Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Café Louvre

Location: Narodni 116 same street as the national theatre and Cafe Slavia
Getting there: Metro line B station Narodni Trida, tram lines 9, 22, 23 and many others also stop at "Národní třída". Otherwise - Café Louvre is a ten minute walk from Wenceslas Square.

Finally a place that has some class! So far I've mostly taken you to places a little dirty, roots and a little underground - I have to admit it.If you come to Prague with your girlfriend and you have inflicted her Ujezd and Parukarka you can't try to make it up with an invitation to the Café Louvre.

After having a fresh shave and armed with an well ironed shirt - maybe this pretty pinstriped shirt that Mommy bought a few years ago for oral exams - you are ready for the  "Louvre". But before and  in order to impress your girlfriend as well as to show her that you too have come to Prague for the culture - read the section below and try to recall a few highlights.

Café Louvre is all glamour  - established on the first floor of a "city palace" overlooking the very busy Narodni Street, the cafe has been opened in 1902. The list of important people that have been the cafe's guest since is quite impressive : Franz Joseph, Masaryk, Heydrich, Einstein, Gottwald, Dubcek and Vaclav Havel.

The servers impeccably stylish - providing an efficient service - while you can relax on one of the many black leather benches - informing your interlocutor negligently that Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod (Kafka's sponsor) used to come to this place - as it was very popular among intellectuals of the time.

If you want to see authentic decor you will need to go to the "Cafe Slavia" - The Louvre has been entirely rebuilt, probably in the 90s. It's probably more comfortable but less picturesque. 

The specialties of the establishment are the Lavazza espresso or cappuccino Segafreddo - but dont worry we are in the Czech Republic, they 'll serve you a beer if you really want one. My girlfriends swears by the pancakes with fresh berries & cream ... but hurry - around 11h30 the menue changes to "Czech lunch style".

So, what can I say? Café Louvre is good place to pause in while taking a stroll through the city. But if the atmosphere is nothing special, some white-collar for lunch or after work and a lot of tourists.

If you like playing billiard however this might be your spot. Five big billiard tables  nicely  aligned in a nice calm area near the end of the main room at the right - beautiful tables from what I can tell. 

So tonight so you can drop the shirt - go to the "El Dorado" - after having committed half a day  to Prague's Café ritual. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bukowski's Bar

Initially my intention was not to write about "expats" bars ... I'll make an exception here as the place is remarkable and because I was involved in the first bar fight in Bukowski's (the barman said so - I gather I can trust him on this) The fighting went well  -  we managed to separate the two friends of ours (something about each respective girlfriends breast size got the two of them into a heated discussion) and we had a few more cocktails to settle the topic... without any real damage. 

How to go there : by Tram Lipanská - follow Lipanská uphill turn right into Bořivojova and keep walking for about 4 min until you reach Bukowski's. 

Bukowski's is owned by Glen Emery - There is an interview that retraces some of his stories during the wild 90's in post communist Prague. And then there is his blog ... 

Bukowski's is one of the few cocktail bar I know off that offers good cocktails. In  fact I would say they are exceptional - even garb one every now and then (I prefer wine). The atmosphere is cosmopolitan open minded and the staff is remarkable. They are open late (3am if I recall it right) it s a good place to chill out with your friends if you are too lazy to go to one of the music bars or good starter to get in shape before.

I like the mix : poeple between  from early 20 to late 40 - 7 languages spoken by the 15 guests and a waitress that smiles if she does not understand. There is a a low-lit back room with comfortable sofas on the left if you need some intimacy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Casa Blů

Where? Kozi 15 Prague 1.  Go to "Staromestské namesti" = Old town square - you know, the place full of tourists with the clock tower.Continue on Dlouha (Dlouha is on the North corner of the square same as Pařížská) - you should see Caffrey's Irish pub  on your right  - continue until you hit Kozí. It's  5 min walk form the old town sqaure.

Praga latina? La Casa Blu is "latino bar"  - usually crowded at night with a festive backdrop of Latin music, Manu Chao sort of thing - see? A good place to spend a few hours at the bar making friends as there is quite a turnover.  It's not the kind of bar where people stagnate at their table all evening. Public :  relatively mixed, a lot of aliens if not the majority. I have not noticed a particular choice of rum (the beverage of Latin America, after all?) But from memory if you're tired of beer you can drink mojitos. Prices are reasonable as far as I can recall - as far as I can recall after a few tequillas....
After all a Latino bar? I do not think. More of "Yet-another-bar" in Prague where you can enjoy yourself with friends -the atmosphere sort of Czech - but after all that's why you are in Prague, no? 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Riegrovy Sady

Quick Guide

Riegrovy Sady's Beer Garden is one of the largest and most popular outdoor pubs in Prague. It is located in the park Riegrovy Sady between the districts of Zizkov and Vinohrady in Prague 2. It’s open from early April until late October and usually crowded on warm spring/summer days, as it’s a popular meeting place for Czechs and foreigners alike. Football tournaments like the Champions League, Euro Cup, World Cup, and other sports events can be viewed on their big projection screens. You can have a grilled klobasa, steak and other snacks with your beer.

Tap beer :
Gamrinus, pale lager - 10°
Pilsner Urquell, pale lager - 12°

Long version

Location: multiple entries, the park is located in the heart of Vinohrady.

