Our second day in Prague started with more lectures, which were surprisingly interesting. We discussed how the Czech Republic managed to pull itself out of the financial crisis of 2008 with relatively few scratches compared to other European Union members. But after a long lecture, we finally got to explore the city! Our guide took us on a quick tour, starting with Old Town Square.
In Old Town Square, there is the famous Astronomical Clock, the oldest still functioning clock in the world. Every hour, a skeleton on the side will pull a bell, and the 12 apostles will also rotate around. The clock has a few dials: one for the movement of the sun, one for the movement of the moon, one for the time, and another for the zodiac. The clock itself and its hourly ritual are quite impressive.
As we were walking towards our bus, we ran into a group of people doing the Harlem Shake…
Leaving Old Town Square, we took a bus up to the Prague Castle, where we were given a quick tour. From the castle, we were also able to get some beautiful views of the city and the river.
Prague Castle is also home to St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Prague. We did not go inside, but the Czech crown jewels are kept inside. The mural on the outside of the cathedral is also stunning.
After the castle, we walked down to go see the Lennon Wall. The Lennon Wall is a tribute to John Lennon, member of The Beatles, and people from all over come to write their favorite Beatles lyrics or paint pictures of John Lennon himself. Some people just write “We were here!” as well.
After the Lennon Wall, we walked on the Charles Bridge. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good shots of the bridge because it began to get a bit hazy, but the bridge also provides some great views of the river.
For dinner, we were determined to eat traditional Czech food to erase our failure from the previous day. As an extra insurance, we asked our guide for a restaurant recommendation. He told us about a place located not far from our hotel, called Celnice.
For starters, we ordered the fried cheese (149 CZK). The fried Edam cheese was gooey and well-liked. We weren’t sure why they were served with potatoes, but they were good nonetheless.
Two of us ordered the roast beef fillet with cream sauce (179 CZK), because meat with dumplings is essentially the Czech Republic’s national dish. It came with bread dumplings, Carlsbad dumplings, and cranberry sauce. Carlsbad dumplings are made with bread cubes, and we actually preferred these dumplings over the plain bread dumplings. The meat was tender, but – as you can see – there was also a lot of gravy.
Another girl ordered the beef cheeks (189 CZK), a special of the day. They were served with semolina dumplings. She wasn’t a fan of the dumplings, but the beef cheeks were so soft that they would just melt in your mouth. It had a strong red wine flavor that surprisingly was not too overpowering.
Someone else ordered the Chef’s schnitzel (189 CZK). The schnitzel is coated in corn flakes and served with a potato salad. The schnitzel was nothing amazing, but it was solidly cooked and the outer coating was crispy.
The last girl ordered the Pilsen goulash (169 CZK). The goulash is made from beef shin and then served with bread dumplings and potato pancakes. The potato pancakes were a nice addition, and probably a good thing to take a break from all the dumplings. Watch out for the hot peppers, though. When you’re eating with all that gravy, you sometimes can’t discern what you just scooped up with your fork.
It’s hard to judge Celnice because what we disliked about the food had nothing to do with the way the restaurant prepared the food. Traditional Czech food was just too heavy for us, and the combination of lots of sauce with filling dumplings was a bit overwhelming. Perhaps it was just an indication telling us that, while not bad, Czech food probably wouldn’t be our favorite cuisine. Celnice is a part of a chain of restaurants, but its food was good and the prices reasonable. Czech, please!
V Celnici 4
Prague, Czech Republic (Praha 1)