I knew I'd like Prague as soon as our bike tour guide said, "Here, beer is cheaper than water." The birthplace of the Pilsner. The holy grail of all party opportunities.
I'm a beer gal. While this hasn't been beneficial to the healthy diet I typically try to stick to, it's the only alcoholic beverage that really speaks to me. I've tried the low-cal garbage (with 2 per cent alcohol, so you have to drink 30 litres anyway) and the vodka water/lemon juice combination, but nothing satisfies like a cold beer on a hot day.
Or a cold day.
Or ANY day.
What I immediately LOVED about Prague was its laid-back vibe. (Except for when the astronomical clock dings at noon in the Old Town Square. People are really freaking passionate about that clock.)
But I've always had this theory that if Canada and the U.S. weren't so ridiculous with its rules and regulations on alcohol consumption, a lot of us would be less likely to go on a crazy binge. For the Czech people, beer is just a way of life.
Harley's, "the coolest hell on earth"
Our Contiki guide was bit of a pro when it came to the underground bar scene in Prague, and this was the first place he took us. Initially it seemed like a low-key joint, although the hot Asian chick grinding herself against a guy at the bar while lip-syncing to terrible music was pretty off-putting.
Fast forward to three hours later when people are dancing on table-tops, on the "stage," on chairs, on everything. Shirts are coming off. We're ordering shots of Becherovka, a bitter herbal liqueur. I get acquainted with my Contiki travellers over a vat of Rum and Coke with 40 long straws sticking out from it. Sanitary, and delightful.
This is apparently the "largest music complex in Central Europe," with five clubs on five floors (and one admission fee). Perhaps we should have kept this in mind before all entering the club together -- I went to use the bathroom, and I never saw half of my group again.
Personally, I'm not really into the dance club scene. But this is kinda a local institution. Located next to the Charles Bridge, each club on each floor has a very distinct style...everything from trance to hip-hop.
And apparently, in clubs like these, nobody shuts it down until the last person leaves. Thinking it was probably 3 a.m.-ish, I left the club and walked out into bright sunlight. Seriously. That was the first time it ever happened in my life. EVER.
Here's where local artist/celebrity David Cerny hangs out and where the bar countertop is a piece of art designed by him. You could sit there all day and find new things to look at it in that artwork, by the way. Vaginas and all.
Photo credit: Candice Walsh
Letna Beer Garden
I have never had a real beer garden experience before, except for those designated areas of a concert or festival where the drunkards are penned to keep the peace. I was stoked to find this place in Letna Park, atop a hill with a pretty stellar view of the city. The few remaining people on our tour all got together for some cheap beers and sausage, and naturally stayed until the sun went down.
I loved the casualness of this whole experience. There were mothers with their babies, and a slobbering dog roaming around our feet, and nobody was reckless drunk and out of control. The locals were out to enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon, families and all.
U Prince Hotel Rooftop Bar
Having a rooftop bar in the middle of Prague is bit of an anomaly, considering it's probably like...the only one. Prague is a remarkably preserved city, so its buildings are old. While the food here was average, the view of the city made it all worthwhile.
I can't believe this place is even legal (but apparently Montreal has one like it). Basically, you and a group of friends can book a table with a tap in the middle of it, and are free to pour your own beer. You pay per amount poured. But the crazy twist is that it gets super competitive, because a massive screen at the front of the room tallies your pints. We weren't much match for the folks in Berlin, but we did alright judging by the following scoreboard.
Photo credit: Candice Walsh
We're Praha 5.
The Strahov Monastic Brewery
This is actually the one I didn't do, and with great regret. While most everything in Prague focuses on the Pilsner, this place brews its own St. Norberts beer. And it's in a monastery.