe wandering around on my own, and while I try to learn a couple of words in the language of the country I am visiting, I found that English was understood and spoken by most people. Prague is not short of things to see, and I know I barely scratched the surface. I'll definitely be going back.

Click on images to see them larger.


Isabel said...

this series are looking great but what a city to became inspired by

szaza said...

Thank you Isabel, it is a marvellous city for inspiration :)

art is jokken said...

I love your selections of the pictures you made. I am interested if not natives look the same way through the lens or if they have different approach (my roots are from CZ !) I have to admit that Prague from some years ago was different, more mysterieus and really Kafka-like due to unrestored facades....It was a little bit messy but more atmosphere. But anyway Prague is beautiful city....

szaza said...

Thank you so much!
I would have loved to see Prague back then, without all the tourists. It must have been gorgeously haunting. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited.

Ayse said...

This is a great information Samantha!!
we are planning to go to Prague with my sister on May and still looking for a nice and small hotel around old town. Would you recommend us to stay in the old (stare mesto) or new (nove Mesto) town?
thank you

szaza said...

Hi Ayse! I'm happy the post was informative for you-- glad to help. I think if you stay in the old town, you'll be within a few minutes walk to all the major sites-- though Prague is so accessible, you really could stay pretty much anywhere and get around. If you are going for a short time, try the old town. Have a lovely time!

Ayse said...

Thank you Samantha!