Prague

charlesbridge

My first post for 2015! Already it’s February and the time has really flown by. Between working all the time and having to deal with the crappy Australian internet, I’ve really gotten behind on keeping this site updated. It’s been six months since I was actually in Prague, so my memory of my three days there is a bit fuzzy and I didn’t keep a whole lot of notes about it, nor did I take many photos for some reason, so please bear with me!

After gallivanting around Germany for a week, I made a brief return to France before hopping on a flight to the Czech Republic (for only €40, what a bargain!), this time accompanied with my French travel partner, Servan. Other than hearing from friends and other travelers that Prague was a nice city, I really didn’t know much about it and didn’t know what to expect.

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We arrived in the evening so we didn’t see much of the city in the beginning, other than heading off to a pub to try some goulash, a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew which is a staple food in the Czech Republic and throughout Central Europe. It was amazingly delicious–not a bad first impression! The following morning we headed off into the city to see the sights. On our way to the Town Square we randomly stumbled across an old Soviet tank and and American army hummer parked next to a big building that said “museum” on it. Naturally we went inside just to check it out and ended up staying for over an hour. It turned out to be the Army museum and it was actually really interesting, covering the history of the Czech’s involvement in WWI and WWII. Best of all it was free!

Eventually we arrived at the Old Town Square where we met up with Servan’s brother and his girlfriend who also happened to be in town. We spent the rest of the day just walking around the city, checking out all some of the big sights like the Charles Bridge (which was so packed I didn’t even bother taking photos there), the Old Town, and the Church of St. Nicholas. We also stopped from time to time and allowed ourselves to be amused by the many street performers on the city streets, most were actually quite good at what they did. There are quite a few talented musicians in Prague!

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The following day we huffed it on up the hill to the city’s most famous landmark, the Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. It’s actually a conglomerate of several buildings, including a few palaces, churches, and halls. We didn’t go inside any of the buildings due to the long lines, but we did a little walking tour through the complex before heading back to the city to wander around some more. We ended up finding a nice little gem, the Valdštejnský palác, or Wallenstein Palace, which currently serves as the Czech Senate. Compared to the Prague Palace just up the hill it was way less crowded. The entrance is a little tricky to find, basically being just a doorway in a big wall. We walked among peacocks grazing about in the symmetrically designed Senate Gardens and even found that we could actually go inside parts of the palace. The rooms were beautifully decorated with artwork painted across the ceilings. I think it might have been my favorite building in Prague. Another added bonus, it was also free!

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Compared to other European cities, things are much cheaper in Prague so we took advantage of that and did some shopping in the New Town district. We also checked out the nearby Communist Museum (also quite interesting) and munched on street food. After dinner we grabbed some trdelník (a sugary pastry wrapped around a stick and grilled over a fire) and walked to Střelecký Ostrov, one of the islands in the middle of the Vltava River, which flows through the city. There was some kind of festival going on so we went to check it out and hung out next to the river to people watch. At the time there was also a storm passing through outside of town and we enjoyed watching the lightning show behind the castle. We didn’t stay out too long however, as we had an early bus to catch to Munich.

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I liked Prague. I didn’t LOVE I did with cities like Paris and Venice. But I did find it quite nice. It’s a city that has managed to withstand the test of time, loaded with lots of history and a well-preserved medieval charm. Unfortunately we didn’t really do a lot of research before coming so I have a feeling we missed out on seeing a lot of cool stuff outside the main tourist attractions. On top of that, we were there during the peak tourist season and with the city being crowded with so many other travelers it was a bit overwhelming at times walking through the narrow streets. Strangely, I didn’t mind the tourist summer crowds as much in other cities, but in Prague it just seemed too claustrophobic. I think it would be a much better place to visit in the off season, particularly in autumn. Maybe one day I’ll return then, and I’ll be able to really appreciate the city’s magic that everyone talks about.

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