Travel Notes: Prague

In May and June of 2011, I spent 5 weeks traveling around Europe. This post is one of a series chronicling the different places I visited on that trip.

From Vienna, we headed onto Prague. My opinion of the city is that there isn’t much to do there, but it’s a lovely place to be – seriously, so many things looked like a postcard to me. Very lovely.

After settling in at our hostel and grabbing lunch, we started in Old Town Square, which was where the loveliness really began. Even though it was crowded (of course) with tourists, I found the square really charming – and so colorful.

The major tourist attraction on the square seemed to be the clock tower. Just before the top of the hour, we saw hordes of people gathering in front of it. Naturally, we joined the mob to see what was up. We waited (and waited), and the hour finally arrived. Little figurines came popping out and the whole clock was in motion, but…it really wasn’t that impressive. Ah, well, onto the the next thing.

We walked a few blocks to the Charles Bridge. While this was – again – a tourist-filled locale, it’s still a Prague must-see, in my opinion. There’s a lot of activity and energy on the bridge, plus great views of the river and the pretty buildings lining it.

Also on the Charles Bridge is a statue that you can rub, and then whatever wish you are thinking of will come true. I can’t tell you what my wish was (duh), but I made one nonetheless. Here’s Janelle taking a turn:

After hanging out on the bridge for awhile, we stumbled upon a matryoshka shop selling all kinds of cool matryoshkas. But when I found this one, I knew I had to have it, no question. If you know me, you know this is pretty much my idea of the perfect souvenir. My only question is, why didn’t poor Novak Djokovic get included??

After shopping, we had some time to kill, which we naturally chose to fill with…cocktails. We found a restaurant advertising “alcohol buckets” for pretty cheap prices. We started with a bucket of orange juice + vodka (not my first choice, but the cheapest option), and then finished with a pitcher of sangria. Needless to say, I was loving Prague by that point.

That night, we met up with our dad for dinner. Coincidentally, he had a business trip in Germany while we were in Europe, so he stayed an extra weekend and met up with us in Prague. One, this was cool because we got to hang out with our dad in Prague. Two, this was cool because it meant we didn’t have to pay for our meals.

The next day, Dad, Janelle, and I headed up to Prague Castle, which is situated on a hill above the city. Prague Castle is probably the major tourist attraction in Prague, but I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed by it. The coolest thing about it was that it offered fantastic views of the city.

The other neat thing about the castle was the Cathedral (St. Vitus’s) on its grounds. It had a beautiful interior – and I especially loved all the stained glass.

We walked from the castle back down into the city, stopping here and there for some more gorgeous views. Like I said before, Prague is pretty!

For lunch, we ate at Klub Architektu. We had a really good meal, but the coolest thing was the setting – it’s in an underground, cave-like space. It was very dark and atmospheric. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the restaurant itself, but I did take a picture of the beer. So, you know, priorities.

My sister, tired of visiting museums/churches/castles, insisted that we do an “outdoor” activity, so after lunch, we rented a paddleboat and cruised down the Vlatava River. It was fun, except that it sprinkled throughout our mini-cruise. Also, I was sitting in back, and my dad and sister decided it would be hilarious to situate the boat so that they were under the bridge, but I was left out in the rain. Awesome!

Despite the rain, I think we all enjoyed the afternoon. We also got some more typically lovely views of the city from the river:

Next, we took the tram (or trammy, as we affectionately called it) to Wenceslas Square, which is in the “New Town” part of Prague.

Wenceslas Square was pretty neat – full of activity and more beautiful buildings. But my favorite part of it was a rather silly thing – the Marks + Spencer store. When I visited London in 2006, I discovered Marks + Spencer All Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies. Luckily for me, I discovered them in Heathrow Airport as I was leaving London, otherwise I probably would have indulged in one too many over the summer. In any case, when I saw the Marks + Spencer in Prague, I knew we had to go in, and I knew I had to buy some. I was not disappointed.

For dinner, we went to Aldente Trattoria. The food was very good, and I ordered a Sicilian white wine, for old time’s sake. My favorite part was that our waiter came out with a giant inkpad and stamped the dessert menu on our placemats – I love little touches like that.

And with that, our adventures in Praha wound to a close. We had planned to stay for one more full day, Sunday, but we found out that there was likely to be a transportation strike on Monday that would shut down all trains for awhile. Worried we might not be able to make it to Berlin if we waited to take our train on Monday as planned, we decided to head out on Sunday. I think we saw everything we wanted to in Prague, and we ended up loving Berlin, so it was absolutely a solid choice. Ah, European transportation strikes. Gotta love ’em.

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