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Prague (Czech Republic)
Member Name: bettyboop2002
Prague (Czech Republic)
Advantages: Plenty to do and see here
Disadvantages: I didn't have enough time to see everything
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. The summers are warm and the winters get very cold. It takes around 2 hours to fly from most UK airports. The currency is the Czech Koruna, this works out around 100 czech koruna = £3.
If you were to listen to the media in relation to Prague I don't think anybody would visit except for stags looking for cheap drink and women.
It would never have crossed my mind to visit Prague until my parents visited and couldn't stop raving about it so I decided it was about time I saw it for myself.
I got a bargain 4 nights in Prague the flights and accommodation were under £300 for 2 people bed and breakfast in June.
The first surprise I got was as soon as I stepped off the plane, with the temperature over 30 degrees I was beginning to wonder if any sightseeing would be done or if I would just find the nearest place to sunbathe and have done with it.
Admittedly I am a bit obsessive when it comes to itinerary's and if I'm going to go sightseeing I have to research where things are write lists of places to visit and how to get there before I leave to save time when I get there. So not wanting all my planning to go to waste we managed to see everything we wanted to and much much more.
4 nights (good nights at that with morning arrival and evening departure) was just not enough time to squeeze everything in.
Even with all my planning I am absolutely useless for getting lost, walking around in circles, getting on the wrong metro, getting off at the wrong station and just about anything else you can do to get hopelessly lost. In Prague this turned out to be the best part of the trip as we found some really interesting places by accident. The first was on the first day, after unpacking and settling in we decided not to do anything on the first afternoon, just go into the city centre and explore it's famous nightlife. We got off at the wrong stop and found an italian restaurant and ordered 2 main courses, 2 beers and a large bottle of water and the bill came to the equivalent of £5!!!!!! This wasn't the last time we would get a bill like this. In central Prague it is more expensive but still cheaper than the UK. A beer was in most places was around £1 and meals no more than £5 each.
The nightlife was good, we chose to sit in the outdoor areas of bars due to the heat but there was a great buzz around the place and were always served with a smile and the locals were chatty and friendly. I was imagining strip clubs on every corner and prostitutes in windows but there was none of that. If you wanted to go to a strip club you could easily find one but they are not in your face.
There is also a lot of gay bars, cafes and clubs to be found if that is what you're looking for.
As our hotel was quite far out of the centre we only stayed in Prague until late one night, preferring to go out in the early evening and head back to the hotel for drinks later on. We never saw any trouble, we didn't see the streets lined with stag parties and found the whole nightlife experience relaxing and enjoyable.
Onto the sightseeing....
The first place to visit was the old town square in prague, it was here that we got a first close up of the amazing gothic architecture you can see for miles around. There are two beautiful churches here, Church of Our Lady before Tyn and St. Nicholas church. We spent a good half an hour around the area reading the tourist information about the construction of the churches, taking pictures and then over to the Old Town Hall Tower which has an astronomical clock on one side. We had to wait til the clock turned to the next hour when a door opens and Jesus walks out of the door of the clock in front of the disciples and the bell tolls.
The clock is beautiful, detailed and has the signs of the zodiac underneath which were added after the clock itself.
We then passed under the tower and onto Charles bridge which is not just to connect the old town the the other side of Prague, it really is a sight itself. Either side of the bridge are statues the whole 620 metres down to the other side. The views from the bridge are stunning and the bridge is lined with artists creating paintings and sketches of the views and the bridge. There are people selling arts and crafts and nobody hassles you to buy anything. Many people just stood in fascination watching them painting the scenes. They were quite cheap for these pieces of art but we didn't get one as we didn't want to carry it around all day, I really wish now I had gone back for one though.
We got to the other side of the bridge which had another tower which you are able to climb for fantastic views of the bridge and Prague from above. There was quite a queue and we were a bit hot and bothered and in need of a drink so we gave it a miss. Another thing I wish I'd done. So we decided to head straight up to St.Vitus cathedral and stop for a drink somewhere. It was then that I realised why they were hiring out those cool stand on scooter things. It is not a long walk but it is uphill and really takes it out of you in the heat. It was all worth it when we got to the cathedral though, at first we completely ignored the cathedral and just took in the breathtaking views of the city on the walk up.
