Crowded Praha bus
by a. noelle
German youth and baby, too
Foreheads lean on glass
PRAHA, Česká republika—The Bavarian countryside is a patchwork of sprawling fields and rural homes, the wild and the almost wild. Red triangles atop white boxes slowly dot across the lush greenery until they collect near the center of a shallow valley: a town. A closer look reveals thatched roofs and fallen tiles. Intimate gardens going to Nature. Pinks, browns, baby blues, lime greens—a rainbow of pastels charm the eye in an attempt to draw attention away from the dilapidated reality. Laundry is left out to sun on warm balconies, above flower boxes brimming with vibrant roses and poppies. On unpaved paths, children run ahead of their parents, strolling beneath overgrown trees, from one patch of shade to the other. Only a sudden argument that emerges from a couple outside their front door breaks the silence of this idyllic scene—or would if I could hear it from behind the thick pane of my train window. A few seconds later, disorientation transforms into pure wonderment when a burst of bright gold conquers the landscape. Colza. Beautiful fields of Colza welcome me into the Czech Republic. The train rushes past, thick swarms of green leaves blur the picture, but a part of me remains back in the field for a few seconds, transfixed.
My only objective, after the bus parked near Praha Hlavní nádraží train station, was to immediately retrieve my luggage before anyone else had the chance to do so. After the horror stories I’d read about notorious Prague “pickpocket gangs,” I’d mentally prepared myself to defend my belongings against any attacks from would-be thieves—never mind that I only barely graze the 5-foot mark and have the upper body strength of a 10-year-old. Of course, I quickly realized that there was no need for me to be so fearful—thank you for my unnecessary paranoia, every online travel forum on Prague. We collected our things with ease and headed over to the tram stop across the park. No fuss, no trouble. We would take 2 trams (1 transfer) to our hotel at the edge of Nové Mêsto.
The King Charles Residence hotel might appear shy on the outside, but there are treasures hidden within of which we were already well aware. And I was very, very eager to get to the room for a nice, relaxing bath.
Just pull on the brass lion knocker into an antique, shabby chic foyer.
Thank you, King Charles, for serving me a welcome drink designed to knock me out after half a shot. Welcome to Prague! Cheers!
Distressed walls too charming to simply walk past
Enter the perfect room for our romantic getaway
A box of Hanuta on the bed to help me relax
I just couldn’t get over all these beautiful details. The room phone took me back to my early-’90s childhood days (“pre-cordless era”). The key to open up the closet was adorbs, and it’s ridiculous how excited I was by the gorgeous mid-length wall mirror. I was planning to sample some of Prague’s Bohemia Sekt Sparkling Wine later at dinner but found some in the mini bar for a quick photo (no, didn’t drink it—too expensive in the room).
But my favorite part of our room?
Oh, yes, that bathroom! The #1 feature I’m always particular about when choosing a hotel. Marble AND Jacuzzi jets (for additional pay). I took full advantage of the bath while we were in Prague, soaking away all those muscle sores after hours and hours of walking around Nové Mêsto and Malá Strana. As I’ve found in most hotels, the bathroom mirror caters to giants. So I was only able to see the top of my head to just below my eyes—not even my nose! I ended up using the lovely mirror in the bedroom for my daily routines instead. An interesting note about the rooms in this hotel: they operate on a boiler system—an Eastern European thing, I’m told. So, we were allotted a set amount of hot water to use up, after which we would have to wait an hour or so before hot water would be available again. Not particularly inconvenient, but definitely something new that we had to get used to during our stay.
Oh, yeah, and I shouldn’t forget to mention that we were in the attic… If I was forced to stoop in certain parts of the room at my fun-sized 5′, you can just imagine what hardships would befall a man at 6’2″. But it was all in good fun. The room was very quiet with our courtyard-facing view AND had an excellent air conditioning unit! (Take note, Erlangen!) Well, so we only had about 4 – 5 channels on the TV, but we planned to be out for most of the day so it was no matter.
A glance into the courtyard before heading out for dinner and Prague nightlife
First stop ~ Dining at U Šemíka
With a 10% VIP discount from King Charles, it seemed like a great place to eat—far away from the main tourist drag, so very intimate and quiet and perfect for us.
There is a garden room and a library room for diners. We opted for the garden room, as it was a nice, balmy evening. I would have liked to return for the library room, but we decided to save it for next time.
The Bohemia Sekt was lovely and light—reminded me of a Moscato. I am truly saddened that there will be no Kofola when I return to the states. The Czech cola is mild when compared to Coca Cola or Pepsi, and it doesn’t feel as though your vocal chords are being damaged when it goes down.
The Roast Duck was absolutely delicious but just a bit too much for me, the potato dumpling and red cabbage perfectly complementing the meal. I was so tempted to take my leftovers back to the hotel with me.
After that very fulfilling dinner, an evening stroll was definitely in order.
Fancy building faces
If there’s one sound I’ll always recall and associate with Prague it’s the hilarious ticker-tape chatter at every crosswalk. It’s a very helpful staccato that obviates the need for visual walking cues.
The essentials: beer, music, good company…
And swans…everywhere, all the time.