The Big Driving Trip – Prague – July 19th

We arrived in Prague around lunch time, just a little later than we had planned since the highway we were supposed to take once we entered the Czech Republic didn’t exist anymore and we had to follow a few other tourists (well, people we hoped were tourists headed for Prague too) through several small towns and the countryside until we found another highway to take. First we checked into our Airbnb apartment (in Malá Strana down towards the Most Legii bridge) and then dropped our car at a private parking garage (I’d read lots warnings about parking a car with foreign plates in the city in a public / unguarded lot, so we paid a little extra for a safe place to leave the car). We made our way up to the heart of Malá Strana (Little Town) towards the Charles Bridge. After just a little walking it we were so hot that we decided to sit at a café that had some covered outdoor seating- with mist fans going… did I mention it was really hot? We enjoyed the shade to enjoy our first Czech beer- a Staropramen- which was delicious. After checking out Malá Strana a little more we walked across the Charles Bridge (along with all the other tourists in town since this old beauty is one of the most popular sites in Prague) and enjoyed the view of the Vltava River, Prague Castle up on the hill, and the National Theater. There were tons of artists selling paintings/jewelry and musicians playing for donations.

Once on the Stare Mesto (Old Town) side of town we ducked into Saint Francis of Assisi church, which wasn’t on our list of things to see but ended up being really beautiful on the inside – especially the dome. I didn’t know it until writing this post, but turns out it has the second oldest organ in Prague which was even played by Mozart. We wandered around old town, enjoying some slightly overpriced ice cream to cool off and looking in shops. Eventually we ended up in the town square to see the town hall and its Astronomical Clock. The town hall was built in 1338 but the tower was added in 1354. The Astronomical Clock was added in 1490 and records three different kinds of time – Old Bohemian time, time as we know it, and Babylonian time. It also shows the movement of the sun and moon through the 12 signs of the zodiac. I’m not sure how Jan Táborský did it! We went up in the tower and had a great view of town and all those red roofs!
We had an early dinner at Havelská Koruna which specializes in traditional Czech food. It is cafeteria style, so you grab a tray and pick out your food at the counter before you sit down. We all tried the chicken schnitzel with gravy and dumplings (which looked more like thick slices of bread). It was really good food and was cheap! When we finished eating we walked around a little market going on outside the restaurant that had everything from cheap souvenirs to fruit and veggies. After the market it was time for our Prague Beer Tour, which I think was the boys favorite activity of the day. Our English speaking group was made up of a bunch of Australians, one Brit, and one American (other than us). We went to two microbreweries – Sv. Norbert and U Medvídků – and to one beer bar- Zephyr Urban Pub. We learned lots of interesting beer facts, ie. Pils beer was developed in Pilsen in Bohemia (an area of the Czech Republic) and Budweiser was originally a Czech beer / still is a Czech beer. The “Budweiser” brand in the States is owned by Anheuser-Busch, the “Budweiser” sold in Europe is made by Budweiser Budvar Brewery. When the tour finished we grabbed a snack in the old town square at a food truck and then went with the Australians from our group to a bar called The Pub where you pour your own drinks from a tap at the table and the beer consumption per table is tracked and displayed on a screen for everyone to see. Not sure if it is the best idea to turn drinking into a competition between the tables and between our location vs others in Europe (this was also being tracked and displayed on the screen), but it was fun for one night!