Jul262017

Impressions after 9 days in Czech Republic

Some disparate thoughts have developed in my mind after 9 days traveling around Czechia hanging out in Prague, Pilsen and Brno. Despite having my wallet stolen in the first 30 minutes after arriving at Prague Airport, I have enjoyed our time here.

English is widely spoken among younger people and virtually everyone involved with tourists in establishments like restaurants and retail shops.

The only issues I have had with English not being understood have been with hotel maids and at some grocery markets and farmers market stalls.

Czech vs. English spelling

Praha = Prague

Karlův most = Charles Bridge

Plzeň = Pilsen

Plzeňský Prazdroj = Pilsner Urquell Brewery (some pubs use the Czech name rather than the more familiar Pilsner Urquell brand name).

ležák = lager beer

Brno = Brno (but still difficult to pronounce correctly like a local).

Česká republika = Czech Republic or Czechia as official English short name adopted by UN in 2016.

Czech has a lot of diacritical marks on words (the mark over the letter n in Plzeň). I tend to leave out diacritical marks in my writing for English speakers. I saw a 4-letter name on TV the other day with three diacritical marks.

These diacritical marks are pronunciation guides and make it very difficult for an English-speaking tourist unfamiliar with Czech to pronounce many words correctly or even comprehensibly for Czech speakers. English phonetic sounds don’t necessarily translate into meaningful sounds to Czech speakers. A street name like Dvořákovo nábrežie can be difficult when asking directions to an address like the InterContinental Hotel Prague.

Prague IC

InterContinental Prague seen from Letna Park.

Price of Beer and Food

Beer in Czechia pubs is cheap; very cheap by USA average prices. We have been to at least a dozen pubs, actually, probably more than 20 pubs, many of those being multiple visits when we found a pub we liked.

I make an effort to check beer prices when I pass pubs.

I joked with Kelley about every street block in Czechia having a pub. Actually, some blocks have 3 or more pubs.

The lowest amount we paid for a 0.5L beer was 29 CZK ($1.30 USD) for Gambrinus in Holesovice, Prague.

Prague Holesovice

Holesovice, Prague

The most was 70 CZK ($3.13 USD) for Staropramen at Klub Lavka on the terrace beside Charles Bridge, Prague.

Prague Charles Bridge

Prague Klub Lavka

Pilsner Urquell is the most common beer around Prague and Pilsen. Price tends to be 40 to 45 CZK ($1.79-$2.01) per 0.5L. The other common beer serving is a small 0.3L beer, generally around 60% of the half-liter price.

Other beer brands tend to cost less than Pilsner Urquell. Gambrinus is another common beer and generally priced less than Pilsner Urquell.

Staropramen is another prevalent beer in Prague.

Kozel and Bernard are common pub beers too.

Store prices for bottles of beer are generally 12 CZK to 25 CZK for 500ml of Czech beer ($0.54 – $1.12). Import beers are 25-35 CZK.

Bottle deposit is 3 CZK (13 cents) and bottles may be returned for a deposit refund at any store that sells beer.

I walked into a corner market near the Florenc bus station in Prague yesterday to buy a Staropramen. When the clerk asked for 35 CZK, I said too much and left without a cold beer in hand. Six hours later I purchased two 500 ml bottles of Staropramen in Brno for 33 CZK ($1.48).

There are 1.5L and 2.0L plastic bottles of beer in markets. Never tried one myself.

Beer-Water

The heat wave in Pilsen put Kelley off beer for two days. Small bottles of water in restaurants cost more than big glasses of beer.

Dining in Czechia

Kelley loves coming with me to Poland and Czechia since I will pay restaurant prices for dining in these Central European countries. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam we primarily eat grocery store purchased meals.

My hometown of Monterey is a tourist destination. I rarely eat in local restaurants due to having had too many overpriced bad meals in restaurants. There are excellent restaurants in Monterey, but the typical meal is about $50 per person. I simply have given up on dining out after too many bad $100 meals. I know I can cook a great tasting seafood dinner from store purchased food for about $12 for the two of us.

