'wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. we're all wanderers in life.' -spanish poet, antonio machado

Monday, March 7, 2011

when in prague...

(spending time with the lennon wall | praha, cz | 2009)

...do as the locals do. Go ahead, embrace your leather fanny pack, mullet and stone-wash jeans, love nature, drink massive amounts of pivo and slivovice. Just kidding. Really. Please, do anything you can to dispel these rumours and look beyond the mullets (because that's really not a rumour, trust me...nor is the loving nature and pivo and slivovice intake, but that's a good thing).

Since I lived in Prague, people have asked me time and again, 'So-and-so is going to Prague and they're wondering what to see/do' or 'We're thinking about going to Prague...tell me more about it.' Let's just say Prague is not a difficult sell. Its unparalleled beauty, mysticism and European charm have propelled Prague to one of today's top travel hot-spots. Seeing as though I receive this question so frequently, I thought it best to assemble a mini Prague travel guide...with recommendations from yours truly on the best places to snooze, grub and take a gander.*

Snooze: First of all, stay at Mosaic House (if not Mosaic House, then Czech Inn, Miss Sophie's or Sir Toby's). They are all independent hostel/hotel fusion properties - located centrally, and super-nice and high quality for a really affordable price. Don't think traditional hostel...they are above and beyond, offering a mix of private rooms and shared rooms - think cool, communal social vibe and privacy - the best of both worlds (especially Mosaic House, Miss Sophie's and Czech Inn). I can gab and gab about these places, but I will let them speak for themselves...only after you read this post. :)
Gander: Go on the Free tour (free, but don't forget to tip) - New Europe Tours...all of our properties recommend it, as it gives a ton of good info about Prague's rich history. Also, the castle, Lennon Wall, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Vysehrad, Terezin (concentration camp - day trip), Jewish quarter, beer gardens (Reigrovy Sady and Letna are the best...Vysehrad is good too). You can find more information for things to do/see on the Mosaic House website.
Grub: La Bodeguita del Medio - right my staromestka namesti metro stop and close to the Charles Bridge, river (and the Rudolfinum). Very good...and awesome fishbowl mojitos that 5+ people can share. Best Mojito in Prague! Their sister restaurant, La Casa Argentina is also very good.

All of the restaurants in the
Kampa Group are some of the best and most super-swank restaurants in Prague. Check it out. Also, the Ambiente Group is INCREDIBLE...great great brazilian steakhouse (Ambiente Brasiliero) in old town. One Brazilian gal I talked to said it was the best steak she's had. And she's from Brazil. Go figure!

Louvre, near the National Theatre and not too far from either Mosaic House or Miss Sophie's, is a great and historical cafe.

I have heard great things about this new restaurant,

For a Czech experience, head up to Strahov
Monastery (Klášterní pivovar Strahov) by the castle...the monks brew beer and it is incredible. Trad'l Czech food too. I definitely recommend this place. Or, you could try Pivovarský Dům, near Karlovo namesti and a hop, skip and a jump away from Miss Sophie's. Beer is good, but service is crap...which you'll find at most places, since customer service is not such a focus in Prague. Don't worry, you get used to it. :)

U Fleků is an famous restaurant, dating back to the 1400's - it's pretty touristy, but it's worth it for the ambiance...there are people from all over the world there (Germans, Austrians, French, South Americans, Americans, etc) and they play trad'l music, brew their own beer and slivovice (very strong liqueur)...but beware, they bring beer and shots to your table and if you don't want it you have to tell them...sometimes unassuming tourists end up with a hefty bill once they start drinking if they are not mindful of the fact that they are actually being charged for these.
Modry Zub - my fav thai restaurant in Prague. So yummy.

There is an Indian/Lebanese/Pakistani restaurant near the river right by the Manes gallery with a green facade called Karavanseraj (also known as Kulb cestovatelů - thanks Talitha!). It is so yummy...and was a fav hangout for dinner dates with great friends Talitha and Lauren. Amazing, flavourful dishes and a great spot for shisha-smoking.

For amazing tea and shisha (seriously AMAZING), head to Dobra Cajovna. There is one near Narodni Trida. And another (though shisha-less) in Wenceslas Square.

My absolute FAVOURITE bar is
Groove Bar (and Bar Nota - more Czech than Groove Bar if you're looking for an interesting local hangout with some kooky live music). My friends Jakub and Martin own it and it is family-run and great, lounge-y ambience with good music (esp while Jakub is tending bar) If you go, tell them I sent you.
Belushi's Bar and Restaurant @ Mosaic House...this is one of the properties I work for...new design hotel/hostel - super hip and trendy...has live music most nights, young crowd. Check it out. It's my baby and I loved working for them. You can find more info on live music on Facebook @Mosaic House. Restaurant is burgers and etc...but the best burger in Prague. Super-cool design and architecture. The building was also retrofitted to work as a green property...greywater recycling, solar panels, the whole sha-bang. Stop by and see my friends who work at reception and in the restaurant! Tell them I sent you! Ask for David, Daniel, Kristyna or Twig! :)

Glug (Glug, Glug): Kava (coffee). Mmm. So many great coffee hang-outs in Prague. I basically lived in them on nights and weekends. My coffee watering holes of choice include Cafe Ebel (my fav!), Mama Coffee Cafe, Globe Bookstore (although shady service and a lot of ignorant American college students hanging out - my friend Lo can attest to that!). There are many more, but these are my absolute fav. Give them a try.

As far as shops go, there aren't a ton of great places...it's either designer shops that are super-expensive, or some cool boutiques, but they're still more spendy than places here. In any case, you can check them out on
Prague Stay's website.

Have so much fun and don't forget to drink the pivo (beer)!

Enjoy my city! Send some love for me, I truly, truly miss and love it. Look at what I've done now...I've convinced myself to go back.

Stay tuned for a future post about a place I hold very near and dear to my heart - Cesky Krumlov. It's my second home and it's a special place full of love (it's where Tom proposed to me), good food and even better shisha.

Ahoj (informal word for both hello and goodbye in Czech...pronounced 'ahoy!') and Na zdravi ('cheers' in Czech, pronounced nazdravee),


*If I have missed anything on this list you'd like to add, let me know!

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