Prague, Czech Republic

Prague

The beauty and charm of Prague is something to be seen. Shortly after leaving the train station we were quickly impressed by the countless beautiful medieval buildings surrounding us in every direction. You could instantly feel like you were back in time in a 13th century fairy-tale; the only things missing where the knights and the dragons (I miss Game of Thrones).

After checking into our charming, nature-evoking hostel, we headed to Prague’s old town to find out that Prague’s Easter Market was in full swing; I was a happy camper. The market extended across several streets in the Old Town and had plenty of stands with delicious food and cool crafts. Soon enough our noses caught a delightful cinnamon smell that got both Greg and I started on our quest to try every single traditional food item in the market. The cinnamon smell came from a sweet pasty called Trdlo, which was rolled on a stick that sat atop hot coals. The pastry was served warm and covered in sugar which made it crunchy and delicious, so much so that I had one every day we were there. Other items that made our list were Bavarian sausages (co-opted traditional food) on a bun, some delicious potato concoctions with ham, cheese, bacon and onion (among other secret ingredients), a cherry crepe (not sure how traditional this was but it was being sold on the market and looked pretty good so we could not pass on it) and some delicious pastries and ice cream that we found in a little café close to our hostel.

On our second day in Prague we joined a walking tour with Pavel, a local who gave us a good insight into Prague and its main attractions, including the Tyn Church, the famous astronomical clock tower (every hour there is a little show from the clock, the oldest astronomical clock in the world that is still working, where a skeleton rings a bell, followed by a few saints coming out two windows and ending with a rooster crowing), Charles University, the Estates Theatre where Mozart played several times, the Jewish cemetery and the famous Old Town Bridge Tower and Charles Bridge, where you get an amazing view of the Vltava River with the Prague Castle in the background. After our tour we went for lunch with two other young couples who took the tour with us to the Klub Architektu restaurant, a joint recommended by Pavel which he sold to us as “nothing will cost you more than 10 euros” but in reality everything was double that amount. The restaurant, located in the area of the Bethlehem Chapel, an iconic building in Czech history, displayed some cool architecture which Pavel highlighted as another reason to go there, aside from the non-existent great price. After lunch we all headed to Charles Bridge and then Greg and I made our way to the Prague Castle.

The Prague Castle sits atop a hill which gives you an amazing view of the entire city, with its charming red brick roofs and multiple churches it was picture perfect. We walked through the gardens, visited the beautiful Gothic church and walked around the grounds imagining what life would be living in a cool castle like that.

On our last day we visited the Alchemy Museum, located on the second oldest house in Prague and dating back to the ninth century, where went on a brief, and quirky, 30-minute tour that took us through the house and the underground laboratories where famous alchemists from the sixteenth century prepared eternal youth elixirs, among others, for Emperor Rudolph II. Since alchemy was not acceptable within the Catholic church, the Emperor ensured that the house was hidden and shortly after he passed away its secret chambers sealed for good. The existence of the house was unknown for over 300 years until it was discovered in 2002. A few elixir recipes where discovered and nowadays you are able to buy, some would say over-priced, elixirs for both love and eternal youth made from the original recipes.

We closed our Prague visit on a high note and bought tickets for the Reduta Club, Prague’s oldest and most famous Jazz Club (a favorite of Bill Clinton, he even played when he went there in 2005).  We arrived early to get the best spot in the house, and for the next two-and-a-half hours drank beer/wine and listened to great jazz. The band consisted of seven guys, mostly in their 60s and 70s, who clearly enjoyed playing and were really good at it too, which made it all the more entertaining.

Prague was great. Next stop, Vienna!

-Valentina

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