Prague – A View from Above and Below

After a great night’s sleep, I was craving some brunch and on a previous walk, I had noted a place down the street that looked like a winner.  It had a pretty strange name, Sweet & Pepper Days, and a menu only in Czech which made ordering a challenge.  After some awkward back and forth, I think I had ordered some sort of egg and toast dish, while Chris went for the far easier option Full English Breakfast, which was actually in English.

My meal ended being a delicious egg sandwich with cheese and bacon.  It was exactly what I needed and due to my hunger, I neglected to take a pic of it.  Oh well.  Chris said his was the best version of the English breakfast he had this trip – high praise indeed.  I also got one of their freshly baked chocolate peanut butter walnut cookie, which was superb.

Our plan was to head back to the loft for Chris to get his camera and then walk to the Zizkov TV tower for some great views.  However, this was temporarily thwarted by an absolute downpour that seemingly came out of nowhere.  Thankfully, it was relatively short-lived and an hour later, the sun was out again and blue skies appeared.

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Located in nearby Prague 3 area, the tower was pretty hard to miss.  I had read that Prague 3 was the hipster part of the city and based on the people out and about, that seemed about right.  Near the tower was a street fair which seemed to be a bit less attended due to the aforementioned showers.  A few minutes later we were at the base of the tower, which represented the Communist aesthetic in all of its transcendent ugliness.

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Those wonderfully strange giant babies crawling up the tower were due to a local artist who apparently specializes in them as we had seen others around town earlier in the week.

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Built between 1985-1992, it is a still working TV tower, though now converted to digital transmission.  Originally decried by the locals, it’s now a treasured landmark and a symbol of Prague’s communist past.  After entering a very sleek lobby, we purchased our tickets and were instructed to head to the 4th floor, which was 93 meters up.

TV Tower 11 TV Tower 1As promised, the views of the city were pretty fantastic.

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I also appreciated the fun hanging chairs, which were very comfortable and with the accompanying sound of the city being piped in, made for a nice rest to appreciate the city from high above.

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We got back on the elevator to check out the 3rd floor views.  However, it turned out that level was dedicated solely to the restaurant/bar.  Still, it was a lazy Saturday and the bar looked interesting so we decided to take a cocktail break.

Both the heavily stocked bar and the various instruments on display made it clear this was a true mixology spot, and the creative drink menu followed in suit.  Chris went for something called “Three Faces”, which the bartender explained were 3 different cocktails in test tubes.  I selected the Old Fashioned, which seemed normal except for the mention of “orange smoke”, so that I had to try.

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The “orange smoke” turned out to be dry ice, which had been fortified with orange liqueur for the first taste of the cocktail.  As evidenced above, it made for quite the spectacle.  Once dissipated though, the end result was a very proper classic Old Fashioned.  image

The skies were starting to turn a bit too grey for our liking so we quickly finished up and headed back to the loft.  Sure enough, moments later the rain kicked up again so that meant it was nap time.  After a couple of hours of rest, we were back on the streets, making a relatively short stroll to that evening’s restaurant, Cestr, a modern Czech steakhouse.

Cestr, which is an abbreviation of the famous Czech spotted cattle, was the fourth of the Ambiente Group’s restaurants we had been to, all of which had been stellar.  I had discovered it due to its unique choice of dessert, which will be explained in a bit.

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The large room was bustling with locals as this wasn’t exactly on the main drag, all the better really.  There were several options from which to choose but both of us were drawn to the 3 course option along with sides.  After selecting a creme version of the ubiquitous Pilsner Urquell, I opted to start with the intriguingly titled “steak sashimi”, then the beef shank cooked in goose fat and finally the sirloin strip while Chris had the steak tartar, trout with peppers and the rump steak.

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The steak “sashimi” were cuts of the finest pieces of tenderloin that had been soaked in soy, mirin and green apples.  The steak barely needed to be chewed and the sauce was just the right balance – a very good start.

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This was followed by 2 copper pots, which contained the elements for the second course – a generous helping of mashed potatoes and the beef shank.  Together they looked like this:

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The shank had a deep richness from the goose fat and the accompanying gravy made each bite very succulent.  However, the start of the show were the absolutely perfect mashed potatoes, which I’m sure had been made with an insane amount of butter and cream – so so good.

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Continuing with the steak and potatoes theme, the final course was a beautifully cooked sirloin strip with some very crispy fries.  Despite being very full from this meat-a-palooza, I knew I had to save a bit of room (so no second beer for me) for the reason I had come there – dark beer ice cream.

