There is truly no better feeling than when you arrive to a new city for the first time. You get off of the airplane, collect your bags and then head outside to find transportation. I had never been to Prague, Czech Republic before, or Praha, which it is most commonly referred to as by the locals, but I was looking forward to what the “City of a Hundred Spires” had to offer.
Since wasting time is arguable my biggest travel woe, upon arriving at my hotel, I immediately packed a day bag so I could get to exploring. My hotel was located near the Lennon wall, so there is where I began my expedition.
Since the 1980’s this John Lennon inspired wall has been covered graffiti and pieces of lyrics of his and the Beatles’ songs. While the original portrait of John Lennon has been long lost underneath layers of new paint, the wall today still represents love and peace. The atmosphere is only increased with Lennon’s spirit when you see the nearby bridge that is covered in “love locks.”
Once I left the Lennon Wall, I began to make my way to the Charles Bridge, which connects the city’s Old town to Prague Castle and is adorned with 30 baroque-style statues. Most notably is the statue of Saint John of Nepomuk, the court priest who was thrown off of the bridge by King Wenceslas IV for refusing to tell the king about the queen’s confession. Rubbing the plaque on the statue is a Prague ritual and is supposed to bring good luck and ensure that you return to Prague soon.
(Of note, there is also an adjacent plaque depicting a dog and the Queen which holds no significance whatsoever but it is commonly confused as the lucky rubbing spot, so make sure you are rubbing the correct one!)
Once I made it to the other side of the Charles Bridge, I began my trek down Karlova street. There were street vendors and souvenir shops each direction you turned and while I seriously debated bringing my roommate home a coffee mug from Prague as a souvenir (she LOVES coffee), my stomach and budget won that argument.
So I stopped at Trdelník for an authentic Bohemian snack. While I am not the biggest sweets person, the weather could not have been more perfect to have ice cream while walking the cobblestoned streets of Prague.
Trdelník is a rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. It originally came from Transylvania, but it’s a popular treat that you’ll find all over Prague.
As I began to walk while eating this sweet treat, within 5 minutes, I found myself standing in front of the Prague astronomical clock. Built in the 1400’s, it’s the oldest still functioning astronomical clock in the world.
The astronomical clock is located in the heart of Prague’s Old Town Square and while I had no ideal how to properly read the “time,” it was fascinating to gaze at the dials and hands of the clock which features the positions of the Sun, Moon, Earth and other zodiac constellations. It also tells the time, provides the date, and provides some entertainment for onlookers on the hour, every hour.
By this time, it began to get dark and I was told that some of the most picturesque views of the city come from atop Prague Castle while the sun sets, so I began to make my way back that way.
When I think of castles, I immediately think Disney World and Cinderella as the gold standard – it was nothing like that. At Prague “castle” you won’t actual find a castle here but, rather, a massive compound featuring various palaces and buildings.
The towering structure that can be seen from town and the Charles Bridge is actually St. Vitus Cathedral. (Don’t feel bad, I thought it was a castle too)
Unfortunately, I arrived too late to enter the cathedral or explore the palace gardens, so I made my way back to the Old Town Square to have a traditional Czech meal for dinner. I asked a few locals for some restaurant recommendations and they sent me to Porks, where they serve one of the more popular dishes in Prague, Koleno (Pork Knuckle).
This dish features a large chunk of pork (enough to feed 2 people) that is marinated in dark beer and herbs for at least 24 hours and then roasted and served with bread, horseradish and mustard. If I could replay the sound of the crunch when I cut into it forever, I would. The meat was so tender and juicy and fell right off of the bone. I washed it all down with my first beer EVER, Pilsner Urquell, and reminisced about my day. (Beer is not for me)
All in all, although a bit “touristy,” (hypocritical, I know) it was perfect.
What an awesome summary of what seems like a magical European visit.
Thank you for the highlights. I definitely aspire to visit.
Love the place, these pics are great