I have to admit, the trip was booked at the last minute and in a rush. And being brutally honest, you were not my first choice. And, yes my expectations were low.
But dearest Prague, you have won a new fan. What won me over? Well, since you ask…
Street food – beer and sausages at 10am on the Square you say?Without judgement you say? SOLD! Street food is everywhere you look here, whether it be kiosks selling freshly grilled sausages or even those touristy icecreams that look like something from a scifi movie, this is a city that is out and proud about food.
Within an hour of checking into the Intercontinental Prague, I was slurping a cold beer and partaking in a hot sausage slathered in mustard. Score!
Walkability – I’m not a massive fan of walking long distances, but at the end of every day I found I had clocked more than 17,000 steps. My shins were wrecked, my feet were like goat hooves, but given all the food I consumed and every I saw, it was definitely worth it.
The Czech People – Rightly proud of their food, yes Prague, your people are your greatest PR agents. I took the fabulous Taste of Prague tour which served as both a tour of of the city’s best eateries, but also a chance to delve into the city (and the country’s) fascinating history. Possessed of a wry sense of humor, your people are a breath of fresh air. They GET it.
New Czech Cuisine – we’re friends now so I can tell you this. I was kind of expecting a lot of meat and potatoes. And don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of that. And I really like meat and potatoes.
But in the post Communist years, when food was rationed or cooked for the masses, there was been a renaissance. From the bright and colorful chlebíčky – open-faced sandwich that is consumed for breakfast and lunch, for it makes for a quick and filling meal – to the raft of hipster cafes serving everything from icecream cookie sandwiches to meat and donuts (it’s a thing -trust me), Prague you are undergoing a foodie boom.
Meanwhile, my morbid fear of kefir thanks to the excellent Eska, located in the painfully hip area of Karlin.
Fermented wheatberries, mushrooms and juniper are like some kind of new age risotto (don’t tell the Italians, they’re a bit fanatical about their risotto)
And why I haven’t met a smoked potato (complete with ash) served with flaked fish, dried egg yolk and kefir before – well, my bad.
Then, of course, there are the Michelin Star places. Prague, my dear, I don’t usually delve into the dark side on my forays, but I was lured to the famed La Degustation – thanks to its proximity to my hotel and tales of sublime food. Ten courses later…I was a convert. Bell peppers, tomatoes, lard (yes lard) have never tasted so good, or been presented so smartly.
And the prices – well, I’m used to Doha Blockade prices, but Prague, well you are great value for money for any foodie. A Michelin Star 10 course dinner with matching wines for QR500? Yep. Beer cheaper than (bottled) water? Cheers!
Schnitzels – yep, I’m giving this its own section. Schnitzels (pork, chicken or veal) are the food of the goods. Pounded thin, coated in breadcrumbs and fried to perfection, I ate at least three within four days and I am not ashamed of it. Nope. Served with a tangy potato salad, I liked mine with some mustard, a beer and a smug grin. From the stunning confines of Cafe Savoy (with a squeeze of lemon and a berry jam) to the down and dirty and very real Lokal, they were uniformly excellent.
And so dear Prague. I well and truly underestimated you. I expected Paris-lite. Maybe a second rate Budapest. How wrong I was.
Instead I found a city filled with life, fun and seriously great food.
Why haven’t I visited you before?
I hope we can continue to be friends.
Prague – The Details.
Staying There: The Intercontinental Prague is perfectly located within a five minute walk from the Old Town and also within spitting distance of some great restaurants. Try to score room or suite with a view of the Charles River.
Getting Around: Walk! Walk! Walk! This is a very walkable city. Leave those cute sandals at home and just get out and about. I can also recommend the cute faux antique open topped car tours. opt for one that goes for an hour from any of the drivers lining the area around the Old Town Square. Fun and a greta way to see the city.
Take home food item: any of the pork products (which they will vacuum pack for you) or some of the local cheese.