We then went up to the cathedral and it was fantastic, right up my street, gothic architecture at it's best.
The castle is also located in the same place and we were lucky enough to see the changing of the guards ceremony at 12 each day. There is still a changing at the gates hourly but the big one with the flags and the fanfare at midday is the best to see. The castle is the biggest in the world and you can go in and walk around the gardens and see the state rooms. It's a great experience. When we finally managed to find a shop selling water we were charged something ridiculous like a fiver for water but we didn't care we had had such a fantastic day with so much to look at and it was only lunchtime.
You could see all of the above sights in a couple of hours as they are close together within walking distance.
The next stop was St Wenceslas square, again within walking distance it's located in what they call they new town. It isn't actually a square it's a long wide road lines with shops, bars, restaurants and many of the city centre hotel. There is a statue of St Wenceslas and plaques in memory of some who died in the communist era. St Wenceslas square is also just around the corner from the opera and national museum.
The above sight are what you see if you book a walking tour. I think they charge about 15 pounds for a walking tour and unless you want to hear the history that they tell you it really isn't worth it as you can easily find them yourself at your own pace and most of the information they give you is found in the guide books and dotted around on posters and plaques for tourists.
We stayed in Wenceslas square for the afternoon having lunch, looking in the shops and taking pictures and headed back to the hotel.
The next day we decided to go and find Prague's mini eiffel tower, the Petrin lookout tower. This is open every day in the summer and at weekends during the winter. If you want to do this I would advise you to get the funicular railway from the mala strana. There is a palace in the district, shops, cafes, churches and the statue of the holy infant Jesus of Prague. We decided we would walk up to the tower, what a bad idea. It took us about 45 minutes, the footpaths disappeared at points and we were just walking up a steep grassy hillside in the scorching heat, the views were spectacular but you can see these on the railway, there was one little cafe on the hillside on the way up but we didn't stop their incase we lost all motivation when we stopped. When we got to the top we were shattered, sunburnt and had blistered feet. The mini eiffel tower looks much taller when you are stood next to it than it does from the bottom. You can walk up 299 spiralling stairs to the top which costs around £3 entry, I didn't go up to the top as I was too exhausted (and afraid of heights) but my partner went up and took some pictures and the photos were outstanding.
Up here there is a mirror maze which would be great fun for children, pony rides and a pretty rose garden.
Needless to say we got the railway back down again which took about 5 minutes.
So now we have an afternoon free and blistered feet what are we going to do? Buy comfortable shoes of course! Off to the shopping center. If you get the green line metro to Depo Hostivar there is a free bus to take you to the fashion arena outlet center for some tax free shopping! There are over 100 shops in this indoor, air conditioned (get in) shopping center. There are a lot of brand name outlet stores like billabong, next, adidas and reebok. There is everthing there including kids clothing, a kids playground, shoe shops, underwear, handbags, jewellry and they really are good value for money. Had a nice relaxing stroll around here before heading back to the hotel.
The last full day was awful, having it in the back of my mind that I had to go home tomorrow was really playing on my mind. I was tempted to change my flight to a few days later but I had the feeling I still wouldn't be ready to go home!
We decided to go to the zoo so we could make the most of the sunshine. This would be a great place for families and a family day ticket for 2 adults and 2 children was around £15. There are all sorts of animals and in the summer you can watch the feeding of the animals. There were lions, hippos,parrots, penguins, seals, elephants, camels and much much more. It's a pleasant place and for families you could spend hours looking around.
We took the boat ride back from the zoo down the river Vltava back into the centre of Prague which is another thing that would be good for families.
The great thing about Prague is that there is something for everyone.There are many more day trips and family activities which we either didn't do or didn't have time to do and I really feel like there is so much I have yet to see and would love to go back.
Summary: Beautiful city with something to do for all ages