Charles IV 700 Anniversary Events

May 14th marks Charles’ IV 700th birthday. Charles IV was a beloved king of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century. He was born in Prague and loved his country very much. He became a patron of culture and arts, since he founded various institutions, namely Charles University, and built many monuments and castles that are still around to this day. He is still remembered as a great and fair ruler and many Czech citizens like to say that world leaders could take a page out of his book and rule as fairly he did.

 

In honor of Charles IV, there are many special events in the Czech Republic this summer. Here are our top 5 events that are definitely worth going to! There are countless other events that will be interesting, but this is what we are planning on seeing.

 

Prague

Crown Jewels

IMG_0231.JPG (2)From May 15th until May 29th you can go see the the Crown Jewels of Charles IV at the Prague Castle. This only happens on special occasions, so the last time they were available to see was three years ago when a new president was elected. I definitely suggest you go see this, but be prepared for crowds. When we went in 2013, we got there before the opening at 10am and we still had to wait in line for 5-6 hours. After waiting for such a long time, we were let into the room and we got to see the jewels for a couple of minutes and then we had to leave. So it is up to you, if you want to dedicate so much time, but the jewels are rarely seen, so you might as well take advantage of it!  

 

Diamond Museum

The Diamond Museum in Prague just opened and as part of the celebrations of Charles IV, part of their exhibit includes gemstones from Charles’ IV era as well as equipment they used to saw the stones. The rest of the exhibit are diamonds and gemstones from the 21st century, probably still worth the visit! The special exhibit for the gemstones from the 14th century lasts until the end of August, so you should definitely go see them, while they are there!

 

Reenactment of the Coronation of Charles IV

One of the biggest events planned for the celebration of Charles IV will happen on September 2 and 3. There will be a historically accurate reconstruction of the coronation ceremony and all the rituals that are a part of it. Since this is such a special event, and on top of that free, be prepared for huge crowds, but if you are in Prague this will be a spectacular event that you should go to!

 

Karlstein

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Karlstein Treasure

The Karlstein Treasure is a collection of 400 small items from the era of Charles IV. They include buttons, other accessories and objects used in the day to day life in the 14th century. During the Hussite wars, the residents of the castle hid these objects in the walls, so that the precious objects wouldn’t fall into the hands of the rebels. There they stayed hidden for the next 600 years, until the castle was being reconstructed and they fell out. Usually the Karlstein Treasure is in Prague, but in honor of the 700th anniversary of Charles IV, they were brought back to the castle.

 

Noc na Karlštejně

Noc na Karlstejne, will be a stage adaptation of a Czech musical film from 1974. It is a musical telling the story of Charles IV and his wife Elizabeth. Of course this stage production will be in Czech, so for those who do not understand the language, this might not be the right event for you. However, it will be a beautiful event that takes place right on the courtyard of the castle. I suggest you buy tickets soon, because they will probably sell out their 12 shows quickly.

 

If you are in the Czech Republic this summer and beginning of fall, definitely look into these events! There is a lot more that you can do in honor of Charles IV 700th anniversary, just keep your eye out for these events!


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Bars in Prague

Prague Zoo 


Bars in Prague

Over the past few years we have gone to several bars around Prague, but before recommending any, we went back to test out our favorites over the weekend. Here are the bars we visited and what we thought about them.

 

Popocafepetl or just Popo

This is a student bar right by Old Town Square, which makes it a great location to start off your night. What makes it even better are the prices of the drinks. You can get 3 vodka Redbull for less than 150kc ($6.50), but be warned, there will be much more vodka than Redbull. You can also get a rum and coke for only 65kc ($2.70)! The service there was ok, it’s kind of what you would expect of a full bar. People were crowding the bar, so trying to get the bartender’s attention was a little difficult, especially when she seemed taken by the blond guy with blue eyes, who can blame her though :P. Another thing I noticed about Popo, was that everyone seemed to know each other. It is a student bar, so chances are that everyone goes to the same school, just make sure you have your own friends to keep you company. Lastly, depending on what time you get there, you may or may not get seats. We were lucky enough to find a small space at the bar, where we could stand while enjoying our drinks. Also, there is no coat check, so don’t bring too many things, because you will have to hold on to them all night. Popo is definitely a good place to start the night, mostly because of the cheap drinks :)

