Prague Without Plastic Wrap



Description:

It’s the general consensus among travelers that Prague’s center is more than just beautiful; it’s enchanting. Stories of intrigue surround Old Town Square. A painful history lives in the Jewish Quarter. The castle complex is almost overwhelmingly prodigious. In a city whose economy is hugely dependent upon tourism, though, the most-visited tourist areas obviously receive the most money and care. Locals don’t generally make their homes in these areas so, while they keep their beauty and history, they lose some authenticity. Prague is no exception. If you want to gain any understanding of Czech people, how they live, how they’ve been affected by that long, hectic history you learned about on your “Old Town Walking Tour,” you need to leave the plastic-wrapped city center, which has come to resemble a Disney World recreation more so than an actual city, and visit the living, breathing Prague that exists now. On your journey outside the box, you’ll still find stunning architecture, centuries-old sites, and twisted cobblestone streets but you’ll also find things that the sanitized center is missing: actual locals, Boho ex-pats, hard-working immigrants, scrumptious yet affordable meals, astoundingly cheap (and fresh!) beer, skillful graffiti, communist architecture, and bars bars bars.

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Author: whitney78


Day 1 - Prague


Spend today quite near the city center in an enchanting, almost mythological, world of history left behind. On your way to your first destination, Vyšehrad Castle and Park, stop in the small café at the metro station for a quick bit of sustenance. This is a popular spot for people who live and work in the area to pick up a quick snack on the way to work in the morning because of its convenient location. When you’ve had your morning coffee, head up to the far-reaching complex. While not much remains of the castle itself, it’s a peaceful place with an impressive history. Legend has it that it was on these grounds that Princess Libuse foresaw Prague’s future splendor. The buildings themselves, however, weren’t built until the 10th century, after which it became the central fortification of Prague. After about 40 years, though, leaders decided to return to Prague Castle and left Vyšehrad behind to crumble. “Vyšehrad ” actually means “Castle on the Heights;” and from such great heights the views over the Vltava river dazzle. Additionally, the impressive Church of Saints Peter and Paul is part of the complex and has been beautifully restored. The cemetery that lies beside the church is the resting place for over 600 important figures in Prague’s history including Dvořák, Mucha, and Smetana. Vyšehrad is a lovely way to spend a morning, or even an entire day. When you’re ready for something a bit livelier, head to Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí). Founded in 1348 as the center of New Town then transformed into a Cattle Market until the 19th century, it is one of the largest squares in the world. Nowadays, it’s a transportation hub making it a busy area full of local students and businesspeople going about their days. But more than just the hustle and bustle of daily life awaits you at Charles Square. It is also the home of a massive park, including trees, statues of Czech icons, and even a playground. Surrounding the square you can see New Town Hall, where Prague’s first defenestration took place, the Church of St. Ignatius, a baroque symbol of Jesuit prestige, and the Faust House, the home of hundred of years worth of ghost stories and bizarre happenings. In the midst of city life and tales of alchemy and the devil, have a simple and tasty Italian lunch at Pizzeria di Carlo, which also sits on the square’s rim. Prague’s Boho culture has made it a center for art-house films and documentaries. If you want a taste of this film culture and there’s no festival on at the time of your visit, MAT Studio, located right along the square’s lip, is a great place to go. This artsy spot shows feature films, amateur work, and documentaries, among other things, in its tiny screening room. The building also houses two bars that attract film buffs and artistic-types along with anyone who just wants to get a glimpse into this exciting facet of Prague’s culture. Nearby, you’ll also find the Dancing House (Tančící dům), which also carries the nickname “Drunk House” due to its bold, gracefully curved structure. Originally named after Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers, the modern building resembles a pair of dancers and therefore really stands out against the surrounding Gothic, Baroque, and Art-nouveau architecture. As darkness falls, move to Náměstí Míru, one of the main squares of the elegant Vinohrady, an area that got its name from the vineyards that covered the area as long ago as the14th century. Nowadays, Vinohrady is known as something of a bourgeois district, a prestigious area that was recently voted the best residential neighborhood in Prague. This means that local bars and restaurants toe the line between sophistication and homey comfort. Before parking at a table or bar, though, take notice of the square’s centerpiece, the Church of St. Ludmila, a neo-gothic basilica with two impressive towers. Around Christmastime, market stalls selling seasonal food, drink, and gifts surround the dominating church. For dinner, try the small, straightforward Doba, where you can enjoy delicious versions of Czech favorites at excellent prices. Doba is convenient for couples, families, and friends alike. Finish off your evening at Cheers, a slightly trendy, completely welcoming bar right on the edge of the square.


1

Vysehrad Castle

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Location:

V Pevnosti 159/5b
Vyšehrad National Cultural Monument
12800 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 241 410 348
fax: +420 2 4141 0247


2

Vysehrad Cemetery

user rating

Location:

V Pevnosti 159/5b
128 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 241 410 348
fax: 420 241 410 247


3

Pizzeria di Carlo

Location:

Karlovo náměstí 30
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 222 231 374
fax: +420 2 2223 1374


4

Karlovo Namesti

Location:

Karlovo náměstí
Nove Mesto
12000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 2 2171 4444 (Tourist Information Center)


5

Church of St. Ignatius

Location:

Karlovo náměstí
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic


6

Faust House/Faustuv dum

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Location:

Karlovo náměstí 40
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic


7

MAT Studio

Location:

Karlovo namesti 19
12000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 2 2491 5765
fax: +420 2 2491 6700


8

Tancici Dum

Location:

Rasšínovo nábrezží 1981/80
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 2 2171 4444


9

Church of St. Ludmilla

Location:

