It was one of those magical travel experiences. It probably helped that beer was involved. After a lazy first day in Prague, we stepped curiously into a random bar, tipped off by a travel book. We were instantly shuffled without a word muttered to a seat at the end of a crowded table. There were no menus and no women in the smokey, dim bar (except for me). Seconds later, two beers were plopped and sloshed in front of us. We didn’t order them. We didn’t know what kind of beer it was. We sipped. It was glorious.
U Zlatého Tygra (The Golden Tiger) is a traditional Czech pub that serves Pilsner Urquell to a crew of regulars. It’s one of those somewhat secret, very old establishments where famous officials visit and tourists are scared away because they don’t speak English. But visitors need only to show up and sit down. They’ll keep a tally of the number of beers ordered — or rather, not ordered — on a slip of paper on the table. You’ll be seated amongst a loud group of middle-aged men, a few teenagers, or a lonesome retiree sneaking away from his wife for an afternoon.
The latter is who was eventually sat next to us. A wonderful man named Milan. He wore an American flag pin just because he likes the United States. He translated Czech words for us, kept us company, and wished us well after we’d had our fair share of beer at 4 PM. Mission accomplished.