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10 March 2015

Prague: Part 1

Finally! An update on Prague. Seriously though, sorry about being so M.I.A recently. A lot has been going on and unfortunately this space has been pushed aside because of it.

Prague though, Prague was fantastic! It was just nice to get away by myself and explore someplace new.

On the way there I flew Lufthansa airlines which was nice because they give you alcohol for free. And I two seats to myself. I watched Whiplash and Big Hero 6, both of which were excellent. When I landed I followed the travel advice of taking out some cash at the ATM for funds so as to not rack up a million fees on a card. I will be upfront here, I took out 11,000 Czech crowns, which is equivalent to about $450. I did not spend all of it on my trip, I found out while in Prague that everything is very cheap and at the the end of my trip, including round transportation with a driver for the airport, souvenirs for all my family and myself, 2 meals a day for 4 days and every audio guide/entrance ticket I could get, I spent about $365. I turned most of my left over Czechs into US dollars.

I used (borrowed) a really great guidebook by Rick Steves from my sister and brother-in-law, as well as a great travel write-up from a family friend who studied abroad in Prague. Both were very useful in terms of figuring out things that I wanted to do and being able to maneuver the city. I found the most interesting thing here was that a lot of places you could only take pictures if you paid to take pictures, which I kind of thought was ridiculous so I don't have many pictures. Sorry!

The best part of my trip was getting to learn new things, and seeing some pretty cool historical places. Prague is made up of five smaller towns with a river running through. One side you have a two big hills. The first hill is the Castle Quarter, promptly named for one of, if not, the largest European Castles. Below that is the Little Quarter.  On the other side of the river you've got the Old Town, New Town and the Jewish Quarter. All very original names, I know.

Once upon a time there used to just be one giant bridge called Charles Bridge which is a very excited place for tourists with selfie sticks to appear. They also have a bunch of cool artwork for sale and you can get some beautiful views of the city.

After landing and getting settled into my hotel room on  Sunday afternoon I went right out to find food. I had been given a few recommendations of places near my hotel from a friend's co-worker and found one quickly. When I was done eating I just walked around the area I was staying in, which was the Castle Quarter and the Little Quarter. I checked out the Lennon Wall, Kapa Island, took a peak at Charles Bridge, then hiked up the hill to the Castle. I wandered around the area a bit just to get my bearings and an idea of what I wanted to do in the following days. Sunday was pretty chill.

Lennon Wall
Mini-Lock Bridge going to Kapa Island

 Monday I woke up feeling very tired but dragged up myself out of the hotel anyways. They offered breakfast where I stayed, which is always nice, but I've found that Europeans tend to eat breakfast a little different than we eat ours.  A lot of sliced deli meats and cheeses, variety of rolls/bread, tomatoes, beans, interesting sausages. Most mornings I filled up on the fruit I could find and rolls with jam.

I spent Monday morning seeing the Prague Castle. I bought the short tour which included the large St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica and Golden Lane. You didn't really get to see as much in the palace as I would have liked but you do get to tour the very large Vladislav Hall that they used to hold court in, shows and jousts in the winter time, it held market stalls and shops during the week. It's lovely. There was also a few "offices" where supposedly the church officials were thrown out the window during the defenestration that started the 30 year war. You exited by leaving this really weird set of stairs that were built so horses could enter and exit into the hall. funky. (btw, if you have ever read A Discovery of Witches- in the second book they go to Prague and several of these places are mentioned in the book. It was kind of cool to put real pictures to descriptions in a story.)

Golden Lane
 Golden Lane is one of the more fun places to visit in the castle. It is a this small narrow street filled with all these little tiny houses that once upon a time held the goldsmith shops, then became houses for soldiers, caretakers, seamstresses, apothecary, and then became popular as a tourist destinations and just became showpieces.

The church, as most are, is beautiful- fantastic stained glass windows, lots of dead people. Glad it saw it, would definitely do the long tour if I go back.

After exploring the castle grounds I hiked further up the hill to the Strahov Monastery. There isn't tons to do here but the views are amazing, and they have these Beauty and the Beast Libraries that I want to live in. No pictures unfortunately because I didn't want to pay. Very much worth the trip though and the Monastery makes their own beer which was delicious. Actually the meal there in general was pretty good.

I took my first tram trip down the hill and subway ride under the river to check out the Old and New Town next with Rick Steves's walking tour.  This was a podcast I downloaded- the walking tour started in New Town took me through some great sites, right into the heart of Old Town at Old Town Square. I did  a few of his walking tours in Paris and just as they were, this one was great. He is easy to listen to, gives directions well and also has some fun facts.

Powder Tower, the last remaining gate from original town walls

cubist building
 When my tour was over I walked around the Square to watch the Astrononmical Clock ring in the new hour and do it's song and dance. I then paid for a tour of the Old Town Hall and observation deck- the tower the clock is on. The tour was neat, it took you down into the ground floors of the tower and buildings beside it that date back to the Roman period.

I finished Monday night with a pretty awful ghost tour. I usually really like ghost tours, they are usually silly and fun, give an extra tidbit of history to the area or spooky stories. This one was just bad. The guide wasn't that great, we stood a block plus away from each "site", stories weren't anything special. Overall not the best I've been on but I did get to chat some other tourists and get a better layout of the Old Town area.

phew- basically I did a lot. and then even more... on to the next day!

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  1. Sounds like a fantastic trip and seems like you got a lot for your money! Welcome back!

  2. OH MY BEAUTIFUL!! Sounds like a wonderful trip and your pictures are beautiful!!

  3. WOW, I never would have known Prague is so beautiful! Gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I had never thought much about Prague before, but maybe I was wrong. The old architecture on the buildings! WOW! Plus it's so fun to see that they're obsessed with John Lennon (rightfully so.)

  5. Thanks! I am so glad I went and got to see so many cool places. If you have a chance to go, you should take it!

  6. Thanks! It is a great city- I am so happy I had the chance to go and explore.

  7. Everyone kept telling me it was pretty but I didn't believe it until I was actual there. It has such an old world feel which is part of the attraction. I am so glad I went!

  8. totally, John Lennon is top notch. I was skeptical as well when people suggested it as destination but I am so happy I went- everything is gorgeous and full of amazing history!