A European Detour to … Prague, Part One

I’m currently sitting here trying to fight a flu (winter in the north of France is THE WORST for this California girl), so excuse me if I sound a little loopier than normal today. I’m dreaming back to some sunnier times, that is, to our trip to Prague.

Ever since I saw the movie Chasing Liberty many, many years ago, I’ve wanted to visit Prague. (See, teeny bopper movies are good for something!) So I was happy to get the chance this past autumn. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and fifth most visited city in Europe. The city suffered much less damage than other major cities in the region during World War II, and therefore a lot of its historical architecture remains intact.

The National Museum

One thing we noticed when first making our travel plans is that lodging is very reasonable compared with other major cities in Europe. We chose to stay in the Vinohrady neighborhood in a cute Airbnb with quite a bit of character. (By the way, if you’re not on Airbnb yet, you can click this link here to get up to $38 off your first trip.) The great thing about this neighborhood is that it feels like there are a mixture of locals and expats who live here. It’s close enough to walk to the main attractions in less than 30 minutes (or in even less time if taking the tram or Metro), but you don’t have the mass of tourists that you have in the center of the city. There are so many wonderful restaurants and cafés to eat at in the neighborhood (to be continued in the next post) and the prices are cheaper than in the more touristy places.

Unfortunately I started the trip off with a bad back thanks to a terrible sofa bed at our London Airbnb, but by the second day I was feeling up to walking around. We started by going an architecturally fascinating building, the Dancing House, also known as the Fred and Ginger.

Viewing the Dancing House from the side
If you weren’t able to tell already, the glass tower to the left represents Ginger and the tower on the right represents Fred.

A nice thing about this building is that you can take the elevator to the top for free. You do have to buy a drink to enter the viewing deck, but the cost is relatively minor compared with the beautiful view that you get of Prague.

A metal sculpture taking up most of the room on the viewing deck
Looking out over Prague from the Dancing House
(Prague Castle is in the background, on the left)

After the Dancing House, we took a leisurely walk along the Vltava River, taking in the lovely sights along the way…

The National Theatre
Birds just chillin’ on the Vltava

Finally we came up upon the famous Charles Bridge, also known in Czech as Karlūv Most. This old stone bridge was built at the beginning 15th century and is probably one of the most popular sights of Prague.

At one time, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the Old Town
Boats are not the only ones on the Charles River. Here you have some elegant swans as well.

Once we got onto the bridge itself, all I could say was “Meh.” There were too many tourists and vendors along the way to appreciate the beauty of the baroque statues. But I tried…

One of the 30 statues lining the bridge. There was also supposed to be one with the tetragrammaton, but unfortunately it was removed for repairs.
The Charles Bridge reality. Tourists, tourists everywhere.

Thankfully we found one place where we could sort-of escape from it all. We found a little respite at the Staromestskà Vez, or its easier name, Old Town Bridge Tower, one of the two towers bookending the Charles Bridge. You enter in through a small nondescript doorway to the side of the tower, climb up many, many stairs, and are greeted with one of the best views of the Charles Bridge. To be honest, there are many tourists at the top as well, but the crowds ebb and flow, so with a little patience, we were able to get our shots of the bridge.

The Old Town Bridge Tower as seen from below
Looking over the Charles Bridge from the Old Town Bridge Tower
Views from the other side of the Tower. I now know why Prague is called the “City of 100 Spires.”
Other people leaving their mark here.

We happened to visit this tower about an hour before sunset, so we waited around a bit and then were treated to some beautiful sunset views…

After quite a bit of walking, we were ready to make our way home. But not before seeing this beautiful building along the way…

The Estates Theatre, built in the late 18th century
This theatre currently holds opera, ballet and plays along with the National Theatre

We really enjoyed our first day exploring the main sights of the city of Prague. More sights and food recommendations to come in Part Two. Stay tuned…

4 responses to “A European Detour to … Prague, Part One

  1. You really have a knack for writing about your travels. Interesting details that will encourage folks to visit for themselves as well as entertain and educate those (like me) who are limited in the ability to travel. I did, however, have opportunity to travel to Prague many years ago and your description brings back warm memories. Now I’m just an armchair traveler visiting through you and your excellent photography.
    Look forward to reading more….

    • Thanks Rockie for your beautiful comment! Prague is such a beautiful city and easy to photograph. I’m definitely not the best writer, but I try – it’s a nice exercise even for myself to remember how I felt when I was there.

  2. Lovely photos! Especially the ones from the tower. Wish we had done that! We avoided the crowds on the Charles Bridge by watching the sunrise from it at 6am. There were only four other people on the bridge!

    • Thanks! That’s a great idea to go super early – you have the bridge to yourself and you can really enjoy your surroundings without all the people there. I’ll have to try that next time!

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