Our hostel in Prague offered a free breakfast so we grabbed some cereal and headed out into the city. We had some time to kill before our walking tour so we walked around the square, admiring the beauty of the buildings and trying to take it all in.
Prague seems to be the most ‘touristy’ place we have been to so far. I think part of this is because our hostel is located in the heart of Old Town, the main attraction of the city. In other places our hostels have typically been a 15 or 20 minute walk from the main squares. Dodging huge tour groups and Segways we walked around the square and I ran into my neighbor and long time family friend, Kristin. So crazy, once again it is such a small world!
I also got to try a staple of Prague, Trdelnik. Basically it is a nutty cinnamon bread that is coiled and spun around over a grill thing to bake. Absolutely delicious, the perfect balance of sugar and nutty flavors.
We found the meeting spot for our walking tour and slipped into Jirka’s group, he was a Czech native so we figured he would be the best. We walked through the square, learning about the history of the country; another place heavily impacted by the Nazi reign and communism. We learned some entertaining legends of Prague- one which told the story of a queen who wasn’t married so the people demanded she find a husband. As the story goes she had a dream about a handsome, strong farmer so her servants went out to the countryside and picked a random farmer to rule over the land and they lived happily ever after. He also pointed out that the main church’s towers were slightly different sizes, apparently the builders of the church realized this six weeks after it was completed and claimed it was done on purpose to represent Adam and Eve. He also told us the story of the astronomical clock. People believed the clock made time, therefore if it stopped ticking, time would end and the world would be thrown into chaos. Because the man who designed the clock was thought to be so powerful, the officials of Prague were worried he would make a clock elsewhere so they got him super drunk and blinded him. When he woke up and realized what had happened he threw himself into the gears of the clock, leaving the clock broken for a 100 years until someone came along who was clever enough to fix it.
We walked to the river, walking by the national theatre where Hitler once was headquartered for a time. He told us about Charles Bridge and how it was the only bridge that has withstood the years of floods that frequent Prague. Looking across the water you can see the old royal palace, the cathedral and the president’s home.
We walked to the Jewish quarter which sadly was almost completely destroyed during WWII. Most of the buildings have been reconstructed and the town hall still remains the center of the Jewish community in Prague. Right next to this area is the 7th most expensive street in Europe- all of the apartments were beautiful, all different colors with balconies and exquisite designs.
We went under the Powder Tower, one of three city gates left standing (there used to be 13 standing) that mark the barrier between the old and new parts of the city. We wrapped our tour, which was great and ate lunch at a restaurant our guide recommended. We ordered the tradition Czech plates, goulash and potatoes! (Clearly a theme in the last couple of countries we have been in)
We found out in the morning that two of our friends we met in Budapest were also in Prague so we planned to meet up with them after lunch. Grace and I somehow found ourselves back at the ice cream place we ate at the night before…I think my sweet tooth is rubbing off on her. It started pouring rain so we took shelter under Charles Bridge while we waited for Chen and Elliott. We ended up meeting them at an ice pub, which I really wanted to experience. A couple of my friends had been and said it was awesome so we went for it!
They gave us gloves and these thermal capes to put on and in we went. It was a pretty small room but literally everything was made out of ice! From the walls, to the bar and even the seats everything was frozen. Even our glasses were made out of ice, Chen and Elliott had a ball smashing them when we were finished with our drinks. It was extremely touristy but seriously so much fun even though we were all super chilled.
We spent the rest of the afternoon with the boys, a highlight was when we went to the Lennon Wall which was across the bridge. When we were walking across we stopped to listen to a string quartet playing music. The music was beautiful and we all started to dance and sing along which was great. We also bombed as many selfies as we could which is always great entertainment. Apparently the Lennon Wall was started after his death when people kept spray painting him on this wall. Today it’s basically a free expression wall, with messages, lyrics and graffiti all over it. It was super cool and I loved seeing all of the love notes written across the wall, s’cute!
We were all pretty hungry so Chen took the lead and decided we had to eat at a tiny place off a small alley. Aka we ended up wandering around the city until Chen was satisfied with a tiny restaurant off a random alley. It was actually really good so the walking was worth it. We had great conversation and it felt like we had been friends forever. Crazy to think we had only met a couple days ago and had only spent time together once. Dinner was also hilarious because our waiter spoke no English and brought out another plate of ribs that we didn’t order. Grace and I had raved about the ice cream place so much that we convinced Chen and Elliott to try it so we were back for the third time in 24 hours…oops. We walked around a bit more and then parted ways for good. It was wonderful meeting them and I’m so thankful for the time we got to spend together!
The next morning we got up, packed our things and headed across the city to explore the castle on a hill (literally) Even after spending a couple days in Prague and walking by the same sites frequently they still wowed me. Even in the clouds the city was captivating. We didn’t have enough time to go into the castle and royal palace but we enjoyed walking around the huge complex. It was almost like another town at the top.
The cathedral there was fascinating. It was a gothic style and the details on every single surface were so intricate. The building itself was massive, dominating the entire square and the palace around it. The inside was the same- the towering ceilings were detailed and the stained glass and paintings were stunning. Definitely one of my favorite churches I have visited on this trip.
We headed back down and across Old Town to grab our packs from the hostel. Grabbing lunch to go we made our train to Berlin in plenty of time. I absolutely adored Prague, it was a gem of a city and I know I’ll be back one day. Everyone was extremely friendly and I loved being captivated by the beauty of the city. Definitely wish we would of had more time to spend exploring more outside the heart of town, but just another reason to come back one day. I think I loved Prague so much because to me it seemed like a mix of Vienna and Budapest. The architecture and buildings were beautiful and classy but it seemed, for lack of a better word, less proper than Vienna. There was always something going on similar to Budapest and a more artsy, creative vibe in Prague.