Trip Report: Prague, 2022

Old Jul 29th, 2022, 12:32 PM
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Trip Report: Prague, 2022

This is the last trip report for May 2022. For overall costs and expenditures traveling from one city to the next, look at the NYC & Paris trip report.

This travel leg by train, with a transfer in Munich, went smoothly. We are now in Prague.

Some establishment accepted only cash, others only credit cards. I refuse to use free standing ATMs in the belief that they charge high fees for the withdrawal of cash even when asking for a receipt in the local currency. Our first withdrawal was with a Unicredit Bank which, they told us after we used their ATM, is not a bank but an investment firm and their ATM charged us 5% for the transaction. The Komercni Banka gives cash withdrawals with no fee, at least when the ATM attached to the bank building. When we left Prague we had requested at the hotel a cab that accepts credit cards. It was 7 a.m. when we left, and the cab did not accept credit cards. He stopped at a bank on the way out, a distance from the center of town, at an ATM , and this one charged us a whopping 18% fee on the withdrawal; the bank’s name is Česká spořitelna.

Prague was the outlier, no friends, no family there, so we stayed for 5 nights ($565) at a hotel within walking distance of the old Jewish neighborhood and the center of the old town. It was the Monastery Garden hotel (https://www.monasterygardenprague.com/en/hotel ). Smallish rooms but a good buffet breakfast. The staff is friendly and helpful, or at least it tried. We were originally assigned a (lower priced?) room on the fourth floor and realized a few weeks later that the hotel had no elevator. My wife uses a cane and they changed the reservation immediately when I called them and we were given a room on the first floor (European).

We arrived in Prague fairly late, and the station felt deserted. But there was a public transportation information desk open so we asked there about a taxi. The man simply said that we don’t want to use a taxi because the driver would rip us off, charging 20€ for a 5€ ride. I was about to ask where there was an ATM to get cash for a bus or tram ticket when he told us that since we were over 65 all public transportation in Prague is free; we just had to make sure that we had our passports on us to prove our age if ever checked (we never were). It still took a few wrong direction steps before we found our way to the hotel.

I am normally reliable when it comes to orientation. That was not the case in Prague, especially using the public transportation system. The surface system is like a maze and in terms of signage, the visual and the spoken did not work for me. It took me a while to know that Náměstí meant square, and the pronunciation of place names did not match what I saw on paper. In addition when asked, people did not always know the ideal solution to a directional issue. For example, we wanted to go from our hotel to the Prague Castle. There is a local bus that passes by the church in front of the hotel. That bus goes to the other side of the river, but not to the castle. However it goes halfway up the hill, so we figured that we could walk the rest of the way, because no one suggested a transfer to a tram that stops by the castle. It turns out that the bus stops in a hospital courtyard maybe halfway up the castle hill but its relation to the castle itself is not visible. We took the bus back and got off at the Charles bridge stop to take the correct street car, but took it in the wrong direction. Got off the first stop after the river and went back on the streetcar in the correct direction. As it slowed down to stop, it announced, in English, “next stop Prague Castle”. We got off, one stop too early. Of course, anyone with a smart phone would not have the same problem, but I do not own a smart phone. Going back was a piece of cake. It’s only once home, looking at the photos and trying to connect them with a location on a map that I started to understand Prague’s geography; although we did pretty well on our last full day in the city.

Many of Prague’s apartment buildings in the center of town were built during the Belle Epoque. This means that they are a pleasant mixture of historicism (neo-Renaissance architecture) often decorated sculptures in an Art Nouveau style. I think that I would have taken better pictures with my old camera.


With the proper specialty maps (and there must be some), one can spend at least a day in just chasing such structures. We had such a map for “Cubist” buildings, obtained at the Cubism Museum. The museum contains “Cubist” furniture built in a brief period of time, 1912 - 1915 if memory serves me right.


and it claimed several buildings as being Cubist along with one lamp post. I have no argument about the lamp post which is a curiosity:


but we were not impressed by the cubist buildings that were listed on that map, although one of them was a curiosity if only by the frieze containing a soldier wearing a gas mask; this was a post W.W.I building:


The interiors of buildings are also worth visiting:


Of the official tourist sites, we visited the Old Town Hall; there’s an elevator to the top of the tower for a great view of the city.


We also did see the castle complex and the nearby Strahov Monastery. In addition to the Cubist museum we went to see the Mucha museum.


