Christmas is on the way, December is coming to an end soon, 2016 is almost gone. Wow another full year is to be conquered!
My last post of the year is for my last trip in 2016 to Prague, a fairy-tail city who has taken heart of every friend of mine who had been there.
It was a trip with my parents again. The purpose was to bring them around, spend some quality father/mother & daughter time together. As a non-alcohol family, we didn’t have much experience to the local beers in Prague, which gives me a good reason to come back again with my husband. However we did visited many beautiful places, taste great meals, pass three nights in a cozy warm apartments, and record our journey with lots of pictures.
We’ve experienced two full days in Prague, filled with sweet and bitter moments. Like every trip, there are things I liked a lot, as well as some that below expectations. I am sharing all of them here, and hope it would be a valuable reference to those of you, who is planning to visit Prague in the soon future.
👍👍👍 THINGS I LIKED 👍👍👍
1. Restaurants and their online reservation service
Food in Prague has a great reputation abroad, and of course I googled and shortlisted some restaurants way before starting the trip. I was positively surprised that almost every restaurant who has a website, has an “Online Reservation” service available!
I started browsing places to eat after our itinerary is fixed, and found an useful article on Prague Guide introducing a list of traditional restaurants in Prague. I chose some from the list and did try out during my trip. To sum up: Great suggestions, and we Loved it!
My favorite places are (Neither of us can drink a lot, thus you are not going to find great beer suggestion here. But if the restaurants are good, the beer can’t be so bad, can it?!):
A cozy, casual and romantic restaurant in Karlin area, which was my Mom’s love-at-the-first-sight. Our table was in a quiet corner, where we could observe other table’s orders, meanwhile checking the bartender’s work. The 4 girls next to our table chatted over a big bottle of beer through the whole time we had dinner there. And all of them were wearing either short sleeves or dress with a feather down jacket hanging at the back of the chair. That’s how I (kind of) know that this is popular places by the locals rather than tourists.
A snails as first course, a duck confit and a fish fillet. Big portion, taste good, and great value. And I even had my very first Czech kofola there!
A meal of 40euro. Good deal!
If I have to pick One favorite restaurant during my Prague trip, this is the one!
Located in Karlin, where is filled with residential and office buildings, whereas almost zero tourist spot, this restaurant starts welcoming customers the minute they open for the day. We had my very first breakfast in Prague there, and we were the first customers of that day, who were at the door on time at 9am. After taking off the coat, finding a table, taking the menu, I had already seen the fourth/ fifth customers queuing at the reception. “Seems a good choice!” I said to my parents.
All open design gives no bound between the kitchen and tables. Chefs can show off the preparation of the dishes, and customers can admire it.
Having breakfast in Eska is a great way to taste their home made bakery, jam and cream. My favorite is the “Breakfast Karlin” set, which contains salmon, scramble eggs, some pickled veggies, and Eska’s home-made yoghurt. Plus, try the sausage if you still feel hungry.
Eska is a member of Ambiente Restaurants Group, who franchises several chic restaurants around Prague. Check them out here:
Klasterni Senk: http://www.klasternisenk.cz/en/
My favorite: meat skewer
Ginger & Fred: http://ginger-fred-restaurant.cz/en/
Best place for a special & romantic night, with a view of the Prague castle.
2. Our accommodation: Empirent Apartments
Most of the time when I travel, I stay in a hotel. This time I made a change by booking the service apartment, which turned out being the best spend of the trip.
Empirent Apartments locate in Karlin with three stops away from the famous old town square. The metro station is just around the corner, which made our commuting experience super easy. Plus there are tons of convenient store and restaurants nearby. Even though there was no meal served in the apartments, we had no problem finding treats.
The space of the apartment is more than you really need. I stayed in a studio with a balcony, and my parents were in a one-bedroom one with a huge living room. The interior was in bright and white color, all the facilities were super well maintained, and you find all the essentials provided inside: cutlery, plates, oven and microwaves in the kitchen; shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion in the bath; washing machine and iron, etc. Seriously I would move in!
The apartments also arranged a taxi picking up us at the airport when we arrived in Prague costing 25euro.
3. Visit the city with flexible itinerary
Different from our last trip to Barcelona, where most of the must-see places called for reserving tickets and entrance time in advance, we took it casual and slow while visiting Prague. From the old town square admiring the astronomical clock, then heading to the Charles Bridge; crossing the bridge ending up on the other side of the river Vltava, climbing up to the Prague Castle. It was a great walk, with interesting spot for stopping by, as well as gorgeous view!
I am in love!
4. People we encountered
There were several friends who had been to Prague told me that they found people there cold and unfriendly. Before landing in Prague, I’ve prepared myself for careless conversations with the locals during this trip. However from the taxi driver, who picked us at the airport, to the girl working at the grocery store, where we bought a bottle of water, most of the people were nice enough to put a little smile on their faces. Maybe I was lucky, or it was the Christmas mood in the air, but I had great time talking to the locals.
👎👎👎 THINGS I DISLIKED 👎👎👎
Things are getting a bit “exciting” here. Yes, Prague is a beautiful city and I loved it. But let’s be honest, the perfect place exist nowhere. And if I have to, and I want to, be true to you my dear readers, I did have few complaints to share!
1. Crown (local currency) only, in CASH!!!
Lesson learned that Czech Republic is an EU member, however it still keeps its own currency: the Czech koruna (crown). I totally understand that in a restaurant or shops in the city center refuse to take Euro for payment. However certain popular tourists spots, which made appearances on all the tour guide services or travel websites, accept neither Euro nor credit card. Well, that pissed me off a little bit!
A killer view from the famous spot: the Petrin Tower, where tons of tourists climb up for a bird-eye view of the city. You think place like this is ready to take your credit card/ Euro on purchasing the tickets, right? No way! Please pay with Czech crown, and in cash ONLY!!!
Same case for buying metro tickets. Be sure to have crown in cash with you!!!
2. Ticketing machine out of service
Petrin Tower gave me the best and the worst experience in Prague! After coming down from the tower, we planned to go back downtown by taking the tram, the one and only tram that connects the tower to the city center. I went to the ticketing machine, and guess what I found: OUT OF SERVICE! And what made it worse was nobody worked at the counter to sell one to you. WTF…
At the end we walked back. It was a great walk though, and I could imagine it would be much nicer in summer days. Thank God my parents were young enough for another 20-minute work-out.
3. Tourists not well informed (at Prague Castle)
We did stepped into the Prague Castle. Of course, how could you resist when you are in Prague. But I found the tourists information was not well informed to the tourists there.
First, there was no sign for the entrance. I found a long queue at the side door and went to queue up. Turned out the guys before me were not sure either, and everybody just followed the crowds. At the end it was the right queue, but still some instructions would be nice.
Then I was unlucky to visit the Prague Castle on Sunday, entering right before a Sunday Mass started. Again no obvious information was put out, and we had to wait 1.5 hours in the wind outside before entering.
Not bad that I could climb up the tower of the castle to have a 360 degree bird-eye view of the city in the meanwhile, just with an extra 150 crown. Yeah~~~
Travel tips for visiting Prague/ Czech Republic
- Have Czech crown in handDon’t be like me, who assumed that Czech is an EU country so it uses Euro too. It still keeps the local currency crown, which is about 1Euro = 26 Czech crown. Be sure to prepare some in hand for buying metro tickets, at least.
- Tipping after a mealSome restaurants do not include service charge into the bill, so the waiter is expecting some tips from you (some would even inform you while bringing the bill). If that’s the case, don’t forget to leave some small cash to them before leaving. 10% of the bill amount would be enough.
- Our footprints in Prague