After a beer with our artichoke chicken salad from Snack at the airport bar, Cameron and I boarded our flight to Prague. We watched Pride and Prejudice on the plane instead of getting much-needed sleep (it was good but no one beats Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy) that by the time we reached Zurich to transfer, we were too tired to appreciate the fact that we were in Switzerland. A small sandwich tied us over until we landed in Prague.
Outside the RuzynÄ› airport, we waited for the #100 bus which connected to the yellow metro near our Ibis hotel in Smichov. It felt good to get some fresh air that we didn’t mind the wait. We initially planned to catch the #119 but realized that we didn’t have to go to the city center to take the yellow. At the Andel station, we were welcomed by a crowd of Czechs milling around the shopping mall and waiting for the tram. We asked a lady inside one of the cosmetic stores to direct us to our hotel. She pointed to the sign down the block and we finally checked in.
Our hotel was just right. It wasn’t anything special, but it was so clean that we didn’t mind the two exact towels provided for us everyday. We settled in for a few minutes and decided to start our first day in Prague by taking care of business: buy opera tickets for the next day’s show. We took the yellow line to Muztek, transfered to the green and got off at Muzeum. We jaywalked to get to the other side of the highway off Wenceslas Square and bought tickets for Verdi’s Les VÃªpres Siciliennes before the box office closed. With that taken care of, our second order of business was to get our first meal and first pint. We walked down the path of the National Museum and found CafÃ© SvatÃ©ho Vaclava right before it started to drizzle.
Our first Kozel beer was priceless. We also ordered the potato soup and a big plate of pork and duck meat plus sausages served with red and white cabbage. It was already dark when we finished so we decided to walk to U FlekÅ¯ and experience the traditional Czech pub feel. U FlekÅ¯ is one of Prague’s oldest pubs and will remain to be one of my favorite pubs while in the country. We sat down with strangers on a long wooden table, listened to the two musicians playing the accordion and the tuba while we inhaled everyone’s smoke and tried to get any of the waiters’ attention.
The European tourists in front of us helped us order two pints. We finally got a piece of paper which allowed us to reorder every time one of the servers walked by with a tray of dark beer. A line is marked on our paper every time we nod for a refill. Another waiter also carried a tray of Becherovka shots. Cameron wondered, What do you think those are? I didn’t know, so I signaled for the waiter to give us two. It had a cinnamon-y taste to it.
We had another beer before we stepped out to walk around Little Quarter and to Charles Bridge, the most popular bridge in Prague. We joined throngs of people walking in the dark and crossing over to the Old Town side. We bought a hot dog from the corner store. When we reached Old Town, we noticed a small alley under the bridge. We were so tired but decided to check out the pub anyway. We ended up at U Karlova Mostu for some moucnicky or dessert. We ordered the liskooriskova minibabovka s vanilkovou zmrzlihou v cokoladove kruste, also known as hazelnut cake with ice cream in chocolate crust. What better way to wash down a dessert with a bunch of consonants than with a mix of dark and light beer: Rezane.
We walked to the #12 tram back to Andel and walked back to our hotel. Not even twenty-four hours in Czech Republic and we’ve experienced so much already. Three kinds of beer, at least.