Thursday, 2 February 2012

Prague: a dream come true!

When I was in my early 20s, I remembered seeing a picture of the snow capped Prague castle and I instantly fell in love with it. I wasn't travel savvy then and hence spent the day googling about Prague & how to get there. At the time, Prague was not easily accessible from Singapore and I buried the thoughts of ever going there.

So when Chris and I were planning for the round the world trip, and I knew we were going Europe ( Italy being the place both of us wanted to see), I casually mentioned to Chris about Prague. With our limited time and the vast number of countries we wanted to go in that region,( mind you, we wanted to go London to see Harry potter's 9 3/4 platform, Spain & Sweden) we had to really pare down our itinerary. But Chris knew it was my dream to see the Prague castle and here we are in beautiful Prague. (i got a sneaky suspicion that he so readily say yes to it because he wanted to meet up with his gaming friends who are in Prague). Chris's note: actually, I have nerd friends all around the world.  I was just being super considerate in fulfilling Jaime's dreams because I'm such a great guy.  Really. :)
Cenda, a beach volleyball friend of ours who came to SG a couple of times, came to Prague to be our tour guide! He lived in Brno but took a 3hr bus ride to be with us for the 4 days!

Cenda introduced us to Medovnik, a very common cake in Prague, which is well known in Russia, Poland, the Ukraine and Croatia. Medovnik is a 10-layer honey cake flavored with cinnamon and nuts. It is not a dry cake but contains just enough cream to give it a little moisture. Its cream, as Cenda kept emphasizing, is hard to make to the right consistency, and when made correctly, the cake will taste heavenly. The Medovnik is unlike any cakes I've eaten before. Its like a cross between Kueh Lapis (thousand layer cake) and carrot cake. I'm going to try baking Medovnik when i am in Canada! (Chris's note:  this stuff is so good that it's almost on the same level as gelato.  Actually, it's just as good if you were to put them in their on dessert categories.  It's awesome.  We purposely ate less at each meal afterwards so we could eat at least 2 medovniks).

It snowed on our first day in Prague and it was really beautiful! We walked around the entire city center but stopped frequently in a bar or cafe for drinks or Medovnik. (too cold to be outside for long!) Our record was a whooping 5 cakes in a day! :p

The food in Prague is yummilicious! It's a great break from all the pizzas and pastas( high carbs) from Italy for me. Of course Chris can still eat 10 pizzas a day if he can get away with it without me sulking. Not forgetting the infamous Czech beer. It's cheaper than water if you order it in a pub!

We had enjoyable evenings with Chris's friends who brought us to various places for local delights! We tried the goulash, which is a soup or stew of meat, potatoes and vegetables seasoned with spices. There is also another type of goulash that looks very much like the beef rendang we have in Singapore, except that it is not spicy and it is mixed with cabbage. I had the pork goulash and it reminded me of 肉丁!

Chris took me to the ice skating rink as it was part of the Amazing Race task that we had to do! We will talk more about the Amazing Race tasks later in in our blog. We spent a cold afternoon skating with Chris's friends (Zdenek and Maga). It was my first attempt at skating but the skating rink has a little metal rod thing for me to use as a balance which proofed really helpful for beginners like me!  (Chris's note:  Jaime only fell once.  Amazing.  We actually went skating twice - the first time was by the fruit market with Zdenek, Maga, Lucas, Barbara, and their super cute daughter, Natalie.  Jaime had a strained back so sat that one out.)

For 4 days, we went out and walked around old town for several hours with frequent stops for food, dessert, and beer to warm up.  As all of their sites had entry fees (even the churches!! WTF?), we mostly stayed outside and passed on the churches, palaces, and art galleries.  Instead, we decided to spend our money on entry to the Torture Museum, which was kind of cool and eerie.  Cenda was a bit queasy, Jaime uneasy, and Chris was expecting more 'innovated' torture devices and thus, a tad disappointed.

Some of the highlights of Prague included:

1) Making a 4-way pact to get back into shape with Zdenek and Maga so we'll be checking on each other frequently and in a couple months, we'll be so buff, you won't recognize us. 

2) A good laugh was when Cenda was getting hit on by a woman in a dessert cafe without knowing it and capped the smooth session by kissing her on the cheeks when she was trying to shake his hand and ask what his name was.  However, she never did call by 9pm that night (or at least a week later) so Chris lost a beer on that wager.

3) Chris and Cenda racing down and up the stairs by the castle in the freezing cold and having the exact same time.  Chris had lung congestion for the next 30 hours, proving that even if you look skinny, you can still be out of shape.
We will definitely miss all the good food and company in Prague!

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