Written by Jacy Meyer
for Pulse Magazine
U lužického semináře is probably one of the most overlooked streets in the city – and it´s a shame because there´s enough to do to keep one busy for just about the entire day. Shops, restaurants, museums and photo ops, all in Malá Strana, right next to the river.
We´ll start from the end nearest the Malostranská metro station. Upon exiting the station, turn right and cross Letenská Street. Congratulations, you´ve made it!
Right on the corner is a typical tourist shop, “Handmade Suvenýry.” Tablecloths, garnets, amber and silver are all available; but for a more unique selection hang on to your korunas for a bit. A cute little café, Boulangerie Patisserie is up next offering cakes, crepes, sandwiches and coffee. For a fun lunch, stop by Vojanův dvůr. They have a nice big summer garden, a pivnice in the courtyard with beer tanks and wooden tables; Czech specialties make up the menu. The country look is complemented by wagons and a rusty bike.
Next up, at number 19 is Vitalis, a well-stocked, multi-lingual bookshop. German, English and Czech tomes await – mostly focusing on tourist type books like Prague art and history, but also unique ones like Prague cafes and traditional Czech recipes. They also have translations of Czech authors like Kafka, Kundera, Kohout and Čapek. And an unusually large stack of a biography of Paul McCartney. Must be a Beatles fan on the staff.
One of the best seafood restaurants in town is also located here, Kampa Fish at number 42. Also in this “complex” is Silver & Art which boasts a lovely selection of silver jewelry, knitted hats, purses and jewelry; all handmade. Best part? The counter-o-rings! Next door is La Vinothéque offering a wide selection of not just Czech wines, but also French and Spanish – all nicely displayed. They also offer tastings, check their website www.vinifera-praha.eu for upcoming dates. Finally in this building is Design Glass, offering a selection of items, including wine glasses, decanters, champagne flutes, vases and the like from Czech artisans.
Around the corner, turn to your left for the promised photo op. Here you can walk right down to the river, feed the swans, take a couple snaps of Charles Bridge and the spires of Old Town. And rest your perhaps weary legs on a bench.
Back up on the road, it splits at the restaurant Černý Orel. Head off on the branch towards your right; you´ll be walking along a big wall. There´s a gate about halfway down, peek inside and welcome to Vojanovy sady, a slightly rundown park. Once inside you may feel like you are sitting inside a grand chateau´s private gardens (if you can avoid noticing the peeling paint and crumbling walls surrounding you.) All in all, this is a nice green space in the center of town, small walking paths, plenty of trees and benches, and a small playground area for the kiddies.
Heading back to your route, you´ll pass a couple refreshment stops; at number 34 is Cukrárna & pečivo, offering Czech cakes, coffee and sandwiches. Also here is Hotel U Páva. Around the corner, you´ll come to a center square, again offering some trees and a couple benches. Take an immediate left and walk along the bottom of the square, almost taking a U-turn past the hotel. First you´ll come to Tkalcouský dvůr, another excellent beer garden/restaurant with a superb rooftop seating area for sunny days. Head into the courtyard straight ahead for your second photo op. This is of two male statues peeing. Really, they are standing in a small pool of water taking care of business. Even their hips swivel! I know that´s exciting, but wait, there´s more! The Kafka Museum (www.kafkamuseum.cz) is straight ahead, and around to your right, slightly slopping down towards the river is the Václav Havel Library Exhibition (www.vaclavhavel-library.org.) Another well-regarded restaurant, Hergetova Cihelna is here. Men, be sure to use the restroom; one of the best views from Prague is located out the window over the urinals. We don´t recommend pulling out the camera though. Ebel Café Cihelna is probably the best coffee shop on the street.
I know, we keep recommending restaurants. But really, at least go down and have a drink at Čertovka. This “complex” at number 24 (www.certovka.info) consists of two restaurants, a beer hall, a private parlor and a music club. It order not to miss the restaurant, look for the red arrow pointing down narrow steps. This leads to the riverside terrace. For proper traffic management a walk/don´t walk directional sign has been installed. Here you can have dinner or drinks practically under the Charles Bridge. The beer hall is off the street, through the passage and down the steps. In between these two entrances is a common tourist type shop with t-shirts, hats, magnets, postcards. They also sell soda and sunglasses if the heat is getting to you. In the passage to Čertovka´s beer hall is the entrance to Krámek U Škopků, an excellent historical shop selling items of natural green glass, medieval ceramics and wooden seals. Next door is Zuzuk Gallery if you are looking for some art and then it´s Keramik full of bowls, teapots, cups and saucers and naked people golfing. Made out of ceramic of course. Galerie Peron offers a mix of glass and art items while U Rombů focuses on Czech glass. At number 10 is an outlet of the new and used bookshop Shakespeare and Sons. Now, let´s cross the street.
If it´s break time, pop into Kavárna Čas. If it´s lunch or dinner time, visit Vysoký dům 99, an Old Czech restaurant complete with wooden tables and red-checkered napkins. Before the road curves you´ll hit another souvenir shop with tees, mugs, magnets and ceramics.
Believe it or not, we aren´t done yet! Number 9 offers us scarves, garnets, glass and prints. Number 7 is the first of two marionette shops on the street. Material, also at number 7, has an amazing selection of champagne flutes, wine glasses, candle holders, vases and the like. It is unbelievable what they have done with glass in this shop – don´t forget to look at their door handle. Galerie is another art gallery, with a lot of large format paintings.
The Blue Lion Hotel is next, and inside is an interesting exhibit on the Legends of Charles Bridge. Next is your second marionette shop, the larger Truhlář Marionety. Here, they can custom make a marionette to look like you, your child or your boss. And finally, the hotel and restaurant U Tří pštrosů. You are now just under the start of the Charles Bridge. If you walk around the corner of the hotel, up the stairs and down the street away from the Bridge, you´ll hit Malonstranské náměstí.