Wow, Prague has been great so far! As I said yesterday, it has that wonderful European “feel” to it. It seems like you find a gorgeous building, a famous sight, and a new language around every corner. Love it!
Since today and tomorrow are our only full days here, we’re making the most of them by seeing as much as we can each day. We started today with a return to Wenceslas Square so we could see it during the day rather than early evening. The sun was shining brightly and it definitely felt like summer from the moment we got there, but I won’t complain about getting so much sun! Making our way back down the square was a bit of a hassle though, as there was a large setup happening for some kind of event, so the throngs of people milling around were forced to walk through narrow paths. To ease that annoyance, we treated ourselves to a trdelník, a cake/pastry shaped like a hollow cylinder covered in cinnamon, sugar, and bits of almond. So good! Wikipedia tells me that, although the treat is popular in the Czech Republic, it actually originated in Transylvania. Wherever it came from, it’s delicious, so make sure you pick one up from one of the many stands you’ll see dotted around the streets of Prague.
After navigating around the event roadblocks, we finally found our next destination – the Museum of Communism. Even without the roadblocks, the museum is difficult to find as it’s a bit hidden inside a passageway. To save you some time, let me tell you now that you should go into the entrance for the nearby casino and then follow the signs for the museum. You go up a set of stairs and take a left for the museum or right for the casino. Obviously, go left. 🙂 But hey, you could always go to the casino later! The museum isn’t very big, but it’s full of interesting info about the rise and fall of communism in the Czech Republic, starting around the end of World War I. As of September 2014, the entrance fee is 190 CZK (just under $9 USD), which is a pretty decent price for a museum, I think. There’s no guide through it, but there’s a well-planned flow, so follow that and you’ll be good. If you’re at all interested in the role of communism in the global landscape and/or the history of the Czech Republic, I recommend stopping by this one!
Next on our list was the Old Town Astronomical Clock, a local wonder of Prague. Check out that link for more of the history of the clock – it’s pretty cool! We weren’t there at the right time to see it strike the hour though, so maybe we’ll make a return trip before we leave. There are a LOT of people around it, presumably all the time, but especially around the top of the hour, so be extra aware of pickpockets in the area. And if you’re not a big fan of large crowds, grab an outdoor seat at one of the nearby restaurants so you can enjoy the clock from there. And have a wander through the Old Town Square after you’re done! There are still lots of people around, but spread over a much bigger area. The look and feel of it, as well as the various shops and restaurants, really reminded me of the Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta) in Warsaw. Something to note – you’re going to get asked if you want to rent a segway multiple times by the various companies that allow you to rent them from the square. They may even say “It’s free to try!” and I’m sure it is, but I’m equally sure it’s not after the first 60 seconds or so. 🙂 If you’re looking to rent a segway though, you’re in luck because you’ll find all the segways you want here!
Towering over the square (okay, maybe not towering over, but it’s tall and very noticeable) is the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, which dates back to the mid-1300s. I was really excited to see it, but we unfortunately got there during a 1-2 hour window in which it was closed. Peeking through the open front door though, I could see how amazing the interior is. Check out the hours in the link above and plan your trip there accordingly!
The final stop for the main part of our day was Charles Bridge. Remember how I said there are big crowds around the astronomical clock? Well, there are even BIGGER crowds in, on, and around Charles Bridge! I’ve been told that, to avoid them, the best time to visit the bridge is around sunrise. I bet the views are amazing then, too! We were there around mid-afternoon though and still got great views, especially with the sunny weather. I don’t think it matters when you go though, just go at some point! You get great views of Prague Castle (which we’re planning to see tomorrow) and the area around it. Definitely some postcard-quality views. There are also all kinds of performers, artists, street vendors, and musicians on the bridge, so you get a pretty full experience all in one bridge. Don’t miss it!
We headed back to our apartment for a bit after the bridge, which was a great opportunity to recharge. Given the heavy sun and temps in the low 80s, we both appreciated some time indoors (the fact that we were in front of fans was a nice bonus!) so we could relax and plan out our evening. We decided we would take advantage of a recommendation from our host and head to Riegrovy Sady, a park which overlooks the city and is supposed to be a great place to watch the sunset. We needed to get dinner first though, so I found what looked like a good place after a quick Google search, so our plan was to head there, then head to the park, then back home. Dinner was a definite win – chicken schnitzel for Scott and beef chili goulash for me. Both were delicious! While you don’t need to go out of your way to visit the restaurant, if you find yourself near it, I would recommend it. Sadly, our sunset view at the park didn’t work out as well. The park is lovely and it looks like it would be a great place to have a picnic, read, or just enjoy the world around you (lots of people were doing those things, in fact), but the view is obscured by trees, so we couldn’t get the view of the city we were hoping for. I think you could get much better views in the fall or maybe even winter after the leaves have fallen though.
I told you we did a lot today! Hopefully the pictures below will give you a taste of the beauty of what we saw.
We passed this amazing-looking church (Church of St. Ludmila) and I had to stop for a picture.
I thought this picture of Praha Hlavní Nádraží (Prague’s main railway station) was pretty cool.
What a day! In a very good way though. 🙂 Tomorrow, we’ll be heading to the other side of the river to see the castle and some other goodies. See you there!