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Although there was a more elaborate version the waiter suggested, I knew I just wanted a single scoop.  Using mostly just the foam of a local dark ale, the ice cream tasted like a sweetened version of the head of a dark ale mixed with some very strong coffee notes.  As I had to give up coffee ice cream years ago due to sensitivity to caffeine, I was in heaven with this.

With no more room and a wave of exhaustion setting in, we left the restaurant and returned once more to the loft.  Tomorrow was our final day in Prague and since the weather didn’t look very promising, it would be a mostly indoor one.

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Prague – Old and New

After the fun times with our local host the previous night, I was a little slow on the uptake to get going the next day.  Fortunately, I had planned for this and had almost nothing on the agenda.  Chris was in search of a stein, and both of us wanted some more of the wondrous sausage at Nase Maso.  So, with that in mind, we made the trek downhill once more to Old Town Square.

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The square was even more packed with tourists from all over than previously and once again I could hear various languages being shouted as their respective tour groups shuffled around the square.  To be honest, at this point, I had my fill of the madness so I was perfectly fine making this my last sojourn down here.

We eventually reached Nase Maso and why mess with perfection so I got the same links sampler and the glorious Czech pork sausage.  Chris got the same in addition to some roasted pork belly, which was quite good.  Given my obsession with their amazing mustard, I was thrilled to learn they actually sold it there for a ridiculously cheap price.  I got 2 jars that will hopefully make it back to the States with me.  Fingers crossed!

On our way back, Chris, ever the intrepid photographer, finally got a couple of shots of the famous Astronomer’s Clock, no small feat given the constant throng around it.

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Full of meat in tube form, a nap was needed and this was helped along by a few rain showers.  It was a needed break, and next thing I knew, it was time to make a somewhat longer trip to a new restaurant called Sansho, which specialized in Asian fusion.  I thought it would be a nice change of pace from the pretty heavy food we’d be having all week.

Sansho was located in a fairly remote area so we had to take a different tram line to get to it.  The tram we were on, unlike the new ones on trusty tram 22, was quite old and therefore didn’t have the handy electronic map.  While I had mapped it out on Google Maps, it was still a bit disconcerting to not be entirely sure if we were heading in the right direction.  Fortunately, all was fine and we soon exited the tram basically at the end of the line, making a short walk up a fairly desolate street to the warm glow of the restaurant.

Sansho has a set menu for dinner of 6 courses – 5 bites and 1 main course, no dessert.  The restaurant was industrial chic, and I noticed that there were only a spoon and chopsticks, no knife or fork – definitely Asian as described.  Since I hadn’t tried any local wine yet, I got a glass of the Moravian house red.  I was somewhat disconcerted by the waiter’s look of “well, OK you asked for it” but the wine was a very pleasant surprise, especially since it was only $4 USD.

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We were told everything would be served family style, except for a couple of exceptions due to my garlic issues.  The first course was a classic salmon sashimi with a soy/mirin sauce.  The salmon was very fresh and the sauce was very well balanced.  A nice start.

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Next up was the first divergence for me as I got a banh mi “slider” with ground pork and beef with the usual crunchy vegetable medley of this Vietnamese staple.  While I wouldn’t necessarily call it anything close to a true banh-mi, it tasted great and that was good enough.  Chris had glazed pork belly with watermelon, which apparently was loaded with garlic.  He said it was very good as well.

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The third course was a home run – steak tartar with a farm egg and fried bao buns.  Quite simply, this was probably the best steak tartar I’ve ever had.  The Asian flavor profile was there and the 9 day aged beef was perfect.  However, what took it to another level were the fried bao buns.  They were so good we ended up getting another order to ensure every bite of the tartar was on one of those amazing pieces of bread.

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Next course was slightly modified for me but still basically the same dish – tea smoked trout with papaya salad.  Once again, the Asian flavors shined through with the Czech influence of the river trout.  Though not my favorite of the evening, it was a nice breathe after the rich previous course.

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The final “bite” was one I had read about when researching restaurants – soft shell crab slider with pickled cucumbers and wasabi mayo.  The crunchy crab and veggies were offset nicely by the soft bao bun.  It was a great way to gear up for the main course.

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The final course and the main course was a 10 hour beef rendang with stir fried vegetables and jasmine rice.  These were the first green vegetables I had seen all week so I eagerly gobbled up the medley.  The rendang was the chef’s calling card, and I was relieved that it wasn’t overly spicy.  A great way to finish the meal.

