I’m sure the lame joke in the title has been used a million times, but truly and honestly I didn’t know when I wrote it down… promise! Jokes aside, it has really become a bit of a checklist for us (and as boring as that sounds, it’s really not), but we already miss all the places we’ve been to. London for its vibe, chilling with Rich and making new friends! Berlin had its sausages and incredible history, all amazingly shown to us by Chrissy!!! And now Prague is also behind us… *sniff* and what an incredible city it is!
Our visit to Prague can be segmented into the various (and diverse) quarters of the city, one of them only discovered on our last day… but more about that later.
The Hostel Elf is a worthwhile, clean, friendly and all round fantastic spot to stay in Prague. Breakfast was included in the price of the hostel and they even hosted a free ‘barbeque’ where we could have sausages and bread – Czechs have everything with bread! Thanks Kotzes for finding it online when we couldn’t get wifi in Berlin! And this was our home base, not 10 minutes from the most important sights that the city has to offer. However, their Internet (wifi) connection leaves much to be desired… Internet addicts that we are, and obviously the importance of keeping you lovely people up to date with the URT, meant our first stop after dumping our kit in the (freely available) lockers was to find a spot of grub and a decent Wifi connection! We found this a short walk up the road along with a rather petulant man who may well have been some sort of Saint as he carried golden liquid in large quantities to me!! Happy place! Needless to say that after a couple of the local (and by this I mean the unpronounceable) beers, heads hit pillows in a big way!
The first day was full up with sights as we explored the city. Prague has 4 main sections/quarters: the Old Town, New Town, the Jewish Quarter and on the opposite bank of the River Vltava, the Little Quarter. Furthermore there is the Prague Castle district that is the oldest surviving contiguous castle in the world according to our informative Irish guide Brian on the FREE tour we took on our last day in Prague. So on the first day we meandered around the Old Town from the Powder Gate to the Old Town Square with its Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. Ravaged by various wars from the Middle Ages to WWII, Prague has built and rebuilt itself over the years. But it still has the feel of an old European city with medieval influences all over the place, think Gargoyles, pennants and Coats of Arms! We were half expecting a horse guard to arrive announcing some nobleman’s arrival.
The New Town in stark contrast houses all of the modern niceties that one would expect of a European capital. Shopping streets, trams, busses, etc. So this part we sort of saw from the windows of public transport on the second day. Wenceslas Square however was a highlight of the New Town that is great during the day or night.
Full of tourists but definitely worth it! For those humming a certain Christmas carol to themselves round about now, it’s spelt the same but has no correlation as Wenceslas was in fact the idle, drunkard, criminal son of one of Prague’s greatest Kings, Charles IV who built much of what makes the city what it is today. When you are fortunate enough to visit, his influence (and name) is all over the city, Charles University and the famous Charles Bridge to mention just two.
So that’s two of four districts, we touched on the Little Quarter briefly on day one when we walked over the 1357 bridge commissioned by Charles IV that carries his name. This was the bridge that displayed the heads of 27 Hussite men (forefathers of the protestant faith) who were arrested and executed for reasons most notably their religious differences with the Catholic Church and their habit of defenestration… i.e. Throwing Catholic politicians from rather tall towers. Their heads, Brian says, were on display for the discerning protester to check out for no less than 20 years.
Now (and this is the bit we only discovered on the last day during our free city tour) to exhibit how old Prague really is, the final district is the Jewish Quarter. A maze of narrow streets awaits you but also a number of Europe’s oldest Synagogues and a cemetery rumoured to contain the remains of up to 150000 Czech jews. Incredible! This feels like I’m writing a freaking guidebook!
This city has been such an eye opener as it has put up the first of our language barriers (Chrissy helped in Deutschland) and also has been the first city where we were entirely on our own. Great though because this is the part of the URT where we actually get to do some proper travelling, unguided and mouths agape at how awesome it is to have this opportunity!
Before I go, there are some things that you can’t miss when in Prague and you will see/hear/smell them when you do come here!
1. Trams – dangerous things that approach silently and always from the opposite direction to where you are looking!
2. Babies and/or Pregnant women – they are invading I tell you.
3. Super speedy escalators – twice as fast as anywhere else in the world, be mindful!
4. Snogging couples – probable the reason for number 2!
5. Trdelnik – Sweet Czech pastries that are rolled thin, rotisseried until brown and crispy and then covered in sugar and cinnamon, yummo!
6. Music – whether it’s being played (or sung like the a capello concert we heard in the Church of St. Nicholas, a definite highlight) or just the influence it has (statues of composers, every second person with an instrument) music fills Prague with an old school cultural atmosphere that we didn’t notice in London or Berlin.