Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Whirlwinding in Prague

Continuing from my Budapest travel recap.

The next stop on the itinerary was Prague. Adam and I took an overnight train out of Budapest which arrived in Prague around 6:45 AM the next morning. (The overnight train is a whole other story. In short, it was a harrowing experience.)

After arrival, we had a bit of a rough start to our Prague visit. The weather was unexpectedly cold. We hadn't slept much. The place at which we were staying wouldn't be available until mid-afternoon, and in the meantime we couldn't shower or change clothes. Needless to say, we weren't feeling 100%. But we stored our luggage at the reception desk and set out to begin exploring.

Rough start aside, I found Prague to be a stunningly beautiful city. The castles, churches, and architecture were spellbinding. I felt like I was in a fairy tale. Let the onslaught of pictures commence:
View of the Prague Castle overlooking the Vltava River 
The Charles Bridge, which was filled with statues, musical performers, artists, and TOURISTS.
Old Town Square view of the Church of Our Lady before Týn and the Jan Hus Memorial 
Typical street view in the Malá Strana neighborhood
Random hotel, just to give a sense for the ornateness of all of the buildings
Old Town Bridge Tower
St. Nicholas Church in Malá Strana
Nighttime view on the Charles Bridge
Clearly the world has discovered Prague's beauty because it was crawling with tourists. In some streets, there were so many tour groups jamming the paths that you could barely walk. Adam visited Prague 11 years ago, and he says back then it was much quieter.

That first morning in my sleep-deprived, unshowered state, I didn't have a lot of patience for the throngs of tourists. But later, after I was able to get some sleep and clean up, I was in my element soaking in the city's atmosphere.

Here are the highlights of what we saw and experienced:

Prague Castle
The castle area is a complex that includes various areas of worship, a palace, gardens, stables, museums, etc. Here's the entrance, manned by armed guards:
Adam and I spent an afternoon wandering through a circuit which included St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane, and Daliborka Tower.

St. Vitus Cathedral
The outside of the cathedral:
The view after walking through the front entrance:
One of the religious shrines (very much along the lines of what you'd expect to see at a castle, yes?):
One of the stained-glass windows, with a fresco painting on one side wall:
Old Royal Palace
Ceiling bedecked with coats of arms:
View from one of the palace's overlooks:
St. George's Basilica
The apse:
Golden Lane
This area housed a very cool display of armor and armory:


Adult armor and toddler armor???
Or maybe this mini armor is for Tyrion Lannister?
Daliborka Tower
This was a medieval prison. Here, we got to see a wide display of medieval torture devices from the dungeon (literally). The mere sight of these devices gave me the heebie-jeebies:
Adam got a kick out of this chair:
The design gives a whole new meaning to furniture ergonomics, yes?

I am suddenly very, VERY grateful to live in the present-day era.

OK! Now moving on from the Prague Castle...

John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon Wall is a symbol of freedom and rebellion against the communist regime in the 1980's. It's got some interesting history

The wall was tricky to find, but worth the search, in my opinion.
Me trying to emulate the expression on the faces of John Lennon painted above me.
Adam liked the "Save The Humans" motif
Side note: There was a number of, uh, obscenities painted on the wall. For purposes of being politically correct, I did my best to pick a photo spot that didn't include anything unsavory - but it wasn't easy!

Astronomical Clock
An ENORMOUS crowd of folks gathered in Old Town Square to watch this clock change every hour, during which miniature figures came out of the little doors. The viewers were similar to a concert gathering.
Food
Adam and I enjoyed getting some local eats from an outdoor market near where we were staying:
A trdelnik stand. Trdelnik is a Czech pastry comprised of dough wrapped around a stick, grilled, then
topped with sugar. It can also be filled with ice cream or other goodies. I had some with Nutella filling.
Similar to Budapest, the outdoor dining scene was very prevalent in Prague. Everywhere we went, there were restaurants loaded with al fresco seating.

