hi friends! i just took two full days off from doing anything except having birthday adventures, and it was quite a wise decision, really. by the time my head hit the pillow on night two, i was completely exhausted. the good kind, like you want.
i spent it in prague this year and started the day with a growling stomach, so decided to finally give cantina a try. back when i was living in prague and totally broke, i would walk past this restaurant on the way home from going to the supermarket and wish that someday soon i could go here, as it has reputedly the best mexican cuisine in the city. so, it felt really nice that finally i went here… as if i’ve made it, you know?
well, that day finally came and cantina blew me away. unlike most of the (sometimes heinous) “mexican” choices in the czech republic, it was clear to me that someone behind this restaurant has actually spent a fair amount of time in mexico, or at least the southern united states! i felt right at home here. the menu doesn’t have a super wide array of different choices, but what it does have (burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos), it does well.
after lunch, we grabbed starbucks (because birthday) and got checked in at our hotel in the beautiful botanická
zahrada area just south of karlovo náměstí. i’ve never spent any time in this area at all, but i am now sure it’s one of my favorites in the city! sometimes, just staying at a nice hotel really does a lot for a trip, and this was one of those times. i’m typically a budget traveler and am usually way to frugal to spend money on hotels, but birthdays are just one of those times; you gotta treat yourself.
upon chatting with the friendly front desk gentleman about czech republic, it turned out that we have the same birthday! okay, now i know three people (only czechs!) that share my birthday. this is getting weird!
i would’ve loved to spend more time lounging around the room, but i had plans to go out and about, specifically to the prague botanical garden in troja, located in northern prague 7. i’ll talk about this more soon, but it is absolutely a wonderful way to spend a sunny warm spring day! ooh la la, spring, i always forget how much i love you!
after several hours hanging out with butterflies and smelling the wisteria in the japanese garden, we took off for dinner. i had made reservations literal months in advance at sansho, the pan-asian “casual fine dining” restaurant in josefov upon the glowing recommendations of both jamie and ricky. and oh man. this is just the kind of place you want to go on your birthday.
soon after you are seated, the waiter asked us if we had any food allergies or preferences, to which i said, “nope! anything goes” and got settled with a prosecco (bubbly!). we were informed there would be six courses which we would be sharing together, the last of which would be the main course. it was such an experience!
each diner (i looked around) seemed to be served different things. here’s what we feasted upon…
01. salmon sashimi with ginger and onion in sesame oil
02. clams in a broth made with a japanese liquor and italian-style flatbread
03. (not pictured due to forgetfulness) asparagus (spargel!) and cilantro lime salad topped with crispy egg
04. crispy pork-belly in a brown sugar, ginger sauce with broccoli (we ate this SO fast)
05. fried soft-shell crab slider with wasabi mayo (!!!!!)
06. (not pictured) a medley of pulled pork, chicken, curries, and rice
it was a wonderful warm spring night to dine al fresco, made even more magical by the views of the cute little square and tower and sweetened by the great flavors & wine. this was probably my favorite birthday meal i’ve ever experienced.
the evening really did have its magic moments. running into some fantastic buskers at náměstí republiky
at dusk rocking out to “the sound of silence” complete with accordion, watching these two little boys bombard people on revoluční street with flyers to their parents’ “running sushi” restaurant (they would come at strangers on the street with full-force, thrusting a flyer in their hands). it’s all birthday magic, you know.
onto the czech beer festival, which is the second annual going on from may 7–may 23. there are literally hundreds of types of beer at this festival, which was a huge drawing point! we met up with some of our old praguer friends and had a couple pints. not exactly an oktoberfest atmosphere (really missing some warm lighting and brass band music) but i loved trying new types of beer that you don’t get to see in your average pubs– they were even serving the green starobrno beer that you normally only see around easter! if you like beer, this annual fest is definitely a do not miss when in prague. fortunately, it lasts over two weeks so everyone can enjoy it.
below, just a sampling of different beers that can be found at one of the many stalls. how it works? load up your beer fest card with money (beers are usually 50-55kc each) and tell your cashier which beer you’ll have (either by name or number). she’ll give you a receipt, and you go stand under your beer number and gave the receipt to the beer maiden. pretty smooth system, i have to say! the card thing is sort of a hassle in the beginning but it makes going back for another point so easy.
this year was one for the books! special thanks to alex to being the best birthday companion a girl could ask for.
alright, alright. back to reality for at least the next two weeks. thanks for indulging me and my birthday tales, y’all. but before i go: do you have a “perfect day” formula that results in a fool-proof, wonderful day? mine goes like fab breakfast or lunch + coffee + spending loads of time in nature + fab dinner and cocktails + party or celebration. what’s yours like?
ps, past birthdays abroad: mein leipzig & happy czech birthday