After 2 hours of feasting, we wisely opted to skip dessert and made the journey back up to our loft.  The next day was supposed to be the last decent one weather-wise so the final item on the schedule – the Zizkov TV tower and it’s panoramic views of Prague.

Prague – A Tour Through Czech History, Medieval to Modern

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more loathe to go to heavily tourist spots as my patience for such scenarios has grown quite thin.  Still, I will occasionally break this rule for sites that are so integral to the city I’m visiting, they really can’t be ignored. Prague Castle certainly qualified for this.

But first, Chris and I needed food so we made a quick walk around the corner to a place i had spotted the previous night when returning from dinner.  The restaurant, Putica, was relatively empty and we soon found out that for lunch they had a very limited menu – as in 2 things. The waitress though insisted that the trout was excellent and so we both opted for that despite the fact due to her lack of English, we had no idea what else it came with nor how it was prepared.

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It turned out we shouldn’t have worried as it was delicious.  The trout was perfectly cooked and the lentils with a carrot ginger puree gave the dish a lot of complexity.  Not bad for $5 USD!

We finished up and continued up the street to the 22 tram, which we had taken home the previous day so we knew the drill.  This line goes all the way up to Prague Castle and just under 30 minutes later, we had climbed up the steep streets to upper entrance of the grounds.

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I had read there was a better route to get to the main portions of Prague Castle by taking a backroad and after a couple of failed attempts, we found it, with as had been promised, almost no one around.  This bliss was short-lived though when we approached the main entrance to the castle.  Here it was tourist central, with large groups being led in various languages, people snapping photos everywhere and even a Chinese torture protest as there was apparently some sort of summit going on there.

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Still, it was all pretty breathtaking.  Perched high on the hill overlooking both the old and new parts of Prague, the castle was a Gothic marvel.  Originally started in the late 800s, majority of it was finished in the 1500s so it was no surprise to see such familiar Gothic as flying buttresses and of course many gargoyles.  I was particularly impressed how much of it seemed to be intact but given the location, it was definitely not an easy castle to storm for any would-be invaders.

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Since we weren’t doing a guided tour and given the lack of many plaques or signs indicating what the various buildings were, I purchased a detailed map, which proved to be very handy as it also had a lot of interesting historical information.  The massive St. Vitus Cathedral was the centerpiece, which dominated the grounds in all of its Gothic glory.  There was also a couple of art museums, an arena for classic music concerts and lush gardens which on that day was filled with many newlyweds wanting to get their perfect wedding shot.

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There was also what both Chris and I agreed had to be the nicest location for a Starbucks ever.  The terrace views alone were worth the jacked-up price I paid for a small bottle of water, which was necessary as the direct sun was making it seem a lot warmer than the 72 degree temperature.

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After a couple of hours of wandering, we made our way down to the Old Town which is at the base of the castle.  It was an impressively steep set of stairs, which made me glad we were going down them and not up.  To that end, there were many people huffing and puffing their way up, some having to catch their breath after realizing perhaps that wasn’t the best path to take.

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After a brief respite of some truly delicious pistachio gelato (not pictured as I was too eager to try it before remembering to take a pic), we once again boarded the 22 tram and make the quick trip back to our loft for some rest.  I continue to be impressed how clean and efficient the mass transit system is in Prague.

I had made a reservation at a traditional Czech brew pub called Lokal, which was the same group that runs the Nase Maso butcher shop we had been to earlier in the week.  This time we decided to walk to see Old Town Square at sunset.  The streets were filled with people and the energy level had increased substantially.  We arrived at the restaurant right at our reservation slot and were escorted down a huge hall filled with happy Czechs eating, drinking and chatting.

Lokal’s philosophy is to take the staples of the Czech communist area but make them modern with fresh ingredients and with better care.  It’s also known for a world champion beer server who runs the beer program.  There were only 2 beers from which to choose, Kozel Dark and the ubiquitous Pilsner Urquell.  However, there were multiple options on how to have the beer poured.  “Slice” meant to have half foam and half liquid.  “Creme” was a more blended version of foam to liquid (similar to a Guinness pour) and the most intriguing “Sweet”, which was an all foam pour.  I opted for a “slice” pour first as I wasn’t quite ready for all foam.

