The Narrowest Street In Prague

Westley mentioned that the narrowest street in Prague was barely wide enough to walk through. While strolling around Malá Strana, I saw a small group of people gathered at a random spot in the middle of a block and stopped to see what they were looking at. It quickly dawned on me that I had found myself at the top of the narrowest street in Prague.

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It’s less than 20 inches wide and requires a traffic light for people to walk up or down as it’s too narrow for two people to squeeze past each other.

 

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A weird Prague quirk, but I’m not going to lie, I was quite pleased that I found it!

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Hidden Gardens of Prague

While wondering around Malá Strana one day, I stumbled upon not one, but two hidden gardens!

The first was Vojanovy Sady, a walled, grassy enclave in the middle of a fairly busy street.

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It was quite peaceful with very few people. Although several peacocks called this pretty, little park home.

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The second was Wallenstein Garden, the gardens outside of the Senate Palace, which I quickly realized wasn’t quite as “hidden” as the first. This one had beautiful geometric garden mazes outside an absolutely stunning Senate building.

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I actually lucked out as the Senate Palace happened to be open for a few hours and I was able to roam around inside. While I didn’t get any pictures, it was all very beautiful.

On my way out, I once again soaked in the gorgeous weather and scenery.

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Riegrovy Sady: Prague’s Best Sunset View

I don’t think one can ever get sick of the views in Prague. Whether you’re overlooking the city from near the castle…

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…or up at the castle from the river…

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…or out from the Astronomical Clock…

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…or suspended 50 meters in the air…

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…it’s all just stunning.

Luckily for me, Prague saved one last beautiful sunset. The night before Jillian was heading back to the U.S., we ducked out of work a bit early to go watch the sunset at Reigrovy Sady park.

We had been to the park several times, but usually to frequent the beer garden. So when we found the famed sunset hill, we couldn’t believe the perfectly framed view of the castle. And as the sun set, the view kept getting more and more beautiful.

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Thank you, Prague, for continuing to stun me with your beauty.

European Farmer’s Markets

One thing I really miss about Europe (besides the food, and coffee, and culture, and people, and scenery, and so many other things) are all of the wonderful farmer’s markets. It feels like every few blocks there would be another neighborhood market with local’s selling colorful fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers and freshly baked bread and pastries. I hate going to the grocery store, but grabbing a few things from the market down the street makes cooking so much easier and fresher.

When my Mom and I were in Modena, we walked through Mercato Albinelli, a huge daily market that’s been around since the early 1900s. The produce was so colorful it made you want to pick it up and eat it.

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My Mom pointed out that she bets it’s a lot easier to get kids to eat vegetables if they can help pick it out in an environment like this.

The other thing that blows my mind is how cheap all of the fresh produce and food is at these farmer’s markets. You could get half a loaf of fresh bread for the equivalent of $0.50. Or a pint of strawberries for $0.75. And the best part, you were supporting the local family businesses.

Right outside of our office in Prague was an incredible little market on the side of a park. It was always crowded with locals, getting lunch, grabbing a few things for dinner or just buying a beer and enjoying the sunshine.

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I spy Jillian.

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I can’t even keep track of how many farmer’s markets I went to throughout the summer, but I loved them all just the same.

Prague:

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Barcelona:

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Croatia:

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Westley Overcash: Our Angel in Prague

As I’ve mentioned before, The Remote Experience organized a local ambassador in each of our locations to help us experience the city like a local. They took us on walking and history tours our first day in a new country, planned welcome dinners, helped organize our excursions and would answer countless questions throughout the month. Our local ambassadors in Split and Barcelona were nice and helpful, but kind of kept to themselves. We literally couldn’t have had anyone better in Turin with Chiara. And we struck gold again in Prague with Westley!

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Although originally from the U.S., Westley has lived in the Czech Republic for over a decade, spending quite a bit of time in both Prague and Karlovy Vary. He used to work in PR but has since shifted gears to running his own business, writing travel guides about Prague and curating personal travel experiences for visitors to the Czech Republic. Not only did we luck out in terms of his experience, Westley also became a fast friend!

Westley made sure that we experienced all of Prague, not just the main tourist attractions. And within the first 24-hours we were there, he armed us with an incredible list of the best places to go, things to see, beer to drink and where to eat. Jillian and I made it our mission to check (Czech?) off as many as possible. And I’m proud to say that we made a fairly sizable dent in his list.

