Bernard Beer and Bernard *snigger* Cherry Beer at Literární Kavárna Retézová

Aside

I never really liked to use the cliched “Stepping into another world” to describe a place, but it really was the most apt expression for the feeling we got as we stepped into the Literární Kavárna Retézová

We found this little gem, literally just off the main roads of Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square).

We were at the Astronomical Clock trying to watch the hourly dance of the 12 Apostles.

We KNOW that the hourly chiming of the Astronomical Clock is one of the most overrated and underwhelming performance in the world, but we were in Prague, and it’s one of those things you HAVE to do when you are in Prague.

Unfortunately, the rest of Europe seemed to have the same idea.

The square in front of the Clock was impossibly crowded, even though it was cold and raining. You could only get a good look at the 12 Apostles if you’re standing front and centre from the Clock. The Crowd started forming around the Clock at the half hour mark. If you’re there later than the quarter to the hour mark, you’re pretty much screwed. You can still watch the skeleton chime the bell and the 3 men shaking their heads, and there will be a million and one tour guides giving a play by play commentary of what is happening on the Clock in a million and three languages, BUT to quote the Soup Nazi, “No Apostles for you!”.

It was an odd little United Colors of Benetton for me, because you realize (with a bit of horror) that the one thing which unites people of all nationality, race and religion is a kitsch little dance by 12 wooden men…

After trying (unsuccessfully) to watch the Apostles for the third time, we decided we had enough and we ducked into a little ally just off the main streets where tourist ply…

The small and smoky (smoking is allowed inside) cafe has wicker chairs, and walls plastered with tonnes of black and white photographs of the Who’s Who of Czech Literaries. You can see the locals having great and seemingly philosophical discussions about life, or (as I like to believe) the beer on their table. You cannot help want to break out the novel you have been carrying in your bag or just take a pen to the napkin on the table and scribble (or doodle out) the Bestselling Novel that You Have Yet to Write. This looks to be the kind of place where the Next Great Novels will be written.

As for us, we were happy to just soak in the atmosphere with our beer.

A BERNARD ČERNÝ LEŽÁK s jemnými kvasnicemi or Dark beer for me…

And a BERNARD s čistou hlavou Višeň or *snigger* Cherry flavored (NON alcoholic) “Beer” for her…

Smelling the Roses

“It’s too touristy” and the more subtle “I HATE Prague” were two very common responses we got when we were soliciting opinions about our upcoming trip.

Day 2 of our stay in Prague and caught in the hustle and bustle of trying to cram in as many tourist attractions as possible, I can easily see why.

Almost EVERYTHING in Prague is built for tourists… and I guess, almost every tourist is built for Prague. There are historical (and VERY beautiful) pieces of architecture everywhere and there are a few very common and easily accessible routes you can take to see them all… as long as you are willing to pay the price.

My first symptom of tourism fatigue set in as we were wandering through Prague Castle.

The St Vitus Cathedral within the grounds of the Prague Castle was awe inspiring. Going into the cathedral, you realized that you can only walk so far before two very stern (and burly) looking man ask you for “Tickets” to see the rest of the cathedral.

The same thing occurred every where in the Castle. The East Wing, the West Wing, the South Tower of the Cathedral, a pictorial guide to the history of Prague, a WWII Photo exhibition within the Palace grounds, etc… It seemed you need tickets to go into every single nook and cranny of the castle, including the TOILETS (0.5 Euros) (Seriously…).

I can see how easy it is to just pay the money, “since we are here already anyway”, and just to get that “tick in the box” for attractions visited, but it felt wrong to my stingy little heart.

We finally decided that we are not “tourists” but “short to mid term travelers” and we don’t really need this shit right now.

We moved on from the Palace and decided to dive into the first alley we see to get a feel of the “real Prague”.

And this is what we saw..

We spent quite a bit of the (more pleasant) afternoon in this garden with roses as big as Jo’s face.

If this was not a sign for us to “Stop and smell the roses”, I don’t know what would be… It seemed that there is a lot more to Prague than what the Guidebooks offer. It’s all here, you just need to stop and look for them.