A vast castle complex, my favorite beer, and more
My favorite non-English expression is, “Na zdraví,” pronounced nah z-drah-VEE. It is likely the most famous expression in Czech which is their toast that means to health.
Drinking beer is important in the culture of the Czech Republic. Czech are proud of their celebrations and drink a lot of beer. As a tourist, you must understand this culture and know how to say Na zdraví and toast each other correctly. But wait, there's more to this drinking culture. Before you start drinking your beer, it is essential to applaud each other while you make eye contact. If you don't follow this rule, they say you will have “seven years of bad sex.” I recommend we all follow their cultural cue, otherwise, we now know what will happen (or not happen).
According to statistics, the Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than any other country! Beer is cheaper than tap water! What? Yes, I was a witness to this many times. Beer is their default beverage. Even if you don't like beer, not having a beer in Prague is a mistake! Remarkably however, there is a law that there must be one alcoholic beverage on every menu that is cheaper than beer!
During summer, the best way to enjoy beer is in a beer garden. There are many beer gardens, but the most recommended one is the Letná beer garden where you can enjoy your favorite beer with a picturesque view of the Old Town. This is indeed part of a perfect itinerary.
So, what beer should you drink in Prague? There are many options to sample, but perhaps the best is Pilsner beer. There is a town in Prague called Pilsen where Pilsner originated. I’ve never been a beer drinker, because most of the time I find it bitter, but I am glad my friend, Dr. Rysa, who lives in Prague, introduced me to Radler. It's a beer mixed with citrusy fruit flavors, or with Sprite. Because of the sweetness (which compliments my taste buds), I was hooked, and it is now my favorite beer. The truth is, I've been to a couple of pubs in the U.S. and when I’ve asked for Radler, they have no idea what I am talking about. So, I get to explain to them what Radler is. In Tampa, Florida a man once told me he would try it at home. I gave him a good recommendation but I often wonder if he ever tried it. Enough about beer
Prague is one of the jewels of Central Europe. It is one of the largest cities in Europe and has the largest castle complex in the world. It was nicknamed the “city of a thousand spires” because of its 1,100-year-old skyline, consisting of domed churches and old towers. Hence Prague is considered one of the architectural gems in the world. You can explore Prague's metropolis and beautiful landmarks on foot or by tram. Here are a few of my favorite places:
This is the symbol of the Czech Republic and the largest castle complex in the world. It was once the home of Bohemia's kings and today is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. Because of its vastness, I suggest you spend a day here to maximize your visit. You’ll be able to claim that you've explored the largest castle complex in the world. The most popular sites in the castle are the St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George's Basilica, the Powder Tower, the Old Royal Palace, and the Golden Lane. The most interesting sites in the palace include the main hall, the Vladislav Hall, and the Royal Garden. In addition, the Royal Garden has Ball Game Hall, the Royal Summer House with its Singing Fountain, and the Lion's Court. The Prague Castle is overwhelming yet magnificent and decidedly one of a kind.
The most recognizable old bridge in Europe was built in here in 1357. There's a superstitious belief that the builders laid the bridge stone on the 9th of July at precisely 5:31 a.m. It was a precise set of numbers (135797531) and was believed to give additional strength to the bridge. It was constructed in perfect alignment with the tomb of St. Vitus and the setting sun on the equinox. The bridge is famous for its old statues. The most prominent statues are Roman Emperor Charles IV and St. John of Nepomuk, the country's most revered saint. Another superstitious belief I learned is that if you touch the Lorraine Cross, where St. Nepomuk's body was thrown into the river, and make a wish, your wish will come true. Make sure to touch the right cross; believing is up to you. Walking on Charles Bridge in the late afternoon is the best. If you’re there for an equinox, you would have a perfect view of the sunset.
During my visit in September 2021, I checked off an item on my bucket list – to have my portrait done by an artist. It was a memorable experience, but sadly, I thought I looked different in the portrait. I wasn’t happy with the outcome but decided that the money I had paid was for my experience. Take my advice, don't necessarily trust the samples pinned to the artist’s board.
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is the most significant square in Prague, and the Old Town Tower is the most dominant feature of the entire square. The astronomical clock is located on the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. The clock strikes the hour from 0900 to 2300. You'll see a crowd of tourists gathering, waiting for the clock to strike. It is a good place to relax while people-watching.
John Lennon Wall
After the death of John Lennon, this stone wall was transformed into a memorial with a painting of his face and words from his songs about world peace and freedom. I am a John Lennon fan, and obviously of his songs, so I love this site.
Troja Chateau, St. Claire Vineyard, and Botanical Garden
Troja Chateau is a 25-minute bus ride from the city center, far from the tourist crowds. Vineyards, botanical gardens, and the Prague Zoo surround this chateau. To best enjoy this beautiful place, it’s a good idea to dedicate a half day or even a whole day of your itinerary so that since you're in a vineyard, this time, you can enjoy wine not beer.
There are so many attractions to see in Prague. This charming city has the most picturesque architectural landmarks in Europe and is not an expensive place for travel where you can enjoy good food and great beers. The best season to visit Prague is this summertime. Remember, you're in a beer country and will not run out of drinks. Quench your thirst, and say, “Na zdraí!” And try Radler and let me know if you become a fan of my favorite beer.