Thanks to Westley, we fulfilled our Mexican craving by trekking out to Prague 9 to try Mexicali Mercado. While it doesn’t stand up to Southern California Mexican food, it was definitely the best we had in Europe. Not to mention, it got us out to experience the boonies of Prague.

He also introduced me to Wine Food Market, which based on the name, doesn’t sound very appealing. And to be honest, my expectations were even lower while walking across a sketchy bridge next to the train tracks. I tried distracting myself with the view:

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But I should never have doubted Westley; it turned out to be the most incredible Italian market/café/restaurant! I actually ended up going back two more times to work…and to get one last authentic pizza while I could.

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The market was in front with the café. I wanted to buy everything and bring it home, it felt like I was back in Italy!

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The cheese vault, enough said.

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The back was dedicated to different food stations – pizza, pasta, wine, meat, bread, baked goods – and a pianist entertained everyone while they ate.

Along with all of the recommendations, Westley also organized walking tours. I was out of town when the group walked over to Vyšehrad, but I heard it was great. And I was so glad Mikela got to meet Westley when he took us up to Žižkov, showing us a new neighborhood as well as a massive Communist statue and building.

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He was also so nice to organize a trip out to Kutná Hora to see the bone church. That was actually one of our last group activities of the summer; I’m not sure what was better, seeing the church and quaint village or the company?

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But what I cannot thank Westley enough for, is the amazing help he gave me when trying to figure out how to get up to Kraków to meet Mikela. He found numerous different routes, tracked down the pricing, and even called to make sure that my train-to-bus transfer was all in the same station. I don’t even want to think of where I would have ended up without him!

So, if you ever find yourself in Prague, I highly encourage you to hire Westley as your Prague travel guide and ambassador! Not only will you have an unforgettable trip to the city, you’ll gain a great new friend.

Westley – thank you so much for such a wonderful month in Prague, I can’t wait to share a beer with you the next time I’m there!

Sedlec Ossuary: The Kutná Hora Bone Church

Kutná Hora is about an hour by train from Prague, and is a quaint, quintessential Czech village. It’s also home to the Sedlec Ossuary, a small Catholic chapel decorated entirely of human bones…approximately 40,000 human skeletons to be exact.

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I had heard about this bone church when I studied abroad but never made it out to see it. When Westley, our wonderful Prague ambassador, offered to take us on a trip over there, I immediately jumped on board. A small group of us met at the train station and we were on our way.

As we walked up to the chapel, we all expected to be really creeped out. But to be honest, once inside, you get caught up in the intricate details and how cool it is and forget what the decorations are actually made of.

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In the 1400s, a new church was commissioned over a cemetery, with plans to build an ossuary below it to house the thousands who were buried there after the Black Death and Hussite Wars. The tremendous task of exhuming the skeletons was given to a half-blind monk in the early 1500s but the elaborate bone-arrangements weren’t constructed until the mid-1800s.

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After our exploration of the bone church, we headed into the town center of Kutná Hora. And all I can say is thank goodness we had Westley. It was starting to rain and it was a 30 minute walk but Westley was able to ask the locals about the bus schedule and we were dropped off right in the middle of town. They streets were all but empty and gave us beautiful views of the colorful buildings.

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We enjoyed a Czech lunch at a traditional beer hall…

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…then meandered over to the main town church, which was absolutely HUGE.

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There was a wine festival going on which provided lots of wonderful people watching and the church was set up on a hill so we had gorgeous views of Kutná and the vineyards.

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Everything about Kutná Hora and Sedlec Ossuary makes it well worth the day trip from Prague.

The Best Strudel in All of Prague – Susta Strudl

Strudel is a staple in Prague. Actually, I don’t know if that’s a true statement, I should probably just rephrase it to “I love strudel and ate it every chance I could get.” I had several strong contenders, but the best strudel was not at the fancy cafés…it was from a sketchy apartment window in Žižkov.

Let me back up. Before I studied abroad, I watched an episode of Samantha Brown: Passport to Europe that highlighted Prague. In it, she talked about the best apple strudel in the city. Ten years ago, all I could remember is that the strudel was served from a window, so needless to say, I never found it. However, my googling skills have improved over the years and luckily this time around, I tracked down the evasive strudel shop – Susta Strudl.

Jillian and I set out to find it one afternoon and walked from her apartment over to Žižkov, passing this mom and her daughter walking their ferret.

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As we continued on, already a bit confused about the pet rodent we just passed, we were even more confounded when we walked up to the address and were outside a rather run-down apartment building.

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We took a closer look and yep, there was the strudel shop, looking as sketchy as could be.

