-Written by Enrique Martinez
Last year I went on my own version of a Eurotrip. It was just me and an open-ended trip through Europe. One of my stops was in Prague.
Known for its vast historical importance, it’s not a surprise it was named #6 in TripAdvisors list for best destinations in 2016.
The food is good, the beer is cheap and it is also known as the Amsterdam of the East. You can’t go wrong with Prague if you’re planning a trip to Europe; it has culture, history, and good times.
PUB 1 Bar
I was actually taken to this bar as part of a pub crawl my hostel organized. There’s no way I would’ve picked this bar if I had passed it on the street. Not for anything bad, but because it doesn’t look like a “typical” Czech pub, or whatever us tourists always want when visiting a new country. I feel like we always want the “typical” experience when traveling, so much so that we might even get suckered into expensive tourist traps just to so we feel like we’re getting an “authentic” experience. But that’s for another time.
Our Pub Crawl leader was Diego, a tall Spaniard who was studying in Prague and whose side gig was showing tourists where to get drunk in Prague.
PUB 1 in Prague looked like your standard Applebee’s without all the random crap on the walls. Brightly lit and lots of corporate looking bar decor. There were plenty of small tables and high chairs near the entrance, but the real attraction was towards the back.
This is the area that Diego kept calling the “The Arena”. I was excited to find out because there were two groups already seated in their respective areas making a lot noise.
So The Arena works like this:
There are ten large tables that fit about 6-8 people comfortably. In the middle of those tables is a beer tap that delivers fresh Czech beer without the need to get a waiter or go up to the bar.
Side note: Everyone in Prague is always very proud to say that they are the country that consumes the most beer in all of Europe, "NOT GERMANY!” as they always make a point to say.
The standard beer of choice in Prague is Pilsner Urquell, an unpasteurized blonde lager that was cheap but also top notch. Don’t ask me what unpasteurized means, but everyone kept telling me that it was. The Czech know their beer, that's for sure.
Anyway, all these tables have their own beer taps delivering fresh Pilsner Urquell. The whole point to the Arena is this cool monitoring system on the beer that can tell how much beer has been consumed at this particular table and at this particular pub.
Before starting, everyone gets assigned a number as their profile on the beer tap system. This number keeps track of how much beer you’ve had.
On the back wall was a projector screen that showed the ranking of the different restaurants that were also using this system. That means that people in this bar can see how much the people in another bar had been drinking, therefore starting an all-out race to beat those other bars.
Not only were there bars in other parts of Prague, but we could also see bars in Germany and Austria; and Czechs would be damned if they let Germany and Austria out-drink them.
The screen also changed to show the rankings of the individual tables within our bar, sparking an even bigger race among us to see what table could consume the most beer. Things got heated when we started noticing another bar was catching up to us. When people pointed it out, everyone immediately started filling up.
To add even more competition, the screen also showed what user had drank the most beer inside of our bar.
Now I’m no economist, but this system seemed like the most genius way to get people to buy beer, make it a competition!
Being the first stop of the Pub Crawl, its safe to say I drank way more than I should have, but how could I not?
Krakora Bar aka the Cougar Bar
This second bar was one of the most hilarious and bizarre experiences during this trip.
The bar itself is unassuming, and a bit dive bar-ish, located in some random residential neighborhood in Prague.
There really isn’t even a sign that has the bar's name or anything. It almost seemed like it used to be a house and was transformed into a bar. The only way I knew I was there was because an old Pilsener Urquell sign that was bolted to the wall, that’s it nothing else. Oh and also there’s barbed wire all along the top of the walled entrance. Very inviting.
I was actually going to this bar because it was the meet-up spot for the local Couchsurfers group in Prague.
If you don’t know , Couchsurfing is this cool website where you can reach out to people in different parts of the world who are offering their couch (or sometimes even spare room) for free to travelers. It’s a lot better than it sounds, because theres a whole community around Couchsurfing that really care about traveling and meeting new people. Couch surfers also regularly host meet-ups at bars to get groups of people together. So that’s what I was doing.
What’s cool about these Couchsurfing events is just how many different nationalities you can run into. From what I remember there were people from Finland, Italy , Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic and Croatia. Tip: Its always good to add people that you meet on this trips on Facebook. You don’t know when you might be coming back!
Anyway, we're all drinking, socializing etc. and I keep hearing the word “cougar” here and there. I really didn't think too much of it, but I was curious why some people kept saying something or other about a cougar.
The owner of the bar was there drinking with people, the guy looked like a cross between mafia boss and soccer hooligan with these big combat boots and weird overalls.
Sometime later he leaves for a while and then comes back with…..
I shit you not….a cougar. A real life, eating and killing predatory animal. On a leash. In the bar. Like it was a fucking dog or something.
At this point, I was a few beers and a couple of shots in, so you can imagine my surprise at seeing this big cat just being strolled around like it was nothing. This thing was big too.
I love how little fucks Europe gives sometimes, like nowhere in the US would this be allowed or even considered. Not even the most red neck backwoods place would just let a big cat socialize with the guests of a bar.
Later on I found out that this guy actually has a few cougar out behind the bar in this big cages. I have no idea why or how this guy keeps cougars in the middle of Prague, but sometimes you just don’t question things and appreciate them for how they are.
So there you have it, two awesome bars to visit when you go to Prague.