#lteuropa bucket list takedown: travel to prague

the-romantic-the-wino

After seven full days in Vienna spent conquering our #LTeuropa bucket list, it was time to bid adieu to Austria and board a train to Prague. Having never been to Central or Eastern Europe, we knew we wanted to see as many cities as we could during our two week stay, and the trip from Vienna to Prague seemed like an easy way to end our #LTeuropa itinerary.

Easy? Perhaps. We took an early morning train and didn’t have to switch trains or routes anywhere along the journey. Buuut enjoyable it was not, thanks to pretty massive hangovers from our Viennese barbecue the night before. In spite of the four hour train ride and the total scam of a cab ride from the station to our first hotel (note: only take cabs clearly marked with an AAA logo), we were completely blown away by Prague’s old world magic from the minute we stepped foot in the beautiful city.

summer crowds - prague

With only forty eight hours in Prague, we knew we needed to maximize our time in order to see everything the city had to offer. Cue Milos Curik, our local guide and Prague’s very own arts and culture aficionado. Milos spent five hours walking us through the winding streets of Prague’s 1st District, filling us in on the city’s rich cultural history. One of the best things about Milos and something that differentiates him from practically every other guide we’ve worked with is that he took the first 15 minutes to get to know us so he could focus all five hours on the sights and attractions he knew we’d love and skip over those we may not. When Milos took us a bar for a traditional Czech pint rather than dragging us through a museum, we became instant besties.

pils stop

Some of the highlights of our tour with Milos:

A visit to the John Lennon Wall // a brick wall covered with graffiti, artwork, and Beatles lyrics since Lennon’s death in 1980. The wall continuously transforms, with Beatles fans and Lennon enthusiasts adding more artwork and tributes each day. The wall proved to be an important symbol of freedom and expression for the people of Prague when the country was held under communist leadership. Milos, who was born and raised in Prague and is much ingrained in the music community, has deep ties to the wall and even pointed out a new memorial that was recently added for a musician friend of his who had just passed away. Added bonus: a group of tourists on a segway tour stopped by and broke in to a rendition of “Give Peace of Chance.”

lennon memorial - prague

An absinthe recommendation // The hubs had his own personal bucket list in Prague and it only included one item: throw back some absinthe. Milos offered his label preference, King of Spirits, and the next day, we returned to give it a try. Turns out, absinthe is disgusting, no matter what label you prefer. We each took a sip, but the hubs and the wino’s boyfriend had to finish both glasses. And then the boys acted silly for a half hour. Amateurs.

absinthe in prague

Alternate Views // Milos insisted that one of the best ways to see Prague is from a bird’s eye view. Though we normally skip super touristy attractions, we decided to test out Milos’ theory to see if seeing Prague from above allowed us to visit the main attractions without the headache of crowds and lines. To see Prague’s Astronomical Clock, which normally involves elbowing your way through hundreds of tourists to stand in the Old Town Square, Milos recommended having a drink at a nearby hotel, which has a rooftop bar with perfect views of the clock. Later, we trekked up to Prague Castle, but instead of hanging around, we headed over the hilltop vineyard nearby that offered spectacular panoramic views of the city.

Thanks, Milos. You’re a pal.

views over the old town square

prague vineyards

With Milos’ help, we covered most of the neighborhoods in Prague’s 1st district in only five hours, while avoiding the crowds and sites we didn’t want to see. Not only did it rejuvenate us after our hellish morning train ride, it also solidified the love-at-first-sight we experienced when we arrived in Prague. And, we had pints of beer to boot. You win, Milos. You win.

milos in prague

xo!

the romantic & the wino

– Though Czech Tourism kindly sponsored our tour of Prague with Milos Curik, our love for Prague is completely our own. 

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27 Comments

  1. September 26, 2013 / 16:01

    I love Prague 🙂 One of my very favorite cities. It seems like your guide helped you get around the center efficiently, and I love that he took you to get views from above. In all my visits there, I didn’t do that enough.
    Jenna recently posted..Farm to Fork in SacramentoMy Profile

  2. September 26, 2013 / 21:42

    Great post – I think “old world magic” is the perfect way to describe Prague. I visited a few years ago and I cannot believe I somehow missed the John Lennon wall! Looks very cool.

  3. October 1, 2013 / 02:30

    I shall take a moment here to defend absinthe. I don’t know what particular brand you had, but most Czech absinthe was made starting in the 90s to capitalize on the novelty of drinking an illegal liquor. They had no idea of the techniques the original distillers used to create their magical potions.

    If you dig around the internet looking at millions of reviews, you can find some that are actually good, including some that were continuously distilled since the 1800s (Spain never banned it, for example), and others that have been reverse-engineered based on unopened bottles preserved from 1905 or whatever. The guy who did that hated absinthe, then tried an unopened bottle from 100 years ago, and thought “ah, so THAT’S why they drank it! Because it was GOOD!”

    But the hallucination thing is a total myth, and they never lit anything on fire. Just absinthe, water, and sugar. I’ve had some of the pretty good ones…not the amazing ones, but pretty good ones…and they’re quite nice. If you hate black licorice, you’ll hate them (it was a major obstacle for me), but even so, you’ll be able to see why it was such a big thing.

