Starting our "Journey of a Lifetime" with Prague
- published on April 24, 2018
- 2 Comments
Before we begin with our travel stories, we'd like to introduce to you our bible during this journey : Journeys of a Lifetime (500 of the World's Greatest Trips), a book by National Geographic. We have set-out to experience as many places as we can in this book during our World Trip. And every time we do it, you will see a Check: Journeys of a Lifetime (#JOAL) next to that experience. We strongly recommend this book as your next holiday planning guide.”
Come to Prague to experience the essence of Europe
Come to Prague to experience Europe in a nutshell. The opera culture of Vienna, the cafe scenes of Paris, the jaw-dropping architecture of Rome and the beer fanaticism of Germany. All of this but with a unique Czech twist to it.
In the centre of east and west Europe
We reached Václav Havel Airport Prague in the afternoon and set off to our abode in the centre of the old town, Franz Kafka Hostel. The hostel set in the posh Jewish quarters of the city is all about its location; near the old town square, near the Charles Bridge, near the happening places in Prague’s old town and to be honest; closer to everything you would want to do in Prague. We came, we checked-in, we lied down for a quick nap before exploring the city and woke up the next day. Ahh!! The repercussions of taking 3 flights across 3 countries in 20 hours :P
A great starting point
The Old town square, the heart of the heart of the heart of Europe is a perfect place to start exploring the city. It is hard to miss its vibe with the overwhelming architecture and cobbled streets dotted with little cafes. We chose an Italian cafe right infront of St. Nicholas Church; called Pizza in Piazza for lunch, it is hard to fault a classic Pizza Margherita gulped down with some Czech Pilsner. The streets line up with carriages drawn by horses and musicians at their best delivering their showmanship.
The most valuable free tour
My first experience with Sandeman Tours was when I had traveled to Europe during an exchange program. They offer free walking tours across selected cities in Europe. Mind you! Free as they may be, the tours are conducted by experienced guides who act as ambassadors of their city and will tell you stories which no guidebook can ever tell you. Our tour covered the major highlights of the city (The Old town, the new town, the Jewish quarters, the Charles bridge and the John Lenon Wall). Ian, our guide was absolutely fantastic with an amazing sense of humour. A definite must do for any visitor to Prague, it is a great way for a general introduction to the city and gives you an opportunity to explore the ones you like at your own pace later. Additionally, you have at your disposal all the local advise on places to eat, to shop and to see.
Fun facts/tips learnt:
Each house in Medieval Prague had a name, yes!! A distinct name. The name was based on a sign placed near the entrance of the house. E.g if the sign is a Blue Horse, the house would be called the house with a blue horse. It was really fascinating for both of us; we kept guessing the names of the houses while walking around the city for the next 2 days.
The Prague castle took more than 600 years to be built. Yes!! More than the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids. But it is an absolute treat to watch the castle and how time has had a marvellous impact on its architectural style.
Something about the Czechs! Great sense of humour, not the most cordial lot, but definitely a lot proud of their rich culture and of course beer.
Czechs love their lager (Check: Journeys of a Lifetime #JOAL )
The Czechs are the world's highest consuming beer folks people in the world on a per capita basis (almost 1.5 litres per day per adult).
The Pilsner Urquell is a legend there but so are many breweries which have been brewing their local brew for centuries, yes you read me correct, centuries!. The Strahov monastery brewery near the Prague castle serves some excellent craft beers (Beware !! its a steep climb from the castle but their Amber lager was a sure-shot cure to all our tiredness).
Another old man on the block is the U Fleků brewery which is the oldest brewery in Prague and serves only one kind of beer (Try, Flekovský, their traditional dark lager which is brewed on-site and not available anywhere else). The atmosphere is fantastic, with live entertainment and traditional Czech cuisines being served. (Lesson: the vegetarian options in Czech cuisine are HEAVILY dominated by Cheese).
Try the Czech food but with a safety net
Try the local Czech food; we enjoyed the the Trdelník (rolled bread with yummy choclate topping) and the Palačinky (Czech pancakes simiar to Frech crepes) at the small stalls in the old town square. If you are more adventurous, try Knedlíky (Traditional Czech bread dumplings) at U Fleků brewery or the Strahov Monastry brewery.
There are very few things that we both agree on very easily, however, we both agreed on going to a nearby supermarket (Tesco in MY shopping centre, very close to the old town) and stocking up on fruits, yoghurts and biscuits to quench our untimely hunger pangs. Trust us!! Those extra packets sure come to the rescue in time of need.
One of the days, Megha really surprised me with the yummy Rice Pulao and mashed potatoes for dinner. I must say, she is magic whenever (which is very rare) she enters the kitchen.
An evening spent at Mozart’s theatre (Check: Journeys of a Lifetime #JOAL )
We were lucky enough to witness a drama at the Estates Theatre, the very same theatre where Mozart performed Don Giovanni himself, one of his most famous operas.
Tip: The estates theatre has a box office right in front of the building, they have numerous operas, drama and musical events. Be sure to book the one in English.
Dare you to stare
What has been the most eerie experience of your life?
I am sure all of you have your picks. But after our day trip to Kutna Hora's Sedlec Ossuary (commonly called "The Church of Bones"), I have found my winner. The chapel is decorated with bones of 60,000 people, this very fact is enough to send chills through your bones. And if that was not enough, there is a chandelier which has each of the 206 bones in the human body.
I was curious and I wanted to touch one, Megha also came up with her own logic and scared me out of my wits. “You touch one and then the spirit follows you”
Strongly suggest Kutna Hora as a stop on your Czech exploration.
Next Stop – The last inhabited country in the world. Take a guess.
Clue 1: It is very cold.
Clue 2: It's population is much lesser than Delhi.
Clue 3: You need to take an airplane to get there.
It's ICELAND : The Land of Fire & Ice.
Keep reading, keep travelling with us :)
PS- We would love to hear from you all, do share your comments.