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NEIGHBOURHOOD


When in Prague


TANK & CRAFT BEER


Tank beer — poured unfiltered and unpasteurised from copper


tanks — is as fresh as it gets. Look for the words ‘z tanku’ on menus


and pub exteriors. Craſt beer has taken a little longer to catch on,


but an increasing number of bars stock them.


ICE HOCKEY


Football is the main sport in the Czech Republic, but ice hockey runs it a close second. During winter, top local team Sparta


Praha plays at the Tipsport Arena, with tickets very reasonably


priced. tipsportarena-praha.cz GARNET


If you want trashy souvenirs,


then you’re in luck — Prague has plenty. If you want something


genuinely good with a local twist, then jewellery made from garnet is a strong bet. Look for jewellers just off the main tourist route through the Old Town.


GARDENS


In the busier chunks of Prague, there’s oſten glorious respite to be found in small, oſten walled-


off gardens. They’re particularly prevalent in Malá Strana.


CZECH WINE


A surprising amount of wine is made in the Moravia region in the east of the country. Very little makes its way over the


borders, but key varietals include Svatovavřinecké and Frankovka (red) plus Müller-Thurgau and Grüner Veltliner (white).


46 nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel


Vinohrady “I was here two days ago with some very picky eaters and we ordered your chicken — it was the best meat we’d had in Prague. I wonder if you also sell cuts?” an eager customer says, bursting into Mikrofarma bistro. That’s the sort of unprompted recommendation you want to hear when you sit down to eat. Mikrofarma, I discover, is an oddity. You can point at any cut of meat on display and a chef in the small adjoining kitchen will cook it for you. It started life some years back as a butcher’s, and now also has shelves full of chutneys, pickles and other deli products. It’s a tiny place, but so are many of the other joints in Vinohrady. They defy the pork-and- dumplings stereotype of Czech cuisine: small ramen, pho and craſt beer places have found a home amid Vinohrady’s more characteristic sea of coffeeshops. It’s those sprinkles of innovation that


prevent Vinohrady slipping into moneyed- but-idle pastiche. The area was absorbed into Prague in 1922, during a boom period for the city. The upper middle classes chose to live there, and this continued under communist rule when Vinohrady was eyed with suspicion as a bourgeois hotbed. Walking in from neighbouring districts,


the change is immediately obvious. Trees suddenly line the streets and buildings go from mousy affairs given a lick of paint to showily proud. Balconies become big, jutting statements, and the decorations on the walls and roofs become fiercely competitive. Most of these late 19th-century status


symbols were built in the Romantic style, which pilfered the best bits from trends of centuries gone by. The same block can have elaborate neo-gothic, neo-Renaissance and neo-baroque efforts, each fighting for attention with frippery. None are more brazen than the Vinohrady Theatre, though, which is topped by two angel statues boasting extravagant wings. It’s a perfect symbol of the district — a thirst for culture married to a lack of concern about displaying wealth. Rich but broadly tasteful is the vibe, and


that also applies to the cafe around the corner. Dolcemente oozes presentational drama. Inside, dried hams hang from the ceiling; outside, the door and window arches are outlined with flowers. But its focus is precise: stunning Italian-style cakes, porchetta sandwiches and blackberry or tiramisu gelato. Again, it’s a brave concept idea that probably wouldn’t work elsewhere in Prague. But Vinohrady embraces the finer things in life.


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