It was Valentine’s Day and my “Travalentines” (a name we coined in the spirit of the holiday) and I were at Logan Airport anxiously waiting to explore Central Europe. We’d be visiting 4 countries in 7 days and had an action-packed schedule ahead of us. We couldn't wait.
With murmurs of Covid-19 circulating, we were lucky not to have any cancellations. We spent our 7-hour layover at London Heathrow, in our amazing Priority Pass airport lounge, consuming numerous complimentary drinks and plates of food from the buffet. After a second, much shorter flight, we arrived in Prague, our first destination.
Prague. What a city! Before dinner, we decided to browse through Old Town Square. We admired the city lights and the buzz of live music while people filled the cobblestone streets, preparing for a Saturday night out. We watched the Astronomical Clock change hours, where it performed a little show of dancing figurines and stopped by street vendors for fresh mulled wine.
Our first meal (in what felt like days) was in true Praha fashion. We arrived at U Fleku, an “Old Bohemian” style pub and microbrewery, founded in 1499 and referred to as the oldest brewery in Prague. Upon being seated at our family-style table and bench, we were immediately served a large mug of their house dark lager by a waiter with a tray full of them. We were given shots of honey wine, which is said to aid in digestion, and everything we ordered was marked on our paper tablecloth by various servers. So far, SO good.
Saving no room for dessert, we finished our lagers, bid farewell to our new musical friend, and head out for a night cap. We came across a jazz bar called Jazz Club Ungelt and its welcoming tunes lured us in. To the cellar we went, grabbing stools at the small bar in the room adjacent to where the band was playing. The ceiling and walls were stone, which gave a medieval vibe, and the cocktail list was extensive. We listened to the music while consuming cocktails bigger than my head; a perfect way to end our first night.
The next morning, we set out early to visit the Prague Castle. Once we reached the top, we watched the morning sun rise over the beautiful red-roofed houses and admired the city. We walked the grounds and took in the beauty of St. Vitus Cathedral. Although we weren’t able to enter the cathedral due to Sunday morning mass, we toured St. George’s Basilica, which is the oldest surviving church within Prague Castle, founded in 920. Before leaving, we strolled down Golden Lane, comprised of 16th century colorful houses, now occupied by small shops and craft makers.
We walked over the iconic Charles Bridge and united with our friends. From there, we visited the Lennon Wall, in honor of the late John Lennon, and admired the mural's Beatles’ lyrics and world peace graffiti.
After our obligatory photoshoot in front of the wall, our friends led us around the city to a hidden local eatery, Na Blbym Miste, for some authentic Czech food. They did not disappoint. We began the meal with lagers and a shot of their local spirit, the name is still unknown to me as it was ordered in Czech, and a giant bread basket. Garlic soup was next and it was delicious! Being the garlic lover that I am, I had no doubt I would love it, but even my pickier travel companion said it was a winner. For our meal, we ordered red and white cabbage, sausage accompanied by horseradish and a spicy mustard, homemade ham and cheese dumplings, and fresh veggies. Everyone laughed when our food came out as only two of us were sharing what looked like enough food for the table. Those laughs turned into pats on the back once they saw we left nothing but empty plates when we were finished. Everything was fresh, taste-filled, and fantastic.
As stuffed as we were, we would soon be walking it off as next on the list was a trek across the city and up a “hill”, which was more like a mountain, to get to the Petrin Lookout Tower. Built in 1891 and resembling the Eiffel Tower, this was once used as an observation tower but is now an attraction for tourists. After walking up the 299 steps to get to the top of the tower, I could see why it was so popular. There were 360-degree views of the city of Prague, along with the Charles River, and we timed it just as the sun was setting. The pastel pink and purple sky over the city made it worth the 37,000 overall steps that my Fitbit flashed at me. We made our way back down the tower steps and said a thankful "goodbye" to our tour guides as they caught a train back home. Exhausted, we headed back to our hotel to regroup and refresh before dinner. If you haven’t realized it yet, the theme here is food and LOTS of it.
We crossed the Charles Bridge again, which had a completely different feel and look at night. It was illuminated by street lights and the people became silhouettes. It looked like a movie set or something you’d find staged at Disney World. Magical.
The next morning, we were up early to take quick cab to the Dancing House, a must-see and very significant location in Prague. This building is meant to look like two dancers and replaced a house destroyed by the U.S. bombing of Prague in 1945. A few photos later and we were off to the train station to our second stop, Vienna, Austria!
Next stop - Part II: Vienna, Austria
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