01 Oct 2014

Prague by abbieredmon

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We wandered Prague again today, starting at the Astronomical Clock. We caught the hourly "chime" at 1 p.m., which consisted of some bells, and two windows opening above the clock face, through which you could see wooden figures representing the twelve apostles rotate by. It was a bit anticlimactic, I'll admit. Maybe the noon chime sees a bigger show. The clock faces are beautiful, though, and they're surprisingly low to the ground, all things considered, so you can actually get a decent look at them.

Old Town Square is huge, and there were tons of tour group, guides with red umbrellas sticking up into the air like spires in the City of a Hundred Spires. Some booths on one side of the square were selling beer and grog, and one was roasting a whole pig right there -- Old Prague Ham is a staple of the Czech diet, apparently.

We tried some traditional Czech fare at U Supa, a restaurant a few blocks off the square that got good reviews. I wasn't OVERLY impressed, but the goulash came in really tasty gravy, and it was pleasant to eat out on the sidewalk on the raised wooden platform, watching the street scene unfold. The inside of the restaurant is massive, but no one was in there. That's still one of my favorite things about Europe -- the obsession with dining al fresco.

After our late lunch, we crossed the Čechuv most ("most" means bridge) and climbed the stairs (yes, more stairs!) to Letna Park to see the huge Metronome, but sadly, it wasn't even ticking! There's also a "Shoe Monument" up here -- a bunch of shoes tossed over a wire. The views of Prague are nice, too. It was good to see the city from a different angle than from the castle and the monastery.

From here, we realized how close we were to the castle grounds, so we wandered from the bottom up (east to west, technically, but it is a gradual incline), seeing the sections we didn't see yesterday.

We came out at the top of the street called Uvoz again, the street we spent most of our time on yesterday, so we went into a small restaurant called hOST for a drink and a dessert to relax before heading back to our AirBnB to rest a bit before dinner.

I'm told I'm "batting 1,000" on restaurants. My choice for dinner tonight was in line with such success. Restaurant R.M. Rilke is halfway between the Charles Bridge and the bridge right below it, close to the river. The entrance takes you down a few steps from street level, and it's appropriately cozy inside. The ceilings are curved, cave-like, and a bit low, but it's not uncomfortable. The tables are old and don't all match, some seating looks like old church pews, some tables have settees and matching upholstered chairs. Of course, portraits of Rainer Marie Rilke, the Bohemian poet, were scattered around on the walls, along with a photo of a pope (John Paul II?), other old portraits, and pin-up girls from the 30s(ish).

It was a charming spot, and the waiter was friendly and patient. We all ordered salmon in different preparations -- smoked and stuffed in chicken, grilled over veggies, and cubed over salad -- and it was all very delicious.

I'd chosen a bar one block up for an after-dinner drink, and given how full we all were, it was nice to simply roll ourselves up the street and in the door.

Hemingway Bar seems like a little local gem. Though this place is on the map, literally and figuratively, it feels like some speakeasies I've been to in the states: a host seats you instead of there being open seating, and once every seat is taken, the bar is full, and you are turned away. No standing room here. (Though they do take reservations.) There are "rules" on the first page of the menu, which include "no vulgar language," "don't speak to other guests unless you know them; respect others' privacy," and "don't buy drinks for other people unless you have asked the bartender first to find out if it's okay."

It was the first food and beverage establishment we tried that I think is actually frequented by locals on a regular basis. We saw people coming out with briefcases, suggesting they had come straight from work to have a drink, and the crowd was generally young professionals, maybe the hipsters of Prague.

The bar is advertised as offering "fine mixology and luxury spirits," and the suspender-clad bartenders do take their drinks quite seriously. I ordered an English Mustard, a gin drink that came with a slice of bacon, and Dad ordered an Orange Mandarin, which came with a toasted marshmallow! Both were fantastic, and I would love to try more things off the menu.

If I ever come back to Prague, I'll be returning to Hemingway Bar, I think!