europe by easyJet: Prague

Easyjet_Prague_featureEach month we will bring you tips for a budget city trip with easyJet. This month’s destination is Prague. A romantic city and the capital of the Czech Republic, boasting with history and cultural landmarks.

In terms of romance, Prague was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire, so try to recall the era of Kaiserin Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Bohemia (Sisi) and it will give you an idea of the stately vibes that Prague emanates, with amazing architecture and the streets of the old city centre charmingly paved with cobblestones.

Though the city’s history goes even way beyond that era (somewhere back in the 7th century), the first idea that popped in mind upon arrival was that it’s definitely a place to visit with your loved one. In contrast with that idea, Prague is also well known for bachelor weekends. We’ve bumped in quite a few groups having a last hedonistic adventure before saying ‘I do’ !! That brings us to our first experience with the city: Prague by night.

The flights from Amsterdam depart in the early evening, which means you’ll arrive around dinner time. The flight time is short (1 hr 20 mins) and a good moment for a power nap, because you’ll definitely need that! Also easyJet offers various snacks and refreshments on board to prepare yourself for your nocturnal activities in Prague.
The best thing to do after checking in at your hotel, is to head towards the old city (Staré Město) for food and drinks. Well, actually it’s more something like meat and beer…Being a vegetarian isn’t really recommended here, the Czech love meat! The city centre is packed with beer pubs and restaurants that offer exotic or local specialties.

Prague_42

Our Prague recommendations (or how we spend our 36 hours):
Sleep: we stayed at the Best Western Majestic hotel (Štěpánská 33), a stones throw away from the authentic Palác Lucerna movie theatre and concert hall and Wenceslas Square. Perfectly located to discover the city by foot and near the public transport. Furthermore, the rooms are spacious and clean (mine in Art Deco style even had a balcony with view over the city), the breakfast is served until 11 am in weekends, and there’s free WiFi in the lobby bar.
Eat: if you like you could eat all night as the bars also serve sandwiches, snacks and finger food. The first night we had dinner at Brasileiro (yes, it’s Brasilian… U Radnice 8 ) as we needed a proper meal and this is quite a popular place: all you can eat meat (on skewers). It’s part of the Ambiente group who owns several venues in the city that vary from international cuisine to local food.

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The Czech are used to having a warm meal for lunch, so the second day we had a typical lunch consisting of schnitzel, potatoe salad and beer (for me) and goulash soup, pickled Hermelin (sort of camembert cheese) and beer (for my friendly guide) at Brewery Strahov/StNorbert (Klasterni Pivovar –Strahovské nádvoří 301) halfway the Petřín Hill and housed in the old Monastic brewery.
Our meal for the last evening was at what can be considered a trendy hangout in Prague terms, but the view on the outside terrace is also very much worth the visit: Cowboys (Nerudova 40). This venue is part of the Kampa group; a premiere restaurant group in Prague, with restaurants located in beautiful sections of the old city.

Going out: Since I am not much of a beer lover (for those who do, there are beer pubs all over town), my guide took me to two cocktailbars. The first was Bugsy’s Bar (Pařížská 10), which is more upscale and has a cocktail menu in the shape of a comic book. The second bar was the La Bodeguita del Medio (Kaprova 19/5) -which is like you’ve landed somewhere in Cuba and also the first cigar club in Czech Republic- and we ended ‘Prague by Night’ at Harley’s Bar & Pub (Dlouhá 704). Reserved for the party die hards…(people dancing on bars and stuff. It made me think of Coyote Ugly, but we had a blast!)

Shop: Prague is not a destination for a shopping trip. Other features of the city are far more interesting, so trying to shop here would be a little waste of your time. What we’ve noticed is that the Czech love gathering all sorts of shops in galleries and mini malls (Palladium – nám. Republiky 1) If you really can’t do without a shopping spree here’s where you can go:
Na Příkopě– a main shopping street where you’ll find Mango, Zara, H&M, G-star etc. Same story for the Václavské Náměstí British and French high street chains like Debenhams, Tesco, Marks&Spencer, 1.2.3. , Camaïeu and Promod seem quite popular amongst the Czech as well. They also have a department store named: My’ (Národní třída 26). Luxury shopping can be done at Pařížská street near the Jewish quarter, for a multitude of brands such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Dior, Prada, Hugo Boss etc.

