Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 11: Prague

Day 11:  Prague
Why is this beer sooooooo good?

Weather:  In the 80s, stay thirsty my friends (and rehydrate)

Our room


I'm in Prague town, in some restaurant
I got no idea what I want
Or maybe I do but, I'm just really not sure
Waitress comes over, nobody in the place but me and her.

They are baking from scratch at the Hotel Josef

THB gets a better night’s sleep than DB! Maybe the beer taster had something to do with it. The breakfast buffet is excellent and we order French toast and pancakes to supplement our steps today.

It's a Struth moment: the crowd is waiting for the 9am clock movement 

Rebecca, one of the concierge staff for the hotel, has handled quite a bit of THB’s e-mail questions and she’s on duty this morning. We spend some time with her, discussing routes, confirming tours, and getting eating recommendations. She tells us that the food tour this afternoon will not enable us to eat dinner tonight. We do book dinner for tomorrow night at the Disney Hall…er, no, at the Fred and Ginger restaurant on top of the Gehry building up the river from us. We also book the Naked Guy tour for mid-day Friday; naked because (per Rebecca) he takes his tours to non-touristy spots and covers a lot of the recent history of Prague up to the fall of the wall.

We are now officially booked up: all meals covered, food tour today, art tour tomorrow (with lunch at the Art&Food restaurant), F&G for dinner tomorrow, Naked Guy tour on Friday along with dinner at Sansho. My goodness, how will we fit in repeat stops at the highlights of the food tour?

PART 1: THB and DB stroll around town (more pics later in the post)
The beginning of the Charles Bridge
This morning we amble on our own around the main square and then cross the river via the Charles Bridge to the “castle” area: the vast number of buildings and churches surrounding Prague Castle. We’re early enough that the crowds haven’t built up yet. By the time we stroll back across the Vltava River, there are tons of people arriving.

Finally, a wedding photo (they were okay with my taking a pic before they started their own pic taking)

Left handed slugger with a big league uppercut (full pic much later in this post)

Our early lunch snack spot...what me worry?


A brief snack of quiche and tartine with lemonade and ice tea with lemon (basically, an excellent fresh-made Arnold Palmer) at Nostress (pronounced No Stress?), $16, and then back to the Josef for an a/c rest up before the Taste of Prague food tour (highly praised by Rebecca).

PART 2: THB and DB take the Taste of Prague food tour (more pics after the report and the extra pics from Part 1).

Stats: The cost of the tour was 100 Euros pp (including a nice tip; euros were left over from the Spain/Portugal/Italy trip; it's a bit cheaper if you pay in Czech currency)
The starting point at St Hastal Church...significance?

Where to start? Where to end? What’s in the middle?
Jan, our guide, using an i-pad (though not too often)

A shot of Slivovitz, plum brandy, slammed down in the first minutes of the tour 

Yep, sports fans, THB is talking about the Taste of Prague food tour. Couldn’t be more convenient, the tour is starting at 2pm a mere two blocks from our hotel.  It ended around 6:45 a block or two from our hotel (except we went the wrong way when we got off the trolley, so it ended four blocks from our hotel).

The end of the tour: the #8 to old town

In the middle, well, in the middle…THB ate and drank the old and new essence of Prague and the Czech Republic. THB ate and drank a lot. THB ate and drank and appreciated pretty much everything put in front of him. THB learned a lot from our guide Jan; no question was too tough for him; he even most deftly answered and dodged a drawn out and possibly disruptive discussion as to US politics, the Brexit, and the intent on closing borders).

Jan sent the seven tour members an extensive list of everything we ate and where we ate it. THB is just going to post a lot of pictures and some brief captions.

Here's Jan's list:

1. We had the the beet root puree with goat cheese, and the pickled herring with wasabi mayonnaise, the open-faced sandwich, at the Sisters bistro.
2. We followed with meatloaf on bread, Wiener sausage, headcheese, and pork cracklings at the Nase maso butcher shop. Both the bistro and the butcher shop are at Dlouha 39 street. 
{THB note: there was an extra sausage...Jan prepped this list and didn't add it in} 
3. We had the pork schnitzel with potato salad, the Prague ham with horseradish cream, and beef goulash with dumplings at the Lokal pub at the Dlouha 33 street. We also had Pilsner Urquel lager - regular pour and milk style pour. 
4. We had wines at the Bokovka wine bar at Dlouha 37.
5. We had the Scotch eggs and the vanilla custard donut at Maso a kobliha at Petrska 23. 
6. We finished at the Eska restaurant (Pernerova 49) with fermented celery root soda, burnt potato in ash with potato espuma, fermented red wheat with sous-vide egg and button mushrooms, and zemlovka: bread pudding with apples in an espuma of vanilla and rum.

Fresh beer, 4K glasses served daily, terrific

And repeat one or two stories Jan told.

Story #1:  Jan was 12 when the wall fell and teaching totally changed: no more Communist bullshit. Teachers threw out the textbooks. They decided to teach sex ed, by showing Jan and his fellow classmates the movie The Blue Lagoon, making Brooke Shields his teen fantasy.

Story #2: At 16 he was an exchange student, in Houston. The first day, his host family served up corn flakes for breakfast. He had no idea what they were, he had eaten the equivalent of hot dogs every morning for breakfast.

Story #3: Jan’s father made it to Palestine just before WWII. When he returned, it was just in time for Czechoslovakia to come under Communism. Dad a total womanizer to point that at times when he and Jan were walking around Prague (?) they would see a woman walking with another kid that looked just like dad, and dad would nudge Jan and say “I think that’s one of mine”.  How did dad make his money in the 1980s? Importing gay porn comic books. YOWZA!! Did he just make up this story?

 PART 1: More pics!

Female on the left, Male on the right

Shot on the Charles Bridge

THB and DB have left the bridge

A find?


Very good, and it came with ice, $4

Well, maybe not an uppercut swing

Under construction, an odd wrapping of one of the sculptures

The Archbishop's residence fooled us, we couldn't find the church (it's hiding right behind the residence, which you can walk through)

In the land of no comment, this pic the ultimate "no comment"

We didn't eat here

PART 2:  A few more food-related pics

One couple lived in VA, one in Baltimore, and a single guy from the suburbs of Detroit

Our meat stop, THB did not get a pic of the sausages they through in

Across the aisle from the meat place, and right across street from where we ate dinner last night

The Sisters offers....GLUTEN free 

The place we didn't go to last night because the wait was too long

You can actually order an "all foam" beer, called milk

THB's favorite non-food item: How Lokal keeps track of how many brewskies you've had (note M is for milk)

The coaster is some form of game
Lokal serves one type of beer only: a pilsner, around 4k per day, totally fresh. Excellent!

We're at a wine bar, THB didn't see any sort of sign to took this pic showing that the Society for the Deaf is upstairs

Where we ate last night

Where we're eating tomorrow night (Jan gave it very high marks)

Sansho offshoot

An excellent Berliner

Eska, a trolley ride away 

THB is not the only one taking pics of the food at Eska

PART 3: Why cobblestones aren't such a great idea


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