Monday : Vltava River, a Local Prague Lunch and Craft Beer

The Prague Metro was first opened in 1974 and there are currently 61 stations, with the whole arrangement being easy to understand and everything felt clean and organised. Tickets cost £1 for a 30-minute trip, regardless of the number of changes, with the prices not much higher for a longer journey. They’re currently still requiring masks to be worn, which was complied with, but I was surprised at how the observance of this rule was, not far off 100%.

Richard is very British and he likes a lovely cup of tea in the morning, so I selflessly decided it was only right to find a little cafe for him.

I didn’t want Richard to be drinking his tea alone, so I got myself a cake and a latte. I of course picked the option that had the most fruit on.

I don’t really know why I found this visually appealing, but I liked the clarity of the floor numbers. On a broader point, the whole city felt calm and at ease with itself, with it also being evident how many tourists were visiting Prague. That’s also seemingly the case with airports such as Heathrow, where T5 has been having problems with the volume of passengers, perhaps not that far off pre-pandemic numbers for leisure travellers.

We walked past the Prague Astrological Clock on numerous occasions during the week and there were no shortage of people taking photos of it, something of which I evidently from this photo joined along in. The clock was first installed here in 1410 and although it was damaged in the Second World War, it was swiftly repaired and restored. There must be literally millions of photos of this clock and it’s an interesting insight into what people take photos of.

For anyone interested, there’s lots more about the clock at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_astronomical_clock.

Looking across Prague’s Old Town Square, with the spires of the Church of Our Lady before Týn towering above the buildings.

The square from another angle, with the astronomical clock on the left of the photo and St. Nicholas Church on the right. Richard has an interesting set-up where he takes a photo of himself (well, technically, I took the photo) and uses a postal service to send that image as postcards. They arrived back in Norfolk within a couple of days, it seems an efficient service. I don’t need to use such a facility given that I have a blog.

A little walk along the Vltava River, with the weather being favourable.

A temporary artwork advertising the Salvador Dali Enigma exhibition in the city.

Mánes Bridge, constructed out of concrete between 1914 and 1916 and named after the Czech painter Josef Mánes. Although the reason I took the photo was that I rather liked the cloud formation in the sky, although my friend Liam would probably be more interested in the bridge since he’s building one.

The flag of Ukraine was seemingly everywhere in Prague and this is something that I’ll likely mention a few times this week, as the support for the country was evident in so many ways.

Charles Bridge, constructed between 1357 and the early fifteenth century, replacing the previous Judith Bridge which was badly damaged by floods in 1342. The bridge has only been named Charles Bridge, after King Charles IV, since the late nineteenth century, it was previously just known as Prague Bridge or the Stone Bridge.

A gateway to the bridge, which is all currently part of a major restoration programme. I dodged the people offering boat trip tours, although Richard was willing to be more conversational with them.

Most of the statues along the bridge are replicas, with the originals having been sent to the National Museum to protect them.

Looking towards the Old Town of Prague from the bridge.

And looking across to the west bank of the river.

The Church of St. Salvator, decked out in its Ukrainian colours.

There were some lunch deals at Pivovar U Tří růží, who brew their own beers.

There was a traditional atmosphere to the whole arrangement, with brewing equipment visible at the rear.

I went for the goulash and bread dumplings, with the stew having a rich flavour and I was pleased to note that the meat wasn’t fatty. Richard dealt with a technical problem that a customer of his was having, so we had quite a lingering visit to this bar, but the helpful staff member didn’t seem to mind. I’d happily recommend this restaurant given their keenly priced lunch menus and the efficient service.

The thirteenth century St. Giles Church, which is still in use as a monastery.

I was quite humoured by the “monks are not monkeys” comment on this sign, and having seen how people treat religious buildings, I’m not particularly surprised that they felt the need to mention this. There’s a wider point here about what is the function of churches which happen to be in tourist areas and I’ve seen many ways of handling this over the years. It’s a theme I will mention again later on during the week, but this church seemed to have managed it well, making visitors feel welcome but reminding them that this isn’t an attraction, it’s a working religious institution.

Really very beautiful with its baroque decoration.

Celetná, one of the main routes through Prague and named after the bread that was baked here during the medieval period.

The Church of Our Lady of the Snow, which was a little oddly set back behind other buildings, but that’s because only the presbytery of this church was ever completed. It would have been one of the largest churches in the country if it had been finished, covering the area that is now the Jungmann Square. The monks had to flee the church on a few occasions given the attacks on it, with the whole set-up reminding me a little of the situation at Narbonne Cathedral.

The height of the church gives an indication to the plans that there once were for this building. This was another church with a welcoming feel to it and one of the most peaceful that we visited. There’s another one of my wider issues here about just how grand the interior of this church is, there’s no shortage of expensive shiny things, and I wondered about how much of a contribution individuals would have had to have made over the centuries to fund this level of decadence.

The church’s organ looks small given the height of the roof. As an aside, an angry visitor posted a 1/5 review for the church noting simply:

“It rings at 7:45 every morning, I don’t understand why”

I’m not sure that tradition and heritage means as much to some visitors to the city as to others. Anyway, I digress.

With that it was time to visit BeerGeek craft beer bar, recommended by my friend Nathan and also the only Untappd verified venue in the city. Beautifully on-trend and I’m surprised that more venues haven’t tried to replicate what they do here.

The beer selection was outstanding, with most beer styles making an appearance and there were some interesting smaller brewers represented here. The service was always engaging and efficient, with anyone visiting Prague who likes craft beer really needing to pop along here.

There were some delightful beers, including the above coffee and vanilla imperial stout brewed by Ārpus Brewing Co from Latvia, although the star of this little show for me was the QDH Galaxy quadruple IPA from the same brewery.

It felt appropriate to have a quick snack with the beers, this was an inexpensive meat board. These usually have cheese boards available as well, but these weren’t available on the day that we went.

The interior of the bar has a window through to the beer cellar, something which not only added some light to this seating area, but was interesting to see behind the scenes.

We had walked past the Italian restaurant AMUNÌ Slow Food Pizza on the way to BeerGeek and noticed the positive reviews. We went back on the way back and it was quiet, but the service was friendly. They had a dark lager, the Černá Barbora, which was tolerable although nowhere near exceptional.

I wasn’t overly taken with the calzone, it was all a bit bland and also really needed a marinara sauce or something. I went to get a chilli oil from the staff member, but that had just two small chillies in and was fairly tasteless as well.

I always find something exciting about the entrance to railway stations, the number of stories and adventures that start and come to an end at these grand buildings.

The national museum at night.

This bronze cross set into the stone in front of the national museum commemorates the lives of Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc, two young men who set fire to themselves at this location in protest of the Soviet attack on their city. There had been hopes of freedom in 1968 with the liberalising forces of the Prague Spring, something which horrified the Soviets. The bravery that someone must have to set themselves on fire, which is perhaps one of the most painful ways to die, is immeasurable.

Back onto the Metro, departing from Muzeum station, which is the interchange between the A and C lines. There was a fair chunk of damage done to the Metro during the 2002 floods which swept across Europe, including to this station. It was then just a short trip back to our hotel, where I noted that the teas and coffees weren’t replaced, something I’ll mention now as that becomes a slightly more important issue for tomorrow’s post.