Námesti Míru (Peace Square)
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 2 2171 4444


10

Doba

Location:

Náměstí Míru 16
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420222520330


11

Cheers

Location:

Belgicka 42
120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 222 513 108


Day 2 - Prague


If you really want to rip off the wrapping, Žižkov is a definite destination. Home to the bizarre TV Tower and a residual Jewish Cemetery, Žižkov is, historically, a rough, working-class neighborhood with a substantial gypsy population and a “red” reputation. While it’s still working-class, it can no longer be called dangerous and the demographics have shifted to include a lot of ex-pats and young Czechs. Arguably, Žižkov is the most essentially “Bohemian” part of Prague. Poets, painters, and pianists, are drawn to this neighborhood like moths to a flame. But there’s yet another feather in Žižkov’s cap, on top of being an avant-garde creative hub it’s got an astounding number of clubs and bars packed into its appealingly rough edges. Start with a fresh and flavorful breakfast at Kinhomola, then take the morning to stroll through Riegrovy Sady. First and foremost a park, this is also Prague’s premier beer garden. Here you can wander down the winding paths, take a break on a bench or under a tree, and stand, surrounded by green, taking in breathtaking views of Prague Castle. If it’s not too cold, you can enjoy the park for hours. When you’re ready for a beer, head into the massive beer garden. Wait in line at one of the small tent-like bars near the entrance to grab a Gambrinus then pick a long wooden table to call home. This outdoor pub has a very laid-back style, plus a a few foosball tables and a huge big-screen projector playing any important sporting event. The patrons are a diverse mix of locals and otherwise, so this is also a good spot for people-watching. Sausages sizzling at the grill stand may create olfactory temptation but beware: while from time to time the sausage is simply scrumptious, the quality is inconsistent at best. Instead, when your stomach starts grumbling, head to U Sadu, just next to the TV Tower, for a traditional Czech meal. These are no frills, stick to your ribs Czech classics served with, of course, half-liters of refreshing Gambrinus. When you emerge from this wood-paneled pub, decorated in junk-shop style, walk about 100 ft to the TV Tower, a controversial and strange structure with babies pinned to its lapel, and the residual First Israeli Cemetery in Olsany, part of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Take a trip to the tower’s top for head-spinningly spectacular views, then head down down down into the Zizkov “valley,” which is lined with shops and even more bars. While you’re down there, enjoy a Pakistani dinner at Zizkov favorite, Manni, before heading back up towards the TV Tower for some evening drinks at Bukowski’s, a cocktail bar with lived-in style, or take in some live music at Palac Akropolis.


1

Knihomola

Location:

Manesova 79
12000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 2 627 7770


2

Riegrovy Sady

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Location:

Riegrovy Sady
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420222717247


3

U Sadu

Location:

Skroupovo namesti 5
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420222727072


4

Jewish Cemetery in Žižkov

Location:

Fibichova Street
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420221711511
fax: 420222749300


5

TV Tower

Location:

Mahlerovy Sady 1
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 242 418 778
fax: +420 222 724 014


6

Manni Pakistani Restaurant

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Location:

Seifertova 11
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420222511660


7

Staropramen Brewery

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Location:

Nádražni 84. 150 54
150 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 257 191 402
fax: +420 257 191 281


8

Bukowski's

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Location:

Bořivojova 86
130 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 774 530 689


Day 3 - Prague


Start your day in Andel, part of Prague’s Smichov neighborhood. This bustling business center is home to a number of restaurants for power lunches and bars for happy hours. Near the metro station you’ll find a perfect breakfast spot: Kava Kava Kava. Here you can have a toasted bagel with, of course, some kava (coffee). If the weather’s nice, head south towards the Smichovske nadrazi metro stop, near to which you’ll find Slovanky Island. Here, you can rent boat and paddle (or row) off on the Vltava. Not only does this afford the opportunity to enjoy the relaxing rocking of the river but the perspective you get from the river is a special treat so don’t forget your camera. Before leaving port you might want to grab some beers from a nearby Potraviny, which will add that extra something to make the experience even more completely Czech. When you return your vessel, move back towards Andel, where you’ll spend the afternoon. On the way, refuel at the Dog’s Bollocks, which offers tasty and satisfying food plus refreshing beer and cavernous cups of coffee. Don’t go too crazy with the beer yet, though, because your next activity is a tour of the Staropramen brewery, where one of Prague’s most popular beers is made. See how it comes to be, then indulge in the absolute freshest beer at the tasting that completes the tour. For dinner, keep with the classic Czech theme at U Buldoka, which offers unpretentiously traditional fare. After dinner, take some time to experience a bit of high culture before the day ends, at the Bertramka Museum of W.A. Mozart and the Duseks, just a stone’s throw away. Live concerts almost every night add a gorgeous soundtrack to an already gorgeous setting. Finish off the evening at Punto Azul. This very laid back bar is just what the doctor ordered after your afternoon of beer drinking and traditionally heavy Czech dinner.


1

Kava Kava Kava - Andel

Location:

Lidická 42
150 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 257 314 277
fax: +420 257 314 277


2

Boat Rental

Location:

Slovanky Island
110 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: +420 2 2171 4444


3

Dog's Bollocks

Location:

Nádražní 82
150 00 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 775 736 030


4

U Buldoka

Location:

Preslova 1
15000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 2 5731 9154


5

Bertramka (Museum of W. A. Mozart and the Dušeks)

Location:

Mozartova 169
15000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 2 5731 6753
fax: 420 2 5731 6753


6

Punto Azul

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Location:

Kroftova 1
15000 Prague, Czech Republic

Contact:

tel: 420 2 5732 8594


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