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.
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.
The most was 70 CZK ($3.13 USD) for Staropramen at Klub Lavka on the terrace beside Charles Bridge, Prague.
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.
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.
139 CZK ($6.22) breaded cod with potato and carrot puree.
Classic Burger and fries 149 CZK ($6.66 USD) at Beer and Burger Prague.
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).
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, 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.
$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.
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.
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, Prague tourist shops.
Letna-Holesovice, Prague locals’ shops.
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