 

IMG_1633Harley’s Bar

This is personally my favorite bar in Prague! I love the music and the drinks and I never had an issue with the service. When you get there early you can sit down at the bar or one of the tables. But if you get there around 11pm you won’t be able to find a seat. The drinks are really good, but a little more expensive, around 150kc for a Tequila Sunrise, but boy are they worth it! After grabbing a drink you can join the crowd on the rather small dance floor and sing and dance to our favorite Harley’s anthem, Highway to Hell! After a couple more drinks you might even find the courage to join some of the people dancing on the tables. On some nights they have a special program or some theme. On other nights the bartenders have a fire show, which is really awesome to watch!

 

Tretter’s

Next we went to Tretter’s, which slightly more high end, and by slightly, I mean if there was a place to bump into celebrities in Prague, it would be this bar. The prices, unfortunately reflect that, costing you about 220kc for a Margarita, which is still only around $9, but it is much more than the other bars we visited. The service is really nice and it is definitely one of those places where you tip, so keep that in mind. Sadly, we did not see any celebrities this time, but it was still a nice stop and a great place to sit down and rest our feet.

 

Karlovy Lazne

Lazne is one of those places everyone has been to. IMG_0058Everyone knows of it, because it is the biggest club in central Europe. It has five floors, each playing a different type of music, which means you can always find something you like. They also have an Ice Pub, which I visited for the first time this weekend. You pay 200kc ($.8.30) as a cover charge when you get to Lazne, and then 150kc ($6.25) to go into the Ice Pub (one drink is included in that price). I definitely recommend going into the Ice Pub, where you put on one of their ponchos and a pair of gloves and enjoy the icy room, that even has a throne you can sit on and take pictures. The best part of Lazne is that it closes at 5am and it is right next to the Charles Bridge. So I suggest leaving the bar in time to see the sunrise over Prague. The view is definitely worth it and it is the perfect way to end the night!

 

Other great places to go drink in Prague include TGIF, Nebe (especially for Happy Hour), Hard Rock Cafe and Bombay! Have a great night out!

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Prague Zoo 

Czech Traditions: April 30th


Prague Zoo

The Prague zoo has had some pretty exciting news as of late and so we decided to pay it a visit this week. A few weeks ago, a baby elephant was born, making it the first elephant to be both bred and born here. And a little while after, a surprise baby gorilla was born. Surprise  because nobody knew the adult gorilla was pregnant. And yes it would be easy to blame the caretakers for not knowing, but if you factor in the fact that the gorilla was old, had been treated with hormones in the past and was never able to carry a baby to term, it makes it for a highly unlikely event. Alas, the baby was born and is now one of the Prague zoo’s prized possessions. And we just couldn’t pass up all the cuteness.IMG_8963

We decided to go on a work day to try to avoid crowds – and we partially succeeded. When we walked into the zoo, there were only about 3500 people. We immediately made our way up the hill, into the upper portion of the zoo and towards the elephant enclosure. On our way, we stopped by in one of the newer and cooler pavilions – the Indonesian jungle. You walk in and you’re transported into a jungle – you see the monkeys, walk through a path between ponds and around tree trunks. The walk ends with a walk through a darkened “cave” where they have bats flying freely.

Between the Indonesian jungle and the elephant enclosure, we stopped by to see polar bears. First, we saw two, who were just lying there, one using the other as a pillow. We honestly had doubts whether or not they’re alive, but then they shifted slightly. Around the corner was a third polar bear was significantly more active. It was swimming around, then pacing. We were surprised how crazy fast its fur dried.

We then finally made it to the elephants, where it was crazy busy.  We managed to snag a pretty good spot to watch the baby frolic around its mother. It’s still too small to go off on its own, but it definitely wants to. We stayed there quite a while, watching.

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From here, we went across a bridge, towards the giraffes and meerkats. The giraffe viewing area was crowded, so we continued along the path to the meerkat enclosure. It’s open on top and glass all around, so you can see the meerkat’s clearly. Since it’s definitely a favorite of the little kids, the open top makes it nice for adults to look over and see things nicely. We couldn’t tear ourselves away because the most recent additions to the meerkat family were born on April 1st, so they were still tiny and cute. We then slowly made our way back around the giraffes and elephants and stopped by for food.