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I asked the server which of the main dishes she preferred and she excitedly told me how good the pork neck steak was.  I do enjoy pork neck but had only ever had it as a slow cooked braise.  The meat had been quick fried to make it more tender and it tasted like a slightly richer pork chop.  The fried onions on top were a nice touch as were the julienned radishes with just a bit of butter.  It was very traditional both in presentation and taste but delicious.

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I decided to have a “sweet” pour as my dessert and soon this fascinating glass arrived.

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It turned out that the pure foam didn’t really last that long but it was fun to try for at least a few sips.  I added the rest of my regular pour to event things out a bit and really enjoyed the new combination.

Prior to my departure to Prague, I had gotten in touch with a potential client who lived there to get some tips from him.  As luck would have it, he was going to Lokal that night as well and suggested we join him there after our dinner.  He was there with his girlfriend and an ex pat from New York who had been in Prague for 7 years.  We chatted with them for a bit as they finished up their dinner and then proceeded to what he referred to as one of the best bars in the world, Black Angels.

The bar was located in the basement of the small U Prince Hotel and was known for its award-winning drinks.  The owner of the hotel apparently didn’t charge the bar any rent so the prices were basically half of what you’d expect in a top flight mixology-based bar.  The atmosphere was pure kitsch but done in a winking fashion, which pirate regalia and a piano player who evidently could play anything requested.

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After I snapped that pic, our host quickly admonished me saying that they had a very strict no photography policy as many celebrities, athletes, and bigwigs like to go there.  The drink list was very impressive although only in Czech.  Fortunately, all of the drink names were in English as they represented such classics as a Manhattan, Dark & Stormy, Old Fashioned and many more.  A round of whiskey sours were ordered but not wanting something that sweet, our server suggested their version of Penicillin. which had won a major award recently.

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Since it was so unique looking, I asked the server if I could quickly take a pic and she agreed.  The ice sphere had Lagalluvin Scotch whiskey suspended inside it so as the ice gradually melted, it added a smoky undertone to the drink -very creative and tasty.  As we enjoyed the cocktails, our host told us the crazy story how a few years ago due to some tainted alcohol that had killed a bunch of people, the Czech Republic had implemented a temporary ban on all alcohol sales.  When the owner of the bar protested, he was told he had to find certificates of authentification for each bottle.  If a single bottle was proved to be undocumented (and therefore potentially unsafe) the bar would be heavily fined.  Since the owner prided himself on only the best of alcohol available, he was able to meet that agreement and became one of the only bars allowed to stay open during the prohibition.

With that in mind, I decided for my second drink to have a pure spirit.  After sadly finding out that the listed Pappy Van WInkle 20 (for only $15 USD) wasn’t in fact available, I settled on a 21 year Nikka Taketsuru for a mere $11 USD, which is insane.  By this point it was almost 1AM, and with Chris fading fast and I knowing another round would be ill advised, we made the trek back up the hill to the loft.

Prague – Walkabout

After a fitful night’s sleep, I wasn’t quite over the jetlag but at least feeling more motivated to start exploring this very cool city. Fortunately, the weather gods agreed as the rain was gone and now there was sun streaming into our loft.  As Chris had arrived earlier into Prague he had already been to Old Town so he guided us down from our neighborhood to the heart of the city.

As we approached Prague Square, the vibe turned demonstrably more touristy, with trinket shops and teeming masses seemingly everywhere.  I was slightly annoyed by this but soon got over it as the scenery was really spectacular.  Massive Gothic buildings surrounded as we walked down the cobblestone streets.

I had read about a new butcher shop Nase Maso, run by the son of one of the most famous butchers in the country, where they will cook various cuts of meat to order.  Thankfully, it was a bit past the tourist and on a relatively quiet street.  Not surprisingly, there was a line of what appeared to be businessmen on their lunch break – always a good sign.

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A large counter laid out the selected meats for the day and there was a small dining area along with some more tables outside.  After some initial confusion thinking I spoke Czech, the manager came out to explain the concept.  The choices for the day included their own Czech pork sausages, some Vienna beef links, steak tartar, flank steak and burgers.

We decided to each get the large Czech pork sausage with paprika (Czech’s spice of choice) and share the sample platter of the pork, beer and mixed links.  Of course, this had to include some beer, which for today was an unfiltered blueberry based pilsner.  We were given paper cups and told that 1 beer = 2 refills from that cup – for $2.  The manager also instructed us to tip the cup to the side (as if we didn’t know that already!) to avoid getting all foam.

