Earlier this year we made it our mission to find the most unusual sights and attractions in our Irish and UK cities to make into a travel guide. We asked you to tell us about your favourite quirky museums, buildings, scupltures and monuments on social media using the hastag #jurysoddest, with prizes up for grabs of 3 quirky trips to Edinburgh, Dublin and Prague for our favourite suggestions. Izzy Kawecka was our overall winner and we sent her on a 2 day trip to Prague. Here is how she got on…
Not having been to Prague for 16 years, the winning trip was a highly anticipated in-between birthday treat for me and my partner (our birthdays are 2 weeks apart). Prague’s Jurys Inn is centrally located, which makes it very easy to get to from the airport. In less than 45 minutes with one change we got off at the Florenc metro station and the hotel was just in front of us. Thanks to a very helpful staff we managed to check in three hours ahead of time. Despite being situated on a busy road, the hotel room was exceptionally quiet.
We didn’t waste any time. After we left the suitcases we headed straight to the town for our first meal in the nearby Lokal , a modern eatery from a popular chain serving the best traditional dishes Czech cuisine has to offer. Growing up with my half Czech grandma, going to Czech Republic is always about the food and the flavours of my childhood. Although not the most sophisticated of cuisines, Czech food is definitely comfort food.
Battered, deep fried cheese (Smažený sýr ) – usually Edam, Gouda or Muenster, or Hermelín (Czech camembert) - served with sharp cranberry jam or tartare sauce (or both) is my ultimate go for food when in Czech Republic. As if it wasn’t enough of a calorie bomb, they are usually served with fries (hranolky) or their curly version (bramborové krokety).
For meat lovers, I recommend trying traditional goulash (Hungarian stew, a remnant of the Austrio-Hungarian empire) served with a kind of dumpling (knedliky). There are two types of them. One type made of potatoes (bramborové), very similar to Italian gnocchi (you actually try them as a part of the breakfast at Jurys Inn) and the other type are soft steamed bread dumplings (houskové) – made from flour, yeast, and eggs, similar to Chinese buns in a different shape. We also had a cabbage with horseraddish and plum compote, which was strangely served listed as a ‘salad’ not a fruit drink. For drinks, obviously it had to be a Czech beer. If you think you know the taste of Pilsner, think again, the ones in Prague taste so much better than elsewhere!
A short walk to the beautiful Prague old town and you can’t get away from the dessert called chimney cake (Trdelnik). I didn’t remember ever having Trdelnik in Czech Republic before, but it seems these days it’s the main street food served in every other shop. Baked over hot coals, it has the texture of a thick firmer pancake and it’s mostly served as a sweet treat with caramel, chocolate, ice cream or fruit. You can also find savoury versions, and we even saw one stuffed with mac & cheese!
As we visited shortly before Easter, there were many opportunities to try the local mead (medovina). Hot or cold, mixed in beer, if you have a chance, you should definitely try them. If you don’t drink alcohol, we recommend at least trying the Czech honey cake.
After a great night sleep in the super comfy bed, the highlight of the morning was definitely the Jurys Inn breakfast. There was an option of full English (with a Czech twist), continental (with a fantastic selection of breads, cheeses, cold meats and raw veg) and a cereal bar. On top of that there was unlimited tea and coffee, juices and smoothies. In a nutshell, we were absolutely spoiled for choice and the friendly staff were making sure we had everything we needed.
Ready to continue our bucket list, we headed over to the Spanish Synagogue, one of the most beautiful places to see in Prague. Unfortunately, there are no individual tickets for the visit, you have to buy a whole package which includes entries to all Prague synagogues, the Jewish Cemetery and museum. The good thing about it is that if you are staying longer, you can use the pass for a week. Prague is full of wonderful buildings from the turn of the 19th century. You can literary walk around the city with your head up it’s hard to lower your gaze. If you are to pick just a few, head to the main train station (hlavní nádraží) where you can admire Prague’s most characteristic Art Nouveau style. I also recommend a sneak peak of (or a proper sit down in) the restaurant and café in the Municipal House. If you love the Art Nouveau style like us, your ultimate stop should be the Alfons Mucha Museum, the most renowned Czech artist of the era.
As a part of the winning package we had the opportunity to visit a Beer Spa! We were worried to join a room full of semi-drunk fellow tourist, but we got our own private room with an oak barrel bath fitted with beer tabs. We were welcomed with a plate of malt bread with lard and after a quick introduction to the treatment, we were left alone to enjoy. As gimmicky as it may sound, the beer ingredients (malt, yeast and hops) along with the oak bark have a very soothing effect on your body and skin. It was perfect relaxation after a few hours of sightseeing. The Krušovice beer taps were conveniently located next to the tub, so we could taste two types of beers while soaking. After 25 minutes of beer jacuzzi and filling our own giant beers from the tap, we were encouraged to dry on a hay bed. It smelled lovely and it really added to this rustic experience. After, we were advised not to wash for two hours to let the good stuff get into your skin. But fear not, we did not walk down the streets of Prague reeking of booze!
We started with visiting Klementinum and its famous Baroque library. As beautiful as it looks in the pictures it is a bit of a tourist trap, you can’t actually enter it. We had a few seconds to look at it from behind a barrier and spent the rest of the visit learning about Czech astronomers. The best part was the tower where we had more time to admire this great city from above.
I really recommend checking the other side of Charles Bridge and not only for Prague Castle. It’s much less crowded (but no less charming) than the old town, it’s full of cosy cafés, lovely art and craft shops. The other side of the river is also where you find the John Lennon Wall – a graffiti wall first painted shortly after the singer’s assassination in 1980 as a tribute to him and his music. Nearby you can find a John Lennon bar and a Yellow Submarine Beatles pub.
The Franz Kafka Museum is just a short walk from there and even if you’re not a fan of the existentialist author, it’s worth going there for delicious gingerbreads and the statue of two men urinating on the map of Czech Republic. Created by the artist David Černý in celebration of his country joining the EU (allegedly, according to the artist the event was as pleasant as the basic activity of peeing), the direction of the peeing streams can be directed by visitors using sms. As outrageous as it may seem, once you learn more about the Czech culture, you will see that humour is often quite absurd.
Prague has too many things to see, do and try in three days, but we tried to fill our trip as much as we could. Thank you Jurys Inn and everyone who took care of us during this wonderful stay. We will be back.