Last Supper in Prague

A former neighbor, Frederic, recommended a rooftop restaurant in Prague. I discovered, quite by accident as I was wandering one evening, the hotel where the restaurant was located was quite close to my apartment. Knowing Frederic’s exquisite taste, I decided to have my last dinner there, because I knew it would not disappoint. Except, that it was closed because of the cold weather. Sigh. The concierge recommended I try a restaurant, Terasa, in their sister hotel not too far away.

I walked through the winding streets, sure I was lost, then came upon the hotel. I took the lift to the top floor, then climbed a narrow staircase to the small restaurant. The maitre d’ greeted me.

“Do you have any availability for dinner?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, we are a small restaurant and completely booked for the evening.”

Disappointed, I sighed. “Oh. Okay. Can you recommend another restaurant?”

“Please try the rooftop restaurant at Aria, our sister hotel not too far from here.”

I started laughing. “They sent me here. They’re closed for the winter.”

He laughed too. “One moment, ma’am.” He left and came back a few moments later.

“The kitchen says if you would like to eat right now, we can serve you.”

It was only 4 pm, but I was starving. I had been sightseeing all day and had not stopped for lunch. “That would be lovely.”

He escorted me to a table for two to a window overlooking what seemed to be all the rooftops of Prague.

View from Terasa restaurant

He took my coat and pulled out the chair for me. After I sat down, he lit a candle on the table. Being the only person in the restaurant, I felt like a queen. As I perused the menu, I realized that no matter what I ordered, it would be delicious. After two plus weeks of eating heavy meat dishes, I was ecstatic to see several seafood dishes on the menu. After I ordered, he returned with an amuse-bouche of salmon terrine. I love the concept of amuse-bouche. I’ve never taken French, so I don’t know the direct translation, but in my mind it means, “A little kiss of food. Just for you.” It’s always a surprise when it arrives and I’ve never been disappointed by what the chef offers.

salmon terrine amuse-bouche

The first course was a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato mille feuille. When I saw it on the menu, I liked all the ingredients, but, have never taken French, was not sure how to pronounce it. “I’ll have the mmmmm….” I said, pointing at the menu. “Ah, the mille feuille. An excellent choice,” rolled off the waiter’s tongue.

goat cheese and sun-dried tomato mille feuille

It had a delicious pesto on the side, which complemented the richness of the goat cheese nicely. For my main course, I ordered a seafood risotto. When I ordered it, the waiter described a special of the day, which I assume was also seafood. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, even after asking him to repeat it several times. In my head I was thinking, “I don’t want to be *that* American. The one that says, “Huh?” “What?” So I smiled and said, “That sounds delicious, but I think I’ll try the seafood risotto. Thank you.”

And I wasn’t disappointed. It came, a plate of creamy seafood with a light garlic sauce surrounding it. Grilled John Dory, a huge tiger prawn, a few tender scallops, crisp snow peas, and grilled baby squash sat upon the clouds of risotto.

seafood risotto

At this point, I was watching the sun set and the lights start to flicker on in the town. I was thinking about how my vacation couldn’t have been any better. For five days, I had been surrounded by beautiful music. I had eaten delicious local cuisine. I had been surrounded by beautiful design, almost everywhere I went. I had ridden a train through Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. I was feeling very lucky, and very grateful.

And then he offered me the dessert menu. I guess sometimes life can get better. I asked him what his favorite dessert was. He grinned, then said the creme brulee sampler. Creme brulee? My favorite dessert of all time? Four individual ramekins of deliciousness, all different flavors? Yes, please.

creme brulee sampler - lemon-thyme, pistachio, coffee bean, saffron

The creme brulee was perfect. Tiny ramekins, a couple of bites each, of deliciously flavored sweetness – lemon-thyme, pistachio, coffee bean, and saffron. Somewhat to my surprise, the saffron was my favorite. The savoriness of the saffron contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the creme.

And that was my last supper in Prague. A perfect way to end a perfect vacation.

Images of Prague

Dream a Little Dream…

Prague = music.

Everyday here I have been surrounded by music. A chamber concert in a beautifully restored hall, complete with art deco stained glass windows and an intricately painted ceiling. Dixieland jazz, on the river front. Showtunes on the grand piano as I dine, savoring Czech delicacies. And then tonight, an impromptu performance with an accordion player on the sidewalk.

The streets were eerily empty as I walked home from dinner. I heard an accordion playing in the distance. As I walked, the notes grew louder. The musician, along with a friend, appeared, coming round the corner, walking towards me. The first few notes of Dream a Little Dream of Me eked out, the musician half-heartedly singing along. We passed each other as he played the chorus. I joined him in song, “But in your dreams, whatever they be…” We passed, then turned round to face each other, singing, “Dream a little dream of me….”

I’ll miss you, Prague.

Kindle, a Good Idea

“What is that? Are you sending SMS’s to your friends?” the waiter asked me as he pointed to my Kindle.

“No, it’s a Kindle. For reading.”

“For reading? Those are the books you wrote? On that?”

