It is easy to get lost in the winding cobblestone streets of old Prague. Every corner reveals a new street of uniquely charming buildings; each small square, a welcoming awning-draped terrace at which you can take your refreshment. However, our final night in the city of spires turned out to be our most favorite- despite the fact that everything we had planned went completely wrong.
It started out with just one idea: head to the castle hill to watch the setting sun bask the red roof tops and slowly slip away. However, as we began our climb, our path was lined with police cars and groupings of welcoming committees (as well as protesters) staked out to greet (or yell at) the Chinese president Xi Jinping as he motored through the city during official business with the Czech government. Each entrance onto the castle walls was blocked by barricades and backed by riot police and guards. As we worked our way closer, we found a huge rally of Tibetan sympathizers who were stationed just outside the barricades, as close to the walls as possible. We saw them beginning to march and immediately turned the other direction.
We ended up on a delightful walk through the back-most parts of the castle hill. As we wound our way through the deserted streets, we found charming little B&B’s and off-the-beaten-path restaurants and beer gardens. In a final desperate attempt to catch the setting sun, we made for a big white abbey we had seen on top of the hill.
As it turned out, the old baroque abbey now hosted a hotel as well as Restaurant Bellavista, where they continued to serve monk-brewed beer (which was delicious).Given its name, it was not surprising to find that the perch on top of a small vineyard afforded a beautiful sweeping view out onto the city, framed by the castle on one side and a green park on the other. What was surprising, however, was that the terrace was virtually empty. We weren’t even sure that it was open until we saw the maitre d’ bustle out of the abbey, laden with cold brews.
Naturally, we took a seat to enjoy a golden half-hour as the sun finished its decent behind us.
As evening encroached, we were reluctant to leave our perch; so our drinks turned into dinner as the city lit up before us. Jimmy ordered a pork tenderloin over mashed potatoes smothered in mushroom gravy and I had the crispy fried quarter-duck over sauteed red cabbage. I am happy to report that they were both incredible- the best meal we ate in Prague. (Aaand the final nail in the coffin to really motivate us to diet upon returning to Helsinki)
Just as we were finishing our meal and packing our camera, the sky exploded with a dazzling firework show in honor of the visiting president. Our misfortune caused by his controversial presence was entirely rewarded by giving us the best seats in the city for the ten minute display! The most incredible end to our adventure!
Certainly, if we ever return to Prague, we will make an intentional return to the Bellavista to enjoy another lovely evening above the city.
Oh look! Our fist GIF! The quality is low (apologies) but you can enjoy the same setting view that we did. Now, where is that monk beer…??
(too bad the go pro died before the firework show!)