You know you’re on the right track when you see the original Budweiser (read of their legit claim for being the only real Budweiser) on tap in the restaurant car on your Czech train from Vienna to Prague. And the best part is a half liter only costs a few dozen Czech crowns (CZK).
The train also sold mini bottles of Slivovice of which I have both fond (and not so fond) memories from my time in what was then Czechloslovakia.
It was the summer of 1991, between my junior and senior year in college, and I was spending much of it with my sister who was living with her boyfriend in Bratislava. I had been in Prague for a few days exploring and had just returned to Bratislava when I heard Frank Zappa would be playing a concert in Prague the following night. I jumped back on the train and returned four hours to Prague to catch what would be one of the most transcendent moments – both musically and politically – of my life. Frank Zappa, having been named “Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism,” by President Vaclav Havel, would be playing a concert to celebrate the last of the Soviet troops leaving the newly independent country. I remember seeing Vaclav Havel not 50 feet from me in the audience. The atmophere was electric and optimistic and the music full of face melting Zappa solos. What I didn’t know at the time is it would be also be one of Zappas’s last two (days apart) concerts before losing his battle with cancer in 1993. I was excited to return with my family to Prague.
We arrived at dusk and caught an Uber to our Airbnb which was centrally located in Old Town Square. We quickly laid down our bags and headed to the square to explore and find someplace to eat.
Our Airbnb host had suggested a local beer hall called Lokál Dlouhááá, which we were able to easily walk to. It was a chaotic place packed with patrons and no clear directions on how to get yourself seated. Tawny somehow finessed our names onto a seamingly hidden list and was able to get us seated within 5 minutes of our arrival. We drank our first half liters while we people watched other potential customers fumbling around trying to figure their system out. The food was simple and traditional (potato and bread dumplings, schnitzels, beef in gravy) and the beer local, inexpesive and plentify. It was a great way to start a return to a city I love.