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We looked around for some ‘out of the ordinary shops’ and this is what we came up with:
Egoist (Stupartska 9): Fashion for women and men with a variety of brands to suit the  creative class. They offer brands such as Benenato, Kristensen, November and beaded jewelery from Love Heals.
-The boutiques/showrooms of Czech fashion designers Natali Ruden, Klara Nademlynska, and Beata Rajska are located on the Dlouhá 3
Material (Týn 1 – Ungelt) For glass, tableware, decoration ánd jewelery. Prague has a long tradition in Bohemian crystal, and Material showcases an interesting fusion of the old and the modern in a 200 sq m superstore located at the Ungelt Courtyard.
Botanicus Hortus & Apothicus (Týn 3 – Ungelt): products (for consumption and non-consumption) made on ecologically sound principles, using local skills and materials. A similar concept is  Manufaktura; natural cosmetics based on beer or wine. You’ll find shops spread throughout the city.
YellowKorner For those who love photography, the worldwide franchise concept (15 countries, yet not in Holland) offers photography prints from various themes and different sizes. We’ve found a YellowKorner shop tucked away in a shopping gallery (Myslbek – Ovocný 1096/8)
Jan Pazdera (Vodičkova 699/28) To proceed on the photography path, the window of this shop displays antique cameras! This is the biggest bazar of photo equipment in the Czech Republic. Comparable to this shop is FotoŠkoda a bit further down the street.

What else?
Prague is practically one big museum, there is so much to choose from on the cultural end. To make it a bit easier, you could divide the city in several districts: 1.Malá Strana – Hradčany and Lesser Town, 2. Staré Město – Old Town & Jewish Quarter , 3. Nové město -New Town, 4. Vyšehrad & Vinohrady

These are the highlights we’ve visited: the Prague Castle, Petřín Hill (district 1), the Old Jewish Cemetary, the Spanish Synagoge and the Franz Kafka monument (district 2), the St Vitus Cathedral and the picturesque Charles Bridge (district 1), Wenceclas Square, the National Theatre (district 3).

Some tips:
•Take a short boat tour  (1 hour- approx. 250 CZK/€12) on the Moldau (=Vltava River in Czech),
•Check out which hotel has a rooftop terrace to have drinks with an amazing view.
•Czech Republic has the most beer consumers per head of the population, so even if you’re not into beer that much it’s always nice to visit one of the micro-breweries.
•Take the funicular from Ujzed to the Petřín Hill, it’s the same ticket as for public transport and quicker than taking the steps…
•We didn’t have the time, but on a next trip we have the Prague Zoo on our list which is said to be a nice one and can be combined with a visit to the Botanical garden or Trója Chateau.

Practical information:
easyJet has a daily flight, 6 days a week (except on Saturday) from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Prague Ruzyně International Airport in the early evening.
Tickets start at €36,12 p.p (single ticket incl. taxes and additional fees) or €72,24 p.p (return ticket incl. taxes and additional fees) Flight duration: 1 hr 20 mins

Upon arrival you can take the Airport express: Prague Airport – Prague Main Train Station (metro line C and connection to SC, EC, IC and EN trains) – 35 min, a shuttle bus (150 CZK/€6 pp for one way, children under the age of 6 are free of charge) or a cab (approx  650 CZK/€ 25-30).

Czech Republic has its own currency, the Czech Krone -CZK. There are ATM and Currency Change machines at the airport.

To conclude my report on this beautiful city, I have a funny anecdote. At the end of dinner when the waiter asked if we wanted coffee or dessert my table companion said: “No thank you, I have beer.”

All images © The Digitalistas

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