This is how I would describe Prague if ever some one asked me about the city. I fell in love with the city, the moment I stepped into it. Cute, small, dainty, fresh, beautiful. These are the words I would describe the city in.
After an amazingly scenic 4.5 hr train journey from Berlin to Prague, I landed at the Prague central station from where thankfully this time I had downloaded all the directions on how to get to my hostel.
I took a 1 day transport pass(considering I knew that Prague was a small city and I could easily walk everywhere I needed to go) and got on a tram till the Nadrazi Holesovice station from where I had to walk for around 7 minutes before I reached .
This hostel automatically seemed much nicer and warmer than the earlier one and I got a good feeling that I would enjoy my stay here for sure. I was allotted the room on the 6th floor, and as soon as I stepped into the room, I fell in love with it. The main window of the room opened up to the view of the Prague castle and it was a mind blowing site. I couldn’t wait to see how it lit up in the evening.
Since the dorm was completely empty at this time, I decided to make the best of it and went for a nice long hot shower. I had already missed the morning free walking tour time and so was going to go for the 2 pm one. I still had enough time before that and so went down to grab something to eat before heading to the meeting point of the tour.
At the reception I asked for some recommendations of local cuisine and I was suggested the Goulash. Sounded yum and I decided to go look for it.
My hostel was very well located and hence right behind the hostel lane there were a number of restaurants and cafes. I walked into one in which the menu had stated Goulash and ordered my food.
Goulash is originally a Hungarian dish but also very popular amongst the Czechs. It is a thick stew which is served in a bowl of bread which is edible as well. I must say, it tasted yum and was actually quite heavy.
By the way, if you already didn’t know this I will say it- Prague is super cheap. When I started realising how much I was paying here for an item versus what I would have paid back home, I was amazed. And so I decided to treat myself with a local dessert as well. There is this one chimney cake(local name is Trdelnik) which you can literally find in every corner. The same is sugar coated and comes in different flavors like cinnamon, chocolate, walnut etc. The best way to eat it is to have it with the homemade icecreams. Yummmm is the word. I almost died as soon as I took a big bite of it. I definitely recommend it to everyone.
By now I was stuffed with lots of good food and had started feeling sleepy, but I knew I had to rush to catch the walking tour. Like I have mentioned in my blogs earlier, I love to go for the walking tour on the first day itself as it makes me feel closer to the city knowing a little bit about the history of it.
I had chosen Sandemans Walking tour for Prague as I was a little bit disappointed with the Berlin walking tour which I had done with Original Europe Tour company, and didn’t want to go with them for another one in Prague as well.
I soon found the meeting point, and saw a huge group of people there chatting with the men with red Sandeman umbrellas. I was lucky that they had a spot open for me to join them, but usually for all cities I highly recommend you to book your place online so as to get a guaranteed spot. The people after me were unfortunately not allowed to join since the group size had reached its maximum limit.
Our tour guides name was Filip and he was amazinggg….From the beginning of the tour, he kept us glued on to what he was saying. His theatrical way of telling us about the Prague city was very fascinating and by far I feel he was my favourite guide amongst all the walking tours I had been a part of.
He started by taking us to the Astronomical Clock and telling us about the origin and significance of the same. The clock is the 3rd oldest in the world (built in 1410), yet with regular maintenance; it has been running smoothly all this while.
Every hour the clock comes alive and a whole lot of people come to see the hourly activity of the clock. I did too at a later hour after the walking tour got over and it was okay for a one time watch. Not the best clock show I have seen for sure.
Post this we walked around the Old square, then towards the Charles Bridge, showed us the Jewish quarters, the old synagogue, Jewish cemetery, House of the black Madonna, Prague castle view and the university. During the walk, Filip told us a lot of interesting things about the culture, food and people and by the end of the tour I definitely felt closer to the city than I had in the beginning of the tour.
After the tour, I got along with few of the other people in the tour who I had become friends with while walking around the city, and went to have a cup of coffee at a nearby shop. The weather was perfect to sit out in the sun and I could just not get the smile off my face throughout the time we were seated there. I mean it was just PERFECT.
By the time we were done it was already almost 5.30 pm and I headed back to the hostel to get some rest. My feet were killing me and they were begging for a break from all the walking. What they(referring to my feet here) didn’t realise was that there was another walking tour that I had planned to take them along (yes I am talking about my feet all this while) in the evening. At 8.30 pm, our hostel had arranged for a night walk to explore the Prague city. I didn’t want to miss this. Seeing this beautiful city fully lit up was a dream.
