Saturday, July 7, 2012

Exploring Prague, history and food

The warm weather is still with us and after a series of thunder storms last night, it was quite sticky today, but that wasn't going to stop us getting out and seeing the sights of Prague.

Prague is a slightly more challenging destination.  I speak enough German and French that getting around Austria and France was no real issue, but I don't speak or read any Czech.  Luckily nearly everyone here speaks at least a bit of English but signs are almost impossible.  Still we managed to purchase tram tickets and get into Wenceslas Square.

It is less a square and more a large boulevard and yes, it is named after Saint Wenceslas of the Christmas carol (which got a few details wrong, he wasn't a King, only a duke and was not quite as good as implied).

We wandered around, it is very commercial, 2 McDonalds, 2 Starbucks, KFC, numerous UK chain stores etc, but the buildings themselves are gorgeous.  We had signed up for a walking tour so decided to fuel ourselves with one of the kransky type sausages that were being sold by numerous vendors around the square.  It was huge!  A massive kransky, two little chipolatas, onion, gherkins, tomato, sauerkraut type stuff all held in place by a surprisingly small roll and topped with your choice of mayo, tomato sauce and mustard - we were very glad we were sharing.  But it was delicious and we devoured it in no time flat.

We met up with our tour guide Nina for a tour of new town (new being a relative term, it was built in the 14th century), old town and the Jewish quarter.  She began with a few tips for anyone coming to Prague, don't change money on the street or even in the official looking change agents.  More often than not they give you old Bulgarian or Hungarian notes which look similar but have no value, even in their original countries.  She told us which taxis to use and to be wary of the very excellent pickpockets they have here.

But then it was on to the history.  From being able to see where the Russian tanks shelled buildings in 1969, to the astronomical clock built in the 14th century, Prague is a city with a long and complex history.  The buildings are really lovely, many painted in gorgeous pastel shades and yes, everywhere there are spires of churches.

We enjoyed the tour a lot, but we were also extremely pleased to stop for a rest and some cake at the end.  The cake was average, but the coffee was good - we will require more samples to judge Prague on its cake standards.  Suitably revived we wandered the winding lane ways of the old town further.  There is no doubt that it is a tourist haven, I would love to know what percentage of the population make their living from tourism.  A certain type of garnet is mined here and I've never seen such a high density of jewellery shops.

In my quest to eat as many berries as possible we bought a punnet of mixed berries and headed back to the apartment for a rest.

I don't know if I have mentioned it previously but the reason we are on this trip at the moment is that S's brother is getting married in Denmark and we used it as an excuse to make a holiday of it.  We had always planned to come to Prague but the timing worked out so that we would be here at the same time as S's brother's buck's weekend.

S isn't joining them for all the buck's activities but we did head out to dinner with them tonight.  It was a good Czech meal, goulash with bread dumplings for S and rabbit ragout with gnocchi for me.  Really yummy all around.  We then headed for some dessert getting caught in the rain on the way.  So there I was, the only girl on a bucks night out, in a white tank top, in the rain.  Luckily I was wearing sensible underwear or I could have ended up the entertainment for the evening too!

We found a random cafe, wine, coffee and hot chocolate were ordered.  I was one of the lucky ones with a hot chocolate.  When it arrived it was like a thick, dark sauce, one of the guys described it like the sauce you get on a self saucing pudding, just with no pudding.  All I can say is that it was amazing, I ate it with a spoon - when did you have a hot chocolate like that?

Anyway, it has certainly been a memorable evening in Prague.

P.S. over the course of today my camera died, you may have noticed the purple tinge as it started to die.  I have a dreadful feeling the rest of the trip may be documented on my phone!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your camera! :S Maybe an opportunity to buy a new one duty free?? Although doing that without camera research would be challenging for me.

    On happier matters, I'm glad Prague has been treating you well. I recognise these places and they are just as beautiful as I remembered :)