Our holiday to Prague, the city of 100 spires.
Prague is a little over an hour from London City airport, which was so convenient as we were able to park nearby for free.
The take-off was brief and we were in the air without any hassles heading for Prague. There was barely time to have a drink and snack before we landed at Prague airport.
We stayed at Hotel Hastal, which was situated in the old town. The hotel has been in the same family for over six generations and is one of the last privately owned hotels in the city.
Hotel Hastal was located 5 minutes walk from Old Town Square, and there were plenty of restaurants, pubs and museums all around.
We booked the holiday through Prague Experience. They arranged transport to and from the airport. Our breakfast was also included, which was a delicious assortments of warm and cold food and pastries, tea, coffee and fruit juices. There was also free WiFi throughout the hotel and free wine at the front desk.
ABC in Prague
ABC is an acronym for another bloody church. There are churches with spires everywhere, especially in the old town.
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic and the historical capital of Bohemia. Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe.
Our first evening in Prague
We wandered around the old town, which was very compact. Most roads or alleys were narrow and cobble stoned. The atmosphere was very festive in the squares and there were lots of market shops selling gifts, sweets, pastries, beer and mulled wine.
Off one of the side alleys of the square we found Il tri ruží a 15th-century pub/restaurant that brewed 6 different types of beers on-site.
We had a couple of awesome beers and local dish – Boar roasted with rose-hip sauce and fine dumplings, along with a couple of glasses of Viennese Red. If you visit this pub give this dish a try out. Delicious!
Next we stumbled upon the Powder Tower (Prašná brána). According to Wikipedia…
This monumental entrance by which the coronation processions of Czech kings entered the Old Town is one of the most significant monuments of Late Gothic Prague. It was completed in 1475, the Powder Tower, which formerly served as a gunpowder store, is still the starting point for the Coronation or Royal Route to Prague Castle.
In one of the squares we noticed a shiny statue that seemed to be alive. The statue was a massive head that revolved, although upon closer inspection we could see it was made up of multiple independent layers of reflective metal. It looked like a gigantic 3D puzzle.
We didn’t catch the name of the statue, but I looked it up later on when we were back at the hotel. The sculpture was the head of writer Franz Kafka and was created by Czech artist David Cerny. The piece apparently depicts the tortured personality and unrelenting self doubt that plagued him his entire life. Here is GIF of the statue from Colossal.
There is a lot to see in Prague as the city has a bit of everything; an old town, a castle, a famous bridge, hundreds of beautiful churches and cathedrals, historic buildings from every architectural style, loads of underground tunnels and caverns, old market squares and hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
We took a bus tour through the old town, along the river and up to the castle. The castle grounds were huge and included large parks and gardens, the houses of parliament, vineyards, markets and the St Vitus Cathedral. There are some wonderful views of Prague from the hilltops. One could easily spend a day within the castle walls.
Charles bridge is the most famous bridge in Prague. It crossed the Vltava river, which weaves its way through the city. Charles Bridges construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.
The bridge was decorated on either side by large statues, most of them in baroque-style. Each time we walked over the bridge it was packed full of people.
This is what Charles Bridge looked like for us.
Staromestske Namesti Old Town Square
Five minutes walk from our hotel was the old town square (Staromestske Namesti), which was the historic centre with 10th-century origins, site of many Gothic buildings. The square was filled with Christmas markets selling gifts, food, beer and mulled wine. The square was surrounded by very old buildings, one of which was the Town Hall, which housed the Prague Astronomical Clock Tower.
The Town Hall was established in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town Self-Government. The oldest Gothic part of the complex is made up of a beautiful tower with a bay window and a unique astronomical clock, where 12 apostles appeared every hour (9 am – 3 pm).
James Dean Diner
Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.James Dean
We started our day at the James Dean, a lovely well decorated diner, close to the main square. Although a long way from America, this diner is a must see. It had a lot of authentic furniture inside and a wonderful hand-made, 60 piece ceramic column (mosaic) of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. It was pretty spectacular. Even the toilets were kitted out in Marilyn Monroe images.
Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she’ll conquer the world.Marilyn Monroe
On one of the afternoons we rented some Segways and went on a 3 hour tour in the suburbs of Prague. Our first stop was The Great Strahov Stadium located in the Strahov district of Prague. It was the largest stadium in the world at one point and is the second largest sports facility worldwide after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, seating around 220,000. It was a mammoth concrete jungle full of graffiti. The guide said it held 9 football pitches.
Next up we visited a library in the Strahov Monastery. The Monastery was massive. The library was incredibly beautiful. No camera of mine could do this room justice, so click here for a 3D Panorama of the library. Do pan up and down, left and right and check out that ceiling decorated with beautiful paintings.
The views of Prague from within the grounds of the Monastery were breath taking.
Speculum Alchemiae Museum
We visited one museum, which held a very special secret only recently discovered. When floods ripped away the road outside the shop, a number of underground tunnels and rooms were revealed. They belonged to ancient alchemists who in day, would use the secret rooms to make potions, turn lead into gold, store spices from the East India Company, and performed secret rituals.
If you like secret rooms, hidden doors, stairs that disappeared underground into dimly lit tunnels, then this museum is for you. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was really interesting.
We also got to:
- watch a classical music show performed by a violinist, singer and piano/organ player.
- walk through many ancient gardens and parks.
- witness sword fighting pirates running amok around an underground tavern.
- gawk at semi-naked wenches who juggled fire ropes above their bosoms and swords on their navels.
- beer taste at one of Prague’s many old town breweries.
- savor some of the best cocktails being made in Black Angel.
- see Prague from the comfort a warm sailing boat on the river Vltava.
We truly had a fantastic time in Prague.
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We are Mike and Jo Bowen. Originally from South Africa, we now live & work in the United Kingdom. Mike is the blogger, beer drinker, gadget man, reviewer and Jo is the proofreader, wine drinker, cat lady, sanity checker and “don’t you dare put that on lookatbowen.com“. Together we travel the world and have fun wherever possible. If you are new to this website and want to know more about us, check out the the longer version.
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