Of course I was excited about Prague, I planned on doing a couple day trips from there, seeing a bit more of Czech Republic. Plans changed, however. First of all, the bed at my hostel was unbelievably uncomfortable, and the resulting back pain made me sluggish my first few days there so I didn’t do as much as I wanted. Then, my last full day there I got sick and stayed inside nearly the whole day. I didn’t recover until a week after I got home. In Prague’s defense, none of this was the city’s fault, just an unfortunate circumstance that resulted in me not using my time as efficiently as I wanted to, but I still had the chance to see some highlights of this beautiful city.
The Charles bridge is truly an amazing bridge. It’s huge, and has a very medieval feel to it, like you’re walking into the ‘Game of Thrones’ world. They started construction on the bridge in 1357, and it took around 50 years to finish. The bridge is lined with religious-themed statues, and from the bridge you get incredible views of the river and the castle in the distance. I wasn’t the only one who thought the bridge was amazing, as there were so many tourists there it made it difficult to cross. The bridge in essence links the old town area of Prague to the castle area. Until I’m convinced otherwise…best bridge in Europe, so far.
I spent a couple hours in the Karel Zeman museum. He was a famous Czech filmmaker known for his advancement of special effects. He started as a puppeteer and often incorporated this into his films. His films had interesting concepts. His first major movie was ‘Journey to the Beginning of Time’, where four teens on a row-boat trip somehow get transported into prehistoric times and meet all kinds of dinosaurs. He had another one where a comet hits earth and takes a piece of Europe with it, and the survivors on the comet form a colony. Seemed very ‘Outer Limits’ or ‘Twilight Zone’…very cool.
Prague didn’t just have one of the nicest bridges, but also one the most beautiful cathedrals. I stopped into St. Nicholas on my way to the castle area…wow, stunningly gorgeous. The paintings on the walls and ceilings reminded me of churches I’ve seen in Italy. Most everything in the church was white and gold, making it look very exquisite.
After the church I went up to the castle area, fighting off other tourists on the way there. The cathedral there was incredible from the outside, though I couldn’t go inside as there was a private service going on.
I saw some other things of interest while there. The John Lennon wall was something I didn’t expect to find. I guess during the communist era, locals used to write complaints about the government on this wall. Of course there’s a serious Lennon/Beatles theme to the art & writings, though I did see a nice tribute to the Boston Marathon attack on the wall. There was a guitarist playing Beatles songs in front of the wall – surprise, surprise – not the best rendition of ‘Revolution’ I’ve heard, I know I’ve sang that better in karaoke.
I spent an afternoon in the old town square, which was grandiose. The coolest thing was the astronomical clock, which is the 3rd oldest in the world and the oldest one still working. It was like a mix of religion and astrology, as it had figures of the apostles next to it, but also the sun, moon, and zodiac signs.
The Easter market was going on, so I had my first experience at one of those. I caught a great live dance show, saw a lot of local food being grilled (all meat, I was so tempted), and even spent some time at a petting zoo in the middle of the market. Europe is mostly known for its Christmas markets, but this was cool to see.
So…those were the highlights. I also found a great English language bookstore/cafe called The Globe that I went back to quite a few times…bought a book by a local Czech author that I hope to read someday (not Kafka, too depressing for me). Overall, very glad I got to see this amazing city, enjoy some of the night life, and try many of the famous Czech beers. I wish I could’ve hit the nearby cities Kutna Hora and Karlovy Vary, but I’ll save that for next time.