Actually, don't turn off that charm. Prague, you had our full attention as soon as we got off the plane. You're beautiful without even trying. You make people fall in love with you at first sight, you "Heart of Europe" you.
Prague was an easy choice for us - a straight shot from Dubai, about six hours away, and I can never say no to another European city. We devoted four days to the "City of a Hundred Spires", and it was plenty of time to see the main sights and relax in between with pints of Staropramen.
I cannot say enough good things about where we stayed, so hear me out and book your trip as soon as you're done reading this. Through trusty hotels.com, I found Old Town Boutique Apartments. Newly renovated and in the PERFECT location right off Old Town Square (seriously it's off this little cobblestone street meters away from everything you want to be around), we were instructed to visit The Dubliner Irish Pub to pick up our keys. The manager, Paul, showed us up to the Margot Room, a deluxe studio with everything we needed and an invitation to come by the pub at any point for a nice discount. And we did that. Like every day.
The first day was a little overcast and rainy, but that didn't stop us from enjoying everything Prague had to offer. Our apartment was right next to Church of Our Lady by Tyn, that strangely positioned church you can't miss on the Square. We ventured through the Old Town Square, which, albeit touristy, is straight out of a fairytale with colorful buildings, kids running around, couples dining al fresco and cameras pointed up at the famous Astronomical Clock - installed in 1410, it's the oldest operating astronomical clock in the world and features an hourly "show" of sculptures striking the time. Pretty darn cute.
We walked across the Charles Bridge, the most iconic in the city where you'll find tons of people taking pictures of the views, artists selling their crafts and baroque-style statues lining each side. It's pedestrian-only and very crowded, so it's recommended to visit early morning and late at night for a more serene view of all that's lovely around.
We accidentally stumbled inside the Bridge Tower, and paid a small fee to climb to the top. This was a gem we didn't know about, because we were only two of a very few people up there with views of the entire town. The orange tiled roofs, Prague Castle in the distance and the Vitava River in the foreground of Old Town...can you paint a more beautiful picture in your head?
We continued to stroll around the other side of the bridge leading into Mala Strana, an area that's just delicious with buildings the color of sherbet, I tell you. Eventually we made our way back toward Old Town for the evening, but not before walking into the French street market set up full of cheese, wine and dessert stalls. I opted for the lavender lemonade stand...because no one can tell me that stuff ain't refreshing.
One of the best places to watch the sun go down and grab a dessert is the Hotel U Prince terrace. It was stunning and romantic, and I added to that ambiance I'm sure as I scarfed down the cream puff with caramel whipped cream. I mean come on, WHEN IN PRAGUE.
The second day we explored the Jewish Quarter, which is another part of town that is just gorgeous. All I can say is keep looking up. This city was one of few that survived WWII relatively intact, so the Renaissance and Baroque style buildings still stand. Here, you stroll along the streets rich with history and find yourself amongst six synagogues, the Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery. The cemetery is Europe's oldest surviving cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1400s and it's a small space of land comprised of thousands of tombstones crowded together. I didn't know this at the time of touring, but due to the lack of space within the city, this cemetery is comprised of layers upon layers of burials and is why the cemetery's surface is so elevated compared to the nearby streets.
We stopped in Lokal for some traditional Czech food. Well, I had a boring salad because I dived right into fish 'n chips at the pub the day before and hi, wedding diet. It's all about balance, right? Jon got some sausages that were outstanding though and a beer of course. We continued on to have a pretty leisurely day full of stops at The Beer Museum, gelato at Creme de la Creme and the John Lennon Wall, a graffiti wall inspired by the late musician. It is directly across from the French Embassy, and just days after the attack in Nice, the whole area had a heightened "love is all you need" feel to it. We had to drop into the John Lennon pub, of course, and if you head towards the back, grab a seat in the Beer Garden. It's a damn good afternoon when it's sunny, the beer is flowing and The Beatles are rocking.
The next couple days, we managed to fit in a football friendly match between AC Sparta Praha and Fenerbahce, visit Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral and take a tour of the Staropramen Brewery.
Let's elaborate on that third stop for a minute. We took the tour in Russian. We got there towards closing time and guess what? No English tours were left. So Jon being the tourist he is insisted we still go. It was hilarious, we learned zero Russian and our Russian tourmates were highly vexed by our presence. It was likely one of my favorite memories to date. Cheers!
Best and Worst of Prague:
Best Cocktails - Bugsy's! Bartenders in suspenders, speakeasy-style atmosphere and I got a red rose in my drink. Done.
Best street food - stop in Good Food Coffee and Bakery and get a Chimney Cake. It's cinnamon sugar dough rolled into a cone, filled with Nutella or chocolate and vanilla ice cream. I screwed up the order the first time and ordered one without ice cream and after whining, Jon ran in and got another. Reason 30476077 why I'm gonna marry him.
Best view - on the way to the game, we had to walk through Letna Park and here were the best views of Prague. I had an allergy attack amongst all this greenery, but sniffling my way through, we had a great time walking around and stopping by the Beer Garden. Definitely a must see for that panoramic snapshot everyone wants. (note: There's a few different drinking stops in Letna Park, including a low-key, pop-up bar with a punk-y vibe under the Metronome, a small, quiet cafe at the Hanavsky pavilion and a big tree-lined beer garden toward the Stefanikuv bridge crossing. Our destination was an open-air bar called Na Baste, positioned toward the center of the park on the way to the Generali Arena. It had a great relaxed, communal atmosphere that was perfect for pre-match beers.)
Worst....there are no worsts.