Guest post written by Leah.
July 2 – Prague
And so the adventure begins! Melissa and I arrived from the states in the evening, while Richie and Siobhan were still on a train traveling from Poland, so we took a taxi from the airport to Wenceslas Square.
On our way we saw the Dancing House, designed by, Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry (other known works by Gehry you may know: Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, Experience Music Project in Seattle, etc).
After checking in with the Airbnb host, we took our time walking to our place on the west side of the Vltava river, in the charming Malá Strana neighborhood.
Prague is divided into districts, like Paris. It’s a fairly small city so you can walk from place to place easily and there are many bridges, giving a variety of route options. It reminds me a lot of home (Portland, OR) in that aspect.
July 3 – Explore.
This is my crew – my travel buddies, models, fellow foodies and roommates over the next few weeks
We grabbed a quick breakfast across the street at Cafe Savoy before heading off for a day of exploration. The sunshine made for perfect picture worthy lighting.
We wandered through the city following the stream of tourists, strolled across the historic Charles Bridge and found the John Lennon wall. Since the 80’s the Wall’s graffiti has represented a global push towards peace and love. I noticed someone wrote in Korean, “독도는 인식 우리땅!” which translates to “Recognize that Dokdo [islets] is our land!”. Which references the infamous territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan, both claiming sovereignty over a small group of islets.
Brief History Tangent: Dokdo became a part of Korean territory about 1500 years ago, during the Goryeo dynasty in year 512. There are multiple historic documents and maps that state and support this claim. The first time Japanese documents mention Dokdo (Oki is the Japanese name for the islets) is in year 1667, which is far later than Korean documentation. Their documents are records from an inspection trip to the islands, not a valid territorial claim. Yet the Japanese government ignores this evidence and to this day, claim the land is theirs.
On the surface it seems like a petty quarrel over a few rocks but it’s much deeper than that. It’s symbolic and emotional. It ties to the residual feelings left from the brutal war crimes the Japanese committed during the occupation of Korea that left millions lost, broken and stripped. After liberation by the United States, post war circumstances left the country divided into two – all national identity was lost.
It’s sunny today and many tourists buzz around in front of the wall to read its worldly messages, take selfies in front of it, or leave their own mark of identity or passion. Many write about peace, love, equality or quotes about happiness… and way up top near a giant stencil of Lennon’s face, someone was thinking about tiny Dokdo.
Afterwards, we made our way up the steps to the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. The view from the top is gorgeous! The red rooftops seem to go on forever.
We had dinner at Pivovar U Tří Růží, a place known for local comfort dishes like goulash and bread dumpling. I had schnitzel. We watched France play Iceland in the UEFA EURO quarter final as we ate and drank beer.
Post dinner we walked around the alleyways and stepped into Kafe Damu for a night cap, sweets and played some Heads Up! (game by Ellen DeGeneres, which I highly recommend it if you haven’t played before). We laughed a lot.
July 4 – Happy Birthday, America!
Naturally, we started the day off with coffee (and a raspberry rhubarb roll) at Supertramp before meeting up with friends that Richie and Siobhan met in Poland.
For lunch we went to Sisters Bistro for open faced Czech sandwiches. After we got some food in our bellies, we crossed the street to the Prague Beer Museum because it was America’s birthday after all. We sat on the patio, rated a flight of beers and chanted, “USA USA USA!”. Ah, bliss.
In an attempt to walk off the food and beer, we wandered around Old Town Prague and the square to see the Astronomical Clock. It was installed in 1410, which makes it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world! And to top that, it’s the oldest one that is still working today. Wow. We spent more time exploring until we caught a whiff of…
Trdelník! A must try dessert in Prague – it’s a sweet pastry made from rolled dough that’s wrapped around a metal stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and a walnut mix. We got the ice cream version and clearly, we were hooked.
After departing from our fellow patriots the four of us made our way to Eska, a restaurant located in the Karlin neighborhood (district 8)
The pork belly dish was paired with beetroot, apples and clove and it was melt-in- your- mouth good. Also pictured is the steamed trout. It was the perfect meal to end our stay in Prague. Tomorrow we leave for Český Krumlov.
July 5th- Český Krumlov
We arrived mid afternoon and found our cabin-esque hostel not too far from the main square. After settling in, we ventured back out into the charming, medieval town.
The sun was starting to set and live musicians played every few blocks, serenading tourists. We ate dinner on the river bank and watched the rafts float by. Afterwords we climbed the hill to the Český Krumlov Castle that dates back to 1240. From here, we got an awesome panoramic view of Old Český Krumlov, which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The next morning we ate a hearty breakfast at Kolektiv before our rafting shenanigans.
Rafting on the Vltava river was… slow and lazy. I don’t think we paddled very much, except for this part. We had a ton of fun regardless.
Post rafting, we bee-lined straight to MLS Creperie to fit in one last trdelník before heading to Austria. Ending things on a sweet note is our MO. Until next time, Czech Republic.
Leah is a friend of ours from Portland, Oregon. An Art Director who’s easy going, a true foodie, and loves to cook and bake (with the potential to someday turn her hobby into a possible career). She was a blessing to have along the trip as she made a point to find hidden gems from restaurants to cafes. Leah and Melissa decided to meet us in Europe after I convinced them to look into the benefits of traveling via miles and points. They were able to fly round trip to Europe with only 60,000 United Points + $100. Thanks again for sharing in the adventures as well as writing this guest post ❤ – Richard & Siobhan