Travel BIO: Prague

On her way up, she paused several times to look back: below her she saw the towers and bridges, the saints were shaking their fists and lifting their stone eyes to the clouds. It was the most beautiful city in the world.

—from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
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Prague (Praha), Czech Republic

On her way up, she paused several times to look back: below her she saw the towers and bridges, the saints were shaking their fists and lifting their stone eyes to the clouds. It was the most beautiful city in the world.

—from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

 

Why Prague?

Prague intrigued me. So many people raved about, saying Prague was one of the most beautiful cities they’d ever seen. Then I worked on a geography textbook and when we covered Prague and I saw the photos, I knew I had to go.

Who

Solo. I did three days in Prague on my own. It’s an easy solo trip and a safe city.

What to Do

There is so much to see in Prague. It’s a great walking city, and I spent most of my time walking and exploring the city. I walked through Old Town, Lesser Town (or Little Quarter), the Jewish Quarter, near the Charles Bridge, and near the Prague Castle. In my three short days, here are some of the things I saw and did.

  • Walked the Charles Bridge (Karlův most), which is one of the top things to see in Prague. It’s lined with 30 statues along the walkway, and there are two towers on each end. (You can climb the towers, but I didn’t.)
  • Spent time in the Old Town Square and saw the Prague astronomical clock. Of course, you have to watch the on-the-hour mechanical performance of the clock with its procession of the Apostles.
  • Visited the Prague Castle complex. I’ve read some bloggers’ posts that didn’t think it the castle was worth a visit, but I disagree. If I only saw St. Vitus Cathedral, located in the complex, that would’ve been worth it. The stained glass was breathtaking. My first words when I walked in were “holy shit.” Probably not the best thing to say out loud in a cathedral.
  • Went to a classical music concert inside one of the old churches, St. Giles, in Old Town. One of the best experiences ever! The church was cold, so they passed out warm blankets. Sitting in this 14th-century church and listening to a beautifully talented four-string quartet was the highlight of my trip. I left that concert with my heart full and completely content and happy.
Where to Stay

I stayed at Hotel Leonardo Praha, away from the main square but still within walking distance of most places. I loved my location but if you want to be in the heart of it, stay near the square. The hotel itself was fine, helpful staff and great free breakfast. The room I was in was a little shabby for the price. Next time I might try a different place.

Where/What to Eat

I read blogs and travel guides and plotted where to go, but I often got lost along the winding cobblestone streets and missed places. But, the places I found on my own were often the best. Walk around Old Town and explore and just pick a place.

I did manage to find one restaurant I read about U Medvidku—it’s one of the top touristy Czech restaurants. It was ok. Better were smaller places I found on my own.

I discovered Choco Café, a sweet place for a quick stop. I ordered a “hot” chocolate, which is actually lukewarm thick liquid chocolate. I added whipped cream and ate a fresh-baked croissant with it. Heaven! It is sweet and it is warm, not hot, but as long as you don’t expect our version of hot chocolate and you cut the sweetness with a savory, it’s delicious.

Another great place is Dobra Cajovna, a real teahouse. After a full day at the Prague Castle, I walked to Wenceslas Square to find this teahouse. If you like tea, this place is not to be missed. BUT, it is easy to miss. There is a small sign on the street, which is easy to miss. Keep an eye out for it. Then walk down an alley-like walkway to find the actual teahouse.

I walked in to this cozy, warm teahouse and found a quiet table. It’s dimly lit, so each table has it’s own reading lamp. My tea server set down what looked like a book and a small bell. The 50-something-page book was actually the tea menu. Once you look through it and are ready to order, you ring the bell. The tea server comes over and takes your order. Then in a few short minutes, your tea arrives, beautifully served. It was the perfect place to come in from the cold, read, and enjoy tea.

If You Do One Thing

Ok, some people would not agree with me but I think the Prague Castle is definitely worth seeing. I don’t think you need to see everything in the complex. I purchased Circuit B ticket, which gave me access to St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the Golden Lane, and Daliborka Tower. And that was plenty. Also, if you go in the summer, I hear the gardens are worth going to. Since I was there in January, the gardens were closed.

Wish I’d Known

Walking around the city, the streets are mostly cobblestone so wear flat, comfortable shoes. In the winter, make sure you wear shoes with “grippy” soles. Thankfully, I did read about the streets before I left and wore good winter boots. I ended up not wearing any other shoes.

Some Other Thoughts
  • I visited Prague in January so it was cold but not unbearable. When it snows there, it’s beautiful. Since I went during low season, I never really ran into long lines or crowds.
  • Prague is part of the European Union so they do accept the Euro but they still use their own currency. The plan is to move completely to the Euro but before they do, stick with the Czech currency—you’ll save money.
  • A lot of guidebooks and web sites will tell you not to eat at one of the restaurants in the Old Town Square. I avoided them only because they were crowded and too touristy for me. But, I heard from people while I was there that the food wasn’t bad and it wasn’t nearly as expensive as the guidebooks made it out to be. Still, if you venture down one of the side streets, you will find other good restaurants that might be a little cheaper.

Prague, to me, is so magical. This misty city took my breath away. It’s picturesque, quaint, romantic, and old world. You feel a sense of mystery, yes, and even more so an impression of epic history. I absolutely loved my time in Prague. This city filled my heart with joy, beauty, and wonder.

 

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