As our plane touched down in Prague we began contemplating just how unprepared we were for this trip. Sure I’d done a bit of research on the city but we were completely unsure of what to expect from the Czech capital. Would we be walking into an ex-soviet, Russian-leaning, eastern bloc? (It’s not so long since they had a towering statue of Stalin watching over the city!). Would it be all brutalist architecture but with an easy going, modern, East-Berlin vibe? Would the city be flourishing with the waves of tourism it’s been receiving over the recent decades? For us, it was a blank canvas and we were back to basics. We didn’t have a clue what to expect – we weren’t even sure of the currency! Tut tut.
A trip to the airport ATM to withdraw the taxi fair to our hotel shows us they use Korunas and with the insane figures of 1000, 2000, 4000, 6000 staring back at us. We nervously click the 2000kc button after vaguely remembering reading that a taxi to central Prague should be circa 700kc. Praise the travel books!
Our 650kc (£18) taxi drops us to our hotel, Motel One, in 35 minutes. A chic, stylish, modern hotel in the east of the old town which we will be calling home for the next 3 days. Too early to check in, we drop our bags and head to our 3pm walking tour via a traditional Czech tasting platter at Kolkovna. Delicious cuts of cold meat, sausage and more sausage are washed down with the first Pilsner Urquell of many on this trip.
We made our way to the Old Town Square to meet up with Sandemans Tours, a free walking tour which we have used in other European capitals. We struggle to find the bright red umbrella and missed the tour so instead we gazed up at the creepy, crowd-pulling, astronomical clock before making our way to Charles Bridge. The clock is one of Prague’s wonders and always makes the must-see lists (including my own), but watching the 12 apostles eerily gazing upon the baiting crowds is something I could have done without. It only takes two minutes of your time if you get there just before the hour, at any hour. Visit it just to tick it off your list but don’t go expecting any life changing revelations to happen whilst here.
We reconfigured at an Irish Bar to plan our Prague Assault with the help of tripadvisor and a few leaflets we grabbed along the way. Walking tours, restaurants and river cruises were all considered in this Irish Pub. This is obviously the place where dreams are dreamt and great plans are developed. So far, 2 beers in (this is how you measure time in Prague), Prague has been stunning. The narrow, winding, cobbled streets and breaktakingly detailed architecture is far from what we expected. Time and effort have been placed into each building block in this medieval town; detail is everywhere. You cannot walk more than five yards without noticing a new(ancient) towering statue, an ornate archway or artistic architectural flair. This is something that should be stored carefully in a museum and yet here it is, surrounding you. Drink it in. Then drink in beer 3, it’s that time already.
If you’re also planning a trip to Prague I would highly recommend checking out Le Grill at the beautiful 5 star Grand Mark hotel. For a mere 1825kc (£52) fixe prix we both enjoyed outstanding food, a bottle of wine and a beer (number 5 by now). The service and quality of food was truly spectacular and all for a price tag that was probably a quarter or a fifth what you would pay for the experience in London.
After the meal we retired for cocktails in the Grand Mark’s piano lounge bar. Luxury.
After one day we knew we were going to love Prague-life.
To be continued…
WITH THANKS TO:
ROMAN BOED (MAIN IMAGE)
What were your highlights from Prague? Ever visit a city that totally blew you away? Ever found a city that took you by surprise? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear.