My favorite thing to do in Prague is to lose myself. It might sound odd, but I almost never travel with a map there. I love to get up early in the morning, armed with nothing but my camera and my daypack, and just wander around aimlessly. I have come across so many interesting things this way. I use the Charles Bridge, Our Lady of Tyn, and Wenceslas Square as my landmarks and eventually find my way back to my pension when it starts getting late. My best memory of Prague has to do with an intereesting cab driver. I had missed my train to Munich by mere seconds and was very upset as I stood on the tracks. So upset, in fact, that I cried. For you see, I had a plane to catch and that was the last train to Munich that day. As I stood there wondering what to do, this cab driver came up to me and offered to drive me to the German border for $20. He said that he could outrun the train and that I could catch up with it in Pilzen. He was right. He did and even carried my luggage up on the train for me when we got to the station. That was the nicest thing anyone did for me on that trip, especially considering that cab drivers in Prague get a bad rep.
Kostel Panny Marie pred Tynem
St. Marie Church is amazing architectural building in the ensemble of the square of the old town. It was built in 1365-1470. Until 1621 it was Hussite Church. The interesting fact is one tower is smaller and thinner than another one and cause of it the towers has name Adam and Eva.
Here's the simpleton tourist idea that's floating around in my head: "I'm going to buy me a bottle of absinthe!"
Walking up to the liquour shelves at the back of the confectionery store, I suddenly realize that I'm way, way out of my league. Holy geeze, there must be 200 brands of absinthe here! How am I supposed to I know the proper brands from the ones that are probably some kind of bootleg antifreeze that will poison me and make me blind for life? Some of the bottles have herbs in them, some of the absinthe is red liquid, some bottles have naked women on the labels, some bottles have monsters on the labels. ...I think I'll avoid the monster bottles--no need to go completely crazy.
Nobody is sure exactly where the production of absinthe started, but the drink has been dated as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. However, the drink seems to be very much tied to the current Czech travel experience. Absinthe is made with fermented herbs--namely wormwood, anise, and fennel and the resulting liquid is usually an unnatural bright green colour. A chemical in the drink called "thujone," is thought to have some mild hallucinatory properties although the resulting effect has been widely exaggerated. Most of the craziness associated with the drink actually comes from its 65-70% alcohol content. The taste? Personally, I think absinthe tastes a lot like Sambuca.
There are different ways of preparing absinthe for consumption; the French method involves pouring ice water over a sugarcube perched on a spoon into the drink while the Czech method involves placing a few drops of absinthe on a sugarcube perched on a spoon, lighting the cube on fire and letting the sugar melt into the drink. When water is added to a good absinthe it should "louche" (turn from a transparent green to a cloudy colour).
After 20-some minutes of staring at all these bottles, I choose one called "Hill's Absinth (Established 1920)" simply because it has what looks to me like a reputable, old-style label. Researching this topic later, I discover that Hill's isn't really a very good brand--but at least it's not car antifreeze.
So, don't go into this situation blind like I did. Do some Internet research before you leave for the Czech Republic and make a list of quality absinthe brands. Some of the more popular Czech labels are "L'Extrait de La Fee", "Songe Vert", "Cami", "King of Spirits' and "Bairnsfather Absinthe". Please note that absinthe is completely legal to own if you want to bring a bottle back to Canada but citizens of the USA must check with the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for a list of acceptable brands.
Oh, and give the Green Fairy a great big hug from me!
Get away from the crowds of tourists
Vysehrad does not get the crowds of all the centrally located places, as it is about 2km south, along the river. Well worth a visit when you are tired of crowds at Karlov Most (Charles Bridge). Take #17 tram south from there 4 stops. Then you have to walk up the hill. Well, it is a hilltop fortification! Highlight is the cemetery, where the wealthy have monuments of great artistic merit.
Visit the green hill after the Castle.
I have included these views from the top of the Cathedral in the Off The Beaten Path section simply because few people climb to the top and fewer actually take photos of the surrounding area.
The view towards Petrin Hill shows the size of the green park that spreads along the western edge of the old city centre and cascades down almost to the river.
There are many places to walk and to visit along the ridge. More detail will be included in another section.