“No (though secretly wishing the answer was yes). It’s like an electronic library. I download the books when I’m at home, then I can read them when I travel.”

“This, I think this is a good idea. I like this Kindle.”

A Visit to Petrin Hill (the Eiffel Tower of Prague)

When I arrived, my airbnb host, Dragan, pointed to a structure on the hill across the way. “That is the Eiffel Tower of Prague,” he said. “You can climb to the top and see a beautiful view.”

So, we did. This climb was 299 steps to the top, but the turning diameter wasn’t quite as tight as the South Tower, which prevented on onslaught of dizziness. The view from the top was spectacular. Even though it was a hazy day, you could see across the city, spires and turrets dotting the skyline.

And on the way out of the park, we passed a Magical Cavern! I didn’t get too close to discover what made it magical. I’m guessing trolls and such.

Walking through brightly colored fallen leaves makes me happy.



Upon the recommendation of my airbnb host, Dragan, I spent the afternoon at the Rudolfinium Gallery engaged in Controversies – A Legal and Ethical History of Photography. It was one of the most well-curated and thought-provoking exhibits I’ve been to in a long time. As I entered the first room of photographs, I was given a metal clip. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, then noticed that each photograph in the exhibition had a stack of papers beside it. The history of the photograph and the reason it was included in the exhibit was included in Czech on one side and English on the other. The papers had holes punched in them and stacked neatly on the clip, so that by the end of the exhibition I had my own exhibition memoir. Just another thing that Prague does so right (in addition to ceilings, beer, castles, and heated towel racks).

The first piece in the exhibit highlighted the Portrait of the Count of Cavour by Mayer and Pierson. The photographers discovered that others were reproducing their portrait and took them to court, claiming the other reproductions were fake. Legally, in order for something to be considered fake, the original had to be a work of art. Was photography art? The Parisian courts ruled yes and photography gained the status of art in 1862.

From there, the exhibit focused on what is considered art, particularly around socially controversial topics (i.e. child nudity, nudity in general, alternative lifestyles); when subjects should be compensated for being photographed; what constitutes plagiarism in use of photographs or ideas; and the use of photographs for propaganda.

The last point, using photographs to further propaganda, particularly resonated with me. Images move me. I see a picture and a lasting impression is made. What then, when the image isn’t representing what it claims?

The most impressive example of this was the photo taken by Robert Maass in Timisoara, Romania.  I remember when this photo was published, and feeling naively horrified that such brutality continued to occur in the world. The photo was meant to convey the atrocities that took place during the dictatorship of Ceausescu. Later it was learned that leaders of the revolt had staged the photo session, and the man crying over the woman and baby in the mass grave wasn’t related to either. The woman was purported to have died of cirrhosis, and the baby (not hers), of SIDS.

Over a hundred photographs later, I was exiting the museum, still pondering the questions raised by the exhibit, and feeling simply in awe of seeing original prints of iconic photographs.

A Day at Prague Castle

One highlights of the day included exploring St Vitus Cathedral and marveling at the scale and the intricacy of everything. From the outside, the building is intimidating – huge blocks of carved stone, eerily dark. Once inside, however, there’s an abundance of light. In the stained glass windows, in the vaulted ceilings, in the light reflecting off of the gilded surfaces.

After the cathedral, I wandered around, getting lost in alleys and reading my map incorrectly. I figured it didn’t matter, though, as I was inside a walled area so I couldn’t get too lost, right? I love the cobblestone patterns, as well as the manhole covers. Works of art!

As I was looking to find my way out of the castle compound, I stumbled upon this poster. Robots? Why yes, please. Along with teddy bears, dollhouses, Christmas ornaments, wind-up toys, and a 50th anniversary tribute to Barbie.


287 Steps Later

I love the cobblestone streets and sidewalks here. I look at them from one angle then another, seeing different patterns from various perspectives. The designs are so intricate; I’m amazed such care was invested to create something people walk or drive on every day. Cobblestones aren’t easy to walk on, so they force me to slow down and see more of what’s around me.

I followed the cobblestone path up to the Prague Castle this afternoon. I was greeted by multitudes of enormous buildings and palatial courtyards. I ducked into St Vitus’ Cathedral and admired stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. I eavesdropped on English-speaking tour guides explaining the history of the church. I saw a sign boasting excellent views from atop the South Tower, along with a warning sign there were 287 steps to climb. 287 steps? Not a problem.

Not a problem unless they are 287 steps in a circular stairway about two-feet wide, with people ascending and descending at the same time. Much to my surprise, I learned that I get dizzy very easily. It was impossible to see more than a couple of feet in front (or behind) as I climbed, so meeting others was a surprise, causing each of us to squoosh to the inside or outside of the narrow staircase.

I arrived at the top, breathing heavily, to which another tourist told me, “Only one more flight to go,” then laughed at the expression on my face. I was at the top and it was stupendous. I looked down at the courtyard in which I was recently standing, tourists scurrying around like tiny ants. I saw the river and multiple bridges. I saw waves of endless red rooftops. I saw spires of cathedrals. Well worth the climb.

Looking up at the South Tower

287 steps higher, looking down at the courtyard