Friday, April 07, 2006

That Legendary Prague Nightlife

I haven't seen it yet. Sure, I've seen the hordes of Spanish and Italian tour groups and English bachelor parties and barkers out in front of nightclubs and strip clubs, but we've just been too damn tired - and our feet hurting too damn much - to give any of that dancing a go.

We've still been living it up, though. After our long journey back to Prague, we put a few more miles on the old feet by doing a bit more treasure hunting, as it's Amy and Sarah's last night in town. They got a good deal of shopping done, so much so that they're out looking for new luggage this morning.

With that mission accomplished, we headed through the Old Town and across one of the many bridges across the Vltava River into Mala Strana, a tony part of town just south of the big castle that dominates the skyline. The sun was setting and the buildings starting to light up, the perfect time to sit at a terrace restaurant on Na Kampa Island, overlooking the river and the city from the west side.

Whoever said Czech food is bland and boring needs to have their head checked. Sure, this wasn't the typical pub fare, but the traditional Czech platter that I had, consisting of roasted duck leg, baked ham, sauerkraut, cranberry sauce, and several varieties of dumplings, was superb. We got the cheapest bottle of Moravian wine, to boot, and it was excellent as well.

Bellies full of meat and dumplings and goat cheese, we walked up Mala Strana toward the castle and Charles Bridge. Sarah was absolutely hilarious and loopz after all the wine, and I probably wasn't helping matters with my over-tired, slurred speech. Finally, a drunken night out. Maybe not in my typical way, but good fun nonetheless.

We crossed the Charles Bridge, which at night is just a thing of beauty. With the castle to the northwest and the huge spires and colorful facades of the city proper to the west, the walk is an ever-changing panorama of lights and colors against a starkly black sky. I felt like I was back in Milford Sound in New Zealand, where the scenery would seemingly change dramatically every 20 meters. I shutterbugged like a mad Japanese tourist, but, like Milford, pictures will never do these views justice. You just have to see it for yourself some time.

Feet? Still aching. Belly? Still full, but in need of a drink! I looked into the guidebook and looked up the nearby Cafe Montmartre. Sure, it's got a French name and motif, but it's the original cafe where the whole Bohemian thing - as in the culture of artists and writers, not this region - all started. This was where the writers and revolutionaries would hang out, drink absinthe, and smoke hundreds of cigarettes in one sitting. Well, there aren't anymore artists or revolutionaries, and the 50 Kč absinthe probably isn't the real deal, but the place certainly still holds all that old cigarette smoke from the early 20th Century. Ventilation anyone??

I ordered a Fernet and a beer. Supposedly, the Fernet here is a cheap imitation of Fernet-Branca, a favorite of mine back at home. I actually found it to be smoother and tastier. I put it away pretty quickly. Sarah ordered grog - hot rum - and didn't find it to her liking. So I put that away pretty quickly, too. Amy stuck with her standby of hot chocolate... although she'd ordered a chocolate milkshake. The legendary reputation of Czech service continues unabated!!

At that point, enough was enough. I'd had enough to drink, our feet were dead, so instead of a big night out, we went home to crash. Either I'm getting old, or I've finally grown up and learned to enjoy a less hectic sort of nightlife. Then again, I move into a hostel today when the girls leave. We'll see...


  1. well, with all this shopping, I hope you have lots of trinckets! ;)


  2. I didn't say I was buying anything...