I had a good 2 hours plus before we had to leave and thus I went and took a nice long nap. My roommates were very friendly and I had immediately got along well with each one of them from the beginning. One of them had taken up the task to wake me up well in time for the walk and hence I was relaxed and very quickly and easily dozed off.
I can’t begin to explain the perfect vacation this was turning out to be. I was walking around lovely cities, eating amazing food, meeting great people, getting time to take naps whenever I felt tired and then going to amazing evening places and parties with my new friends. Was loving every single bit of it.
For a change, the dreams were actually not dreams but recapitulation of what I was living currently.
Soon I was woken up by my roomie and all of us got ready and head down to the lobby where our tour guide was waiting. This was again a free walking tour but as in all walking tours, we could generously tip them all we wanted.
We headed out on to the main street where we were led to inner small lanes leading up to the Man Hanging Out. Well yes, it sounds weird, but that was exactly what it was. One had to look up towards a building and up there you could spot a man hanging from a pole with just one hand. At first I got scared, but soon realised that it was a realistic looking sculpture made as a tribute to Sigmund Freud. Quite interesting and definitely worth a visit.
After this, we headed towards the Dancing House which was constructed as a tribute to Fred and Ginger, who were legendary dancing duo known across the world. The building is actually in two halves and at the first glance it looks like a guy and girl dancing, hence the name.
We went up to the top of this building from where one could see a mesmerising view of the Prague city. The lights were like rare gems which were lying spilled on the ground. We ordered ourselves a drink and sat and admired the view for a good half an hour.
After this, we started walking towards the Charles bridge, which by the way is a sight in itself. It is suggested to go early in the morning or late at night to witness the true beauty of the bridge. At the wee hours there are lesser number of people on it and thus you can admire it to the fullest.
Crossing over the bridge, we then headed for a long walk towards the Letna Park. I hadn’t realised that a night walk of the city would also entail some hardcore exercise, but it did. We walked to the base of the Letna park which is built on a small hillock and then proceeded to climb the stairs. I have to agree that I was definitely out of breath on the climb up, but the view from the top was even better than the one from the dancing house. More so, we were now in the middle of lush greenery, deep and dense trees and bushes, with literally no one except a bunch of us. It was eerie yet magical.
We also saw the erstwhile Stalin Memorial, which had been blasted off in 1962 and now was more of an empty space.
This was our last spot for the night walk, post which we started our walk back to our hostel. It took us a good 25 minutes to reach the hostel back post which some of the people from hostel had decided to head out for some drinks.
I was totally exhausted after a long day, and thus decided to call it a night. I got into my comfy night suit, read a book for literally 8 minutes before I fell into a deep slumber. Sighhh..The pleasure of passing out due to tiredness is totally a bliss.
Next morning, I woke up fresh and energised and went to have the breakfast down in the hostel and to research on what I could do today. I knew going for the Prague castle tour was going to be on the list for sure, but what else?
There it was on the notice board, another walking tour; but this was to Vysehrad Castle. The same started in the next half an hour from the hostel and I knew instantly that I would be joining the same.
Mirek was our guide for this tour, and the cutest part was that he would be accompanied by his two cute little dogs as well. In fact as per Mirek, the tour would be led by the dogs and he would just do the vocabulary bit.
From the hostel there were 10 people who joined the walking tour and soon we were on our way. While walking all the way to the castle which was a good 35 minutes away, Mirek stopped at the Prague theatre, dancing house and even for a beer ? while simultaneously keeping us entertained and engrossed with fun facts and historical details about the city. He also candidly gave his views of the political scenario and after speaking to him, I personally thought that he was well read and had information about not only his country but about the other nations as well.
Soon we reached the foothills of the castle from where we had to do a little bit of climbing up to the top. We had a great view of the complete city from here and could spot several churches built during the ancient era.
After this, we headed towards the main castle, where Mirek told us that in actuality there was NO CASTLE. Huh. Well, the castle had been ransacked and brought down to shambles by the Hussties and since then had never gone back to its original charm. Currently one can find only the Basilca, the cemetery and some remains of the old structure of the wells around the erstwhile fort.
Nonetheless, we had a great time hearing the whole story of how the events had unfolded way back in the 1200’s and the tour ended with our history appetite full.
