Ok. For this time, no history, no theories, no intellectualizing. Just one of my food and travel meditations.
By now, I no longer need my guide book to navigate through Prague, so I mailed it and another book back to the U.S. this evening. Then I headed to my favorite restaurant in Malastranka for dinner.
Although it threatened rain and started to drizzle, it never really came down (I suppose that's because I had brought my umbrella). When I got to the Grill U Seminaristy, all the tables were full (since the four exposed tables weren't being used due to the drizzle). They said it would be a short wait, and I said no problem.
I decided that since I had spent all that money (really only $26, but in Prague that's 520 Kc) for so little, tonight I should spend at least as much for something good. I ordered the most expensive of the prix fixe menus: a starter of cheese and Czech salami, the beefsteak flambeed in cognac, and the apple strudel with ice cream for dessert. Oh, and a half liter of beer.
The complimentary aperitif tonight was something call Fernet, which is somewhat like Becherovka, but darker. The steak was excellent as always, with a nice crust and still somewhat pinkish red in the middle. I could choose whatever side dish I liked, so instead of the various forms of potato they suggested, I picked the steamed veggies.
When they flambe the steak, they have a little kitschy skit: the wheel out the flambe table, put on fire helmets, heat the cognac up, turn on the flashing light, and then ignite it. It's cute. A group of Italian guys, one of whom ordered it as well, actually participated in the skit (as all his buddies filmed it on their cell phones).
The strudel was good and the ice cream delicious. They asked if I wanted coffee but I was too full to eat any more. I paid (550 Kc with tip, or $27 U.S.).
There's nothing like a great meal (and plenty of alcohol) to make everything in the world seem perfectly lovely. I needed to walk off some of the food and beer, so I headed for the Charles Bridge. The clouds were gone and the sky was clear and blue, as the sun slowly made its descent over the Castle Hill.
At the far end some musicians in period costume were seranading the tourists lined up for the boat cruise. Last year, with the crowds, heat, and humidity, that would have annoyed me, but tonight I was just amused. I wasn't even bothered by the ubiquitous bands of drinking brits (and spaniards, and italians). I think I understand now why they have to be so loud and aggressive (there was one band of cockneys all dressed as superheroes). With so many more men than women in Prague, the guys need to do something to catch the girls' attention. I suppose all the alcohol is somewhat of a blessing for those unlucky in love.
Well, now it's time to pack and get ready for Vienna. I think I now understand why so many people love this city. Just don't come here in July.
[The Charles Bridge at sunset -- tonight the sky was much clearer than in this photo]