10.10.2015 15 °C
At first sight the layout of Prague is definitely medieval - with its narrow winding cobblestone streets, tight imposing architecture and the gorgeous Charles Bridge straddling the Vltava river. A short walk through this city makes you realise that the buildings and history are not simply years old, they are centuries old and I could only stand in awe and try to envision what it must have been like to live in a time and period far removed from today's modern times.
Prague layout comprises mainly of 4 sections which in the earlier days were 4 separate towns: The Castle Town which houses the Prague castle , the Old Town, the New town which holds the Wenceslas square and a section around the Castle Town called the Little town.
The Old Town seems to be some kind of tourist magnet since whatever direction you walk in Prague, you're guaranteed to end up at this square. Once here you lose all sense of direction staring at the grand churches, castles, bell towers and clocks all around this beautiful square.
Most people wander into the square single-mindedly to watch the astronomical clock put on its hourly show. The astronomical clock is a part of the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. I would recommend going up the tower to take in the sight of the red roofed, spire filled view of Prague just as the sun was dips over the horizon.
NOTE : There will be a 1000 cameras pointed up at the astronomical tower at the turn of every hour and you will be pushed and shoved by people in pursuit of a good picture or video.
Once you finish looking at the show the astronomical clock puts up and take in the sights I recommend you stroll down to the square and take in the sounds of Prague and spend the rest of the evening tasting the local fare. The Old Town square buzzes with activity and the atmosphere in the evening with the street performers and cafe life is hard to miss. Walk the side streets off of the Old Town Square and grab some of the famous local beer which in my opinion was perfectly brewed with some succulent ham straight from the source, as it roasts on a spit over an open fire.
The freshly made Trdelnik are a must try and a local favourite. The dough is rolled onto metal bars and pulled off the bars at just the right moment when they turn a golden brown colour and is immediately rolled in sugar. The end result is a lightly sweetened pastry that smells like heaven and tastes something divine. There seem to be stalls everywhere selling them at a very affordable price of approximately 60 CZK.
A short walk to the right of the Old Town's square, past the fashion street is the Old-New synagogue which was unfortunately closed by the time I got there. Would have loved to pay a visit to Europe's oldest active synagogue that mercifully survived the bombs of WWII.
To the left of Old Town's square lies the famous Charles bridge, but I got lost in the narrow streets only to realise that there are directions pointing in its direction on most major street corners. Its only called by its Czech name - Karluv Most on those signs as well as on the map. This pedestrian bridge seems to be where all the action is - artists, musicians, beautiful views that adorn postcards, nice picture opportunities and not to mention crazy tourists with selfie sticks! I quickly realised that to enjoy this city in its true splendor one has to make the effort and get to the bridge early in the morning whilst it is still quiet. Post 7 AM the number of feet on this bridge just keeps rising astronomically.
You can get around just about anywhere in Prague by walking, without having to take the metro or the bus or even the tram – but they are such a lovely things that I did end up hopping on a tram (ok just once). To my lovely surprise my cousins description of the experience fits to a T, they do shake and quake quite a bit as they go
Spent some time exploring the Castle town which houses the Prague Castle. The steps leading up to the gates of the Prague Castle are in my opinion one of the most charming places in Prague and I guess its not much of a secret since it looks like it is the most frequently used access paths. I took the tram up to the castle but walked on my way back. The Prague Castle complex includes courtyards, churches, museums and is considered the city’s historical and political center. Located within the walls of the Prague Castle is the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral that seems to rise up above me and dominate the skyline from the city below. The view of Prague from the Castle is something that leaves a permanent imprint on your mind. Red roofs, medieval architecture and incredible old world charm. You cannot help but be thankful that the city escaped major structural damage from World War II bombings therefore many of its buildings have retained their old world glory.
Side note : There are stores selling HOT WINE on the steps of the castle. I found one past the Toy Museum and it was the perfect accompaniment to the walk on a cold windy evening. If hot wine is not your thing, then I would recommend some delicious Grog
A 20 minute walk later, I found myself back in familiar territory - under the the Charles Bridge where the 1000 or so swans were busy preening themselves or posing for pictures. There are lovely views of Prague from this point. Made a few pictures and headed back towards the Old Town. As I set foot on the bridge again, I found myself amongst thousands of people taking pictures during the golden hour and even ended up in getting thumped in the head with by an enthusiastic selfie-stick waver searching for the right angle.
Side note : I wish they had never invented selfie sticks. When you arrive at a gorgeous place that you've always wanted to visit and all you want to do is just take in the scenery and the atmosphere of the place.
Instead, in almost every street, every square, in front of an old church, inside the old church, over the bridge, under the bridge and next to the nose of extremely irritated swans who just want to preen themselves peacefully, there are people are waving their selfie sticks. There were times I just wished I could just yank it off their hand, break it in half and throw the bits in the Vltava.
Found myself at the Wencelas Square that has a very important place in Czech history but there isn't really that much to see. There are great cafes, restaurants and places to shop at along this entire area. Made a few pictures and proceeded to rest my aching feet after a long day spent exploring the sights, smells and sounds of this gorgeous city.
As I did one last shot of Becherovka Lemond on this trip, I realized that this city is truly a postcard from any angle and held tight to the memory of watching the sun come up over the horizon early in the morning while being the only person on the Charles bridge. What a wonderful thing to consider an achievement.
Until next time,