This visit to Prague was a bit different from my first trip with Emily to move her in back in August 2021. Three months later, and the season has changed to late autumn, and Emily is living like a local. After all, Prague is where she- and her new minilop rabbit, Scout- calls home.
The tenor of the trip was different as well. For me it felt more like a vacation after three months back in school with all the stress and joy that working both as a private school teacher and public school board member brings. Sami and Michael were also on this journey, and it was the first real family vacation we’ve had since our Great British Adventure in 2019. Unfortunately, the boys were not able to join us thanks to school-related obligations, but it was still a pleasant time as a family.
Other than our treks to Karlovy Vary and Cesky Krumlov, we stayed mostly within Prague 1 and 2. Emily and I made a tram ride our to Prague 9 to take Scout to the vet for the first time. There was not much in Prague 9, and as far as I know it stays off most top ten tourist lists, but Scout did have a nice time at the vet. And there was a small market outside of the metro station at Rajská Zahrada, where we picked up a few Christmas decorations including the wreath that hangs over my mantel right now. In a way, it was kind of nice- helping Emily do life in Prague.
What made it more like vacation was that in addition to exploring, we ate and shopped a ton. Sami fell in love with high street European brand, Mango, joining the likes of celebrities such as Selena Gomez and the Duchess of Cambridge. We dropped more than a few koruna on new cute clothes, even after taking advantage of Black Friday deals. As a family, we enjoyed a few meals together, especially when Emily had time between classes. Michael even did brunch on a couple days- something that doesn’t happen really back home in the States.
Here are a few spots that offered up nice meals at decent prices that we enjoyed and might totally return to again:
Coffee and Waffles- Stare Mesto, Praha 1- This was a great breakfast spot that offered up, as the name suggests- coffee and a variety of waffle dishes both sweet and savory. I enjoyed the egg benedict with avocado, which was atop a waffle that had the perfect balance of crispy and soft, and covered with a light and delicious hollandaise sauce. The coffees were good, as was the hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream.
Pivo and Basilico- Mala Strana, Praha 1- The name translates to Beer and Basil, and while we didn’t have any beer, we did have some basil. We stopped for lunch here on the way up to nearby Prague Castle. This restaurant serves Tuscan-style Italian food as well as traditional Czech dishes, although we found that the lunch menu was primarily the Italian food. The pasta dishes were simple yet delicious, and the pinsa romana, a sort of pizza with a thick but light and chewy crust, was amazing. We enjoyed our lunches with lemonade, which we found quite different than lemonade in the California. It is more like a sparkling water with fruit juice or syrup. Anyway, the restaurant had an elegant ambiance, but more importantly, the food was good.
DimSum Spot- Nove Mesto, Praha 1- This place had some great dumplings, which for me was a bit unexpected. Living in the 626, I’ve had a good share of really good Asian food, including dumplings. While there was no pork xiao long bao, much to Sami’s disappointment, there were some nice pan fried dumplings. In addition, the restaurant runs themed specials. The night we were there was Indian-themed, and I tried the samosa dumplings, filled with potatoes, peas, and curried spices. They were really good and were shockingly filling.
Golden Tikka- Nove Mesto, Praha 1– Golden Tikka had some really fresh Indian dishes. While the portions looked a little small, they were actually a decent size and really filling. The spinach paneer was very flavorful and the naan was the perfect mix of soft and chewy. The restaurant itself was a little hard to find, as there was a tiny sign indicating its spot on Kateřinská, but it was worth it once we found it.
Tiki Taky Bar- Zizkov, Praha 3– This small, laid-back tiki bar was a fun unexpected surprise, as I don’t think of tiki bars when I think of Prague. The decor was tropical fun and the bartenders were super friendly and English-speaking. The cocktail menu was pretty wide; not so much as Two Dots and a Dash in Chicago, but still pretty good and significantly less expensive. Two pina coladas were under $10 after tip and conversion. It was pretty fantastic, and a nice way to commemorate Emily’s attaining legal drinking age, in the Czech Republic anyway.
Trdelník- many places within Praha– For most of the trip, though it was over the practical dead of winter, Sami wanted ice cream. So as a treat as we were walking around Prague 1, we stopped at a small storefront near the Charles Bridge and bought some trdelník, a Czech dessert pastry wrapped around a dowel and baked, then filled with cream or soft serve. The pastry was crispy, yet soft and covered with a spiced sugar. It kind of reminded me of a hollow churro. Sami got it filled with chocolate syrup, strawberries, and ice cream. The soft serve tasted fresher, creamier, and less sweet than that back home, and even on a really cold afternoon, it was a nice treat as we looked at the statues along the Karlov Most.
Lobkowicz Palace Cafe- Prague Castle, Hradčany, Praha 1– Within Prague Castle is the Palace Cafe, a restaurant and cafe that offers a lovely selection of desserts and sandwiches, along with coffees, hot chocolate, and other beverages. We visited Prague Castle on our last day in Prague, and as we were in no rush to head to the airport, we savored our last bits of family time with Emily with some coffee and dessert as well as a fantastic view of Petřín hill and the city below.
Beside the shopping and dining, we really just enjoyed the break from what has become normal life. Just a walk around the historic city was a learning adventure. Sami got to see the muskrats along the Vltava, animals we don’t have back home. She was also able to learn about the history and architecture of Prague, all while in the context of going to and from our different activities.
The one disappointment about this particular trip had to do with the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. With concern over the delta variant along with emerging omicron, changing travel requirements were kind of a bear to keep track of. We had to get tested within three days of travel to leave the United States, and in order to head home, we had to get tested again to return. Because we were vaccinated, we were able to adhere to the 72- hour rule. However, that changed in the two-and-a-half weeks between our return home and Emily’s return for the holiday break. She had to get tested 24 hours before the start of her travel home, regardless of her vaccination status. That was inconvenient, but manageable. The real disappointment was that the Czech government imposed restrictions on gatherings and as a result, the Christmas markets were not able to open. While this was sad for us, more concerning is the potential economic impact for those vendors who rely on the business they receive this time of year.
All that said, it is not impossible to travel, even out of the country, and even with ever-changing restrictions. We did have to show our vaccination cards in order to dine in anywhere, and this did not feel like an undue burden. I was just happy we were able to make the trip, and spend a lovely Thanksgiving holiday out of the country, in our daughter’s new city, and give thanks for those blessings. It was a great adventure for Sami, and a fun time as a family.
Next stop, Istanbul!