Getting there:

By underground, take line A to station Jiriho Podebrad z, then the square of the same name to the street and then right into Manesova and Třebízského.
By tram, there are the following possibilities:
11: get off at station "Vinohradska trznice" and from there take the street Trébického
 10: 16: get off at station "Vinohradska vodárna", down to the square Jiriho z Podebrad and then follow as indicated above.
 9, 5, 26: get off at the station "Husinetska" (opposite the football stadium of Viktoria Zizkov), go through the streets Krasova, Kubelíkova (turn left) Slavíkova (turn right) and Na Svihance.

The location

Built in 1903,Riegrovy Sady (the park) extends over ten acres on a small hill overlooking the New Town and the area around Wenceslas Square. There are lawns and a children's park. Especially nice when the weather is nice, however the place is easyly crowded.

Right at the top of the bar, next to the space for children, there is the famous beer garden. Observe the Czech-pragmatic setup : next to the bar the kindergarten - family fathers (and some mothers too) can go and relieve their boredom and thirst with some cold hops drink while keeping an eye on their off-springs.

Riegrovy Sady is named after a Czech philologist and publicist who has lived in the nineteenth century, Frantisek Rieger. He was one of the spiritual leading figures of the national Czech movement claiming the political autonomy of the Czechs within the Habsburg Monarchy.

The Riegrovy Sady beer garden is a huge beer garden which can probably go smoothly 500 people. When you go to the park at night, you can find it without problem by following the noise.

There is a large screen usually showing football and hockey.During the hockey world championships, try going to see a Czech-Russia (the " El Clásico" of the ice-hockey world) or the "local" derby Czech-Slovakia.

On summer evenings you can stay for hours beer after beer talking and having endless discussion about beer or politics - If are you're hungry meanwhile - there are sausages for 35 crowns. If you are hungry only ...

One really wonders why there are no such places in France, where the weather is nice.Perhaps because real estate is expensive, and well there would inevitably be a mess, for it's true : you need some civic sense in order to be able to have 250 people being drunk in a rather small place.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Klub Újezd

Location: Újezd 18, Downtown (Mala Strana)

Getting there: tram 9, 20, 22, 23, the tram stop is actually called "Ujezd". Ujezd is the street that runs along the Petrin hill. It's easy to find, as the club is almost almost directly opposite the memorial to the victims of communism.

As said earlier Club Ujezd ("Klub Újezd") is a mythical place! It spreads to a total of four levels (or is it three - well you will need to do some exploring on your own) It seems to me it is has become somewhat calmer than it used to be ten years ago - rumor has it that is used to be one of the craziest places in Prague in the early 90's. Still it feels alternative and it is one of the few bars in this area where you can meet people and make friends with as little as ten words of common vocabulary (adding a few beers if you are shomewhat shy).Big deal of heavy smoking in particular on the upper floors (pot being illegal only in "more than small amounts").

On Friday & Saturday evening the crowd easily gets noisy laughing loudly, calling each other across the smoke thick air with much of "hele" & "vole", pathetically trying to hit on some of the mocking girls. I do not know many cool bars in Mala Strana, but this one is definitely worth a visit.

 During the day it's quite a big deal calmer, I actually managed to do some reading and writing ... once I managed to "climb" on one of those cool looking but absurdly high bar stools.

The decor is quite nice with sculptures in wrought black iron combined with thick wood and some funny drawings (I recall the one indicating the toilet).

Prices are reasonable (even more considering the area of the city) and the service is both friendly and stress-proof.

Web : http://www.klubujezd.cz/



How to get there? Tram 5, 9, 26, and get off at Olšanské náměstí. The park is located on the St. Cross Hill near Olšanské náměstí - opposite to the small chapel. Cross the road to reach a small paved road that leads to the park. The bar is a few hundred meters higher, you cannot miss it.

Their website is : http://www.parukarka.cz/

I call it "the bar of Parukarka" lack of something better - its something between a public refreshment stand and a bar - selling mainly beer and Kofola from the tap & grilled sausages in the summer. And there are concerts (rock, punk, jam) going most of the summer and autumn.
Kostel Rocha

Brief history: the bar is located on the hill that dominates the Parukarka Saint-Roch chapel  built in the late seventeenth century after a plague epidemic. It is a small chapel that is worth a look if you take a stroll in the neighborhood, and if you have time you can also take a walk in the cemetery which is very close.

But back to the bar, which is located at a place called "na Krizku" which means "to cross". It seems it was here that the executions proceeded in time, but there is no solid proof for this.
However - what is certain is that in the park are several small bunkers and I wonder what purpose they might have served and why they have been put here. I never did see them - but they are run by a guy who organizes parties from time to time in the bunker, the entrance is an iron door grafitée located midway of the stairway leading from the bar to Olsanské namesti. The bar is open from roughly 11am to midnight - depending on a lot of factors as weather and mood of the person holding the key.

the park and people  
Parukarka is not the tourist place it is neither very clean and cetainly not trendy- but if the underworld intrigues you, if you like the atmosphere and the crazy regulars, you're welcome.CIMG5508-1 The bar owner and or its regulars will tell you about the struggle in recent years with the local authorities of Zizkov. They seems to have decided to turn the spot into something "clean" and profitable. However the struggle has been going on for years now – with little change. Let’s just hope Parukarka will be around for some more years.

If you have children, it's nice to go in the afternoon because there is a playground next to the bar (Czechs have a pragmatic way of doing things : watch you kids on the playground while sipping a lager)  There is a lot of open space & no roads no cars wich makes it perfect place with children – or walking your dog.

In short, Parukarka is perfect for a pickick – playing petanque or having a small stroll and a quickk beer enjoying the view over Prague.

view from Parukarka