After what I'd consider the amuse-bouche of our time in Prague yesterday, today is where we really got to embrace the city. I woke up at around 7AM and went for a run while Jenn continued to rest. After my workout I grabbed us both Starbucks which is around the corner from our hotel and we enjoyed them in our room while we got ready for the day.
The itinerary for today started with a Segway tour we booked for an overview of the city. Our tour began at 10 and we grabbed an Uber to go to the tour companies office. A quick funny story. The tour office is across the street from the US Embassy in Prague and when our Uber went up the street it was checked for bombs under the car and also in the trunk and under the hood. When I asked our tour guide Honza if that was happening all over the Czech Republic he laughed heartedly. He said no, only the US Embassy is doing those checks, there isn't anywhere else in the country including the Czech government buildings that do that. Side story complete.
We made our way into the office and met Honza and got acquainted with our Segways. Jenn went first and struggled a bit to get the rhythm of it. I, in a shocker to me and Jenn somehow got it right away, it just felt natural to me. It only took Jenn a little ways into the tour to get the hang of it and by then we were flying around the gorgeous city of Prague.
Our first stop on the tour was the Prague Castle. It's a beautiful castle that sits on the hill overlooking the rest of Prague. On our way up the massive hill we made a couple of stops. First was to look at Prague's replica of the Eiffel tower and also gorgeous views of Prague. From there we continued up to the Prague Castle. This is the most popular destination in Prague so weaving in and out of traffic and people on the Segway was actually a lot of fun. We made our way to the very front of the castle, snapped some pictures, and Honza told us more about the history of the area and the castle itself.
From the castle we made our way down the hill and continued to ride through the beautiful streets and parks of Prague. Because we are in Prague four nights we thought instead of doing the highlights of Prague where we would be riding through a lot of the area near and around our hotel we chose to do the viewpoints. To get out of the city a bit and take in the lesser traveled areas of Prague. It also meant that with the beautiful weather we were constantly getting amazing views of the city.
We stopped at a beer garden about half way through our tour. I got a beer with Honza and Jenn got a water. It was a nice break off of the segway and another amazing viewpoint. We sat talking for probably longer then we should about life, politics, and of course the upcoming US election. From there we continued back down the hill, to a couple more lookout points and finally back to the Segway shop. The tour was scheduled for three hours but because we talked so much with Honza we ended up stretching it to four. This was the second of two tours on this trip I wasn't really looking forward to but it blew me away. We both had such a great time riding the Segways and taking in Prague from so many amazing places. It was also fascinating to learn the divide in the Czech population on whether things were better before or after communism. There's still a large communist party in Czech that makes up a good percentage of the government. There seems to still be a struggle between the youth who want more of a democracy and the old who miss the communist times.
Because our tour went to almost 2PM we decided to skip lunch and head back to the hotel to grab a Kind bar. We had tickets for the ballet this evening so we decided instead for an early dinner. We grabbed an Uber to take us back to our hotel. While Jenn took a short nap I worked on writing this very post and ironed our clothes for the evening. We went back out a little after 4PM and went to the restaurant we couldn't get reservations for the night before, Casserol.
Let me start by saying this isn't hyperbole, Casserol was one of the best meals we've had on this trip, if not one of the best meals we've had this year. The restaurant is about a ten minute walk outside of old town, and when we passed it on our first day in Prague we knew we had to go back. The restaurant is actually downstairs in what looks to be an old cellar. As you enter you pass an open kitchen and make your way into their two dining rooms. We got a really nice table in the back, nice and quiet and away from the other patrons.
Like any good restaurant they started with a free chef's tasting (an amuse-bouche you might say). It was a goat cheese ball with pork and other vegetables wrapped in. As Jenn said, that was one burst of amazing flavor, and the sauce that accompanied it was divine. We also ordered two glasses of the Moravian Cabernet (Czech Wine) which was phenomenal. Jenn said it was one of her favorite glasses of wine ever. In fact she loved it so much she went for seconds.
For our starter we chose to split a very Czech dish, smoked beef tongue. We've never had that before and therefore can't compare to other preparations of beef tongue, but to us this was incredible. The tongue is very thick and dense. The tongue was accompanied with a cauliflower puree, breadcrumbs, and a nice sauce. We devoured this dish.
For our main course, Jenn went with duck breast with roasted salsify which was accompanied with a mashed potato and broccoli. I went with another very Czech dish, the short ribs with honey-onion puree, which was accompanied with white beans and potatoes. Both dishes were just out of this world. I'd give the slight edge to Jenn's duck as the sauce that accompanied it was out of this world, and it was cooked to perfection. However the short rib was falling apart and was paired with a great sauce.
After such a good first two courses we couldn't stop there so we went for dessert. We went with the buns with a vanilla sauce and kurd ice cream. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and just order it again. The buns were so soft and spongy and eating it with the vanilla sauce was amazing. The ice cream also made a nice pairing. The whole experience was made even better because we had the chef herself come and serve our table. It was before their dinner rush so the extra touch was really nice.
We left dinner a little before 6PM and walked back to our hotel. We changed from our day clothes to a suit for me and a beautiful black dress for Jenn. We jumped back into an Uber and were dropped off at the National Theater in Prague for the ballet, Snow Queen. As any reader of my blog knows, Jenn and I love the arts, especially the theater. We don't get out to see enough ballets but we chose our trip to Prague as a way to rectify that.
First let me start by saying the National Theater is remarkable. It was opened in 1881 and looks absolutely incredible. It's one of the most gorgeous theaters we've ever been to. The entire theater is trimmed with beautiful gold and crimson red. We had great seats only ten rows back in the dead middle of the orchestra. I'm not sure I've ever had better seats. Snow Queen is based on a danish fairy tale that has two star crossed lovers separated because of the evil Snow Queen. The first act of the nearly three hour long ballet was by far the weakest, but the ballet continued to ramp up in the last two acts.
There were two intermissions during Snow Queen. During the first I got a glass of white wine (had to catch up to Jenn's two at dinner) and Jenn got a water. What's even nicer about the National Theater is that it's situated right on the river so you can see the beautiful Prague Castle lit up during the night. The ballet ended a little after 10PM and although not the best ballet we've seen we really enjoyed it, especially the last act. The one thing it seemed like everyone could agree was the music was phenomenal.
As we've done already so many times in Prague we grabbed an Uber after the ballet and made our way back to our hotel, taking in the beauty of Prague at night. Today was one of those days that you know while it's happening you will remember for a long time to come. It's exactly why we go on these trips in the first place.