Saturday, September 09, 2017

Central Europe: Day 8 (Prague)

For our first full day in Prague, we chose all the most touristy things ever. Oh well. We got that out of the way and planned to do more "off the beaten path" stuff later.

Our hotel, Lokal Inn, was right off of the Charles Bridge, a famous and beautiful stone bridge in the heart of Prague. We had a filling continental breakfast and walked to the bridge to meet up with our friends, an ex-pat couple from Chicagoland that lives in Switzerland now. 

We met up with our friends and their dog and headed over to the Old Town Square, where the famous astronomical clock is located, and some churches and Gothic buildings. I love the silhouette of the gates of Prague!

We walked around the Jewish quarter of Prague - Josefov - and took some photos with the Franz Kafka statue. We ended up seeing that statue about six more times throughout the trip. All roads lead to Kafka!

Our travel book recommended a cute little bakery called Bakeshop Praha, where we picked up a little snack. I got rugelach and a slice of walnut pie, which is exactly as delicious as it sounds. The bakeshop is adorable, and you want everything inside.

Enjoying our coffee and bakeshop items in a square:

After our tasty snack, we headed back to the square for a tour of Church of Our Lady Before Týn, a 14th century church. Right nearby, we also found a recommended "apothecary," Botanicus, where I bought some amazing lavender lotion. 

From there, we ascended the hill to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, which are both located within the castle district at the top of the hill. The castle contained glorious rooms that you might picture in an episode of Game of Thrones, and apparently one of the rooms was where the infamous defenestration of Prague occurred

The cathedral had wonderful light and a soaring ceiling. The relics were fascinating, too.

The whole castle hill area was really touristy; we saw some more areas, including a tiny little house where Franz Kafka once stayed, but you felt like you were fighting tourists the whole time.

For a late lunch, we hit up some burgers at U Zavěšenýho Kafe, a somewhat famous little beer spot where we got really bad service and didn't get to sit outside on the porch. Oh well. Dave had his second or third Pilsner Urquell at this point; he kept accidentally ordering it because it's listed as different names in different bars. Pilsner Urquell clearly owns Prague, and by this time we were really hoping to have tried more Czech pilsners.

In the evening, we donned our race gear and attended the Birell 10k. It was our first international race, and it was a total blast. We took the speed slow because (1) I'm slow and (2) Dave had hurt his ankle in Vienna a few days previous.

We loved running with the Czechs; it was clear from all the people cheering on the sidelines that the Czechs love this race. They had live bands and free (non-alcoholic) beer samples, and we got to run through some beautiful sections of Prague. Totally would do again.

Funny story - the race announcers in America are always super upbeat, but the Czech announcer broke into English for one statement: to tell us to get ready for the suffering. I totally dig this honesty.

Also, instead of dance or beat music like an American race, the Czech race organizers played The Moldau, a classical bit of very Eastern European sounding music by Bedrich Smetana. Glorious.

After the 10k, we met up with our ex-pat buddies to recarb at Letna beer gardens. They had some more non-Pilsner Urquell selections, and you really felt like you were there with locals. I wish we had made it in the afternoon, though, because it was sorta dark and we didn't get the views we would have gotten during the day.

We walked home and called it a night - I was so happy with the 10k, though! It's my new favorite way to see a city!

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