February has started and it ushers in a hectic period both for myself and for my boyfriend. I’ll be busy going to class while also working on my thesis and other university assignments, and trying to keep this blog and my YouTube channel afloat. At the same time, my boyfriend will be doing his final internship, which includes a long commute and a whole bunch of side-assignments. For that reason, we decided in November to take a short and relaxing break in between our January exams and the chaos that will be the next few months of our lives.
After debating for a couple of days, weighing the pros and cons of a few different city trip destinations, we decided on Prague. It is said to be one of the most romantic cities in Europe and becoming increasingly popular among tourists – apparently it’s the fifth most visited European city! It had also been on our list of places we want to visit for a while and, let me tell you, we were not disappointed.
We stayed at the Prague Centre Plaza hotel, in the most gorgeous room I’ve ever seen. The bedding was so lush and the matching curtains were to die for – although they did let a little bit too much light in. With the building being right next to a fairly busy road I expected to be bothered by the noise, but we actually didn’t really notice it at all.
The hotel was only a 30 minute walk from Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, the historical city centre. I say ‘only’ because walking through Prague is an absolute treat. Before we even got to any of the renowned sights, we were already distracted by all of the gorgeous buildings along the way!
We didn’t get up too early, seeing as it was only our first day and we arrived fairly late the evening before (and hey, it was a vacation after all!). Arriving downstairs for our first meal of the day at around 9:30 am, we got out our travel guide and Pinterest board to plan the day ahead. Breakfast was served buffet-style and there was a wide variety of options to choose from. We got our fuel for the day and by 10:30 am we were out the door, ready to explore!
Our morning was spent just casually exploring the city and bumping into famous sights and lovely scenery almost by accident. The most memorable was probably Charles Bridge, which combines both. It is a highly touristy attraction and – as expected – was very crowded, making it hard to take good pictures (without any people on them). We did manage to snap a few shots, but after a while the stream of people became too much and we continued onwards, knowing there was still more to discover.
Since the Czech Republic is known for its beers, we couldn’t let a visit to the country go by without trying at least one! I’m not much of a beer-lover myself (can’t stand the bitter taste), but fortunately my boyfriend does like to drink the occasional brew. He ordered a Pilsner Urquell to have with his lunch, which allowed me to take a lovely picture of his ridiculously large glass.
One of the attractions I definitely wanted to see was the John Lennon Wall. In my mind, it would be the perfect backdrop for some nice and colourful blog photos! And in these times, I was also looking forward to finding a wall filled with messages of positivity and love. I have to say that I was a tiny bit disappointed, though. On pictures we’d seen of the wall beforehand, it seemed like a beautiful work of art and a tribute to the late John Lennon. When we got there, however, it looked more like a vandalised piece of city property with hardly any recognizable bits on there. Of course, the wall has been around since the 1980s and several generations of Czech citizens and foreign visitors alike have been contributing to this monument, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that we found it in this cluttered state. There are still some gems to be found, though, you just have to look closely and up – the higher on the wall, the less filled with graffiti!
Not too far from the John Lennon Memorial we found a small park (of which I don’t know the name, sorry!) covered in snow. As opposed to the disappointment of the wall, this lovely meadow provided a beautiful backdrop for pictures.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around and marvelling at the dazzling architecture. Prague truly is a beautiful sight to behold!
We got up at 6:40 am in hopes of catching the sunrise over Charles Bridge, but in hindsight we should’ve gotten up earlier. Breakfast at the hotel was served at 7 and I figured that 20 minutes would be enough time for us to get out of bed and ready, to then take off straight after breakfast. Boy, was I wrong!
The alarm went off as planned, but we stayed in bed an extra five minutes and the both of us getting ready for breakfast took a little longer than expected. To make up for this lost time, we rushed through our meal to head out as fast as possible. Unfortunately, we could already see the sky getting brighter as we were walking towards our goal and our hopes of being able to see the sunrise diminished with every step…
To our surprise, by the time we got there at around 8 am we could still see that charming sunrise glow, even though the sun was indeed already up. In contrast to the day before, the bridge was almost empty and we really took our time to take it all in and try to snap as many photos as we could.
By 9:30 am, we started getting a little hungry (hurrying through breakfast is never a good idea) and decided to head to the Starbucks we’d seen the day before. It was right by the famous Astronomical Clock and by the time we arrived there it was 5 to 10, meaning the Walk of the Apostles (an underwhelming show of moving figures) would start in a few minutes. We hadn’t originally planned to stick around to see it, but since we happened to be there at about the right time, we decided to hang around anyway.
