I have yet to write about our hike up Scafell Pike last October and our recent visits to Amsterdam and Gibraltar, but I decided to get Prague out of the way first. You might have guessed from the title, it was not the trip of a lifetime…
To be fair, it was not all Prague’s fault; Edward and I were both knackered and feeling a bit ‘travelled out’. The city itself was crowded but beautiful.
We landed at Václav Havel a little before lunchtime and made our way through passport check rather slowly (which is to be expected when you carry a non-EU passport). We had booked a private taxi and after the early-morning drive and the cramped up flight, we were very glad to have done so.
Prague started with a 40-minute journey to our hotel in the company of a rather chatty and very opinionated (and for some reason, pro-Trump) driver. It was soon followed by a 30-minute walk into town to get some food and find the Museum of Communism, which was to be our first stop and probably the
only most interesting place we’ve seen in Prague.
I must admit, I knew very little of Czech Republic’s history and its communist past but I learned a lot. The visit took us most of three hours; there were lots to see and read on the rise of communism in Czechoslovakia, the different aspects of life in a communist country and the birth of Czech Republic. My favourite sections were certainly the ones touching everyday life and propaganda, a subject that has long fascinated me (I highly recommend CBC’s documentary series Love, Hate & Propaganda – the three seasons are excellent). The museum is amazing and well worth a visit.
After the museum, we wandered a bit around the Old Town Square, glanced at the astronomical clock, had a look at some of the Christmas market stalls and watched some very original street performers before heading back to our hotel for an early night in.
On the second morning, we headed back to town to see the famous Charles Bridge and climb up the hill to visit St. Vitus Cathedral. After crossing the bridge – miraculously unharmed by the flock of selfie-sticks – we opted for a coffee break and a slight detour to have a look at the Lennon Wall, an interesting and ever-changing piece of art in a quiet corner of the city.
We left Malá Strana, took a wrong turn (no surprise here, Edward and I excel at getting lost) and somehow ended up feeding swans on a beach by the Vltava River.
Honestly, that hour spent looking a graffiti and trying not to have my fingers bitten off by birds as tall as me was one of the highlights of the trip… That tells you a lot about the rest of it.
Another highlight was the climb towards the castle and the views of the whole city from above. Stunning!
We expected to spend most of the afternoon exploring the castle area and visiting the Cathedral but it actually took us around an hour; I guess it would have taken more time if we had booked a tour of St. Vitus but we were not in a mood for it and decided to pass. Instead, we headed for the small Christmas market held in the Cathedral’s square. It was a lovely little market and perfect to grab a bite for lunch, but we didn’t stay long there either.
In fact, after only two days in Prague, we felt like we had already seen everything there was to see. I can’t understand all the hype around this city; its rich history is hidden under a multitude of souvenir shops and trdelník stalls, its stunning architecture is lost behind the waves of selfie-sticks and since beer is so cheap, the streets are filled with drunk students and stag/hen do.
Prague is relatively cheap to visit, easily walkable and caters heavily for tourists but we never really felt safe or even welcomed. In all honesty I wouldn’t recommend it but in a way, I’m happy we went… It made me realise that I am done with random city breaks planned only a few weeks in advance – at least for now. I want to travel back to places I loved and explore more of them, or start planning longer and more adventurous trips.