23 April 2012

Prague Road Trip Part 2

Where were we...so, as we crossed into the Czech Republic I was reminded of how acutely aware I was of crossing the border the first time I went there. It is a very different country than Germany. The cute little villages are replaced by slabs of concrete, ill-painted, crumbling housing blocks and the quality of the road suddenly fails. We saw a sign with two grim reapers on it that warned of something but who knows what?

More horrifying still was the “WRONG WAY” sign we encountered at an expressway entrance with no other significant markings, which as it turned out was just some cleverly-placed graffiti. Terrified and with no blood in my legs, it took me a good thirty minutes to recover from that joke. Those brilliant assholes. We decided then that the Czech people were out to get us. Speaking of that, I remembered from my first trip that the folks can be a bit cold. Not judging, just making an observation.

So as far as Prague went, we rambled around town, seeking out bars and good food. The good food was pretty difficult to find, but the bars were great. We stumbled into a few notable spots: one that was underground in cave-like setting, another that was in a school, and another where we took advantage of the lax smoky-goodness laws.

The only food that was memorable were the dumplings I had at this off-the-beaten-path brewery we went to that specialized in unfiltered, on-premises brew. I tried sour cherry (delicious) and nettle (innnnteresting) beer, apple strudel, and amazing fruit-filled dumplings that put mine to shame. It was the most memorable meal of the trip.

To put it in a nutshell, I will remember Prague for its unrefined charm; generally cold, suspicious population; great bars in schools and caves; smoky goodness; great architecture (had to say it again); food not worth mentioning (apart from the shaming dumplings); tons of tourists; prostitutes in wooded areas; and a cute little mole.

Breakfast with the giraffes, Pete, and Vin. (The giraffes are those bong-looking things behind them)
The Dvorak house
A cathedral up on the hill

David Černý babies

Sunset on the Charles bridge

Regensburg, Germany

And that was our trip! A success all the way around. 

03 April 2012

Prague Road Trip Part 1

Two good friends from Chicago came for a visit (finally!) and so we planned a road trip to Prague and, of course, a little sightseeing around the Alps/Tyrolean Region. On the night of their arrival I prepared Rindsrouladen for the first time on my own and they were really great! I learned from an Austrian housewife and a Bavarian housewife, so it’s no surprise. I served them with homemade Reibekuchen (something like hash browns) and red cabbage. Naturally, beers were also on the menu. It was really great to have friends from home here with me in Bavaria. 

All right, so we did all of the usual things in Füssen like Kalvarienberg and Lechfall and Linderhof (but no visit to Neuschwanstein castle aka "the Disney castle" oddly enough). Then we drove all the way down to Partnachklamm (Partnach gorge) which was closed due to "life-threatening" icicles. Whatever. So we four boarded what I like to describe as a swinging tin can of death which resembled a relic from some 1960s “vacation of the future” exhibit to view the gorge from above instead. It was certainly not as good as being in the Partnachklamm—dammit—but it was an adventure.

Then we drove back past Plansee (Lake Plan), a gorgeous fjord-style lake in Austria, which was frozen, of course. Thankfully, my good friend Bea came through with spot-on dinner plans the second and third nights of their visit. We ate well, which was a good thing considering what would lie ahead in Prague.

We decided to go to Prague via Salzburg and Linz, Austria. If you read my blog you know I’ve been to Salzburg multiple times because I really love it. I think the boys did, too. We stayed in a top-notch hotel in the old town (thanks, fellas!) and had a great time bopping around town, drinking, eating, and laughing. The street musicians were particularly good. As we settled down for a beer at some café we noticed that we were out of earshot of any musicians, which was a pity. A few minutes later I noticed an upright bass and clarinet player spring up under an arch a few yards away. There was something so funny about the way they appeared, and the way the clarinet player held his instrument that we dubbed them the “sneaky musicians” for the rest of the trip. Other themes were the song “Mistadobalina” and all things stupid but I will leave that alone.

Most of the photos I will be posting this time are from Prague and Regensburg, Germany (on the way back) since I’ve already photographed Salzburg quite extensively and we were only in Linz for a short period of time.
To put our trip to Prague in a nutshell, I would say it played out like a beer tour with food being an excuse to sit down for another one. But great company, eye-grabbing architecture, and the unique flavor of the street culture were the real stars. More to come.

The cathedral in Linz, Austria on the way to Prague

The old town square in Prague

Wooden "cobblestones"
One of our most significant exports

The astronomical clock

A shitty photograph of a very cool, very telling mural (in a figure-8 formation.)