Michelle-Rose Travels: Prague, Czech Republic

Definitely one of my favourite cities in the world, Prague is not only beautiful but so rich in history and best of all: beer is ridiculously cheap. In fact, it’s even cheaper than bottled water!

Am I selling Prague right? Probably not. But if you’re like me and you’re someone who loves history, culture, art, architecture, adventures, booze, food and doing things on the cheap, I guarantee you Prague will not disappoint.

It was the first place in Europe (aside from the UK) that I travelled to. I hadn’t actually planned on going to Prague. Before I left New Zealand, I remember thinking I needed to visit somewhere for my birthday so I went on Ryanair and Prague was cheap at only £60 return so boom, ticket bought. I left on Friday evening after work and returned Monday morning and went straight to work from the airport. Am I crazy? Yes. Was it doable? Yes. Did I die? Yes. Would I do it again? Totally. I’m on a visa here! I have to make the most of city breaks.

Anyways, as usual I digress. Let’s talk facts.

Prague is the capital of Czech Republic, and is situated on the Vltava River and has a population of 1.3 million. It is home to a number of cultural and historical attractions, many of which survived the 20th century, such as, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Prague astronomical clock and the Old Town.

Despite being severely hungover on the way to Prague and pretty much spending the next couple of days recovering, I still really enjoyed my time there and would happily say it was the best birthday present to myself.

Because of how cheap it is, Prague is a hub for stag dos so there were plenty of lads out and about sporting dresses and generally being rowdy. I can’t comment on the nightlife because I didn’t actually go out but I can definitely hear it from my hotel room!

We were blessed with sun and blue skies on Saturday so it was the perfect backdrop to our adventure! We wandered the streets of Prague and made our way to the Castle by crossing Charles Bridge, which is by far one of the most spectacular bridges that I’ve had the pleasure of walking across. It’s approximately 516m long and there’s plenty going on as you walk along it – from caricatures to musicians to dance parties (we had the pleasure of experiencing a couple of them anyways, including an ABBA rave at 12pm! You can’t complain!). As gimmicky as it is, I thoroughly enjoyed it, probably because it exuded a lot of character. There’s about 30 statues (mostly baroque) depicting various saints and patron saints decorating the bridge as well which adds to the character. Sad to say though, the statues are replicas (since 1965) because the originals are now housed in the Lapidarium of the National Museum in Prague. 

Once at the castle, you’ll notice it’s quite a tourist hub – lots of food and drinks to be had and plenty of cobblestone. The architecture is incredible and it’s insane to think that it was built in the 9th century! Today it’s the official office of the President of Czech Republic. If you only had a day to spend in Prague, I highly recommend heading to the castle as its basically the historical centre comprising of Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St George, plenty of gardens as well as museums such as the National Gallery and Toy Museum.

I tried some of the street food and I can conclude that Czech men really know how to cook their meat – thick pieces of succulent chicken and beef on a kebab stick and ginormous sausages. Hell yeah! Oh I also recommend trying the green beer. As a lightweight, that shit was strong and yes, it’s a tourist gimmick, but one worth experiencing. I don’t know what makes it green but I’ve heard its absinthe. To be fair, I don’t doubt that because hell, it had my head spinning.

I highly recommend visiting St Vitus Cathedral – not only is the architecture absolutely stunning but it’s steeped in religious history and today, services are still regularly held there. It’s free to enter but you will need to pay about 100 CZK (approx. £3.44) to climb the tower – do it though because the views are un-missable (did I just make up a word? Oh yes I think I did)! Not gonna lie, it was a steep climb of narrow spiral staircase but trust me, it was worth it. Oh, and if you encounter other tourists coming down and they tell you you’re nearly there, they’re lying. But don’t despair – focus on the view ahead! I mean, if I can do it after a pint of green beer and a dizzy head, so can you!

After visiting the Castle and its grounds, we headed back into the Old Town where I HAD to treat myself to a chimney ice cream. Another tourist gimmick but damn they were tasty! Beware the massive queues though but it’s definitely worth the wait.

A visit to Prague wouldn’t be complete without going to the Lennon Wall. I know it sounds quite basic because essentially it’s just a wall filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics from The Beatles but it also has messages relating to current global and local causes and of peace. You may need to wait to get a photo in front of the wall because it’s usually filled with tourists but again, well worth it. You’ll also find the John Lennon pub nearby! Boy do they love John Lennon.

The evening was spent trying local cuisine. I will never, ever forget the lovely lady who I assumed was the owner? She was great! So cheerful and filled with words of wisdom. I think my respect for her increased when she said to a customer that asked her if they had WiFi: “No sorry, you’re going to have to talk to each other tonight” #truestory I shit you not. It was brilliant. I sadly don’t have photos of what I ate but it was a traditional stew with dumplings – not to be confused with Asian dumplings; it’s essentially thick slices of bread made out of stale bread, eggs, flour and milk and it’s perfect for mopping up gravy.

The weather on Sunday was less than ideal; it was grey, cold and rainy so what better way to spend it than visiting the Museum of Communism! I can’t remember how much we paid but Google tells me it’s about 290 CZK so approximately £9.99. I personally thought it was worth it though, as far as expensive museums go. It’s informative and gives great insight into what communism was like in post-World War II Czechoslovakia.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos while in the museum, apart from the one of Karl Marx which you’ll find at the entrance. I was so engrossed in everything I didn’t even think to take photos but it was a couple of hours well spent. I definitely felt like I got my monies worth.

When we left, the dark clouds had lifted and the sun came back to play – yay! We did some more wandering before stepping into a random pub in one of the side streets. Unfortunately, I can’t give you the name of it though and I so wish I had taken note! All I can tell you is that it’s near this pink building, which caught my eye so I had to take a photo.

The pub was quite traditional and the menu was in Czech with no English translation. So, how did we order? Well, this guy sat next to us had this glorious pork knuckle delivered to him and we pointed at it and said we wanted one and the rest as they say is history. All in all, four pints of beer and the massive pork dish cost us about £11. Don’t worry, you definitely read that right. I was pretty shocked too.

If that’s not an expression of pure joy and excitement, I don’t know what is!

And that, ladies and gents, concludes my journey to Prague. There’s definitely so much more to see and I’m definitely going to be back. In fact, I’m actually planning on taking my family there for Christmas because I’ve heard its got one of the best Christmas markets in Europe so who knows, there might be a follow up blog post!

Have you been to Prague? I’d love to hear about your adventures!

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