Friday, 6 March 2015

Anniversary Trip to Prague

Sometime last year James and I discussed wanting to go on holiday together, I can't remember how it came about but we eventually decided to go away for our anniversary. After looking into Prague and realising how cheap it would be, we booked our flights and hotel and before we knew it February had rolled around and we were making our way to Prague!

Prague is somewhere I've wanted to visit for a good few years now, so I was really excited to have the chance to go (this may have also had something to do with the fact that I hadn't been abroad for seven years too). I'd been warned by a few people that the Czech Republic isn't a very vegetarian friendly country, so I decided to do some research into restaurants that served veggie/vegan meals before we went, and I am so glad I did because I would've struggled otherwise.

When we arrived on our first day we were absolutely knackered. We'd been up all night (we caught a bus at 1AM to take us to the airport, got there at 4AM, had to wait until 7AM for our flight and then arrived in Prague at 10AM). Luckily when we got to our hotel they said our room was already clean and we could check in early, I can't even describe the joy I felt at this moment. We went to our room and promptly fell asleep until 2PM.

Having wasted most of our first day (and still feeling pretty groggy) we decided to go for a wander. We walked all along the river as far as Charles Bridge, then headed into the town to look at all the shops. At first I was amazed by all these wonderful little knick knacks until I realised that all of the shops sell pretty much the same things, so I didn't end up coming back with much in the way of souvenirs.

We were pretty hungry by this point so we headed to a little vegetarian restaurant close to our hotel called Estrella. It was a beautiful little place and the food was absolutely delicious. I had a tofu thai curry with rice noodles and James had a beetroot tofu burger which tasted amazing. We headed back to our hotel for another nap before heading out for dinner.

This is where we hit our first hitch, I hadn't checked the opening hours for the restaurant we planned to visit for dinner that night so it ended up being shut when we got there. We then went in search of another place nearby but couldn't find it, and so, to my shame, we ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was incredibly expensive for what it was and was definitely the worst meal we had throughout our whole trip. However it was located in Old Town Square which meant I got to see the beautiful astronomical clock at night time.

We returned to our hotel and slept for 11 hours! We finally got up around 1PM and headed to the cafe next to Charles Bridge for a spot of late breakfast/early lunch as we were starving. I absolutely loved this place as it had a beautiful view of the bridge and even had blankets on all the outside chairs so you could enjoy the beautiful scenery and still stay warm. The food was decent (I had a nice vegetable soup) and very cheap, but it's the view that makes it worth a visit.

We walked across Charles Bridge, there are some truly amazing statues on there and I loved that some parts of them are polished from people rubbing them. I can imagine it'd be lovely to come here very early in the morning when there's hardly anyone around and just take it all in, as the sheer volume of people on the bridge made it difficult to really appreciate it.

We took a small detour to find the Love Lock Bridge. James had bought a padlock before we left and we wrote our initials on it and the date and locked it to this beautiful bridge before throwing the key into the water. It was such a lovely way to mark our anniversary, I know this has become quite a trend in European cities so if it's possible we might have to do this at a different city every year.

Afterwards we decided to head towards the Castle, and popped into St. Nicolas Cathedral along the way. I was absolutely amazed by the building, it was stunning and just enormous. I felt like a tiny little ant. Every inch was covered in beautiful murals or statues. It was a struggle to capture just how awe-inspiring this building was.

From here was a lot of uphill walking to the Castle. We passed a gingerbread shop that I had to go in, as it had all these wonderfully decorated gingerbread biscuits in the window. I ended up buying some as gifts for my mum and dad. Then it was straight to the Castle, where there were some amazing views and more excellent gothic architecture.

On our way back I really wanted to visit a restaurant called LoVeg, which serves vegan versions of traditional Czech meals like dumplings, as well as raw food and other delicious meals. I loved this place, I had raw courgette spaghetti with tomato and cashew pesto and James tried the traditional dumplings with vegan 'meat' and a vegetable sauce. I'd really recommend visiting this place just so you can enjoy some traditional Czech food.