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It sure didn’t look open and we finally deciphered the sign to realize that they closed from 12:00-1:00 every day. We had to wait 15 minutes or so, crossing our fingers that we could still get our strudel.

At 1:00 on the dot, the little white window ledge opened and we walked up. Inside, one man was in a tiny, dark basement apartment. It was very apparent right off the bat that the chef/server spoke no English so Jillian and I had to practice our limited Czech and use lots of sign language to order one cheese and one apple strudel.

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He handed them over and they were HUGE!

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Basically an apple-strudel-burrito that cost $1.90.

Since we were splitting the two strudels, Jillian asked for a fork and knife. That clearly didn’t translate well so she started miming cutting the strudel and putting a piece in her mouth. The chef/server proceeded to hand over…a plastic bag. Ooooookay. As Sheena said when I told her the story, “you definitely don’t want that guy on your charades team!”

We walked up the hill to the park and found some picnic benches, which turned out to be in a beer garden.

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We obviously needed something to wash down our strudel so ordered a $0.90 Pilsner Urquell. The server also spoke no English and had to type in the 23kc beer price into his calculator to let us know how much to pay; it was a very authentically Czech afternoon.

Both the cheese and apple strudel were incredible…a mighty tasty lunch.

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And please note the sheer size of the strudels.

John Lennon Wall

The John Lennon Wall is somewhat of a secret gem in Prague. While lots of people stop by, it’s not nearly as crowded as every other tourist place in the city. Tucked down below the Charles Bridge on the castle side of the river, the wall started in the 1980s by teenagers rebelling against the Communist regime.

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People constantly paint and write their names, quotes, drawings and other inspiring artwork on the wall. Although I’m not completely sure why it’s called the John Lennon Wall other than it’s a symbol of love and peace. What I do know is that it’s constantly changing because people are literally adding to it every day.

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When my Mom and I stopped by when I studied abroad, it quickly became one of my favorite places in Prague.

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Jillian and I stopped by one of our first days in the city.

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I took Chiara and Niccolò to see it.

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And I made sure to show it to Mikela.

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And every time, the wall had changed and I loved finding new quotes and pictures.

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What A Wonderful Week

Mikela’s visit was definitely a highlight of the summer! We laughed our way through Poland and the Czech Republic. Walked a whopping 62 miles in 6 days. Had a moving day at Auschwitz. Ate some really good food. Drank too much beer and wine. Enjoyed the incredibly odd experience of a beer bath. And made countless memories. The week flew by but we really packed in the activities.

Thank you, thank you, Miklea for coming to visit – it was an incredible week!

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Karlovy Vary Beer Bath

That’s right, we booked a beer bath for our spa treatment in Karlovy Vary! The website touted a wide variety of health benefits so after our less-than-stellar tour of Karlovy Vary, Jillian, Mikela and I were excited to check this out…although not 100% sure what to expect.

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We walked down a stone hallway into a basement with an old woman sitting at a desk. It smelled wonderful, of freshly baked beer bread. She showed us into the “spa” room and proceeded to lock us in for our hour long spa treatment.

We looked around and all burst into laughter.

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On one side of the stone basement, there were two specially made keg-hot tubs filled with beer for us to relax in.

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On the other side was a gigantic, king size straw bed, to let the hops and beer soak into our skin after our dip.

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Between bouts of hysterical laughter, we stepped into the hot tubs of beer and filled our pints from the tap.

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It was a little gross as the water/beer was murky and there were hops and yeast floating all around, but it made our skin really soft. After we had sufficiently soaked in beer, we sat on the straw bed, where we continued laughing hysterically at the entire experience.

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The beer bath really perked up our trip to Karlovy Vary; it totally made up for the awful tour. Weird? Absolutely. Funny? I haven’t laughed that hard since Mikela and I dropped cookie crumbs into a poor women’s cleavage. Would I do it again? Probably.

Since the three of us stayed in Karlovy Vary for our beer bath, we had to take the train back to Prague rather than our oh-so-wonderful bus. We walked through the less touristy part of town to get to the train station.

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Although just a calendar in Karlovy Vary, it was an especially poignant tribute to such a heavy day for Americans.

The train station was under construction so we had to buy our tickets in a double-wide through some major sign language and pointing as they didn’t know any English. But their old train station provided this amazing sign from yesteryear.

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We aren’t completely sure why, but we kept getting kicked out of our train compartment. Our third choice finally held and we laughed our way back to Prague.

What started as a pretty boring, horrible day turned into a great one that provided tons of laughs.