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Finally, the sausages arrived and due to our hunger, we had already eaten most of the sample platter before realizing we didn’t take a pic.  Ooops.  I made sure to get a snap of the main sausage though as it was fantastic.

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The sausage was almost all pork and barely any filler, with just a hint of spice from the paprika.  The real kicker though was the homemade mustard, which was a perfect blend of sweet and spice, complementing the sausage beautifully.  Full of meat in tube form, we made our way over to the famed Charles Bridge.

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Unfortunately, the bridge was packed with tourists and the schlocky stands of lousy looking tchotckes that inevitably follow, along with the inevitable portrait artists and street performers.  There was a brief respite at one point though with a very talented violinist providing a nice background to the beautiful surroundings, which I appreciated.  Still, by the end, I was more than ready to get off the bridge and move to a quieter street.

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We walked along the river via a nicely shaded path and made our way towards the Cafe Savoy, a Prague institution since 1893.  Since we had stood eating at the butcher shop, it was very nice to settle into the comfy booth and rest my aching feet.  The main room was quite resplendent with a huge ceiling decorated with chandeliers.

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I had read about their famous patisseries but I was drawn to the unusual description of a sundae with homemade eggnog.  I was a bit confused as to how that would be served and failed in my attempt to get a clearer explanation from our waiter.  But it was only $6 plus I wanted to see what in the heck it would look like.

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The ice cream turned out to be a mix of chocolate and marzipan, with the eggnog layered in between the 2 scoops along with some whipped cream.  It was even better than it looks above, the eggnog had been spiked with some brandy and the whopped cream perfectly fluffy – delicious.

Before we left, I took a quick look around and found a large portal into the patisserie, where a baker was busy making what appeared to be the beginning of a croqueembouche

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The cafe was right next to the 22 line tram, which runs close to our loft, so we decided to check it out.  After some miscommunications on how tickets worked, we eventually found a tobacco shop to buy some, based on the duration of the intended trip(s).  Soon what appeared to be a brand new tram pulled up and a mere 20 mins later, we were back in our neighborhood – very handy.

We rested up for a couple of hours before it was time to head out again.  When I had posted on Facebook I was making my way to Prague, an old friend of mine, Steve, had told me he was going to be in the city at the same time.  I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years so it was going to be a real treat for me.  Knowing he was a beer lover, I picked a spot that was close to our respective locations plus supposed to be a pretty good upscale pub.

Called Nota Bene, the restaurant was tucked down a small side street and an outdoor terrace for summer drinking.  However, it was a bit cold out so we chose a table inside.  Once again feeling like something darker, I chose a dark lager which had some nice roasted notes to it.  The menu was pretty small but had several good selections.  I had been reading about the Czech version of schitnizel, which isn’t as heavy as its Austrian neighbor and almost always pork-based.

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The batter was nice and crunchy but definitely lighter than a traditional schnitzel.  The mashed potatoes were delicious too, with some kind of pickled element on top (never found out what it was, alas.)  It was great catching up with Steve but after a couple of hours and another beer – this time an Indian saison, which was a nice capper – I was spent.  Tomorrow would be the best weather so Prague Castle lay ahead.

 

Prague – Rest, Eat, Repeat

My first full day in Prague would be a day of rest and regeneration from the lovely effects of jetlag.  Fortunately, the weather gods had taken pity on me and decided to make it a very rainy day.  From pretty much the time I got up to going to bed later that night there were various levels of rain.  Still, I had to eat at some point but given my state of mind, it had to be close.

Luckily, it turned out that one of the restaurants I had been recommended, Dish Fine Burger Bistro was right around the corner.  I opted for the burger that had a local Movarian cheese and wine poached onions along with some steak fries with rosemary.  Chris opted for the Dish Burger and fries.  Since the beer was actually cheaper than water, I had a local pilsner.

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It was pretty much exactly what I needed on a cool, rainy day and as soon as I finished, another wave of tiredness came over me so we headed back to the loft.  Four hours later, I groggily woke up and eventually forced myself to get some dinner.

I once again knew that it would have be a very local place and the owner of the loft suggested Bruxx, a Belgian restaurant only about 5 minutes from here.  It was still raining a bit but the walk was easy enough.

Having had my fill of the lighter beers, this time I opted for Leffe Dark, which was a nice change of pace.  The restaurant was pretty busy and the menu looked promising.  Wanting something I can’t get that often in the States, I selected the leg of rabbit with a Lambic (cherry beer) reduction.

