Thethis year was a much lower-key affair than it had been in previous years. Part of that might be that all five parties (counting me and Sarah as one) in attendance had been to Prague before. It was very difficult to scare up interest this year, and the schedule just didn’t work out for a lot of prospective attendees.
But even with a smaller group than expected, we still had a great time.
Friday Night Arrival
Prague is just about two and a half hours in the car away from Regensburg, or three hours from Nuremberg, under ideal conditions. We didn’t have those on the way out — highway resurfacing shrunk the number of available lanes down to one for much of the trip in to Prague, causing delayed arrival. After a full day in Nuremberg (business trip for me), we finally got in just fine at The Emblem, a shiny new swanky hotel halfway between the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square.
We met up with The Honourable Husband, Papa Scott, and the Geek Mädel as soon as we could at U Císařů for dinner after rushing into the hotel, checking in, throwing our bags down and parking the car near the theater. A giant stream of Asian tourists was gushing out the entrance as we tried to make our way in, and I took that as a bad sign. But in fact, the food was great and the atmosphere pleasant. A stroll down the hill to the Hemingway Bar was the next point on the agenda. We were surprised that a barman greeted us at the door and called upstairs to find us a table. This didn’t seem typical bar behavior. Then we flipped open a menu and saw their rules. I’m paraphrasing the ones that stuck with me here:
- Don’t be obnoxious to other guests.
- If you don’t like your seat/table arrangement, ask the barman to be reseated. Don’t re-arrange tables or chairs yourself.
- Don’t bring your computer in here. The barman will recommend an internet café if that’s what you need.
- Want to buy someone a drink? Ask the barman. He’ll find out if the other party is receptive on your behalf.
The rules made for a classy experience without making me feel outclassed. I am normally not much of a cocktail person, but I really enjoyed the drinks, the mood, the service, etc. I’d spend a lot more time in bars if they all worked that way.
We met up for a gentle caffeinated return to alertness at a café just a bit downhill from the Prague Castle complex. Snooker in Berlin was there too, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a complicated arrival the night before. We strolled up in the midst of a swarm of tourists from all over. I got a few nice shots of the interior of the St. Vitus Cathedral. I like the variety of genre and technique, from Gothic to Art Nouveau, represented in one building.
We opted for a more gradual exit from the castle (as compared to the Second Defenestration) and made our way down the hill to Cowboys for lunch. No visit to Prague is complete without a slice of Medovnik and the hot beverage of you choice, so we stopped at the same café again on the way down. Yum.
Dinner that evening was at Pasta Fresca. We were skeptical out on the street, but the restaurant was much larger than it looks, given the warren of vaulted dining rooms and wine bar below the street level. With an impressive selection of foreign and domestic wines, you’ll find something to match your fresh pasta primi and hefty secondi for sure. And the Sommelier will happily make a recommendation. For me, the highlight was the dessert: pineapple cannelloni stuffed with whipped mascarpone, coconut and caramel. I was pleasantly surprised that the “cannelloni” were very thin slices pineapple rolled into tubes — not pasta at all!
After dinner, we got some much-needed fresh air (it was HOT in the basement of Pasta Fresca) and strolled to Reduta to see what was playing. We caught the last two sets of a blues band in a tiny venue. It was a good mix of “my dog died, my girl left me, I’m so sad” and more upbeat stuff too (including a particularly interesting rendition of Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine).
On our way back to our hotel for the night, I set up this shot:
Sunday Morning Farewell
Despite the low-key, relaxed atmosphere Saturday, everyone welcomed the rescheduling of our brunch reservation at Café Imperial to an hour(-ish) later than originally planned. Well, everyone except Café Imperial. We didn’t realize they stopped replenishing the buffet at 10:45. We bid each other (and Prague) na shledanou, paid up at the parking garage, and set out for Regensburg.