Next up: the Old Jewish Cemetery. It really is a must-see in Prague. While it might seem a bit sinister to visit a graveyard on holiday (although Père Lachaise in Paris is a famous tourist attraction as well), this one is too unique to not be included on your list of things to do. The whole cemetery is a mishmash of gravestone upon gravestone. It is a relatively small burial ground and, apparently, they struggled with the lack of space because the Jews are not allowed to eradicate old graves. Therefore, multiple layers of graves have been created, meaning that stones of lower levels had to be elevated and placed in close proximity (or in some cases almost on top) of stones on the higher level, creating an unusual sight. It almost looks like a dense forest of gravestones.
Another peculiar element is the fact that people leave messages to their ancestors or loved ones on top of some of the gravestones, keeping the papers in place with little rocks. In some places, the paper has already decayed and all you can see is a heap of rocks on top of headstones. It truly is a remarkable sight.
We went for a light lunch at Sisters, where we had ‘obložené chlebíčky’ or so-called open sandwiches that are typical for Czech cuisine. The bistro had a very cosy feel (albeit a little cramped as well), and the sociable lady behind the till helped us choose out of the many options displayed behind the glass counter. She also kindly offered us to try their home-made lemonade, made from Elderflower – and it was delicious! If you ever visit Prague I highly recommend you go here for a quick lunch or an easy afternoon snack, even though it’s a little outside of the city centre – it is definitely worth it.
Later in the afternoon we weren’t too sure of what to do next. We’d already seen most of the sights we’d wanted to, and there was still a while left until dinnertime. Wandering back towards Old Town Square, we noticed people on top of the tower (you know, the one with the Astronomical Clock) – and so we found our afternoon activity.
The view from the top was spectacular!
For dinner we headed to Café Louvre, which we’d seen pop up as highly recommended in several blog posts and travel guides. And we were not disappointed: it is the perfect place to try some Czech specialties. When you first walk through the door it gives off a fancy-fancy vibe and we definitely felt like we were a little underdressed, but not to worry! Almost everyone there was dressed in casual attire and no one looked at us funny; not even the waiters in their sleek uniforms.
The number one dish on our radar was ‘svíčková na smetaně‘, or beef sirloin served with a tasty cream sauce, a little bit of cranberry sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, a slice of lemon and some ‘houskové knedlíky’ or bread dumplings on the side. I know, the combination of savoury and sweet might seem a bit strange (who eats whipped cream with their dinner!?), but trust me – it tastes so good. My boyfriend went for the ‘hovězí guláš’, or beef goulash, another staple of Czech cuisine, but he was jealous of my meal because he thought it tasted better than his.
For dessert we went for something we’d read about online, but had not expected to find anymore: koláče, a pastry filled with poppy seeds and served with a creamy vanilla sauce. Although the taste of the sauce and the pastry itself were delightful, the poppy seed filling was just not doing it for me. It had a very weird texture and, for me, has no place on a desserts menu.
At the top of our to-do list for our last day in this remarkable city was a visit to Prague Castle. Despite what the name might suggest this is not just a single building, but it encompasses a myriad of structures, such as St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and Golden Lane.
The one I was most looking forward to was Golden Lane: a quaint little street filled with tiny colourful houses. Although the name refers to the goldsmiths who used to live there in the 17th Century, legend has it alchemists attempted to turn lead into gold in these dwellings. The horde of tourists spoiled the fun a little, but I’m still glad we got to see it.
For our last meal in Prague we absolutely wanted to try ‘kulajda’, a rich dill and mushroom soup served with a poached egg. The idea of eating soup with an egg in it seemed a bit strange to me, but o my god, this soup was absolutely divine! It was hands down the best meal we had there. I’m not even kidding you; my boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms and he devoured this soup like nobody’s business.
To try this exquisite dish we went all the way to Café Imperial, which was equally delightful. The Art Deco interior was stunning and was extended all the way into the bathrooms, with beautiful golden swans for faucets. What a great way to end our trip!
If you’re still hungry for more, I made a video over on my YouTube channel in which you can see me eat a ‘trdelník’ (another Czech specialty) and explore more of Prague Castle.
Thank you for sticking it out all the way to the end of my extremely long post; you’re a trooper! I’d love to hear your thoughts on Prague, or your own favourite city trip destination.