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PRAGUE STUDY ABROAD

PRAGUE STUDY ABROAD

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Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
budget,
city,
educational,
food
Destinations: 
Czech Republic,
Europe,
Prague

I'M MOVING TO PRAGUE FOR THREE AND A HALF MONTHS THIS AUGUST!

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Prague Rocks

Famous son Franz Kafka once wrote that "Prague never lets you go." Seventeen years after the end of Communist rule, the Czech capital's cultural, culinary, and club scenes are in full swing—and its allure more potent that ever. Guy Martin reports

Nightlife

Nebe, Czech Republic

10 Kremencova
Prague 11000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 777 800 411
Website: www.nebepraha.cz/en/

Also known as the second incarnation of the old Iron Door, Nebe ("Heaven") is a cellar dance club and bar under about a thousand years of Old Town stonework, brick, and packed earth that both muffles the music (for those outside) and amplifies it (for those within). The crowd tends to be young and the drinks are cheap, but it's not quite a student bar—especially not the smooth not-too-exclusive VIP lounge at the back. Things usually get moving sometime between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., making an early visit a good idea if you want to snag one of the few tables and actually hear someone speak. It's mostly hip-hop and techno, but alt-music fans should keep an eye out for Heartbeats, a regular night of indie rock.

Nightlife

Mecca, Czech Republic

3 U Pruhonu
Prague 17000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 283 870 522
Website: www.mecca.cz

This is a high-style destination for DJs like New York's David Morales and London's Lee Dagger. An out-of-the-center location, on the apartment blocks of Prague 7, means that few tourists show up here, despite a growing reputation as the city's little piece of Ibiza. In the front, a cool lounge and restaurant serves froufrou cocktails, and in the back, a large hall fills up with sexy bodies moving to deep house. Downstairs is a spacey lounge that occasionally goes up-tempo, but no matter where you are, the music is so good and so loud that there's little you can do but feel the vibe.

Nightlife

M1 Lounge, Czech Republic

1 Masna
Prague 11000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 227 195 235
Website: www.m1lounge.com

On a narrow street off the bustling Dlouha strip lies this very cool bar with the approximate dimensions—think long and narrow—of a batting cage (although a major expansion is planned for early 2007). The mixed drinks are fine and the $1 beers plentiful, but the big hits come from the DJ booth, which plays disco and soul classic chill-out tunes, along with the occasional alternative set. The youthful clientele is hip and effortlessly glamorous, and the comfortable couches are a real relief after a night on the tiles.

Shop

Represent, Czech Republic

6 Saska
Prague 11000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 257 535 321
Website: www.represent.cz

At the base of Charles Bridge in Mala Strana, the city's native streetwear line pumps out double-lined hoodies, deconstructed jeans, and long-sleeved silk-screened t-shirts that are as much Park Slope as they are Prague. A favorite of musicians, artists, and the BMX and skateboard crowd, Represent was responsible for the ubiquitous (though now discontinued) "Praha City" logo of a couple years back. It moved on to a surprisingly mature line of classic men's boxer shorts (with pockets) and preppy plaid button-ups. For ladies, miniskirts and bikinis are the order of the day, though the line expanded to include winter accessories for both sexes in fall 2006.

Shop

Boheme, Czech Republic

8 Dusni
Prague 11000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 224 813 840
Website: www.boheme.cz

A giant photo of actress Anna Geislerová at the entrance sets the tone for this cool boutique: both Czech and international; classic beauty with contemporary appeal. Since 1991, Czech designer Hana Stocklassa has put out two collections per year based primarily on well-made knitwear—graceful sweaters in muted stripes, turtlenecks, and warming cardigans. Contrasting fabric layers—fitted suede jackets, hand-sewn woolen trousers, and loose skirts—complete the look. Among the handful of designers in Old Town's fashion district, centered around the intersection of Dlouha and Dusni streets to the northeast of Old Town Square, this should be your first stop.

Closed Sundays.