    Going to the Czech Republic for absinthe is kind of like going to Scotland for tequila. Yeah, they’ll have some, but it’s not going to be the world’s greatest plan.
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..5 of the best travel backpacks for global adventuresMy Profile

    • October 1, 2013 / 03:54

      thanks for the info! we knew that the hallucination aspect wasn’t true, but the hubs and the wino’s boyfriend both agreed that they felt a different sort of buzz after they finished their tasting. our guide directed us to the bar and to the “king of spirits,” and given how knowledgable he was about prague’s culture & nightlife, we at least trust that he directed us toward the best prague has to offer.

      if czech republic : absinthe :: scotland : tequila, then where do we actually need to send the hubs? because we’ll do it.

      p.s. licorice isn’t our thing and neither is liquor, really, so it’s safe to say that even the best absinthe wouldn’t go down very smoothly for us.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..eat like a brit: five must-try meals in londonMy Profile

      • October 2, 2013 / 05:46

        This is going to get long and complicated.

        So back when I started looking around for amazing absinthe, it was like all the websites were designed in the mid 90s and looked horrible, but I gave them a pass, because it was…KIND OF close to actually being the 90s. Now that it’s 2013, I expected the situation to have improved by magnificent leaps and bounds. I was wrong.

        If you go here: http://www.feeverte.net/guide/archives.html
        You’ll find a massive list of absinthes in alphabetical order. Dumbly, they are not organized by quality. At least, nowhere I can see.

        However, if you go to the right hand column and click on one of the country names, it’ll list all the absinthe from that country (that they’ve covered, anyway) and it’ll show all the scores on a single page. Then if you do a text search for “score: 9” you can quickly narrow down all the absinthes that have a score of 90 or higher.

        You can also do it on the subsection labelled “distilled,” since that’s universally agreed to be the best method, and will include all the absinthe from every country that is distilled, which is here: http://www.feeverte.net/guide/type/distilled/

        If you do a search for the text “score: 9” you’ll see that of the many absinthes listed, only 11 have a score of 90 or higher, and most of those are for vintage bottles from the early 1900s (you can tell, since it says “circa 1895” or whatever). 34 get scores in the 80s. And if you go to the “mixed and macerated” page, rather than distilled, the highest score is 70.

        King of Spirits, by the way, scored a 10. Out of 100.

        After sifting through the cartoonishly large list trying to find a needle in a haystack of annoyance, you will soon find a few that have decent scores. The absinthe that was reverse-engineered from the old recipes from the early 1900s go by the name Jade, and they get pretty solid ratings. Pacifique is another consistent winner, as are Sauvage, L’Italienne, La Clandestine, La Grenouille, and Meadow of Love. All of these show up on other, unrelated top 10 lists here and there.

        Keep in mind these are subjective reviews, of course, but if you patrol top 10 lists and find a few showing up over and over, it’s not so bad. And, annoyingly, these may or may not be available in whatever country you might expect, which is why ordering online has become so popular. You can wander around France all day long and come out empty handed. And this is to say nothing of price, which is another factor. But they’re often 70% alcohol, so you get some extra bang.

        Thus: Think of your quest to find the perfect absinthe to be a long, complicated, arduous, but rewarding journey, much like the adventures of Odysseus returning to Ithaca. It’s the only way to stay sane!
        SnarkyNomad recently posted..5 of the best travel backpacks for global adventuresMy Profile

        • October 6, 2013 / 05:44

          well, to be fair, we’ve probably already given up on this quest because we wanted to die so hard from the first tasting. but thanks for all the info!
          Lazy Travelers recently posted..no travel required: #frifotosMy Profile

  4. October 1, 2013 / 06:13

    There’s a lot of stuff sold as absinth that isn’t really absinth… I’ve never had the Czech version (and didn’t know it was a thing there). I’ve always seen it as a pretty regular and delicious festival drink (and I don’t like spirits usually) – it’s been perfectly legal in Europe since the late 90’s and pretty common to have in all German and French speaking countries, plus the Netherlands. Never got sick from it or felt a special toxic buzz.

    • October 1, 2013 / 06:42

      i think they just agreed that it was a different and slightly stronger buzz after one drink of absinthe than after, say, a beer.

      i think we’ll have to force them into a german vs french tasting next! we’ll pass as the taste made us want to die.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..eat like a brit: five must-try meals in londonMy Profile

    • October 6, 2013 / 05:45

      i didn’t know about the lennon wall either AND neither did my dad… who took us on a beatles-themed tour of england when i was in middle school. no need to be ashamed. xo! the romantic
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..no travel required: #frifotosMy Profile

  5. October 5, 2013 / 20:41

    I want to go to Prague so badly, it hurts. Thanks for the quick little tour and killer photos!

    Send the hubs and mr. wino my way. I have an unopened bottle of absinthe that was a gift from my dad (he’s cool like that). I’ve had the stuff a few times before and didn’t think it was that bad. But I guess it’s not for everyone.
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Charismatic Cape Girardeau: A photo essayMy Profile

        • October 8, 2013 / 17:10

          WELP, you’re invited next time! so long as you can keep up with all the wine-drinking…

  6. October 6, 2013 / 18:25

    LOVE this city! I always have a fantastic time here! Would love to meet your new bestie milos!

    • October 6, 2013 / 19:21

      SOOOO lets plan a time to go back together and milos can take us all for a pint. sound good??

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