I visited Prague this past summer with my family. It had been 14 years since I was last in Prague, when I spent five months studying there as an exchange student. I was eager to find out what had changed and what had stayed the same in this beautiful city.

I noticed soon after arriving that some global chains had made inroads. While McDonald’s has been in Prague for many years, Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Paul boulangerie had all setup shop since 2005. The city has also introduced new Škoda-manufactured trams that now run alongside the decades-old trams of which I was accustomed. Unlike the unpredictable streetcars at home, trams in Prague (old and new) seem to always run according to schedule.

Public artwork has long been a defining feature of Prague’s parks and squares and I continued to find myself drawn to the many David Černý installments across the city. These included more recent works like the kinetic sculpture Head of Franz Kafka to the unforgettable (albeit creepy) Babies sculptures. Černý’s artworks certainly brings a lot of character and quirkiness to the city.

Since much of Prague’s beauty and uniqueness lies in its centuries-old buildings, it’s not surprising that much of downtown Prague appears unchanged. The architecture of the buildings, churches, and cathedrals, ranging from Gothic, baroque, renaissance and art nouveau, is stunning and makes Prague an attractive destination for visitors, despite oftentimes feeling that you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists.

The trip to Prague reignited my interest in Czech cuisine. I found Czech cookbooks and websites and began cooking some popular dishes ahead of my trip, helping to better appreciate the food when I arrived. I was eager to compare the local food to my 14-year-old memory of eating meat-gravy-dumplings almost daily at the school cafeteria and nearby pubs. I wasn’t disappointed. We found several good restaurants, some nearby our rental apartment and other great recommendations from Honest Guide.

We tried a good selection of Czech foods:
– Czech beef goulash (hovězí guláš) with bread dumplings (houskový knedlíky)
– Beef sirloin with cream sauce (svíčková na smetaně)
– Roast pork with dumplings and cabbage (vepřo-knedlo-zelo)
– Roast duck with dumplings and red cabbage (pečená kachna)
– Open-face sandwiches (obložené chlebíčky, or “garnished breads”)
– Pickled sausages (utopenci, or literally “drowned men”)
– Garlic soup (česnečka)
– Sauerkraut soup (zelňačka)
– Fried cheese (smažák)
– Chicken schnitzel (kuřecí řízek)

The following series of posts highlight my experiences cooking select Czech dishes:
Czech beef goulash (hovězí guláš)
Bread dumplings (houskový knedlíky)
Beef sirloin with cream sauce (svíčková na smetaně)

Lead photo: Jan Hus Memorial and Church of Mother of God before Týn in Old Town Square, Prague. Article photos (top to bottom): St. Christopher statue on Charles Bridge; view from Vodičkova, New Town, Prague; Horse statue by David Černý; Lokál U Bílé kuželky restaurant, U Pinkasů restaurant, Lokál U Bílé kuželky menu.

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