Right next to the elephant enclosure is a restaurant with outdoor seating. You go up to the counter, order and pay and then carry your food to a designated table. They have a great selection of food, so even we, both picky eaters, were able to chose something. They have european, middle eastern, and typical Czech food. A tip for non-Czech speakers – the boards on top of the counter are written in Czech, but they have english menus near the register, so keep an eye out for those. We got an order of fried cheese and fries (a staple in Czech food establishments) and gyros and were pleasantly surprised at how good both meals were. Finally, if you have more people in your party, decide on your orders and have some people stand in line, while other scout for a table. We were there on a weekday off-season and had trouble finding an open table outside (there were tables inside, but we didn’t want to sit there).

 

FullSizeRender 2Tip # 2: Go for the draft drinks – beer, Kofola or Malinovka (a local raspberry flavored soda).

 

From here, we continued to circle the elephants and make our way towards the lonely big cats in the back. Warning – there are two locations for the big cats, so keep an eye out on where you’re going. The zoo is pretty big so you might have to make choices on what you see and what you skip. We saw the leopards and tiger (which was far) and walked back past the wolves and other animals.

We then took the cableway down and didn’t have to stand in line (since most people prefer to take it up and walk down). It can be a bit daunting if you have a problem with heights, but it’s completely safe.

FullSizeRender 6The lower part of the zoo seems smaller, with everything closer together. We saw monkeys (where we stopped by for quite a bit, watching them climb trees and seeing how far up they can go).

When we finally made it to the big cats, it was feeding time. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t feel too well watching the tiger devour the giant piece of meat he was given. In a separate enclosure was a different tiger, who received food last and you could tell how nervous he was by his fast pacing and general reactions to the people watching him. I normally like big cats, but this was too much – I preferred the snakes and lizards on the other side of the building.

 

 

Because the weather was nice, the lions were in the outside portion of the pavilion. The lion and two lionesses were clearly done with lunch by the time we got there, so they were significantly calmer than the other cats. The lion was asleep and while the lionesses were awake, they were just sitting there, watching the goings on.IMG_9088

After a short break by the lions, we went to the gorilla pavilion, which has a restricted entrance right now because of a recently born baby. One of the gorillas gave birth a couple weeks ago without anyone knowing she had been pregnant (due to old age, past fertility issues and her being overweight). There was a ZOO employee at the entrance, letting in groups of five or so at a time, warning visitors to be quiet and telling everybody to move on if they lingered too long. So we only stayed for a little bit, but still saw the baby and it’s mother, which was adorable.

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From there, we walked through the water world and monkey gardens, where you walk on wooden paths between ponds and see stuff like ducks and flamingos and everything else that lives in or around water. This is great for kids because they can run around and have fun. You can also go inside a small pavilion and see gavials, which were scary looking.

If you have kids, there’s a petting zoo nearby, which we decided to avoid, but it should be worth visiting.

Our last animal viewing stop was for the penguins, which were being their adorable selves. You can watch the time lapse Pav took to see their shenanigans. Unfortunately, the seals weren’t in their enclosure due to cleaning, but normally they’re great to sit down and watch.

 

We were then in desperate need for refreshments, so on our way out, we stopped by a food stand, where we got iced coffee and ice cream, which was a perfect way to end the day. We rested our feet a little, went up to see how many visitors there now were (at that point 6624) and headed out to the bus. Warning! The exit is near the entrance, but not exactly in the same spot, so watch the arrows pointing you there, you can’t leave through the entrance. A great thing is that the buses are outside the zoo, between the entrance and the exit, so you don’t have to walk far.

We definitely had a great day at the Prague zoo and recommend it to anyone who’s visiting Prague, it’s no surprise it’s been ranked 4th best zoo in the world by TripAdvisor.

Final tip: it’s better to take public transportation than to drive to the ZOO, the traffic gets pretty crazy and you have to walk pretty far.

 


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Prague Zoo Time Lapse Video

Czech Traditions: April 30th