Trip Date: April 11 -13
This past weekend the Kristin’s (yes, both of them) and I went to Prague! Our adventure began Friday morning, way before the sun even came up. We got a 6AM taxi to the airport (I thought I was going to die the entire time, I just can’t seem to get used to these insane Roman drivers) for our 8:30AM flight. Yes. I’m the chill one in this group. Both Kristin’s are type-A and paranoid about missing trains, planes, reservations, etc. I advocated for a little more sleep but, seeing as I was out numbered, I tried to catch my missing zzz’s at the gate. Of course, to top it off, the plane didn’t actually leave until 10AM (Rome: our cars our fast, everything else is late) so we ended up arriving in Prague a little before noon. After exchanging our money (this conversion of dollars to euros to Czech crowns ended up getting me into a little financial trouble) we took a taxi to our hotel, quickly dumped our bags and set out to explore the city. Like in Barcelona, our hotel was a little ways out of the city center (as you can imagine, the Kristin’s are not cool with hostels) but that’s okay. I like to get to know a city by getting to know its public transport system!
We got off of the metro and were immediately greeted by immense and beautiful structures! Unfortunately, we found Czech almost impossible to translate, so we didn’t always know what we were looking at. Kristin #2 had some torn out pages from her enormous copy of Let’s Go Europe, without which we would have been entirely lost. Slowly we made our way through the crowds to Old Town. There was a very lively square, surrounded by several tall buildings, including Týn Church. And, because there seems to be one in every city I visit, there was a carnival going on in the square, complete with pony rides, games and vendors. We opted for a late lunch and plan out the rest of our visit. I had a big of a flash back to Barcelona as Kristin #1 became buried in her map though that didn’t stop me from trying to get lost and figure the city our organically.
The first stop was just across the Old Town Square, the famous Astronomical Clock. We waited with a mass of people for the hour to strike and, when it did, a little scene with wooden characters played out while everyone snapped photos and admired their adorable little movements. I overheard another group of tourists deciding to set their watches so that they could see it the next hour, too, but I thought that was a little extreme. Next stop was the Jewish Quarter where we made our way through a few adorable shops, admired the many synagogues and eventually stumbled upon what everyone told us not to miss: Bohemian Bagels! Supposedly, these are the best bagels in the world. There are no bagels in Italy, so for the three of us there was no argument – they were certainly delicious!
After out snack we were fueled up to head toward the Charles Bridge. After several wrong turns we were finally advised to “follow the tourists” and were, subsequently, led to the famous bridge! Not only did it offer beautiful views of the city, but it was fantastic of people watching! So much people watching, live music, vendors, street performers, caricature artists and masses of photo-snapping tourists – tons of energy that seemed infectious!
The sun was starting to set as we made our way back over the bridge to our next destination, the oldest brewery in Prague. U Fleku was founded over 500 years ago and must be written about in every guide book since we saw quite an international happy hour. The three of us indulged in some of the best beer I’ve ever had and made friends with two Dutch gentlemen who were seated at our table. They bought us a second round (and a shot of some sort) and we chatted for a while before catching yellow metro line B back to our hotel. We ate dinner (more food – it seemed like we were eating all day) at a cafe near the hotel, indulged in hot showers with actual water pressure (something the Romecenter sorely lacks) and watched an episode of The Osbournes dubbed in German – hilarious!
On Saturday morning we woke up early, ate a quick breakfast and headed back into the city center. As soon as we got off the metro I spotted a wax museum and insisted we take a look. I had never been to a wax museum before and the whole concept really cracks me up. We were the only ones there and I’m so glad we popped for the dollar entry fee! Where else can I get photos with Louis Armstrong, the Pope, the Terminator, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and a handful of Czech dictators all in the same place!? Next stop was the Prague Communist History Museum which had an entirely feel than the wax museum. Until 1989, the Czech Republic was a part of Czechoslovakia which was a communist country and a part of the Eastern Bloc. The museum showed historical artifacts, documents and other aspects of the history of this regime, along with actual footage of the revolt that took place in Prague less than two decades ago.
After the museum we headed across the bridge to what is called Lesser Town. We stopped at a few shops and the St. Nicholas Cathedral on the way but eventually made it across the Charles Bridge to Lesser Town and up the hill to the Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. The views of the city from the castle were well worth the hike up the hill, as were the stained glass windows at the Gothic church next door – so lovely! On our way back toward the shopping streets (Kristin#1’s favorite part of any city) we paid a quick visit to the Medieval Torture Museum. This was my first visit to a torture museum and while I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I did at the wax museum, I found it interesting and thought provoking, if not more than a little bit nauseating. I’ll spare my readers the details…
I walked with the girls while they visited the various shops in the shopping district but kept myself from buying anything other than a few post cards. I did treat myself, however, at StarCafe, an interesting spin off on Starbucks. I ordered what I think was their equivalent of a Frappuccino but threw it out after a couple of sips. I would not recommend StarCafe.
The next morning we were escorted to the airport by a race car driver! He was an extremely nice man and was so eager to hear what we thought of Prague. We didn’t really have time to answer him because he drove so fast (about 110 MPH) and we were at the airport before we could tell him about our fun weekend in Prague. Our plane, again, was over an hour late and we got very familiar with the Prague airport. I always end these weekend trips feeling like I only scratched the surface of each destination. I suppose that’s better than feeling tired with a place when you leave it, but it does mean that Prague has been added to the growing list of cites that deserve a second visit. But for now, this was my last trip with the Kristin’s and I will miss them! As much as I kid Kristin #1 for her constant maps, without her I’d probably still be wandering around Barcelona.