I now needed to rush quickly for my second and the main castle tour i.e. Prague Castle Tour. I had planned to do the same with Sandemans company and was told that it starts daily from Jan Palach Square in front of Rudolfinum at 230 PM. While you can buy tickets on spot, yet it is recommended to book in advance as at times it gets sold out. The price of a regular ticket is 11 Euros and one needs to also have a public bus ticket for the tour.
As I reached I noticed a large group of people waiting for the tour to start. There was a Spanish and an English group and each had easily around 20 people each.
Soon we started the walk towards the first stop which was the Wallenstein Palace grounds. This was a 10 min walk away from where we were, and here we were given a brief about the geometric gardens, the palace which was the residence of the Wallenstein family and finally about the Dripstone Wall. The wall is made from haunting, uncanny assemblage of stalactite-like rocks which resembles the imagery of snakes, monsters, and random, distorted faces.
We were give 15 minutes to roam around the area, click some pictures before heading to the Prague Castle.
The way up to the castle can be walked, but we took the direct tram which dropped us close to the entry gates. Here on the gates, proper security checks were done as in the past there had been certain incidents which had marred the reputation of this great castle. Apparently, few youngsters had sneaked inside with some swords, knives etc and had hidden in the property till the late night. After it was dark, they climbed up the top of the castle, removed the Presidential flag and replaced it with a red underwear. They stood in front of it with the swords and posted a video of all this episode on Youtube. This was quite a shock for the President and his council and thus security since then has been tightened.
Once we were all inside, we headed towards the main door of the castle where our guide spoke about the grandness of the castle and the history. It was now time for the change of guards ceremony and so we rushed to the area where the ceremony takes place. It was definitely crowded, but I managed to get a good view of the whole ceremony by using my nudging and pushing skills.
After seeing the ceremony, we then headed to the St Vitus Cathedral which was mesmerizingly beautiful from the inside as well as from outside. We also then went and saw the Old Royal Palace, the main castle walls, the Black Tower, the torcher rooms and the city view point.
The whole tour was for 3 hours and it was totally worth the money spent on it.
By the end of the tour, I was exhausted with all the walking I had done for almost 6 straight hours. I picked up something to eat on the way to my hostel and then straight away crashed for a good 2 hour nap. I had purchased tickets for the pub crawl in the evening and thus wanted to be fresh for the evening.
From all that I had read about the crawl, it was going to be a long crazy fun filled night and I was quite looking forward to it.
One of my roommate had decided to join me for the pub crawl, and we both left around 830 pm from the hostel to the meeting point. Thankfully because of the location of the hostel, everything was close by and so was this meeting point. We were there at 9.45 PM and we found the team wearing the pub crawl t-shirts. We were soon taken to the first meeting point which was one of the pubs in the basement. There were very few people at this time, but we did meet few other people and soon were chilling and playing beer pong with them. The pub crawl includes taking the group to 4-5 local popular pubs and then finally to a club. In the first club the drinks for the first hour are on the house and post that every pub you go to, there is a free shot.
We were 5 of us who had become thick friends by the end of the first hour and we together went to all the other party places together. We had a superb time dancing away the night and before we realised it was already almost morning.
Me and my roommate headed back to the hostel, which wasn’t too far away and crashed for a good nights(morning) sleep.
I think we slept almost half of the next day which was much required as I had been tough on myself for the last few days. Tomorrow morning I had a morning train to catch for Vienna, and thus I decided to do my laundry today in the hostel, walk around Prague once more and especially spend some time at the Charles Bridge. I had decided to visit the bridge last at night when the crowd thins down.
It was the perfect last day spent meeting up a friend from my Berlin hostel. She and I went to have some local dinner, then walked to the bridge and took loads of pics and finally went to a famous bar Vzorkovna also called the dog bar. The reason it was called this was because as soon as you entered, you would see a giant dog walking all around. They did look intimidating but were very friendly.
The entry way is through a black curtain, after which you go down stairs into an underground club with many rooms, including rooms with live music, bars, swings and bunk bed style ladders to small levels where you can sit and watch over people (just be careful not to fall off!). The music is really cool & everyone can write/draw on the walls so bring a pen!
This was one of the coolest pubs I have ever been to and I would recommend any and every person who plans to visit Prague to go here for a drink or two.
This marked the end of my amazing trip to Prague and it was now time to move to another magical place i.e. Vienna.
Keep reading for more updates on my fab Europe trip.