Czech Republic: Day 1 Walk in Charming Prague
Travel Date : 13th July 2013
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
We headed to Prague, a capital city of Czech Republic, right after our stay in Burghausen, Germany by a rented car. Our focus was on the Old Town Area and surrounding landmarks such as the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Petřín Lookout Tower.
Driving into the city, we had to find our accommodation first to check-in. Located about 700 metres from Wenceslas Square, we would just need to walk to a nearby metro station or tram station to get to the attractions.
We thought it would be easy but it took us more than thirty minutes as we drove around with the GPS telling us we had “arrived”. Looking at the street, with narrow walkways by the side, we were puzzled. Where were the “on-site” parking they had indicated? The entire stretch of buildings along the road looked similar and there was no side-road to stop and park. (We were not sure of the rules of parking on the pedestrian walkway)
Traffic was heavy behind us. It was one-way and we could not slow too much to look carefully. We ended up driving one whole big round and many small rounds around the same place the GPS was telling us.
I panicked. It was late afternoon after the tedious 4 hours drive and we still had a lot of places to explore for this 2 days 1 night trip in Prague.
Finally, after stopping somewhere to check the map and driving around the same place again for like the countless time, we spotted a small little board that said, “Anyday Apartments” on one of the door and noted there was a gated compound just beside it. Vin drove up the narrow sidewalk of the gated compound and got down to ask. It was indeed the place we were looking for!
They opened the gated compound for us and Vin was able to park in the big area next to a side-door. We quickly brought our luggage inside to our room and left to take the public transport for sight-seeing. (More about the Accommodation Below)
It was a short walk down the street to the nearby Metro Station-I. P. Pavlova. The distance was not near but not too far either. We were fortunate to find an affordable accommodation at the last minute (as we only booked two days before) so no complaints.
Coming out from the Prague Metro Subway, we first arrived in Wenceslas Square.
The building behind, which was the neoclassical Czech National Museum, was so grand and took our breath for a while. I was also surprised by the huge walking area in front of us for a moment. As it was slightly on higher ground, we could see that the entire square stretched far back in a long rectangle. Many tourists were taking a stroll on it and there seemed to be a bazaar area right at the end.
After taking a picture of the statue of Saint Wenceslas, a patron saint of Czech Republic (Duke of Bohemia in the past), we strolled down the smooth walkway towards the other end.
There was indeed a small food and souvenirs bazaar and we bought some artistic souvenirs of Prague. The food consisting mostly of sausages, pastries and grilled stuff smells good but we didn’t try them. I was surprised to see policemen standing beside their car and looking after the area. A tram transport cut across the walking street so we had to be careful about them when we cross.
Spotting the Money Changer at the building across (look at the arrow in pic below), we quickly walked over to change some money as what we changed earlier were not enough. It seemed Czech Republic’s currency is not easily available outside of the country as many tourists were also changing money at the same place. With the police stationed around the area, we felt safe.
Walking Around and To Charles Bridge
After our exploration of the Wenceslas Square, we used the map given to us by the hotel to head towards Charles Bridge.
It was a nice walk and we saw interesting buildings along the way. Reaching a center point, there was the Charles Bridge afar to the left of us and another more modern bridge to the right of us. Many swans were resting on a small islet and we stood there to take in the scenery for a while. Dar was feeling excited about our walk too and in a joyous mood.
Soon, we reached the Charles Bridge area. We felt it was a wonder to walk around in Prague as it was full of historical artistic buildings and I couldn’t get enough of looking at them. With every turn and step, I’m looking at one old European architecture and seeing an old tram transport moving across. No wonder the historic centre of Prague with its old town areas was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
This was a view from the right side of Charles Bridge, to where we were just now with the swans. Tourists were boating around in the calm waters.
To the left, we saw a dam and another bridge in the distance. The most famous bridge is still the Charles Bridge as it was built in 1357 under King Charles IV, a Bohemian King, who also founded the New Town of Prague. In fact, the historical churches and buildings were all built under his rule. The Charles bridge was important in those times to connect the Old Town Area to other areas of Prague and functioned as a trade route. Lining the bridge were various decorative statues and we looked at them closely as we walked.
What made Charles Bridge even more interesting was the array of artists and street performers.
Artists were selling their wares and many of them were of high quality and unique. We were both amazed at all the different artistic goodies, whether of paintings, jewellery, ceramics or wood. Some were of the Prague landscapes while some were their own creations. They made good souvenirs and were definitely not those mass-produced factory souvenirs. I regretted not buying one nice artistic creation I saw because we didn’t come back to this area anymore and you would not find them elsewhere.
One thing I noticed is that, we always get great music walking around in Prague whenever there was a square or wide walkways. It’s always instrumental, classical and cultural songs, very “bohemian and indie music”. Not modern electronic blasting band belting out the latest hits. As we both appreciate arts and have an artistic inclination, we were soaking up the atmosphere and enjoyed our explorations tremendously.
That’s why we ended up labelling Prague as our favourite city among the many places we had visited in Europe as there were so many sights we loved to look at.
We entered the Lesser Town Area and soon found the St.Nicholas Church, located behind a commercial building. As the greatest Baroque Church in Prague with its massive dome, it is also one of the attractions. We couldn’t enter though as it was already closed by that time but the structure outside was great to look at.
Our next itinerary was to go up to Prague Castle high on top a hill. There was a tram stop here Malostranské náměstí, Tram Number 22, which would bring us up to Prague Castle where we could visit the famous gothic church, St.Vitus Cathedral.
Location : Anyday Apartments
Choice due to: Near public transportation
Costs: Large Double Room with Extra Bed ; 73.35 Euro/ Night with Breakfast for Two Adults (breakfast at $10 each)
I found this accommodation last minute on booking.com just two days before and there was a promotion going on. With the rate we had been booking in Europe for hotel rooms, this rate for three seemed so much cheaper.
The room was really an apartment and spacious with one double bed and a single bed. As the single bed was just beside the door, Dar and I slept together while Vin took the single bed. There was a kitchenette and a spacious bathroom too with clean facilities. If we were staying here for more days, this would be good option to cook our own simple meals and save on dining.
The breakfast was the usual simple buffet European style with eggs, bread, ham, jams and cereals. I like the decor of the dining room, with a painted scenery of Charles Bridge.
We were surprised to find a small courtyard with some play area for kids and Dar got onto one plastic vehicle to zoom around the corridors. There seemed to be only a few guests beside us. I guess most prefer to live right in the historical centre itself where accommodation is more expensive. We found this place alright for us since we didn’t mind walking a short distance to the Metro Station.