I'm super lucky considering that my tourism studies have sent me to some cool study trips around Europe. So far I've been to Riga, Latvia, Tallinn, Estonia and this month we flew to Berlin, Germany. But as you might have noticed, whenever I get a chance to extend my trips, I do so.
Therefore, one Sunday morning I was having a lovely Russian breakfast with my friend and we started to discuss what to do in Berlin. Then we naturally got a little carried away and started to list cool places near Berlin. What about Prague? So we opened my laptop and started ruthless googling and after a short 15-minute search, we decided we'd have to go!
So once we were in Berlin, we hopped on a bus (Hellö) which was driving all the way to Vienna, Austria but we got off in Prague. It was only a little over 4-hour drive and we arrived into a new world. To be honest I still can't believe how these places can be so near to one another yet they are like sun and the moon!
The very first moment we arrived at Prague's main bus terminal I felt I had left the dust and greyness of Berlin behind and we were ready to explore the new city. We decided to walk to our hostel as we had sat for a good 4 hours in the bus and also to get a grasp of the place. So with the help of dear Google Maps, we made it to our accommodation in about 45 minutes.
The first thing we did was that we took the city map and decided to divide each district to each day of our stay.
And soon after dropping off our luggage we were off to explore the city. Our hotel was only a 5-minute walk from the Dancing house (Tančící dům) and therefore we were rather close to all the main attractions.
We had already decided that we'd take it easy today as we were a little tired from all the walking in Berlin. So we ate at a Chinese buffet restaurant and later in the evening took a walk along the riverside and then crossed the Legion Bridge (most Legíí) to the other side of the Vltava river that is dividing the centre of Prague in two.
The area on the left side of the bridge is called the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) in the district of Praha 5 (The districts are named with numbers, Praha 1 being the central area) it was mainly residential area but there were numerous restaurants which seemed very cosy! Walking past them I could see live musicians starting from violin performances to a guy with a guitar. So if you are looking for something local and interesting when it comes to having a nice dinner, make sure to check this area out!
We continued walking until the end of the street leading away from the bridge and we found stairs which we climbed up. There is a nice green area, which seemed to be a popular place for teenagers to hang out. However what caught our attention was the Memorial to the victims of Communism which was a haunting sculpture of bronze men walking the stairs. What made it impressive was the fact that some of their limbs and bodies were cut off and it created an effect of them fading or disappearing away.
We continued our walk along the park and saw the cable cars that you could take to get up to the Petrin hill where you'll find the Petrin lookout tower which is a lookalike of the Eiffel tower in Paris. We didn't get up to the hill but I've heard the view from there is one of the best in the city.
We returned back to the riverside and came across one very surprising yet interesting statue just outside the Kampa Museum. There was a bronze statue of a monk, placing his hands to an eastern prayer and hope in his eyes he was gazing at the skies. Later at the hostel, we did some research and found out that he was a man named Sri Chinmoy, a man who had dedicated his life to promoting peace. The sculpture commented the meaning of the statue with these words; "I hope that the statue would stand as a symbol of peace and harmony, and inspire the next generation of peace lovers."
The following day we woke up full of energy and ready to step outside. I mean, after all, we were in a fairytale city!
Today we decided to head to one of the best-known attractions in Prague; The Charles Bridge. (Karlův most) It is indeed the most visited site in the city and therefore it is often quite crowded.
The building of the bridge was started in 1357 which was called the Prague Bridge until 1870 when it got its' current name. Until 1841 The Charles Bridge was the only way to cross the Vltava River so it was the most important connection between the Prague Castle and the Old Town.
The first thing you notice when entering to the bridge is the huge dark Gothic style tower which you'll have to pass underneath. Then you'll see a wide bridge full of vendors selling portraits, jewellery and other trinkets. Every time we walked through the bridge we had a chance to enjoy the street music of some kind which made the experience even more memorable.
One of the interesting things to observe on the bridge is not only the view of the castle but also the 30 baroque-style statues that are placed on the edges of the bridge on both sides all the way to the other end of the bridge. Some of the statues have certain details that are believed to bring luck to the ones who touch them.
On the other side of the bridge, you once again go under an another tower and enter to a cute little alley. If at this point you wouldn't feel like you were in a fairytale from the middle ages, this is would be the moment. Walking up to the hill we saw little boutiques selling traditional Czech puppets and the enchanting smell of freshly baked pastries floated to our noses. Those little shops are super interesting but don't forget to look up as the facades of the houses are gorgeous!
This area was one of my favourites. There were many interesting museums, beyond beautiful churches and calling narrow alleys. We took our time just wandering around the area and eventually made our way up to the hill where Prague Castle is located. The stairs that you have to take to reach the castle are one of the best places to get a good view of the city. Perfect for a little photoshoot, if you ask me!
On the top of the hill, at the plaza where the entrance to the Prague castle complex is situated, you can also see some other interesting buildings such as the Schwarzenberg Palace. After a look around at the plaza, we decided to enter the Prague Castle. We had to go through a security check where our bags were checked.
After that, we arrived at Imperial Stables, which was like an inner yard where there was an alley which led us to a yard where the St. Vitus Cathedral welcomed us with its majestic looks. It is the biggest and most remarkable church in the whole country and works as a great example of the Gothic style architecture. Some of the royals have been buried inside the church and the crown jewels are located in the Cathedral of Veneclaus which is inside the St. Vitus Cathedral.
We decided not to enter the church as there was an entrance fee and we felt that we would have enough to see without actually entering to the museums or churches. However, I'd still say that it would be worth entering from what I've seen from photos. Don't forget to go around the church building from the outside as each side has unique decorations in it. Pay attention to the little doors as they are just like from the Snow white! (At least that what came to my mind the second I saw them.)
After exploring the rest of the area we decided to have a break and we sat down to Black Tower Cafe and ordered some hot wine for 50 CZK (2€). If you wish to see a somewhat funny statue make sure to head to that cafe. (Yes, I won't tell you what the status is, go figure)
After a nice break in the sunny terrace and hot wine warming our tummies, we continued our trip pass the Golden Lane, which we, unfortunately, didn't enter as it was also not free of charge. But hey, go check it out! It looked wonderful!
We continued our walk back to downhill to the riverside and arrived at the riverbank which was full of swans and ducks. They were not afraid of people one bit. I couldn't help myself but think if those were the swans that would later in the spring arrive in Finland for summer and then again head to the south in a few short months. Not really a bird expert.