I went to Prague back in 2007. At the time, the stag trade had just left town as Easyjet headed further east and the city was adjusting to a new tourist trade. Back then I saw the city for what it was with it’s long and varied history that reflected in it’s architecture and its people.
So it’s five years later, the sun is out, the blossom is on the trees and we are back in Prague. This time there is my wife Teresa and Sam who is now eight. Again, I did promise that we would travel more at the start of the year didn’t I?
In this post I will share some of the images that stand out but do follow the links through to my photo album where there are dozens more photos that really do capture the time spent in what is a truly pretty city.
Day 1 – Travel
So we started off on Sunday afternoon at a very warm and sunny Heathrow Terminal 5. Even though this is a brand new terminal and (I quote) state of the art, they still find the need to heard you onto a bus and drive 10 minutes around the airport to a plane stood miles from anywhere before you find yourself walking up a windswept flight of stairs onto the plane.
Little over two hours later and we are landing in Prague itself. A pretty typical small European airport. After baggage check it’s a 25 minute taxi journey into the city itself. We stayed in the Jurys Inn hotel which is right next to Florenc Metro and tram stop so getting around could not have been much easier with a days travel on any bus, train, tram or metro in the city costing less than £4 (and kids go free). Indeed Prague is a very easy city to get around quickly using public transport.
Day 2 – Castles, Towers & Beer
So on the first day we headed over to Újezd and used the funicular railway to get up to the top of the city and into Petrin park (your all day travel ticket covers this too) where there are some lovely walks to be had. Also up here is the Petřínská rozhledna claimed to be the younger sister of the Eiffel Tower. Whilst you can walk to the top, I made that mistake last time I was here (there is no lift) so I didn’t bother this time round.
As you can spot from some of these images, the weather was absolutely stunning and just wandering through the park was a really pleasant way to start the day.
Following the the paths down and along, it was not long before we were presented with some amazing views of the city spread out in front of us.
From here we soon ended up in the grounds of the Strahovský klášter with the monastery and the miniature museum. Whilst quite a small museum (no pun intended) Sam found it interesting so that’s all that matters.
By now however it was lunchtime and time for a treat.
Last time we were here we discovered the Strahov Monastic Brewery and ended up spending an awful lot of time there because the beer was excellent, the goulash was filling and the cost was tiny. Nothing has changed and whilst it can get very busy, if you fancy traditional Czech food and drink for very little money, here is the place to go.
Suitably fed and watered (although I could have spent a lot more time drinking the local amber beer), we started off down the hill towards the castle passing lots of wonderful architecture on the way
The castle itself that dominates the city has been expanded over many centuries and with the church in the middle. If it still a working building and it is not unusual to see senior figures in the grounds going about their business.
And of course, once up on the castle walls, the views are just stunning.
From the castle, it was back down the hill and over Charles Bridge with the Powder Tower at one end and statues lining its length
From here, a short walk takes you right into the Old Town Square where you will find some of the picture postcard views Prague is famous for.
From here (after a stop for refreshment) it was just a 15 minute stroll through some very pretty back streets back to the hotel. Aching feet all round.
Once suitably rested we headed out for an evening meal. I had already spotted a place that I thought might keep Sam amused and was not disappointed.
So this is the Vytopna Restaurant where a very big kid has built a huge model railway capable of delivering your drinks to your table by rail. All very very silly but a lot of fun at the same time and something that holds interest for Sam (trains) and Dad (beer) at the same time. The food wasn’t too bad either.
Day 3 – Museums, Parks, Culture & More Beer
So day 3 saw us armed with a list of museums and attractions and another sunny morning.
First stop was the National Technical Museum.
From here we exited straight into Letenské sady (Letna Park) which is yet another open green space with lots of trees and runs along the top of the hill.
Once again we were rewarded by stunning views of the city
Now it was in this park that for a number of years stood a statue of Stalin however that statue was eventually torn down and today stands something very different. The Metronome that swings back and forth all day and all night
So again, down the hill and time to hunt down something that has been haunting me since I was in Prague back in 2007.
All that time ago I took a photo from the castle walls. It had something very odd in it. This time I had spotted it again in another photo from the day before and again, it just looked odd. It appeared to be a large wall made up of strange shapes although I could have sworn that some of these shapes were faces. The guide books didn’t mention it so armed with Google maps, I was determined to find it and work out what it was.
So through a tiny doorway on a back street (can you see the entrance here) we found it
Lots of stunning baroque gardens with peacocks roaming and perfect quiet.
Oh. And this
Want to look closer?
There are loads more images in the album of this but the longer you stare, the more strange shapes and faces you see, It could send you insane.
With that, it was time to jump on the tram and head back the the hotel with aching feet all round.
Day 4 – Museums, Tanks & Goulash
Our final day.
The good news is that we have seen most of the sights we wanted to but there are still a handful of museums left to check out.
First off was the National Museum right at the top of Wenceslas Square in the heart of the city. This is very much along the lines of the Natural History Museum in London (without the dinosaurs) and was full of school kids on field trips.
Again however the architecture was stunning
From here we went to the Museum of Communism. To be fair, I found this (for the price) was a little under whelming and struggled to keep Sams interest. It had been billed as a tongue in cheek look at communism in Prague but I failed to see the funny side.
So onto our final museum. The Army Museum just round the corner from our hotel.
Admission was free (always a bonus) and actually the whole museum was amazingly well presented with loads of information (in English) and was genuinely interesting.
And then it was back to the hotel.
In the evening we returned to the Strahov Monastery for even more goulash and then the following morning we were on a plane back to London.
We had an awesome time in Prague. The weather was stunning and we had a lot of fun (as well as a lot of beer and a lot of goulash).
Even though Prague is only 2 hours away, it has a culture that is very different to other European cities probably influenced by a very changeable history even into modern times. It is also amazingly pretty especially at this time of the year when the blossom is on the trees.
For now, it is also cheap. It was quite possible for the 3 of us to go out for an evening meal and including beer for mum and dad, still get change out of £30. Having said that, there are still plenty of places near the main tourist stops happy to relieve you of your cash if you let them.
Public transport is superb and again, cheap. You don’t need a car if you visit Prague unless you are planning on heading out of the city. Sure there are plenty of hills but you are never far from a tram stop and to be fair, the pace here is a lot slower than in other major cities so you can go at your own pace.
There are also a lot of police in the city making it feel very safe. Sure you have to be aware of what’s going on around you regarding pick pockets etc but no more so than any other European city.
So will we return?
Not straight away but certainly in a few years, yes. If you do get the chance to visit, please do as you will enjoy it.
All the photos I took on the trip (and there were lots) can be found in my photo album HERE so please feel free to have a look and by all means leave any comments or questions below.