Cheap meals in Prague are available for $3 to $6 per person when eating in cafes and restaurants away from tourist areas. Pizza slices are available for 25 to 40 CZK / $1.10-$1.90. Hamburgers and cheeseburgers with fries are typically $3 to $6. Many nice restaurants have lunch specials for $5 to $7. Dinner menu prices are $8 to $12 for food in a nice environment.

Prices for meals in high tourist areas tend to be around double the price of restaurants a few blocks away in lower tourism streets.

Holesovice pub fish

139 CZK ($6.22) breaded cod with potato and carrot puree.

http://www.holesovickasedma.cz/

Prague B&B

Classic Burger and fries 149 CZK ($6.66 USD) at Beer and Burger Prague.

http://www.ucizku.cz/index.php/jidelni-listek-4/

Ristorante leggero

Ristorante Leggero – Tagliatelli Frutti di mare 249 CZK ($11.13 USD) pasta with mussels, shrimp and calimari.

www.leggero.cz in Vinohrady district of Prague, two blocks from Clarion Prague City Centre. Březňák pivo 49 CZK ($2.19).

Park Inn local pub food

Pork cutlet with gravy and potato salad. 149 CZK ($6.66) lunch special at Hospůdka U Voraře, 2 blocks from Park Inn Prague. Svijany 0.5 L beer 32 CZK ($1.43).

salmon

Salmon, roast potatoes and lentils 239 CZK ($10.68) at Pivovarska Starobrno, Brno, CZ.

These restaurants are big city prices in Czechia. Get out to a countryside restaurant and prices are probably even less for dining and beer.

Tesco Plzen food\

$10 in food from Pilsen Tesco Supermarket includes baguette, yogurt, sliced chicken meat, broccoli, hummus, milk and 5 bottles of 500ml beer.

Beer Gardens and Smoking

The first five days in Czechia coincided with a July heatwave. Temperatures were 85 to 90 F each day with city streets away from trees and grass even hotter. During the day the inside of many pubs was cooler than the beer gardens, but after a day of heat, pubs were roasting indoors and cooler outside in the evenings.

Beer gardens are traditional summer dining and drinking spots. The main problem is all the smokers. Last winter I suffered in Prague with all the indoor smoking and this summer I have suffered with all the outdoor smoking.

One morning I walked around Pilsen at about 7am. Many people were on their way to work. Nearly every woman I passed walking along the streets had a cigarette.

Pregnant Women

It is rare to be out walking and not see a pregnant woman every few minutes. Nothing unusual about pregnant women. Just seems like they are far more prevalent here than I see in California.

Pubs and Children

When my father was in the U.S. Army and stationed in West Germany when I was 9-10 and 14-15 years old, we frequently went to a Gasthaus German pub for dinner. I recall playing with German children, often the children of the publican.

We have seen children’s play areas in several of the Czech pubs.

Starobrno brewery

Trampoline with safety net at Starobrno Brewery, Brno. The young girl inside jumped around for nearly the entire 90 minutes we were at the pub for dinner. Other children joined her at times.

Stores close at 1pm on Saturday and most closed all day Sunday.

Living in West Germany as a child in the 1970s, I did not think much of retail stores closing at 1pm on Saturday afternoon in Prague. Kelley was amazed that we were walking blocks of streets on an early Saturday afternoon in Holesovice and Hradcany districts of Prague and nearly every retail shop was closed. She saw items in the store windows she wanted to buy on Saturday and made a list of places she wanted to return to on Monday, when stores opened again.

I liked the fact that she had a list of items in mind to go back and buy on Monday in these areas of Prague, outside the main tourist shop areas. The prices we paid on Monday were 50% of the price for some of these purchases compared to the price for the same item in Stare Mesto-Old Town at shops open through the weekend. Plus, beer and food were cheaper in these areas after she made her retail purchases.

Stare Mesto tourist shops (2)

Stare Mesto, Prague tourist shops.

