I’ve been living in Germany for nearly three months now, and I have yet to take a trip where I had to actually request time off (those will come.) The beauty of proximity is that when I have three days off in a row thanks to the luck of the draw, I can go most anywhere within the surrounding countries for a last minute trip. This was the case for a visit to Prague at the beginning of last month, I had three days off and it just so happened my roommate and some friends were going to Prague.
I booked my bus ticket a few nights before, snagged a spot in the hostel they were staying, and prepped myself for my first overnight bus ride. The best way to maximize travel time for trips like this is to take a night bus. We all worked our last shift before our extended weekends, and took a bus that evening. The bus left around 8pm, and arrived in Prague around 6am the next morning.
Arriving at 6am allowed for two full days in the city, which was a great amount of time to explore the highlights. We dropped off our bags at our hostel (we stayed at the Czech Inn) and ventured towards the city center. Our first stop was somewhat unexpected, but we walked passed a shop selling a treat that Prague is famous for (although these treats are not only in Prague.) I try my damndest to avoid all things gluten, grain, sugar, carb heavy and dairy, but I wanted to partake.
I definitely payed for it later, but when in Prague! #effyouAlfred
The treat is called a trdelník, which is basically a sugared ball of dough that is cooked by rolling it over a flame, and then can be stuffed with a myriad of things. I chose ice cream, because I’m a sucker for pain. It was an amazing 5 minutes of my life consuming this treat with a shot of espresso. These trdelník treats were everywhere, some stuffed with savory things like mac and cheese and roasted duck.
After a successful sugar rush, we walked around a farmers market of sorts on our way to the Astronomical Clock. This clock is the oldest working astronomical clock in Europe, and has been working for over 600 years. This was by far the coolest clock I’ve ever seen. So much detail went into the making of this medieval piece of history. Next to the clock is a beautiful cathedral called Church of Our Lady before Tyn. The church was built in the 14th century, and has two noticeably pointy towers.
After watching the clock go off, we headed towards the Charles Bridge. The bridge is just around the river bend from the Old Town Square where the clock is located. Prague is a very walker friendly city, and I felt like a local after the first day. It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge, what an interesting choice. The bridge began construction in 1357, and was finished in the 15th century.
On the bridge there are many religious and historical statues and plaques, some of which have significance if you touch them. Apparently the hand rubbed plaques bring good luck, and will ensure your return to Prague. I touched multiple plaques just because…when in Prague. The views from the bridge are beautiful, and there were performers along the way that warmed my soul. I love me a good street performance.
The photos below are from the bridge on two different days, one with overcast and one with sun.
Across the bridge leads to the Prague Castle, as well as our next destination. A trip to Prague would not be complete without a visit to the John Lennon Wall, a rainbow attraction of love and peace. After his murder on 8 December 1980, John Lennon became a pacifist hero for many young Czechs. 40 years after his death his memory continues to shine at this unique wall. I added my own contribution to the wall (which is apparently what people do) and wrote “love all beings” in an outline of a dog.
My legacy of animal love will forever be in Prague. Unless someone paints over it.
After getting our fix of love, we headed towards the castle. It turned out the castle was closed to the public this day, for a reason we never discovered. Thankfully we came back the next morning and were able to tour around the grounds. The castle itself, though HUGE, was underwhelming. What stole the show was surely St. Vitus Cathedral. Have I mentioned I LOVE the cathedrals in Europe!? The walk to the castle was lovely, and we stopped for a cuppa Joe, and a petta the puppa.
We ended our first day in Prague with a Thai foot massage…aka tiny fish eating away at all the dead skin on our calves and feet. I’ll spare you the photos, but rest assured this was a bizarre and amazing experience. I don’t think I’ll ever need to do it again, but…when in Prague! Day two consisted of visiting the castle, wandering more around the city, and capping off our trip with a Vivaldi concert.
I am loving my tradition of finding a classical concert to attend each new country I visit.
This quick trip to Prague was a great way to see the city. Our bus back to Germany left around 11am the third morning, and we made it back home about 10 hours later. The bus rides aren’t quick, but they’re cheap. Usually the bus ride isn’t terrible, because there is so much to see along the way to or from. My only regret is not getting a second trdelník (I was in my head too much on this trip, something I’m always trying to learn from.)
I withdrew around 1000 Czech Koruna, which was around 40 euro. Spending 100 koruna at a time was misleading, I often had to check my currency converter to see how much I was really spending. As with all my travels, I don’t seek out souvenirs unless they speak to me, and when wandering the farmers market area on day one I found my must have souvenir. The cost was 50 koruna, which was a little over $2. I’m really into art work from different countries, so this steam punk looking cat with the old town view in the background was everything I could have wanted out of a souvenir.
And just like that, I’d marked my eighth European country off my list.
Q: What’s a must for you when you visit a new country?