Perfect Prague Part 1
I may have just found my next home city! All the good things I've heard of Prague have now been proven to be accurate; the city is truly wonderful and full of stories. So full actually that one post would become simply too long. So, here's part 1 of our Perfect Prague Weekend.
I traveled to Prague from Bratislava on a bus. But not just any bus: Student Agency is a company that offers super cheap plane, train and bus tickets around Central Europe. I prefer to travel by bus since train takes approximately the same time but is more often late or cancelled. I prefer bus also because Student Agency offers coffee/hot chocolate on the way and every seat has its own screen equipped with several movies and TV series to pass the time. The Hobbit was perfectly over three hours long for the four-hour-ride.
For hotel me and my friend chose the Beseda Hotel a short walk from the Vltava river and the Old Town Square. It was a 4-star-hotel but not expensive at all, especially because breakfast was included (usually around here you have to pay separately for breakfast). The hotel was in a nice, quiet area and close to everything. Perfect choice!
Our holiday consisted mainly of relaxing and checking out Prague without any hurry. We had five days, which was said to be even too much. Actually it was perfect because we had plenty of time for everything: shopping, seeing sights, eating, people watching, etc. The only scheduling we had the entire weekend was a concert in a church where we had to be at 6pm. It was the perfect way for us, we both needed a little relaxation in our lives. And we got it.
I guess it's meant to be that when Finns travel the weather cannot stay normal for this time of the year. Instead of warm, sunny days, we had cloudy skies and showers of rain every now and then. But that didn't spoil the fact that Prague is an enormously beautiful city. The architecture there is stunning and the colours used on the old stone houses make you smile. I love checking intricate details on the house fronts and balconies, but in Prague I would recommend caution while gazing upwards: the streets are mostly gobble stones so you might want to mind your step.
Also the tiny side streets were lovely and you could find all kinds of restaurants and hidden terraces there. Wandering off the main streets in Prague: highly recommended!
Shopping facilities in Prague are excellent. The prices are mostly cheaper even in chain stores like Mango or Zara. And we got very lucky because it was time for the summer sales! The first store we went to was the Humanik shoe store, which my friends emptied in Bratislava last year. The reaction was pretty much the same this time: we could not leave the place without buying shoes. These stilettos were definitely worth buying, I even walked on the gobble stone streets of Prague in them without having any trouble!
Shopping is hard work so we had to have a little break as well in the form of some cheese cake and (literally) a bucket of coffee. Just what the doctor ordered. (More about café culture and restaurants in the part 2.) And then we were ready to shop on! I like all things sparkly and this trip provided me with the most beautiful evening bag I have ever seen! AND ballerinas with a lot of sparkle on the toes. A very happy shopper here, hi!
|Old Town Hall|
Now to the stories part. Czechs love fairy tales and stories and pretty much every building and statue in Prague has a tale behind it. As a story lover myself this city was an absolutely brilliant travel destination for me!
The Old Town Square has witnessed countless public deaths during and after wars and even the world's first ever public autopsy by the headmaster of the Charles University... Who was later killed and cut into pieces himself because he had been one of the leaders of Protestants against the Catholics in the 17th century.
The Astronomic Clock is something that every tourist has to witness. Every hour the bells ring and the twelve apostles appear in the windows above the clock one after the other. I'm gonna burst a bubble here and say that I was led to expect a lot more from the spectacle than what it turned out to be. But I guess I have to urge everyone visiting Prague to go and see it because you're just supposed to.
|The Astronomical Clock|
|Dum u Minuty (Minute House)|
Around the square there are amazing architectural masterpieces, for example the Kinských Palace where the Nobel price winning peace activist Bertha Kinsky-Suttner was born, where Franz Kafka used to study and where a Communist leader Klement Gottwald declared the socialist times started. These days it's a museum. The most extraordinary perhaps is the Minute House. Nobody knows why it's called the Minute House but it is absolutely beautiful with its Greek-inspired sgraffitos. When the Catholic reformation swept over the city the walls were painted over but were revealed again 300 years later.
|Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge|
The Charles Bridge was Pragues only bridge until the 18th century and it was built super strong, as the story goes, with the help of eggs, which were collected around the country as a tax. Most of the statues depicting various saints were added on the bridge for Catholic purposes. The most interesting of the saints, Johannes Nepomuk, became a martyr and a saint against his own will:
According to the legend Vicar Johannes Nepomuk was imprisoned after the Archbishop fell out with the inordinately intoxicated King, who then decided to capture the entire church entourage. The Archbishop escaped. The King tortured Nepomuk in order to get him to divulge how the Archbishop was planning to seize power from him but regretted his actions when he sobered up. After being treated so Nepomuk died soon of his injuries. During the night a hangman threw his body down from the Charles Bridge. His body was found and buried few days later.
Until the Catholics arrived and needed some local saints! They changed the story a bit, so Nepomuk became the confessor of the Queen who ended up killed by the King when he wouldn't tell him about the Queen's possible indiscretions. And of course as a saint there had to be some miracles so the Catholic church came up with some flames appearing in the water where Nepomuk's body hit the river. Poor bloke.
After the Bridge you come to the Mala Strana (The Little Side), which is just as nice an area as the Old Town on the other side of Vltava. Beautiful, colourful buildings leading you up to the castle. The hill was surprisingly steep so if not in best shape or form you might wanna consider one of these stylish beasts taking you up there:
Prague is a city with a lot of history and a relaxed atmosphere. You can't but fall in love with it, there is something for everyone! In part 2 I will tell more about the castle, gastronomic delights and other sights worth seeing there.