Prague Holesovice-Letna shops

Letna-Holesovice, Prague locals’ shops.

 

July 2017

San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen, Denmark – Stockholm, Sweden – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Prague, Czechia – Bratislava, Slovakia – London, England – San Francisco SFO (22 days-6 flights-20 hotel nights-6 bus trips)

My July in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Czechia and Slovakia July 5, 2017

SAS flying over San Francisco

Copenhagen, Denmark: Skt. Petri Copenhagen Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Loyalty Traveler Lost and Found in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre hotel review

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam design for social living

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam beer, bud and burger joints

Amsterdam and Prague Hotels: 2 stays earned 1 Free Friday Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam and Park Inn Prague

Prague, Czechia: Pickpocket stole my wallet on Prague Airport Bus

Prague, Czechia: Park Inn Prague hotel review

Prague, Czechia: Best Western Hotel Kinsky Garden Prague truly boutique

Prague, Czechia: Hotel review Clarion Prague City reward stay

Prague, Czechia: Vyšehrad, Prague far from the madding crowd

Pilsen, Czechia: Marriott Courtyard Pilsen CZ category 1 reward stay

Pilsen, Czechia: Pilsen Czechia photoessay

Brno, Czechia: Holiday Inn Brno, CZ PointBreaks stay

Brno, Czechia: Brno by beer

Brno, Czechia: Brno Bones in Europe’s Second Largest Ossuary

Czechia: Impressions after 9 days in Czech Republic

Bratislava, Slovakia: Review Radisson Blu Bratislava Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia: Walk to Bratislava Castle Slovakia photo essay

Bratislava, Slovakia: Bratislava Slovakia photo essay part 2

Bratislava, Slovakia: Category 1 Park Inn Danube Bratislava Slovakia opens Oct 1, 2017

Bratislava, Slovakia: Trip Report Regiojet Bus Bratislava to Brno Airport

London, UK: Buyer Beware National Express bus London Stansted to London Heathrow

London, UK: Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow hotel review

Hotel Loyalty: Loyalty? Yes! Loyal? Not so much for my hotel travel

Hotel Loyalty: My two Club Carlson Free Friday Nights posted today

Airline Loyalty: Aegean Silver elite and 17,000 miles to Star Alliance Gold

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. Prague became much more touristy in the last 10 years. I remember the beer prices been 50 cents to $1 for 0.5l and even cheaper for 0.33l; and food at restaurants was around 50-75 Kronas per person for a substantial plate AND a beer.
    Overall Czechia is a nice country to visit, people are welcoming, sightseeing and food are good. I would recommend going off the beaten path and explore some smaller towns and the countryside.

  2. Beer was 35 cents for 0.5l on my first visit in 2000. I ordered the most expensive steak dinner on the menu and a couple of beers at a fine dining restaurant on Decin’s main square Aug 2000 and paid less than $10.

    I have not been to many small towns in Czechia, but I enjoyed my time in the villages of Slovakia last year and have fond memories of those places.

  3. have you visited cesky krumrov? i highly recommend it and the food there is cheap and very delicious. lots of meat in a meal and i like their specialty bread.

  4. I can’t come to terms with the name Czechia….

    I know it’s been adopted as an official shorthand but I think most of us Europeans have got too used to the Czech Republic for it to sound anything but odd….mind you the older generation still might say Czechoslovakia from time to time…

    It comes as a surprise to find that smoking laws are so lax in Germany and Central Europe. But I quite like that.

  5. @w.w. – Cesky Krumlov is a place I will keep in mind to plan for on a future trip. Traveling with Kelley means limiting the ‘travel’ part of the trip. She likes to leisurely make her way place to place and stay several days.

    I wanted to take her to Olomouc from Brno for a day trip or overnight, but she overruled that plan. After seeing how happening pub and street life was on a Wednesday night in downtown Brno, she is happy hanging around here in the big city.

  6. I would second the choice of Cesky Krumlov. It has its castle, parks and an old town by the river. Take an early morning bus from Praha and enjoy the countryside sights.

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