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Tips from a Local: Prague, Czech Republic

Meet Tess:

Tess is a great friend of mine from high school. Her adventurous spirit led her to venture over to Prague to teach English for two years without knowing a single person.  I visited her in the last month of her stint in Prague, by which time she had mastered the tour guide role. Here is what she has to say about visiting:

What is your favorite spot in Prague?

My personal favorite spot in Prague is undoubtedly Naplavka. It's a riverside bar scene that's hopping any night of the week during the summer. Try some local beers or hop on a barge-turned-bar for a unique sunset view on the river.

    What can't you miss?

    If there's one thing you can't miss in Prague, it's the combination of a good drink and a good view. And luckily there's no shortage of options for this. Letna beer garden offers a classic view of the river and cityscape. Reigrovy Sady is a more local scene, where hundreds of hipsters flock to live out an Ed Sheeran lyric and watch the sunset over the castle on the hill. Some of my favorite rooftop bars are T. Anker and U Prince (overlook Old Town) and Glass Bar (atop of the famous Dancing House).

    Food and drink to try?

    If you have a sweet tooth, you absolutely must have a trdelnik. These are spiral-shaped pastries that you can fill with anything your heart desires, like ice cream or Nutella. For a more savory meal, try the traditional goulash or roast duck and dumplings. And of course, you must sample the Czech beer! My favorites are Pilsner Urquell and Kozel. For the more adventurous consumer, head to the famous Black Angels bar in Old Town for some absinthe served traditionally with a sugar cube and antique water drip.

    three Czech words to know?

    • Pivo = beer
    • Dobry den = formal and common greeting
    • Dekuji = thanks

    Things to avoid?

    Prague is surprisingly a very small and walk-able city, so stay away from bus tours and cabs! Most of the popular tourist attractions are easy to see in one day or even one afternoon if you plan the appropriate walking route. Start in the historic Wenceslas Square, then walk the small cobblestone streets into Old Town Square and across the picturesque Charles Bridge. From Malostranska (Lesser Town, across the river) take the tram 22 up the hill to the Prague Castle. And voila! You've seen most of Prague.

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    Tips from a local: Mendoza, Argentina

    Meet Jose:

    As a guide for Ampora Wine Tours, Jose has one of the best jobs in the world. Leading groups around boutique wineries, enjoying six-course lunches, and teaching guests about Argentina are just a few bullets in his job description.  As a native "Mendocino" with thirteen years of experience in the wine industry, I had to pick his brain for some traveling pointers.  Here is what he has to say about visiting Mendoza:  

    Describe Mendoza like you would describe a wine. 

    Mendoza is friendly, relaxed, green and dry!

    What is your favorite meal to pair with a Malbec? 

    Even though it might sound cliché  I think a good piece of steak is a natural pairing for our flagship grape, more so if it is Argentinean and grassfed beef! However I also like to pair Malbec with bitter chocolate at the end of a meal.

    Outside of wine tasting, what can't you miss when you visit Mendoza? 

    There is a lot to do in the suburbs of the city. I highly recommend visiting the historical neighbourhood of Chacras de Coria, the residential part of Lujan de Cuyo County, which is only 25 minutes south of town. 

    Taking a drive up into the mountains on route 7 is a must. A very scenic road that takes you into the base of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas. There are lots of things to do if you enjoy outdoorsy activities, such as rafting, zip-lining, hiking, mountain biking or rock climbing.

    Also, exploring Mendoza’s nightlife by visiting Aristides Villanueva St., an avenue that has more bars and restaurants than you can count. If you happen to be wined out, there is a good array of local craft beer offered. Buzzing, lots of outdoor seating areas, great for bar hopping. Don’t miss happy hour from 7:30 to 8:30 tipically.

    What are 3 Argentinian Spanish words you should know to fit in with the locals?

    • Chau chau : bye bye
    • Resaca: hangover
    • Bodega: winery

    Anything you should avoid who visiting Mendoza?

    I tend to recommend staying away from some of the gigantic wineries, the big names. Sometimes the best experiences and most delicious wines are found in boutique, low-key wineries. I do suggest people visit our main park San Martin, it is stunning. So forested and green but also big. Therefore it is safe to stroll around the lake and areas where is more crowded. Do not wonder off to much specially at night. Mendoza is quite safe, not a lot of violent crime, however opportunist pickpocketters target tourists at times!