I arrived to Prague on the 26th of December around 5:30pm. On the plane, I sat next to a really nice couple whom I talked to for most of the flight. The guy was from Dublin so we had a lot to talk about and his wife was from Tallin Estonia; a place I had never heard of before. After hearing about their descriptions of it, I have put it down on my list of places to see. Upon landing, we said goodbye, not really expecting to see them again. The hostel had arranged for a taxi to pick me up from the airport, but upon arriving he was not there. I spent the next 20-25 minutes walking back and fourth between the terminals trying to find him. Eventually I did and was safely driven to the hostel.
I just arrived to Prauge and wanted to explore. After getting to the hostel, checking in and claiming my bed I set out to explore Prauge. It gets dark at 4:30pm, so it was already dark when I set out. My initial thought was, that it was a lot colder than Dublin. The kinda cold that when you step outside, your ears and nose instantly freeze. I wandered around quite a bit and experienced a decent part of Prague. I walked around the old town square, walked half of the Charles Bridge and just explored. It was kinda confusing since roads aren’t built in any type of grid pattern, but I had a map (by the end of my time I rarely used one). One of the greatest parts about traveling during Christmas time is the abundance of lights and beautiful decorations, but also the Christmas markets. The Christmas markets in Prague offered great cheap food and mulled wine (an amazing thing to have when it’s cold). For dinner, I stopped at one of these stalls. While waiting in line, I hear somebody say to me, “Hey, I think we know you,” in the .5 sec before I see them I think to my self, “who the hell could possibly be saying hi to me, I know nobody here,” I turn around, and it was my friends from the plane! I ate my food, we drank some mulled wine together and then went our separate ways. The hostel organized a thing to go out to some bars and a club around 11, so I went back, met some people, drank with them and then we all went out together. With the guide there was about 14 of us. It was a really fun and late night.
As hard as it was, I woke up early (probably less than 4 hours of sound sleep) to attend the free walking tour offered by the hostel at 9:00. I find that walking tours are a great way to see the city and learn about the history. The morning was especially cold. I think with the wind chill it was around -14 C (7 F). It wasn’t easy, but our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and very good. He took us around old town square and talked about the history of the buildings surrounding it; the astronomical clock, the Gothic Tyn Church, with its unique twin spires, St. Nicholas Church and the black house. We also crossed the Charles bridge, learned some info about it and walked along the river on the other side. After the tour I walked to see the Dancing House.
The Dancing House: I love architecture and I especially love Frank Gehry. In my studies, I have learned about and have see many pictures of these buildings, however, I had forgotten and had no idea that they were in Prague. It wasn’t until a couple of days before my trip I found out. I was pumped. They were built in the early 90s and were initially received with harsh criticism. You can imagine why, it sits among Gothic, Baroque and Art-Nouveau buildings, which Prague is famous for. Gehry’s inspiration was the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was awesome.
After seeing the dancing house I explored more and wandered down streets making my way back to the hostel. I took a nap and then got ready for a beer tasting the hostel was doing from 7-8:30. For 2 euros we got to try 8 different Czech beers (albeit a small amount). It was fun because I got to meet more people in the Hostel. Afterwards a bunch of us all went out together.
Sunday morning, I had to change hostels because I booked a different one for my last two nights. It was on the other side of the Charles Bridge right next to the Prague Castle. Sunday afternoon I had a beer tasting tour booked that started at 3pm. I had a couple of hours, so I decided to tour the Prague Castle
The Prague Castle: The Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying more than 70,000 sq m. It is massive and there are 11 different sections that you can enter. The pass I bought allowed me into four of them. When I got up there, I happened upon the changing of the guards ceremony that happens every day at noon. It was pretty cool to witness, but I got bored of it after the first 5 min.
First stop, St Vitus’s Cathedral:
When you google images of Prauge, you will most likely see the Charles Bridge and in the background St.Vitus’s Cathedral. St Vitus’s Cathedral is massive and is an amazing example of Gothic architecture. It actually took 600 years to complete, so the Sagrada Familia has time. The outside is amazing to view, but the interior is even more stunning. Each window is adorned with incredible stain glass windows, a work of art in their own right. Columns stretch from floor to ceiling forming the vaulted ceiling and the pointed arc at the top. The interior space was breathtaking.
Second Stop, Old Royal Palace: Palaces are always cool to walk around and experience the place where a country was ruled for centuries. This one dates back to the 12th century and was designed in Gothic and Renaissance style. The most beautiful aspect about the Palace is Vladislav Hall, which is massive and has an amazing stone vaulted ceiling.
Third Stop, Golden Lane: Golden lane is an ancient street within the Prague castle complex and consists of tiny almost miniature colorful houses. It dates back to the 15th century and gets its name from the alchemists that used to live there. It now hosts periodic scenes of what they would have looked like. One of the houses used to be the home of Franz Kafka, a Czech-Jewish writer who lived there for two years to write. I honestly had no idea who he was prior to going and have never read any of his books, but apparently he is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Last stop, Dalibor Tower: Is a prison in the castle complex. After descending a stairwell no wider than a man’s body you emerge into an open room. In the room are well preserved medieval torturing devices. It was really cool to see and can’t even imagine what it must have been like for prisoners to live there.
Prague Beer tour: After the Prague Castle I walked across town to meet for the Beer tour at 3 pm. The tour was about a three hour guided tour taking us to 3 different micro-breweries. There was about seven of us and we all happen to be from the United States. The tour was given by a guy named Gary, who is originally from Dublin, but has been living the last few years of his life in Prague. Among other things, he was extremely knowledgeable about beer, the beer industry and everything regarding beer. It was really fun and a great way to see a different side of Prague.
Black Light Theater: The last thing on my itinerary for the day was attending a 8 pm show at a black light theater. Apparently it’s a big thing in Prague and somebody recommended that I should see one when I go there. At the first hostel, they recommended a theater to go to, so I bought a ticket. The theater was a lot smaller than I expected, more like something set up in a middle school gym. I also expected the whole thing to be performed in black light. Part of it, consisted of a weird mimed story that was incredibly lame and had nothing to do with the black light parts. The parts with the black light performers was very cool, sometimes werid and very stimulating.
After the black light theater, I went back to the hostel exhausted and just hung out the rest of the night.