Sunday, May 25, 2008


Prague is a Gem. It is a lovely city and easy to navigate on foot, but a rabbit warren of small, one way streets which make cab rides expensive.
Our train arrived Mid-afternoon and after transfer to the Carlo IV, another Boscolo Hotel, this one 4 stars, we unpacked and worked, with the Concierge, on dinner reservations.
Our friend Aron, the concierge in Budapest had insisted that we go to "U Fleku" which we did the first night. He had made reservations from Budapest. By then we were known, to the people on the tour, as impossible "foodies" and all the nights in Prague some of the other couples tagged along. It made dinning a lot more fun.
Six of us went to " U Fleku" a true "beer hall" that opened in 1499 and has been run by the same family ever since. They have been brewing their own dark beer since the place opened and there is no discussion of what you will drink, even if like Marilyn you don't drink at all. The six of us were seated in one of the 4 dining rooms and our waiter understood and spoke passable restaurant English. As we entered we were made aware of the "om pah" musicians and the crowed engagement. The young women were dancing in the aisles while there male companions clapped and stomped appreciatively. Back to our dinner.
The first thing to appear was a waiter with a Hugh metal tray filled with mugs of beer. One was put down at everyone place. Next followed "schnapps" with the same routine. The waiters told Marilyn, who tried to refuse, that the drinks were good for her health. We had two orders of grilled sausages, which we divided. They come with loose portions of ketchup, dark mustard and horseradish sauce on the plate. Each plate is topped with a large Kaiser roll and is accompanied with a large basket of fresh, sliced rye bread. The waiter, smartly advised splitting three platters for our main course. One of roast duck, another of pork, including our first pigs knuckle, and an order of beef goulash with dumplings. All the meats are served with potatoes, red cabbage and sauerkraut.
For dessert the table shared apple strudel and fruit pancakes.
If you are foolish enough to finish one mug or one glass a full one takes it's place. The bill, including tip came to around $65/couple. It was a wonderful way to be introduced to Prague.
The next morning, somewhat bleary eyed and beer logged we boarded the bus for out "city tour.
Luckily it starts with drive up to the Prague Castle and from there it is all physically "down hill" and invigorating. (A comment on the weather: it was beautiful through out our 16 days with the exception of one afternoon in Budapest and one in Vienna. Lucky us.)
From the bottom of the hill we walked over the Charles Bridge, named for an Emperor and Saint, and thru the "Town Square" the "heart" of Prague. We saw the Cathedral, the Astronomical clock and several of the sides streets that emanate from this location. About 1 PM the tour ended and we started off on our own to visit several of the glass galleries who exhibit at SOFA, Chicago. The first recommended a place for lunch, Le Cafe Colonial, very good. We shared a green salad and while Marilyn had Spaghetti, bacon, garlic and cheese I had a thinning crepe with ham, mushrooms and a "no cal" cheese sauce. My definition only.
Back to the Gallery and some advice for a "Jewish Quarter" tour.
The story of how the Checks saved all the religious building and important sites during WWII is a long one. You'll have to read or discuss at you leisure. Prague has the most original religious buildings of anyplace we went. The women in the gallery sent us, literally, around the corner to an antique shop where a wonderful Italian women, not Jewish, gave us advice on how to proceed with the "Jewish section tour", the next day. She even consulted her friend also Italian, who sells accoustiguides for her advice. The consensus was that we should take a self guided tour the next day.
Continued our walking exploration of the Town square area, included "finer shops known to man" before heading back to the Hotel and our late afternoon rest.
The second night was dinner at "Kampa Park" the most elegant and expensive meal we had on our trip. Our children had recommended a restaurant under the Charles bridge, on the river. It was the consensus that this was the one. Our kids now swear that it wasn't. We were joined by a Mother and daughter who were wonderful dinner companions. The place and service is exquisite and the food was also very good. I had a scallop appetizer with cauliflower, raisins and nuts and Venison for my main course. Marilyn had a baked apple salad with date nut bread and cream cheese and greens. her main course was lamb with julienned vegetables. For desert the four of us shared a chocolate "surprise" and a lemon tart. With a bottle of wine, before dinner drinks and a full tip it came to somewhere around $130 each.
Friday May 9 we struck out, with another couple, to tour the "Jewish Quarter". It was great and included 6 Synagogues, a meeting hall, the old Jewish Cemetery and also a display of all the Jews, by name, sent to concentration camps, and children's pictures (drawings) from those camps.
A late lunch at Cafe Colonial, same as the day before, with our Mother and daughter dinning companions and back to wandering stores and shops on our way to the "Mucha" Museum, a famous early 20th Century "art deco" illustrator.
Then on to the hair salon, it had been well over a week for Marilyn. Back to the hotel for our showers and rest before dinner at the "Blue Duckling". Again we were joined by another couple who also were great companions. I had a beef tongue and plum jam appetizer while M had artichoke hearts and mushrooms. We both had Roast Duck with Brussels sprouts and potato pancakes and we all shared a chocolate cream dessert. The "Blue Ducking" besides having a wonderful wine list, 2 bottles for the 4 of us, had Bombay Gin, a real find.
Friday the 9th was the end of the formal tour so the next morning we said goodbye to our new found friends and caught the train for Berlin.

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