None of these visits required reservations. But we did make reservations to visit the https://adolfloos.cz/en/villa-muller and got there with no time to spare because of our transportation difficulties. Of the three venues on the castle ridge the last one was the most interesting, but we had already seen the library in 1975.


The Museum of Decorative Arts (https://www.upm.cz/en/ ) is mostly closed for renovation except for a hall for special exhibits. We saw an exhibit of art glass from the second half of the 20th century which was especially interesting because the Communist authorities did not appreciate art glass—it’s non-functional--for a long time.


We had visited the castle and monastery in 1975. The castle is somewhat of a disappointment as it appears that most of the palaces are off limits—it is the seat of the Czech government. Gold street has an added interest in that some of the dwellings are furnished; I recalled it as a cobblestone alley with no accessible interiors. The monastery library is a disappointment for us because entry to the library rooms themselves in only with a limited persons guided tour, but that is not explained and it was clear what one would do to join a tour. Since we were there in the last hour of the day, looking for the possibility of an English tour did not make sense. In 1975 we were not restricted that way:


The other reservations we made was for the opera. It was a performance of Smetana’s Bartered Bride which we probably would not see in the U.S. unless some local opera group decided to perform it. Here is another warning about directions. The Czech National Theater runs four different venues scattered in the New Town. When we asked at the hotel how to get to the opera (we only had proof of reservation with no address), the hotel directed us to the theater which presumably is used for operatic performances. We checked at the tourist office in the Old Town Hall, and they told us (schedule in hand which divides performances by venue, each of which with its own column and photograph of the building at top of the column) that it undoubtedly is in The National Theater where it was originally performed and is always performed. Had we followed the hotel suggestion, we would have missed the performance. Super titles were provided, but so badly lit that most of the time they were illegible. The music was fine but we were puzzled by the plot. The setting sort of modern and the dance interludes were performed by an acrobatic troupe dressed as monkeys that bounced all over the stage that included trampolines; entertaining but even less relevant to the story line than traditional dance performances, although in this case “folk”dances would have been definitely more appropriate. The music is pleasant but this is not a first tier opera. Nonetheless I would like to see it again if only to figure out the plot in the musical context (looking it up on Google is not the same).

There were rumors that a dress code is enforced at the opera. We dress casually and had no problems, but we were in the rafters. Those on the main floor and the boxes were definitely dressed up (black tie for men would not be out of place), and I would not be surprised if a dress code were enforced for those seats.

We ate well in Prague. On our second evening there we walked out of the hotel to look for a restaurant. On the far side of the square we found La Dégustation, a one-star Michelin. The posted menu (prix fixe every night) looked interesting, we walk in, ask if we could eat and presto we had a table (but reservations might be safer). Excellent food, good service, prices to match:


the non-alcoholic pairing consisted of house-made juices; the walnut juice did not work.

We had made reservations for Pepř a Sůl, Krátkého 1, 190 00 Praha 9, Czechia (https://peprasul.cz/home/) The total price for the meal was 1495 KČ plus 10% tip ($72 total). Tipping is generally expected on top of a built-in service charge. It’s an upscale version of traditional Czech food. The restaurant is at the far edge of Prague, at the end of the no. 6 tram line. Good food, good service, and you get to see a non-touristy neighborhood when taking surface transportation there.

On our night at the opera we came home later than expected and stopped in the beer hall next door to get something to eat. The kitchen was closed but the waitress managed to get some bread and cheese, no problem when it came to the beer. It has traditional food and we decided to go there for our last night in Prague. But Lokal (https://lokal-dlouha.ambi.cz/en/ ) is a very popular place and trying to make a reservation on the same day for a Friday night seating is impossible. We ate elsewhere, less memorable.

The Café Imperial is a place for an afternoon coffee & cake. The venue is memorable by its decor and the coffee & cakes are excellent, prices are high: $19 for two coffees and two pieces of cake.


We would go back to Prague but not as a destination, just as an add-on if it makes sense, in the same way that we once went back to Istanbul because the Turkish Airline schedule going west imposed an extra day in flying time, so why not spend a few days in Istanbul? We probably would stay in the same hotel and also get a meal in Lokal thus skewering their clientele’s age statistic.

Here is my Prague album, combining our two visits: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzSDuL





Last edited by Michael; Jul 29th, 2022 at 12:38 PM.
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 01:17 PM
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Edited thread title, your Trip Report definitely is not Tripe
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 11:13 PM
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Thanks.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2022, 02:24 PM
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Michael, I'll take the walnut juice any day over tripe.
Great TR btw.
I am done. the prog
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