Prague part 2
26.01.2017 - 28.01.2017 2 °C
A lazy day was needed and had on our 4th day in Prague, we meandered through our neighbourhood shops and spent a ridiculous amount of money on cheese and salami. Which led us to spending an afternoon in our gorgeous apartment eating and drinking the fruits of our labours and planning the next steps through Central or Eastern Europe depending on your viewpoint. Apparently the Czech people do not see themselves as part of Eastern Europe but Central Europe, who knew there was a central part to Europe?
And then on Thursday, blue skies and the sun came out for our Foodie Tour of the Old Town. Now one may think, especially if they have been following our travels on Facebook or Instagram, that we are already on a global food tour. They may well be right, but having a local foodie introduce us to the best of the local food scene was too hard to pass up. The tour was recommended by our Airbnb host, Zuzanna, who so far had not made a bad recommendation and with a light breakfast on board we were ready to eat and drink our way through this beautiful city on a sunny winter day. We met Míša in the Old City and were delighted to find that she was an interesting, multi lingual, charming 30 something, who freelances as a tour guide and writer in her home town. We were quickly underway via hidden passages reminiscent of the Passages in Paris.
The following is a list of restaurants and meals eaten in them from our tour, by the end of which, we were again resembling a couple of overfed penguins;
1/ Sisters - modern “chlebíček” (open faced sandwiches) with egg spread and celery spread- one of the local office workers favourite quick lunch spots, we vowed to make these at home
2/ Naše Maso – traditional “tatarák” (raw beef tartar) and homemade meatloaf on Czech bread. We were both a bit taken aback by the steak tartar, but feeling adventurous we ploughed in and it was a delight of beef, chilli, onion and of course garlic. Nase Maos were apparently very much on the cutting edge of Czech cuisine when they insisted that Czech beef was good enough to eat and now own the farm and deliver the end products. So glad they did it. Fabulous tasty treats.
3/ Katr restaurant – “small beer dishes” such as “nakládaný hermelín” (pickled cheese) and “tlačenka” (aspic / headcheese), together with salmon with seasonal vegetable and potatoes / grilled goat cheese on beetroot and Urquell Pilsner beer. We could have stopped eating after this meal, as we were both quite full, but no there was more just up the road!
4/ Czech Slivovitz - alcohol made of plums (the best brand: “Žufánek” and you can get it at Bartida Bar & Shop), Misa surprised us by stopping in a small square in the Jewish quarter across the road from the Spanish Synagogue and Kafka memorial statue, for a "little liquid gift" from her bag and assured us her grandmother says, Slivovitz is for when you feel ill, when you feel well, when you feel sad or when you feel happy! It is the medicine of life! We had previously tasted a supermarket version of this local spirit and it was like petrol. Clearly spending a bit is quite a good idea, very nice and we were warmed and primed for the next bit of the walk.
5/ Mincovna restaurant – fried “Romadur” cheese with cranberries, a smelly but delicious cheese, “svíčková” - roasted beef with traditional sweet sour creamy sauce and Carlsbad bun dumpling, washed down with dark 'ladies' beer Velkopopovický Kozel. This was followed by apple strudel, served with Becherovka, a Czech digestive liquor, made of a secret combination of herbs and spices. Only 2 people in the family who make the spirit are able to know the recipe and like the royal family they can not fly together! The liquor broke through the sweet traditional apple strudel and whipped cream.
6/ Choco Café – More dessert, a unique Czech “Hořické trubičky” (Hořice rolls) filled with fresh whipped cream dipped in a hot chocolate. Not needed but very quickly devoured, food babies here we come.
7/ Red Pif wine bar- a funky little venue with a selection of Czech & Moravian wines. The white and rose were ok, a little sweet for our taste but the red was super and we had to take a bottle home for the road. Míša informed us that the maker of this wine is only 25 years old and has taken over his family business as he proved to his father that his wine was much better. Good move! A future visit to Moravia may very well be on the cards as Míša let us in on her favourite weekend away, the cellar hop in the district of the Milan Nestarec winery.
We would highly recommend the "Eat like a Local" tours and if you have the chance request Míša as your guide. We felt like friends by the end of the day. She kindly escorted us back to the river, as it turned out only a couple of blocks, but we would have been seriously lost in the winding cobbled passages of the Old City without her. A quick stroll along the Vlatava under the lights of the castle and city saw us home just in time to rest our feet and let our tummies hang out.
We awoke from our food coma ready to find some culture and walk off some of yesterday's calorie count, a chilly but sunny morning was perfect for a stroll along the Vlatava to the Franz Kafka museum. Given that our total combined knowledge of Kafka was an uncertainty about how to use the term "Kafkaesque" we figured it was a worthwhile project and what did we learn? Kafka was a bit of a miserable git really, clearly a very clever man and one of the revered artists of the late 19th, early 20th century but miserable. Cath left with a determination to read at least one of the books she had downloaded in preparation for this trip but not yet started and the Piss Fountain was an impressive installation- google it, you need to see the moving pictures.
Figuring we had used up a fair amount of glucose in our brain cells it was time for a coffee and cake, taking the advice of our food tour guide we wandered to the back streets and found a lovely coffee house, Kaficko. We thawed out and solved some of the world's problems, with honey cake and walnut cake, as you do after visiting an existentialist museum!
We are fast becoming funicular aficionados and Prague of course has one too, don't all European cities? We, however, managed to miss the bottom of this one and considering we were already on our way up, went off on a pilgrimage to the top of the hill. Cath, ever the navigator, thought she had figured out how to get to the middle section where there was a half way stop, instead of taking the snow cleared paths. We gingerly traversed the ice and snow laden paths up the hill, whilst observing a young girl who had chosen to go cross country. She spent a large amount of time ice crawling and bum sliding up the hill. It was quite amusing to watch, but we were in danger of doing the same as our course became more and more ice encrusted. Petrin park may qualify as a small mountain, but once we were half way up the only way appeared to be to continue, giving the locals in the park surrounding us a good laugh. It remains a surprise neither one of us fell and broke a bone, or at the very least bruised our ego, but clutching at tree branches and hopping from one leaf patch to the next, we finally we made it to the top to find some magnificent views of both sides of the city and surprisingly enough, the bloody funicular! An hours climb took about 3 minutes to descend in the very sweet little train.
All that exercise justified a beer, as the Czech's would apparently do at lunchtime on a Friday, so we arrived at our local beer house U svatého Filipa a Jakuba, just in time to beat the lunch hour rush, 2pm appearing to be that time. The bar maid was kind enough to point out that the English menu was much more expensive than the daily specials and when we asked for a traditional sausage meal she was a bit offended, explaining that you can get that stuff anywhere- like Germany or Poland!!!! So we went with her suggestions and it was pretty basic but very tasty fare, including garlic soup which may not have been a winner with those we spoke to in the afternoon, but tasted great. Deciding that one enormous beer was enough for lunch we were off to find the Library as we had seen pictures of a very ornate building and Cath is a bit weird about needing to visit the books wherever possible. After jumping on the wrong tram we decided the train was best and were quickly on the other side of the river and off to see the library which sadly, once we found it, was closed for restoration, bugger!
Prague like many old European cities is a town of laneways and alleys, perfect for wasting time in, imagining that you are not just visiting but part of the place. It does however get pretty cold for two little sun loving Aussies once the sun starts to go down, at about 4pm, so it was time to head home, get organised for our next trip and rest our weary legs before heading out for the evenings entertainment. Friday night in Prague- Jazz time was our plan, however we ended up settling for a quiet red and off to bed.
Tomorrow it is going to be a train to Vienna!