For dinner one night, we stumbled upon a local restaurant called U Zlatých nůžek near the John Lennon Wall. It had fantastic Czech food. 
Source
Here's what I had:
Pork loin with red wine plum sauce and potato pancakes
The next night, we popped into dinner at a restaurant called Kings Court, which was also excellent. Instead of paper menus, they handed out iPads with the menus on them! Very progressive.
This was the view of my dinner companion, along with the restaurant's house-made lemonade:
Old-New Synagogue
We made a quick stop here after seeing some street signs pointing towards its direction. I later learned that this is Europe's oldest active synagogue:
Everything else
To continue my pattern from my Budapest recap, here is a shot from one of Prague's subway trains (their public transit system is also fantastic):
and here is Prague's version of the decorative manhole covers:
[deep breath]

Quite another onslaught of pictures, eh? Once again, thank you for sticking with me if you made it this far!

In summary - I was completely beguiled by Prague. I had heard amazing reviews about it from so many people, and even with high expectations it still captivated me. What an incredible city!

Next on the vacation itinerary: Three days in Vienna

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I am inaugurally linking up with Lauren, Van, Isabel and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday; and I will be linking up with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian; and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust.

36 comments:

  1. I can see now why tourists are flocking here! Your photos are beautiful! I find it funny at the juxtaposition of such an old city rich in history and culture is so progressive to give out ipads instead of menus! That is so cool and something I have not even seen in the states yet!

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    1. Thank you so much! You are right, it is a hilarious juxtaposition of the historic city using iPads for menus. Very clever observation!!! It's a good idea, though, right? I am excited to see US restaurants follow the trend soon!!!

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  2. Your pictures look like postcards! I need to visit Prague...

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    1. Thank you, Wendy!!! Yes, go visit Prague!!!

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  3. Wow!! All of that looks amazing!! and the food sounds delicious!!

    I laughed at this one --> maybe this mini armor is for Tyrion Lannister!! Ja ja!

    The church in your picture reminds me of the church in my hometown in Mexico with all it's magnificence !

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    1. Thank you, Ana!!!

      I am glad you understood my Game of Thrones reference! =D

      Oh my goodness - the church in your Mexican hometown must be spectacular!!! How cool that you got to attend services at such a beautiful place growing up. Which church is that and what is your hometown?

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  4. I was in Prague in 1991 shortly after the wall came down and there was nary a tourist. The country was actually still called "Czechoslovakia". I remember Czech beer (which is the best in the world) was 50 cents a glass, and most other things were dirt cheap as their economy had not quite westernized. Anyway, it looks like it is still beautiful and again the food looks incredible. Speaking of Czechoslovakia I always think about this Bill Murray quote when I hear that word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=765b-T5P450&feature=youtu.be&t=1m16s

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    1. So cool that you got to experience Prague right after the wall came down! You must have really gotten the true local experience, which is awesome. I've heard a lot about how Prague USED to be very affordable, but times have changed a lot. Incidentally, one local said they've seen an uptick in visitors after all the incidents in France. I'm sure that contributed, but it certainly can't be the entire reason for the mass crowds!

      LOL at the Bill Murray quote!!! "Wis-CAAAAHN-sin!!!"

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  5. Lol! The fancy man hole covers continue!

    Like you, I'm always a little yucked out by those torture device displays. Imagine being put on one of those for a crazy false accusation, too. I think of thinks like that partnered with things like the Salem witch trials and shudder.

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    1. HEHEHEHE. Spoiler alert - Vienna did NOT have the fancy manhole covers. Boo, right?

      OMG. It is terrifying to imagine being put under trial under the wrong circumstances in the Medieval period. The Salem witch trials is a perfect comparison! ~Shudder~

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  6. Gorgeous photos! Prague is just SO picturesque and could keep me happy for days. I went a few years ago and loved it :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Marcella! You were fortunate to have visited a few years ago because I think the tourist crowds have increased exponentially in recent years! For good reason, of course. =)

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  7. I absolutely loved Prague! It was the first place I went in Europe and loved it. Enjoy Vienna!

