Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 169 - Old Town Prague and Wenceslas Square

My cousin Linh came from the States to meet me in Prague on a 2 week vacation from work, which is quite impressive for an American to get that much consecutive time off at once. I would travel with her from Prague to Rome to Venice before she bids farewell back to reality and back to work.

We both carried with us a Frommer's guidebook, which really didn't have much information, so we used one of the maps that I obtained from the hostel I stayed at yesterday (Usually, hostels have the BEST tourist maps). With the map, we walked around some of the closer sites today to get a small dose of Prague, but without too much detailed information on what we were looking at...

The first two stops were the Church of St. Ludmila and the National Museum, which was due to be closed for renovation. The church was not too impressive in my opinion, considering it was one of the main sights to see in Prague. The structure on the outside was beautiful, but there wasn't anything too intricate or interesting inside compared to some of the other churches that I have seen. We weren't able to go into the National Museum because it was under construction, but I noticed that much of Prague was under contruction perpetually...reminds me of UCLA, which is always under construction...

Afterwards, we headed to Wenceslas Square, an open area with wide traffic lanes in both directions. This was the site of many of the protests that occurred prior to Czechoslovakia's fall of communism. Now, it's mostly lined with hotels, pubs, and clothing stores.

Next up were parts of Old Town, which included stops at an open bazaar selling random tourist souvenirs including candies and chocolate, photographs and paintings, nutcrackers, and intricately painted Easter Eggs. It's always interesting to see what each country offers with its souvenirs. Here, easter eggs were offered everywhere. We also stopped by the Powder Gate and Municipal House.

Our last stop was the Old Town Square, which had a plethora of food stalls to incite your inner-foodie. Stalls offered food ranging from donuts to grilled cheese sandwiches to Prague ham to traditional Czech food. Linh and I decided to try the Prague Ham, continuously cooked over an open fire, to get our first taste of Czech food. We complimented our meal with 400ml of Gambrinus beers each. The ham ended up being pretty expensive because of its weight. Note: Food is usually priced per 100mg. Our hunk of ham ended up being about 300mg, which meant it was 3 times as much as we expected the price to be.

I didn't really know what was traditional Czech food except for the Czech dumplings that I tried when I was in Kathmandu. For dinner, we headed one of the many local pubs that was just around the corner from our hotel. Linh ordered the Roast duck with saurkraut and potato and bread dumplings, while I ordered the garlic soup and roast beef goulash. Linh ended up getting half of a duck, which was way too much food. Usually, the duck I eat in the states is either Chinese duck that is roasted chopped to pieces, or duck breast at an American or French restaurant. It was an entirely different experience to see half a duck on a dinner plate. We couldn't finish it, but it was tasty nonetheless!

Church of St. Ludmila

Wenceslas Square

Old Town Square

Prague Ham

Garlic Soup

Roasted Duck with Saurkraut and Potato and Bread Dumplings

Beef Goulash

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