Europe 2013: Day 4, Part II-Prague: Mala Strana

I think the blog is due for another travel recap today! Though I returned from the Czech Republic a few weeks ago, it’s been my goal to post one travel recap from the trip per week! In case you missed the previous posts you can catch up here, if you’re interested:

Other Posts from this Trip:

In my previous recap post, I told you about the first half of our fourth day in Prague, which was primarily spent wandering around Old Town Square.

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After lunch, we meandered down Karlova street toward the Charles Bridge. Walking down Karlova, we were merely a couple specks in a mass of tourists, passing dozens of jewelry shops filled with garnet and crystal, hotels, absintheries, souvenir shops, restaurants, and pubs.

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During our stroll down Karlova, we passed astronomer Johannes Kepler’s former residence, no. 4:

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Finally, we made it to the Charles Bridge!

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Where we found… more tourists! The Charles Bridge was absolutely buzzing with tourists, Czechs, vendors, artists, jewelry makers – people from all walks of life. The bridge is for pedestrians only.

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Did I ever tell you how white I am!? #SPF50

Cheese! Phew it was a hot day! We’re talking mid-90s.

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Looking down at the Vlatava River from the bridge, we saw this boat carrying sightseers.

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Though it was nothing short of a struggle walking 1,692 feet across the architectural marvel that is the Charles Bridge in the intense midday sun (did I also mention that I am a drama queen?), there were dozens of Baroque statues lining the bridge to check out on the way down.

As amazing as the view was, I must admit I was quite relieved when Mala Strana (Lesser Town), on the other side of the bridge, came into view. That meant that soon there would be shade to walk in! It’s the little things in life…

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Woohoo! We made it to Mala Strana. I could already breathe easier. Exhale.

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The Mala Strana area of Prague was most certainly my favorite. The tourist crowd was massively diminished. Gone were the t-shirt and shot glass souvenir shops, and instead were the authentic art galleries. Gone were the restaurants promising the “traditional Czech cuisine” that only tourists eat, and instead were the pubs where locals drink Pilsner Urquell. In place of noisy public squares were quiet cobblestone alleys.

Obviously not all touristyness (it’s a word) was absent, but there was a dramatic difference between Old Town and Mala Strana.

Mala Strana is my scene.

Especially charming was our stroll down quaint Nerudova street, lined with all sorts of cute, colorful buildings.

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We also popped our heads into the beautiful 180th century St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana.

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The artwork was nothing short of breathtaking. My guidebook refers to the church as a “masterpiece of high Baroque.”

After leaving the church we did more strolling, which included walking by the US Embassy, and soon we made it to our next destination, The Church of Our Lady Victorious.

“This early-Baroque church of the Carmelite order is famous for the wax status of baby Jesus displayed on an alter…” [source]

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Obviously we could not pass up the opportunity to see a wax baby Jesus from 1628. A small crowd of people were admiring the wax figure during our visit.

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After spending some time in the churches, we continued to wander Mala Strana. It was so quiet. I loved it!

We found The Maltese Order’s Church of Our Lady Below the Chain (what!?) and explored its peaceful courtyard.

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After twisting and turning down several small side streets and alleys, we found the John Lennon Peace Wall.

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Following John Lennon’s death in 1980, under the rule of Communism, protesters covered the wall in new messages of peace daily, “extolling the virtues of John Lennon, instead of that other ‘Lenin.’” [source]

Can you find me!? Between my skirt and the graffiti, it’s like some weird Czech version of Where’s Waldo.

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People still write messages on the wall today. Unfortunately I didn’t pack any spray paint in my carry-on.

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After a busy day of walking, we were in need of a rest. In the grass.

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We found refuge in Mala Strana’s Kampa Park.

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It was nice to get away from the noisy cobblestone streets and enjoy a quiet green space for a while. I’m an introvert. I need to recharge sometimes.

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That evening was enjoyed the huz’s most anticipated dinner of the trip at Restaurante Brasileiro. We had reservations at a Brazilian steakhouse – in Prague! I know!

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For those of you who’ve never had the chance to visit one, churrascarias are Brazilian steakhouses that serve lots and lots of MEAT. (We’ve also visited churrascarias in San Francisco and Chicago.)

During the meal, passadores wander from table to table, offering skewers of roasted meat. Diners are given a two-sided card – one side is green and if displayed, it means “keep it comin’!” The other side is red and means you’re good – for now. You can always flip it back to the green side.

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Now, the meat is more the huz’s scene than my scene. I personally favor the unlimited salad bar that accompanies the meal. Below is my first salad bar plate with (clockwise) gazpacho, seafood salad (amazing), olives, potato salad, oysters, sushi, shrimp, caprese salad, and more. I also favored drinking Pilsner Urquell with my dinner. When in Prague…

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But don’t worry – we ate tried lots and lots of meat. Of course I didn’t take many pictures of it, because I ate each protein as it presented itself, but I can tell you that we tried:

    • pork sausage
    • bacon-wrapped chicken
    • duck breast
    • rosemary pork tenderloin
    • leg of lamb
    • various cuts of beef
    • fish
    • shrimp
    • pig haunch

So yes. That was a delicious and fun meal, enjoyed in the romantic, cellar-like atmosphere of the subterranean Restaurante Brasileiro. We may have also been the only tourists in the bustling place, which was a nice change. (Also the power briefly went out while I was using [peculiar] sink in the [pitch black] ladies’ room! That was an adventure to say the least.)

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Afterward, we weren’t ready to call it a night, so we hit up a touristy outdoor restaurant for a couple cocktails, where we could people watch and enjoys nighttime views of Old Town Square.

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Old Town Hall Tower by night. I love the way the light reflects off the cobblestones in the square.

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The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn was rather bewitching by night.

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Republic Square, near our hotel, was pretty bumpin’ at night too!

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After a long and adventurous day, our weary feet returned us back to our hotel.

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I hope you’ll come back again to read about the rest of our trip.

Smile

Other Posts from this Trip:

6 thoughts on “Europe 2013: Day 4, Part II-Prague: Mala Strana

  1. Pingback: Europe 2013: Day 5, Part I-Vyšehrad | Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

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