Praha | Prague
The first thing that comes to mind when describing Prague is that it was like walking through the set of a Disney princess movie. Specifically when walking through the Old Town Square, Staroměstské náměstí. I felt as though Sleeping Beauty should be in dreamland in the topmost tower waiting for her Prince Charming, or that at any moment we would see a wave of blonde hair billowing down from the highest window as Rapunzel waits for her suitor to climb up and rescue her. The city itself just feels medieval. It's cobblestone streets, strange alleyways, and Gothic architecture made me feel as if I was a character in a Tolstoy novel.
Let me now rewind back to the act of getting to Prague. Prague was to be the third city my friends and I were to hit on our ten day Fall Break during October 2012. We flew from Rome to Budapest, Hungary, spent three days there then took a train to Vienna, Austria where we stayed for another three days. We purchased tickets from Vienna to Prague and boarded our train, ready for the five hour journey to commence. About 45 minutes into our ride my friend realized that our train had a connection in the town of Břeclav. We had twenty minutes until we were supposed to exit our current train, and then only another 20 minutes to find our next one. We were not sure if this town was going to be in the Czech Republic or if it was still in Austria, and at this point we could only find people on the train who spoke German or Czech which was not any help to us. Nevertheless, we decided to go with the flow and figured that someone at the station would be able to point us in the right direction.
The train station in Břeclav can be described with one word: desolate. It was a very foggy day and from what we could tell, we were in the middle of nowhere. Nothing was in English, no one spoke English, yet somehow we ended up in the right place at the right time. We even were able to figure out the Czech ATM to take out koruna to purchase a quick snack. All-in-all, we were exhausted, but felt accomplished and proud of our navigational skills. Four hours later we arrived at night in the magical city of Prague.
If you look at the map Prague really does not have that much of a longitudinal difference than Vienna, however, by they time we arrived a cold front had settled over us. (It was 75 degrees Fahrenheit in Budapest and about 40 degrees in Prague) At this point my friends and I were reusing outfits, but even with all of our shirts and sweaters piled on our bodies we were still frigid. When we had checked the weather a week in advance the coldest it was supposed to get was about 55 degrees in Poland. To our despair, that forecast was ghastly incorrect. It came to the point that we had to go shopping for warmer attire or we were going to freeze in our light coats. We took a trip to the Palladium shopping center in the Old Town area of Prague. It was arguably one of the nicest malls I have ever been in. Once we were appropriately clothed we set off to explore.
A girl who was a foreign exchange student at my high school met up with us and gave us a "local's" tour of Prague. She led us around the city where we got to see the Astrnomical clock go off at noon where four figures danced around the clock and bells chimed. We listened to live music in the Old Town Square. Climbed up several steep sets of stairs to the the Prague Castle, and St. Vitus' Cathedral where we saw some of the most colorful and intricate stained glass I have ever witness. We ate so much meat and delicious Czech goulash, Prague is the perfect city for a carnivore. And the beer. Oh the beer. We sipped (well, more like guzzled to keep warm) Pilsner Urquell, Kruošvice, and my favorite, Bernard. We strolled along the Vlatava River, and crossed at the St. Charles Bridge, the Karlův most. The bridge is packed with tourists during the day, but at night it is spectacular. There are 30 statues of saints that line the walls of the bridge which gave me the eerie feeling of being watched as I walked the entire length of the landmark. From their our group hiked to the top of Petřin Hill, where we channeled our inner child and had a blast walking through a mirror maze that was located at the peak. The view from the top of the hill was easily my favorite part of our few days in the city. The orange/red clay rooftops stood out in stark contrast against the gloomy gray skies.
Minus the dreadful cold, there is so much to see and do in Prague. I cannot wait to return to this historic and fairy tale city. We will meet again, Praha, but until then...
...where to next?