I suspect this post is mainly going to end up being all about the delicious food we ate, as after this meal we were quite tired so we went back to our hotel for a little while before heading our for our anniversary dinner (yeah we kinda ended up having two lunches that day). I had read that a restaurant called Lehk√° Hlava (Clear Head) had a romantic atmosphere so decided that it'd be a good choice for our anniversary dinner, and boy was I right!

The ceiling had stars on it! It was such a beautiful place, and the food was amazing. James was extremely happy as they had kimchi, which he hasn't eaten since he went to Korea years ago, and I had delicious grilled tofu and vegetable kebabs with rice and BBQ sauce. They had plenty of vegan options, and you could ask for a lot of a veggie meals to be made vegan instead. I'd recommend making a reservation if you're planning on eating here though as I think we were quite lucky to get a table.

A colleague had told me about a comic book themed bar, naturally I had to look it up because we could hardly go to Prague without visiting a freaking comic book themed bar! We got there and James was definitely in his happy place, the drinks were pretty cheap (I got mulled wine for about £1.50) and they were playing some great music. The decor was pretty awesome, too, it's all from Barbarella.

James bought a few badges from them, and it turned out they also have a comic book museum but sadly it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we weren't able to go. If I ever go back to Prague, the museum is definitely on my list of things to do.

Monday was our last full day so we tried to make the most of it. We went to Old Town Square first and climbed the clock tower. I loved reading about the astronomical clock on the way up, however when we got to the top I definitely struggled with the height! The views were stunning but I don't think I fully appreciated them until I was back on solid ground!

 Afterwards we went in search of a little Alchemy Museum I'd read about, but couldn't find it. We wandered around for ages (only for me to discover later on that we had been right outside it all along but somehow not seen it). We then went in search of a little raw vegan cafe I'd heard about called MyRaw. The waiter was so lovely and friendly, they didn't have any English menus but he was kind enough to translate everything for us.

I ended up choosing their raw exotic fruit pancakes, which had banana, pineapple, dessicated coconut and a berry coulis drizzled over it. I doubt I even need to tell you how delicious that was. James went for their avocado 'scrambled egg'. It totally blew our minds, it tasted exactly like scrambled eggs! I was pretty full after my pancakes but I couldn't resist trying one of their choca mocha slices (and I'm glad I didn't). I wish we had raw vegan cafes like this in Norwich because I would be throwing my money at them!

Nearby was a mall where I knew there was a comic book shop that James might enjoy, so we popped in for a look about before making our way to a street market which left me a little unimpressed. Most places sold the same kind of things, including these very creepy marionettes that James kept joking about buying. You only really needed to look at the first four stalls to have seen everything, then it felt like the same stalls were on a loop.

For dinner we decided to visit a chain restaurant called Loving Hut, I got the impression when we arrived that they were about to close up early and they weren't too happy about us being there. They turned the lights off while we were dining. The food was ok, but nothing amazing. I think partly that's down to the fact I'm just not a huge fan of asian food, as much as I think I am. But it wasn't a bad restaurant, and it was really cheap so I can't really complain. I also liked their cute sign.

Tuesday was our last day, we checked out, left our luggage at the hotel and went for a wander. I really wanted to try one last raw vegan cafe called Rawcha I'd heard about so we went in search of it. It was a bit of a strange experience, I felt like we were somehow bothering the waiter. The food was really nice and I wanted to try one of their desserts but felt so uncomfortable that I didn't. Perhaps it was us getting something culturally wrong, I'm not sure. I'd recommend the place for the food but the service wasn't great. Also they had a parrot, so swings and roundabouts.

After a little more aimless wandering we were on our way home again. I'm really happy with everything we managed to fit in, and I think four days was the perfect amount of time to stay. We did miss a couple of things, but moreso due to us not being able to find them/getting the timing wrong than a lack of time. I also found that although the veggie/vegan restaurants were understandably a little more pricey than most other restaurants, they were still extremely cheap by English standards. I think on average a meal for two of us, including drinks (and usually a dessert for me) came to around £15, which isn't bad at all.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences in Prague, and if you're wondering whether I would recommend going the answer is YES. Definitely. It's beautiful.

Bryony :)

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