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It certainly looked appetizing but the rabbit was far from tender and almost bone dry.  After drinking almost half of my beer to choke down a couple of bites, I decided to send it back.  The waiter was very apologetic and said he would get a new one.  I told Chris that regardless of what I got next time, I would eat it.  While still not really even close to being tender, the second try was better so I was at least able to eat it.

That was just about all of the energy I could muster, so we headed home as tomorrow would be a big walking day.

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Earlier in the year during my Japan adventures, my traveling companion, Chris, was in the process of figuring out his agenda for exploring Europe this summer.  He noted towards the end of the trip he was going to Prague, a city I’ve longed wanted to explore.  I decided right then to join up with him in Prague and finally check that city off my bucket list.

As it turned out, a newish discount airline called Norwegian Air was gearing up to start service from LAX to various European cities, including Prague.  Even better was the fact that there was only one stop, Oslo versus other carriers that had 2 or more stops.  I opted to treat myself to their “premium economy” to give my poor legs a break from yet another 10 plus hour flight.

After what seemed to be way too long since I had booked everything, I was finally en route to Prague.  Part of Norwegian Air’s long haul discount strategy was to use the new Boeing Dreamliners as they use significantly less fuel.  Unfortunately as I knew from personal experience, these planes haven’t been the most reliable of fleets lately.  Norwegian Air had been having a lot of problems so my flight approached, I was nervously hoping for the best.  Thankfully, besides some brutal turbulence, the flight was fine and the premium economy seat was very comfortable.

10 hours later, I arrived at Oslo’s incredibly cool airport, one of the nicest I’ve been to in quite awhile.  I had 5 hours before my flight to Prague so despite only having about 4 hours sleep, I headed into the heart of Oslo courtesy of their very handy express train, which took only 19 mins door to door.  After finding a locker to store my bag, I stumbled out into a main square, which was teeming with people despite a light drizzle.

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I had read about the massive fortress that dominated Oslo, the Archsus so I thought that would be a good way to kill time.  I was slightly hampered though but a large construction project on the path to the fortress so I ended up meandering a bit more than intended.  Fortunately, by then the rain had stopped and it was a very pleasant walk.  One of the more striking buildings I saw along the walk was the Oslo Opera House.

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I continued to wander taking in the sights.

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That was the first time I had ever seen a rollerblader use cross country ski poles.

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While the fortress was easy enough to spot, it being a fortress and all, the exact location of the Armed Forces Museum that had been recommended to check out, remained a bit unclear.

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When I ran across a large number of cannons and a tank, it was obviously that the museum had to be close.

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Housed in one of the newer (as in not middle ages) buildings within the fortress, the museum showcased the military history of Norway – from the vikings all the way to modern warfare.  Although it was fairly small, the collection had been well-cured and included such fun items as these.

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I spent the majority of the time upstairs reading about Norway’s involvement with Napoleon. I had no idea that Norway and Denmark were actually part of his armies, including the famed Norwegian ski patrol, the first of its kind.

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Upstairs also had a scale model of the fortress, which gives you as sense of just how massive it is.

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My energy was beginning to wane due to the jetlag so I headed back to the central station, first stopping for my first and only Norwegian beer – not too bad actually.

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I also wanted to get back to have time to explore the Oslo airport a bit. I mean just look at this beauty – Scandinavian design aesthetics at its finest.

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Feeling hungry, I ventured out to find some Norwegian salmon.  Unfortunately, while there were a few places that had it, the prices were crazy – $40 for a simple baked salmon!  $30 for a salmon burger! – so I eventually gave up.  Instead, I had that Norwegian staple croque monsieur, which actually turned out to be quite good and half the cost.  No picture as it was hardly food porn worthy alas.

Given the bumpy flight over, I was a bit apprehensive to get on yet another plane but mercifully it was both smooth and under 2 hours.  One curious thing I noticed was there was no passing out of custom forms or similar paperwork.  I raced ahead of most passengers only to find that there wasn’t any kind of passport control and when I got my bag, no customs either.  That was a first for me.

The host where I was staying had arranged a car for me as Prague cabbies are notoriously bad and a mere 30 mins later, I arrived out front with Chris greeting me.  The loft is on the 5th floor and in a recently renovated art deco building in the Praha 2 district, which is in the heart of the city.

Exhausted, I crashed as soon as I could.  As luck would have it, the weather called for rain tomorrow so I knew I’d be able to take it easy as I tried to get over the jetlag and prepare for the fun ahead in Prague.