The Weekend Nomad: Prague Edition
An unwise man once said, “Life’s short. Sleep when you’re dead.” I believe that the better version of this quote should be “Life’s short. Try to sleep on the plane.” With a bit of planning, some comfortable shoes (lesson learned the hard way), and a detailed map, a “long weekend”¹ is enough time to explore anywhere, even if it means just exploring a corner of that somewhere. Occasionally after a trip, friends ask me for recommendations, (which I attribute to either my good taste or their laziness) and when put on the spot like this, I have trouble recalling names, places, foods I ate, and clever words to describe these things. And thus, I lay my proverbial pen to paper.
Welcome to the first post in a series I’m calling The Weekend Nomad.² This first post is about a recent trip I took to Prague. This trip was inspired by my discovery of a stockpile of frequent flier miles, a need to recover from a tonsillectomy and trade show combination (don’t ask), and an expat³ friend to meet up with for a weekend.
Attractions: Prague is known for a number of historical landmarks, about which you can read in a guidebook (I quite enjoyed my copy of the Lonely Planet), but I’ll let the guidebook guide you on that front. (My short list of tourist-attractions that I’d recommend are: Petrin Hill, the Jewish cemetary, Veletržní Palác art museum.)
But lucky enough to have a travel companion who shares my taste in offbeat attractions, endless stops for coffee, and getting lost, I found myself in visiting a number of places that I had not read about in any guidebooks. One highlight was the Alchemy Museum, which only opened a few years ago but is located in one of the oldest buildings in Prague and was used by one of the kings to make potions and the like. At the end of the fascinating tour, which included a trip into the underground labs, I purchased the elixir of eternal youth. I’ve drank from my small vial of this potion and I’m not dead yet, so there’s that.
Souvenirs: I found some really fun gifts at the Artel design store. Artel is actually a luxury bohemian crystal glassware company, but their design stores sell all sorts of fun, mostly Czech gifts like porcelain jewelry, children’s toys, and other quirky novelties. Another shopping highlights were these rad hats we found at Tonak. His: Walter White. Mine: the least douchey person on Abbot Kinney.
Step 2.) Take a selfie
(Night) By Night: Let me start this section by saying that our expectations had been set far too high for nightlife in Prague. Don’t ask friends who studied abroad in Prague for recommendations if you’re no longer in college. I’ll spare you the details of our failed attempts at clubbing but I do have some recommendations for excellent cocktails.
We enjoyed an absinthe tasting at the topically-named Absintherie. It was crazy to taste the differences among the different types of absinthe and we also enjoyed one absinthe drink made the Bohemian way– with fire and the sugar cube à la Jude Law and Susan Serandon in Alfie. We visited a really weird bar called Anonymous, that I had read about. The bartenders wear masks and the establishment is V is for Vendetta– themed. We ordered a few cocktails from the regular menu and then a few from the “secret” menu, one of which was served with a toy gun?!
Food: Czech food is tough for a vegetarian, as it’s mostly “meat and potatoes,” served with or without the quotes. I spent my first night in Prague alone and dined at a vegetarian restaurant called Etnosvet (currently rated #1 of all restaurants in Prague on Trip Advisor). I enjoyed a beet and goat cheese salad (which seemed to be on many menus in Prague), as well as more traditional potato dumplings. I was impressed with the number of vegetarian restaurants in Prague– who knew?!
We had a fantastic breakfast and swanky coffee at a place called Cafe Lounge. Memorable food, forgettable name. We enjoyed another excellent breakfast at a cute spot called Cukrkávalimonáda. While this name might sound forgettable to English speakers, “Cukrkávalimonáda” actually means “coffee, sugar, lemonade,” which allegedly equates to “eeny-meeny-miny-moe.”
We enjoyed delicious afternoon snacks and pastries at Bakeshop, which was listed in most of the guides I read but rightfully so (butternut squash frittata on fleek.) Another interesting confection we ate at a stand off one of the main squares, was called “trdelník.” These pastries are hollow, made around a hot metal stake and are found in the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary. Challenging to eat without making the utmost of messes, but tasty AF, especially with nutella.
The best meal we had was at a restaurant very near our Airbnb, called Kampa Park. According to my friend Genevieve who studied abroad in Prague, this is the fancy restaurants where students sometimes dine when parents are in town visiting. On our trip to Kampa Park, we did see a table of study-abroaders but the meal was delightful nevertheless. They had an extensive wine list, excellent fresh fish, and served complimentary truffles to finish the meal. The view at Kampa Park is just as much an attraction as the food. It’s right next to the Charles Bridge and boasts views that merit descriptions ranging from “romantic AF” to “majestic as a phoenix.”
Upon re-reading this post, it seems to be mostly food recommendations but then again, many of the worthwhile attractions are in the guidebooks. For the most part, we spent each day wandering through the city and exploring the winding, cobblestone side-streets.
Although I didn’t sleep on the plane on the way there, I still managed to pack in maximum fun in just a few days. And I slept the entire flight home, so I’ll call it a win.
¹ I’m defining a long weekend as a weekend + up to 3 days. Ok maybe that’s almost a week but then again, maybe not.
² Not to be confused with the Weeknd’s “Nomads.”
³ Anthony’s not actually an expat, but he’s living in Europe for a few months, so I think it’s more fun and pretentious to refer to him as an expat.