The bus to Prague was supposed to leave ridiculously early in the morning. We even had to do special early check out because our hotel did not have 24 hour front desk service. Fortunately for us the hotels were only like a 5 minute walk to the bus station so it definitely could have been a lot worse.
Ultimately it did not matter how early we arrived though because our bus ended up running over an hour late. This pretty much stressed out the girls, but the boys did not seem terribly worried. Mostly they were too preoccupied with playing Pokemon to pay much attention. I had my 3DS charged to play Pokemon as well, but I was too worried with when the bus would show up (if it would show up) to go play while we waited. And we had no way of knowing what was going on.
Fortunately for us the bus did eventually show up and we were on our way to Prague. Prague had not really been on my list and originally I had considered separating at that point, but our friend who had left first had seemed almost personally offended that that would mean I would not be going to Vienna – he loves Vienna. I ended up joining them. Now I’m glad I did because Prague was downright beautiful.
In Prague all 5 of us were staying in the same hotel. Our rooms were only a floor away from each other. When we arrived the chaos did not quite end immediately. Our phones were telling us there was no way to walk to our hotel and we were getting a bit turned around. It did not help that we were already a bit short tempered because of the chaos from the morning. Thankfully, we did eventually figure out a way, but unfortunately for me our hotel was basically up a bunch of hills. I had no idea Prague was so hilly and it was hot and we were all rather irritable. It was definitely a relief to get to the hotel.
The couple decided to spend the rest of the day as a date day while the other 3 of us poked around a bit. Our big destination in mind was the Castle. Which was, unsurprisingly, on top of a giant hill. Oh well.
When we got up there we hurried our way through a self guided tour of the Castle. At one spot where you could look out over the city there was a tv crew filming some sort of segment. The tour was pretty cool. The others were particularly impressed by a room with a bunch of old music stuff – including original music written by Beethoven. I thought to was neat too, but not to the same level as the other two. I had had no idea they were such music buffs.
When we made it out of the castle we discovered we were near a bunch of other cool tourist spots. I was particularly impressed by the churches – the Basilica of St. George and St. Vitus Cathedral. Sadly they were all very expensive and we did not have much time considering how much later we had arrived in the city than we had expected to. Still, at least we got some good pictures. After, we headed down and decided to walk back towards the city centre. We stopped on the way to grab some souvenirs and we each grabbed a fruit smoothie too. The day was hot making the smoothies just that much more refreshing. We did not rush ourselves and enjoyed meandering slowly back. We also stopped to get some kind of sun burn soother. Hilariously, the one buying it almost accidentally bought sun tan lotion. Luckily one of our friends speaks Ukrainian which is sort of (ish) close to Czech and she was able to stop him in time.
The next day we split up in the morning. I joined the couple for a free walking tour of Prague while the other two went and did their own thing (more on that later). Our walking tour was fabulous. Our guide was actually Czech-Canadian and had grown up in Toronto before moving to Prague after high school. What a small world, right?
Our tour started in the Old Town Square near the astrological clock. Word is that there is a big show that happens at the clock, but according to our guide it’s easy to miss because it’s just the really small animated figures that are involved. We didn’t see it, but I’m not overly disappointed. The clock was cool to see, but it was still a clock.
Along the way we learned some neat little facts and phrases. Not that I remember any of the phrases anymore, but it was sweet of her to give us the short lessons. I do remember that apparently the people of the Czech Republic don’t like Sweden because apparently the Swedish government has a bunch of stuff they took from the Czech Republic in their museums and won’t give it back. The rivalry is apparently a friendly one, but it does mean that the one person from Sweden in our group ended up being the butt of a joke or two.
The tour was actually pretty cool – we saw a lot of the main city. A few places I doubled back to later in the day for a better look, but I would definitely recommend the free walking tours to anyone wanting to get a sense of the layout and history of Prague.
Not only did we get a language lesson and a few funny stories along the way we also were walked through the Jewish quarter, stopped at the Kafka cafe for a snack, and saw the Prague opera house among other things.
I had to laugh because at the end of the tour our guide left us by “Voldemort”. Obviously it was not actually Voldemort, but that was what she called the statue near the opera house. I had to take a picture and after putting it on Facebook it is only too obvious how amazing and dorky my friends truly are.
I uploaded it with a Welcome to Night Vale reference (do not approach the hooded figures) and the comment thread referenced both a dementor and ring wraith. I really do love my friends.
After the tour I went off by myself and just walked around. Took a walk over the Charles Bridge, had gelato at Angelato, wandered back through the Jewish Quarter, and up to Wenceslas Square. Really I just tried to hit all the interesting spots on the Prague map app I had downloaded before meeting up with the others for dinner. We had decided to meet at the mall mostly because it was big and hard to miss.
We had wanted to go to Lokál for dinner, but it was far too busy. It was pretty disappointing since we had heard such good things about it from our tour guide. Hilariously (or perhaps sadly) we actually ended up eating at the mall. We did have goulash so at least it was Czech food – and it was actually pretty good – but it’s perhaps a little lame.
We also got to hear what had happened to the other two who had done their own thing that day. Turned out that they had actually spent most of the day in the mall after being mugged by a guy with a snake. He cornered them, put the snake on, and demanded they give him their money. Boy had they had an adventure in Prague.
As much as we had all enjoyed Prague we were very much looking forward to moving on to Vienna. Vienna was also somewhere that we would be staying for a decent amount of time which meant that our adventuring could (in theory) be a little more relaxed. This wasn’t completely true though because we had planned a day trip to Salzburg. But that’s a whole other story.