We woke up fairly early the next morning even though we’ve only had a few hours of sleep. It was our first full day in Prague and we wanted to hit a lot of the spots on our list. Our hotel was right next to a highway but we were surprised we didn’t hear the cars driving by throughout the night. We bought coffee at the Illy shop in front of the tram stop and decided that we have to head towards the Prague Castle in order to eat a decent breakfast because most of the restaurants in our area were still closed.
Up on one of the hills towards the Castle, we stopped by Restaurant V PodhradÃ for ham and eggs, as well as an omelet with our second cup of coffee. It started to rain and continued to during our entire time at the Castle. We paid for ticket B to be able to get in St. Vitus’s Cathedral, the Daliborka prison tower and walk along Golden Lane. There was much pushing and shoving to get inside the church. It must have been below zero in there, colder than it was outside.
After a couple of hours, we took the tram to LvÃ dvÅ¯r, a restaurant I wrote down after reading about their specialty: roasted pig. We started with the baby octopus carpaccio before we ordered the piglet. We washed everything down with Krusonice beer. It was probably our simplest and yet best meal in Prague.
The rain let up a bit and we walked up Petrin Hill along the Hunger Wall to get a glimpse of the ugly Observation Tower, Prague’s mini version of the Eiffel. We reached the Strahov Monastery and paid the ridiculous 800 kronos fee to see the two libraries, Philosophical and Theological Halls. They asked us for an extra 50 kronos to take photographs, but I refused. They can keep their pretty libraries to themselves.
Down the hill and in between taking photos of Czech rooftops, we stopped by the Josef Sudek photo gallery, named after a famous Czech photographer, and checked out the Pavel HrdliÄ‰ka photographs on display. On our way home, we saw a photo of Å vejk from the book I’m reading outside a bar and decided to get off the tram for a beer. It turned out to be U Å vejkÅ¯ and one of the pubs the writer Jaroslav HaÅ¡ek frequented.
We ran back to our hotel, changed to drier clothes and took the tram right back out again to make it to the State Opera. We were a few minutes late, so they sat us along the side box seats. During intermission, we were seated in our correct seats where we got a really nice view of the show. Everything was in Italian and the supertitles were in Czech, so our discussion of the opera afterwards went something like: So the sideburns guy was angry at the good looking soldier? But the purple sash dude was his friend, right? No, the purple sash guy is the sideburns guy! We got the gist of it though, because the lady killed herself after the fatty died. What’s an opera without the main characters dying in the end?
Finding dinner was a challenge after 10:30pm. We refused to eat spaghetti in a pub or at any of the fast foods shacks around the more touristy area of Wenceslas Square. We even found a restaurant with a caveman theme–we just couldn’t get ourselves to do it. Restaurant Boheme to the rescue. There was a lonely man playing the piano in the middle of the room. He would have been delightful if only we weren’t seated next to an American tourist who looked like Michael Bolton with a fanny pack. He kept looking at us to strike up a conversation and he slurped his wine to give us an inkling that he knew how to “taste” wine. It was probably the fastest meal we’ve ever had in our lives. We scarfed down a plate of ghoulash in dark beer and roasted rabbit to avoid any more eye contact with him. At least he gave us a story to laugh about.
Back in Smichov, we found Jet Set, a techno-theme bar in front of where they were playing the movies for the Febio Fest. We had a Stella nightcap, the only beer they had on tap. People were coming out of the theaters across the way. It was too bad that there weren’t anymore hotdog stands around. We went back to our hotel, passed out and waited for our last full day in Prague.
Day 1: Three Kinds of Beer, First Few Hours in Prague