At the beginning of this year, B and I made a pact. A pact to go on holiday somewhere sunny, just the two of us, for at least a week. Sounds pretty doable, right? Wrong. Somehow, 6 months passed and no matter how much we uhm-ed and ahh-ed over our respective diaries, we just could not find a time that worked for us. Between work trips, visitors and long-planned events here in Amsterdam, there simply wasn’t a time where it felt convenient to take time out for both of us. I’m a big believer in not trying to shoe-horn breaks in, because inevitably I just end up feeling stressed as I need to try and make everything fit around… Which isn’t really what holidays are for. So, in classic us style, we gave up on chasing a romantic week in the sun, eventually settling for a long weekend in one of the top entries on my list: the Czech capital of Prague.
We ended up taking advantage of cheap flights and a conveniently low-priced AirBnB and flew out late Friday night, returning Monday evening. Saturday morning we woke bright and early, keen as ever to have a bounce around our local area. We weren’t disappointed. Although we were staying a bit outside of the city, the area we stayed in -Žižkov, best known for its huge television tower which looms over the neighbourhood – was full of cafes, bars and touristic sights. After ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the local eateries, we stumbled across an Italian food festival, taking place in the square surrounding the Kostel Nejsvětějšího Srdce Páně, a beautiful Catholic Church that’s worth the visit all by itself. After inhaling all the scents and flavours available at the various stands (as well as taking advantage of all the free samples, obviously), we retreated to the nearby Donut Shop to ruminate over our lunchtime options with a pastry in hand. Because you should never make a food-based decision on an empty stomach, you know? Our sweet tooth collectively satisfied, we headed back to the market for a freshly baked pizza to eat on the grass in front of the church.
Once the pizza mist ascended and our post-feast-guilt had well and truly kicked in, we decided to stretch our legs by walking over to one of the most famed vantage points in Prague: Vyšehrad. Vyšehrad is a medieval fortified castle, set in magnificent grounds overlooking the city. Albeit a bit of a climb in nearly 30 degree heat, the view, the tranquility and the copious amounts of shade at the top made it all worthwhile. Instagrams were taken, grass was laid in and a nice glass of ice-cold water was gulped down without pausing for breath.
We then headed down into the main city to grab some suncream (always forget to pack it) and an ice cream or two, perfect for curing those late-afternoon/early-signs-of-heatstroke blues. With no particular route in mind, the rest of the day was spent at our leisure, strolling through the beautiful streets of the Old Town, hunting down the astrological clock (which was closed for renovation, boo) and picking our way through the trinket shops and stands that line the streets in search of souvenirs. Pretty much a perfect afternoon.
As afternoon turned to evening and the sun began to set (sweet relief!), our thoughts turned – as always – to drinks and dinner. During my usual pre-trip research, I had already picked out the imaginatively named Gin & Tonic Club as a must visit, given B and I’s penchant for an ice cold glass. We rocked up at around 6 o’clock and were lucky enough to snaffle the last available table in the beautiful little terrace out back. After a good 15 minutes spent trawling the menu – seriously, there’s about 80 gin-tonic combinations up for grabs, each sounding absolutely delicious – we made our order (I went for Elderflower and B for mediterranean olives) and boy were we not disappointed. The drinks were beautifully presented, tasted incredible and were very reasonably priced. So much so, we ordered another round straight after the first, hungrily delving back into the menu and throwing caution to the wind with more experimental choices than the first time around. Rashers of bacon dipped in gin? Sure, let’s go.
G&T’s drained, it was time to get some food. A friend of mine had heartily recommended Bredovský Dvur – he had eaten there himself on no less than 6 occasions – and so we hadn’t hesitated in making a reservation for our Saturday night dinner. My friend had recommended the dark beer – brewed in-house – and the duck with cabbage pancakes, so the decision to order these particular items was pretty much a no-brainer. And yes, they were incredible, as were the accompanying dishes of pork, bread and profiteroles. And all for less than 30 EUR – there’s not much to complain about, really (okay, maybe if you were a vegetarian). After such a busy day of wandering, food and drink, our 30-minute walk home was a quiet, yet content, affair.
The next morning, we headed back into town – right over the Charles bridge – for a spot of brunch at Cafe Savoy, a popular establishment decorated in a Neo-Renaissance style that would not look out of place in a Hollywood period drama. The cafe was busy, with hungry groups being turned away at the door or being offered a waiting time of no less than 2 hours. Luckily we booked online ahead of time, but just a heads up that this place is popular — and for good reason. Still full from the night before, we went for an easy spread of a Full English and some French Toast topped with summer fruits. Delicious, nutritious and the perfect start to the day ahead.
In addition to a good old-fashioned brunch, exploring Prague Castle was high on the agenda for Sunday morning. Dating back to the 9th Century, the Prague Castle complex consists of palaces, buildings of worship and old cobbled streets. And best of all? It’s completely free to wander around and explore, perfect for if you have a few hours to while away whilst in the city. Also, the view is pretty great. Attached to the Castle complex is the St Wenceslas vineyard, the oldest Czech vineyard. Nestled high on Castle hill, this vineyard offers breath-taking views and local wines at a relaxed pace. Couldn’t recommend more; they even do dinner and although we didn’t take advantage of this, the reviews seem favourable and the setting couldn’t be better.
Now, we come to the final – and arguably most exciting – activity of the trip. During my research into things to do in Prague, the idea of a Beer Spa just kept popping up. Apparently beer spas are quite the thing in the Czech Republic, thanks to the skin-softening and beautifying qualities inherent in beer. Not to mention the infinite amount of beer available on tap whilst you soak. Sounds good, but the only issue at hand was that I cannot stand beer. So when I discovered the Wine Bath offering at Lázně Pramen, I signed up for a soak quicker than you can say “Wine Bath – what’s that?” We booked a room for two for an hour; the room comes complete with shower, hay bed and – of course – a bubbly hot tub filled with lavender, herbs and other delicious ingredients. For the Wine Spa you also get a bottle of wine of your choice, a delicious fruit platter and lots of ice cold water to keep you cool. In the run up to the bath I was a little worried that it would be awkward – B and I sitting knee-to-knee in a tiny bath tub sipping wine in silence – and that I would feel a little like I was sitting in soup. However, it was without a doubt one of the best things i have done this year. Cosy, intimate, but without feeling seedy, I would highly recommend a Wine/Beer spa for anyone going to the Czech capital, be it with a partner, friends or even family (they do bigger baths for larger parties). Following our relaxation, we sleepily wandered back into town to catch the dying minutes of a World Cup game at a bar and a burger at The Street. One of my favourite days of 2019.
Monday was a more rushed affair as we hurried back into town to revisit our favourite sites and discover the few outstanding items on our list. Breakfast consisted of a Trdelník, a local pastry that is wrapped around a stick and then roasted over an open fire. Sprinkled with sugar and filled with chocolate, Trdelníks are a decadent – yet delicious – delicacy. ON our list of sights for the day we had the famous Charles Bridge, St Vitus Cathedral and a sampling of the local parks. By the time mid-afternoon rolled around and it was time to grab our taxi to the airport, it’s safe to say we were ready for a sit down and a nice cup of tea.
So there we have it. 3 days, a thousand meals and the longest blog post you’ll ever read. Prague, thanks for the memories.