The City

Eating

U Medvidku, Czech Republic

7 Na Perstynu
Prague 10001, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 224 211 916
Website: www.umedvidku.cz

Wine lovers will do fine with Czech whites from good producers such as Dobra Vinice, but the Czech lands are home to the world's first Pilsners, Budweisers, and Michelobs. Beer (a.k.a. pivo), by far the country's favorite beverage, regularly appears at breakfast, lunch, and even gala dinners. Since 1466, U Medvidku ("At the Little Bears") has been the city's pub of choice, though not until 2005 did it open a microbrewery that ages semidark lagers in old-style oak barrels. The downstairs restaurant serves the Czech version of Budweiser (Budvar) along with hearty fare—smoky Czech-style goulash that's less oily than the Hungarian original, massive broiled pork knuckles, and traditional beef tenderloin in sour-cream gravy. Just thirsty? Seek out the separate beer bar, which pours regional brews. But be warned: An evening here usually includes traditional Bohemian folk music, and you just might end up dancing.

Eating

Oliva, Czech Republic

4 Plavecka
Prague 12000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 222 520 288
Website: www.olivarestaurant.cz

When the well-loved Café Atelier changed hands in 2005, chef Rudolf Dolezal jumped ship and landed at this recent arrival with perfect timing: Like his old post, Oliva serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine at moderate prices. The menu changes frequently, but you can count on at least one variation on foie gras (sautéed with chanterelles, perhaps) among the starters, fresh fish specials, and hearty traditional fare—beef, lamb, or rabbit—given a lighter, French-inspired refinement. But don't forget the eponymous olives: Six uncommon types are listed on the appetizer menu, and the three little bowls on the table are for comparing Greek, Spanish, and Italian oils from boutique producers. Though the decor is polished—olive-green walls, spot lighting, and a shimmering veil of hanging beads—jeans and a t-shirt will fit in just fine.

Closed Sundays.

Eating

Aromi, Czech Republic

78 Manesova
Prague 12000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 222 713 222
Website: www.aromi.cz

Located on Vinohrady's linden-lined Manesova Street, a kind of gourmet ghetto with interesting restaurants, cafés, and bars, Aromi is an ode to owner Riccardo Lucque's home region of Marche. The menu skips across the whole of Bella Italia for inspiration and changes seasonally, but you might find Neapolitan seafood, pumpkin risotto, linguine with tuna meatballs, and the best lamb tagliata between here and Trieste. All that and a wine list that sweeps from Sicily to Piedmont keep the bustling exposed-brick dining rooms filled to capacity. Despite the discerning clientele, this is an informal trattoria in the great Italian tradition—you may be seated between the U.S. ambassador and a crowd of students out on the town. Dinner here is a whole-evening affair, but leave enough time at the end of the night for a plate of Marche cheeses, served with crispy bread from Sardinia and orange marmalade made by Riccardo's mother.

Eating

Allegro, Czech Republic

2a/1098 Veleslavínova
Prague 11000, Czech Republic
Tel: 420 221 426 880
Website: www.fourseasons.com/prague/dining.html

Sorry, Moscow: The first Michelin star in all of post-Communist Europe was awarded to this restaurant inside Prague's Four Seasons hotel in early 2008. Chef Andrea Accordi's take on contemporary Italian and Continental cuisine occasionally reveals a pronounced Central European influence: Taleggio cheese is served with fragrant elder-blossom foam and the trio of foie gras includes a pan-fried version served with Czech black beer. Accordi also takes advantage of the finest ingredients from around Europe, such as Alba truffles, Challans ducks, foie gras from the Périgord, and Manni olive oil, the world's most expensive. The extensive, predominantly Italian wine list appeals to big spenders, listing Super-Tuscans separately from mere Tuscans. Even the bread service is remarkable: a big basket of fluffy focaccia, crisp grissini, sliced pumpkin-seed rye, rich raisin-walnut, and on and on. The ho-hum interior with wood-paneled walls is straight out of a country club, but there's a postcard view of Prague Castle from the terrace.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.