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    1. Wow, Katie - what an amazing city for your first stop in Europe!!! That really set the standard high for everything else, I bet. =) Thanks so much!!!

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  8. Was it jarring to go from a city with very few tourists to one full of them? Sounds like did a great job of not letting your rough start in Prague color your entire visit. I also know next to nothing about Prague so, once again, I appreciate all the photos you took!

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    1. It was very jarring! Budapest's tourist scene is solid but Prague's is downright overwhelming. I am all about experiencing life from a local perspective, so from that aspect I found Budapest less stressful for sure. Thanks again, Erin!!!

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  9. I've been to Prague like 6 years ago but didn't know of the John Lennon wall. Guess I have to re-visit the city ;)

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    1. It was only through a local that I heard about the Lennon wall, myself! And YES - I guess you'll just have to revisit Prague!!! =D

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  10. Again - Beautiful photos of a beautiful city! Looks like you had great weather. I went to Prague for a week in February of... 2002(?I think) and it. was. so. cold. I really enjoyed the city though. One of my favorite memories is that the winter Olympics were going on (so would have been 2002) and they put up a HUGE screen in Old Town Square to project the Czech vs Russia hockey game - So much fun!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! Yes, we were very fortunate to have near-perfect weather. The first morning was cold, but it was sunny every day with temps in the 70s. Oh my goodness - I can imagine it must have been chilly in February, but what great timing to be there during the Olympics! That would have been simply AWESOME to watch an Olympics hockey game in Old Town Square. You are very fortunate that you got to go back in 2002 when it was more affordable and before all the hordes of tourists started piling in!

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  11. My gosh, those churches are breathtaking! As are the torture devices, albeit in a totally different way O.O How could people do that to other people?!?! Insane.

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    1. We were talking about how folks back in Medieval times could have possibly had the manpower and the ability to build such amazing churches! It's mindblowing to think about. And yes, I shudder like mad everytime I see or think about those torture devices. So terrifying!

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  12. As usual, your photos are amazing! My great grandparents lived in Prague and while I didn't know them, my grandma has told me my whole life that I HAVE to go there sometime and see the hometown.

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    1. Thank you so much, Alexandra! So interesting to hear that your great-grandparents lived in Prague! Yes, go check out where your ancestors used to roam - I think you would love it!!!

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  13. Cool images of Prague! I didn't see the John Lennon wall. That would have been cool to see.

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    1. Thank you, Betty! The Lennon wall was something I randomly heard about from a local when we arrived, so it came out of the blue. It's a bit tough to find, but definitely worth checking out!

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  14. This post and your photos basically confirm that Prague has to be a serious travel priority for me. I can't get over it's beauty! It's always great to have high expectations met and exceeded.

    Can't wait to see your post on Vienna!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lindsay! YES - I second pushing Prague to the top of your travel priorities list. It is the most beautiful, stunning city, ever - and the tourist crowds are there for good reason! I think you would LOVE it. Thanks again!

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  15. Looks like a wonderful trip. So much to be seen in Prague. Thanks for all the beautiful photos. #WeekendWunderlust

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    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! Congrats on your upcoming new addition to the family!!!

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  16. I am awed by the castle and the man hole covers - it is the details, right LOL The structures are amazing, the medieval practices give me the eebie jeebies.
    Didn't it feel good to have some cold air after a long hot summer?

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    1. It is indeed the details!!! The medieval practices gave me a much better sense for why people back then didn't leave as long as they do now! Thank goodness we live in the present-day era. =) It did feel good to have some cold and a respite from the humidity! If only we had been dressed appropriately that morning, sigh!

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  17. Amazing city, loved your photos. I have been to Prague twice and you make me wish I was there again.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lyn! I want to go back to Prague again, too!!! =)

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