In early December, we left from New Orleans airport at 2pm and arrived in Prague around 10 am the following day. The Prague airport was clean, uncrowded and easy to use. I had arranged for a private transfer from Prague airport to our hotel using Prague Airport Transfers. Our driver, who spoke perfect English, was waiting for us outside baggage claim. It was a short 20 minute ride to the Augustine, A Luxury Collection Hotel, our home for the next four days. The hotel was inspired by the 13th century Augustine monastery that it is connected to. Augustine does a beautiful job incorporating elements of the old with every modern amenity. The door to our bathroom was an iron door from the old monastery!
There is a lot to be said for brand loyalty. Because of our status with SPG (now Marriott Bonvoy), not only did we get upgraded to a suite but, our room was ready when we arrived. We caught a quick nap and a shower before bolting out the door for our 2pm Sandeman’s free walking tour of Prague.
We walked across the jam-packed Charles Bridge and into the Old Town Square that was abuzz with the Prague Christmas market. We found our guide with his Sandeman’s red umbrella amidst the sea of people. A free walking tour on the day you arrive orients you without being overwhelmed or you can bail if the jetlag catches up with you. Our entertaining guide made the three hours evaporate as he gave us a great overview of the Prague highlights in the context of its history.
Our tour ended at 5pm and I had scheduled a food tour that started at 5:30pm. Honestly, I thought my daughter was going to kill me. While I knew we would be tired from traveling and doing the walking tour, I figured we need to eat dinner one way or the other. And, it was the only date and time available when I booked it. Jan, from Taste of Prague, was waiting for us in the brisk evening air with a shot of slivovitz. This was my first clue that the Czech like to drink. My second clue came very quickly when our group stopped at Lokal, a local beer hall, where patrons can reserve a table for hours and mark a card with how many beers they have had. Here we learned that there is a law that says the there has to be at least one item less expensive than beer. We ate and ate and drank while Jan masterfully wove the rich Czech history into the descriptions of the robust cuisine.
After the food tour we meandered back through Old Town Square where the Christmas Market was still in full swing at almost 10 pm. Exhausted, we made our way back to the Augustine, over the now empty and stunningly beautiful Charles Bridge, with full hearts and bellies.