Sunday, March 11, 2012

Czech Republic


      If you're going to Europe and NOT going to Prague, first off, you're a jerk. OK, that was harsh. Sorry I called you a jerk. But really, get there. Prague is the best place in all of Europe and I count myself lucky to have spent so much time there and with such good people. You can see Kafka's grave, Der Golem, medieval torture museums, great art galleries, castles, two separate Mucha museums, and see baffled tourists and locals alike look totally lost on every corner.
     The architecture has an old and almost sinister vibe, and unlike any city I've ever known built on a boring-ass grid, Prague is a disorienting series of spirals that you can only give in to and get lost in. And there's an overarching vibe of something creepy and sinister that you can't ever put your finger on, like the city itself is alive and watching you wind your way through its maze. In a word too often misused, it's truly Kafkaesque.

The New Jewish Cemetery in Žižkov 

 Old Town, Staré Město, Praha 1

View of Mala Strana

Old Jewish Cemetery

Dancing Building

But I digest. More Czech travel tips later. Now about that vegan food...

     The old Prague favorite, lifesaver and winner by a long shot is Country Life. CL started out as a real underdog in 1991, as the sole health food wholesaler in the entire Czech Republic. Today, it is the best-known veg restaurant around and still a health food store too (and a supplier to other places that have since started getting in on the action).
     The restaurant is buffet style and by weight (if you know Le Commensal in Toronto or Montreal, it's something close to that) and they always have a great spread of salads, proteins, fresh juices and great desserts. Last time we were there, we spotted Wife's real boyfriend Krispin Glover dressed all in black, with a briefcase, taking in the Country Life. Anyone know how to say "Biff, you get your damn hands off of her!" in Czech?

 (Pilfered from the Internet. Thanks Internet!)

     Also, be sure to check out Lehka Hlava A.K.A. Clear Head (LINK). This vegetarian restaurant with a one of a kind design and atmosphere can be found in a fairytale-esque building built in 1410 located in Old Town, Borsov 2/280, Prague 1. Their menu is also as eclectic as the decor. Be sure to ask about their daily specials.
A very satisfied customer
Hangin' outside Clear Head


Now, some other good stuff to add to your Czech List.
See what I did there?


      Check out Rekomando, our friends' lovingly stocked lefty book and record store in their new location in Prague 2. They have great editions of books, and the widest selection of used and new records punk & hc records to be found in Prague.

 Site (CZ) / More Info


     For the love of Pete, man - get yourself to Český Krumlov in the South Bohemian Region. It takes a few trains and a few hours but you'll see one of the oldest untouched cities in Europe (13th Century) which survived time, war and destruction throughout all these centuries by its unassuming position in the mountain ranges and features Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture all in the same place and still intact. And if you're a badass, get some friends and jump in the Vltava River. But be forewarned, boys - as illustrated below, your nards will shrink (Mladek not included).

Quick dip in the river

 A little nap after a long day of good times.

 Train ride home
     When in Czesky Krumlov stop in at Laibon (LINK), a vegetarian restaurant located in a stone house that dates back to the 1500's. Head out to the back and enjoy your meal overlooking the river and the city. Unfortunately I cannot find my photos. I actually shot them on film when I went, so you will just have to check out the website. Photos, Menu

 One more stop before heading home.....

Kutná Hora
Located in the central Bohemia region and built around 1142, this beautiful town boasts one of the most interesting Ossuaries in the world - Sedlac Ossuary, also know as the Church of Bones. Located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora, it is artistically decorated with more than 40,000 human bones. Rumor has it that the task of stacking the bones was given to a half blind monk. Around 1870, woodcarver František Rint was hired to organize the bones and here are the results.  This has nothing to do with veganism but is a definite must-see. -B


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