One thing that I really do enjoy is to discover and visit places you always wanted to go to but not necessarily had it in your itinerary. This is exactly what happened for my trip to Prague. I have many friends back home in Australia, from Czech republic, telling me how I should visit their country. And the occasion finally arrived, landing in Prague on Friday 20th June.
Day one was a bit of a mission. As we arrived at the bus terminal, I quickly realised that we were in a city where locals do not necessarily speak English very well. The outskirt of the city we took via the bus looked quite poor and somehow, for the first time, the thought of arriving in an totally unknow where I wouldn’t be able to get around easily, freaked me out a bit. We didn’t have a booking for our first night but I knew where to go, as I noted some places down. The information center was just about to close when we arrived but the guy was nice enough to give us some info. We took some local money from the atm and headed towards the northern suburbs, crossing a couple of bridges and saw Prague’s castle in the background, it was a nice view. The way we walked towards though, was poor and almost had an industrial feel to it. Eventually we reach the hostel I spotted but it was full-house on that night, thing I didn’t necessarily expected (note to yourself, after so many months of travelling, I should know by know that the end of the week is always chockoblock, in any capital city). So we got re-directed to another big hostel nearby, that was also full-house. It was around 10pm and the confidence level of finding a place for tonight was dropping. Chris and I were on our way to the metro when we spotted a very dodgy “hostel”, we knocked at the door, and got greeted by the owner who was about to go home. After visiting the room, we decided to take it. To sum it up, it was the dodgiest place I have ever stayed in! Chris and I managed to have a good sleep nevertheless but gees, we won’t forget this place, in a long time. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby and the next day, we happily packed our bag and move in the historic part of town.
It was Saturday, we still had no booking but Chris and I managed to find a little hostel, brand new, downtown of Prague. It took us a little time to find it as the direction but eventually got there. We dropped our bags and started to wander around the city. First thing was to get some food, so we stopped at a local bagel shop for a quick feed. Then we started wandering around the old Prague. The weather was kind of overcast but still nice. We noticed that a festival was happening for the week-end, all around the Danube. After checking the program, we decided that we would make the most of it. Early afternoon, we went to the castle. We enjoy the view from the top of the hill then wandered within the fortification of the castle. The cathedral St Vitus is the most impressive building of all, the level of details in the sculptures and mosaic are truly breathtaking. The inside of the cathedral is also impressive, especially the height of the ceiling and the stained glass style used. There was also some re-enacting of middle age duels, happening just close to it. You really feel like you are in another period of time. One of the most stunning things in Prague has to be the amount the pavement. Personally I would called Prague, the paved city. I haven’t been to a place where I have seen so many tiny streets or full-on roads with pavement. It definitely adds to the charm of the city. After visiting the top part of the castle, we walked down the hill, passing some residential and touristy area and ended up on Charles bridge. There were plenty of artists on it, mainly painters, drawers making caricatures and photographers also. This bridge, the most popular one in Prague, has also statues all along it, on both sides. You quickly understand why it is one of the most iconic spot in Prague. As, we got back to the old part of the city, we grabbed some food then we headed straight to the music festival. The first gig we saw was happening on Strelecky island, on the jazz stage. From there, we kept going, hopping onto Kampa island to play some Frisbee golf, checking out some photo expo in a middle of free children’s workshop. The rest of the day was spent discovering the city by following the different stages of the festival.
On Sunday, we did pretty much the same, the sun was out, the music festival was still on so we enjoyed it a lot. It was even busier than the previous day, with family all around. They even closed access to the first stage we went to because of the amount of people, what a shame, there was some really good music happening there. At night, after dinner, Chris and I walked towards a big stage where the crowd was gathering. We quickly realised it was aired live on TV due to the set-up and this was on Vaclavske namesti, the biggest boulevard in the city. So we spend the evening discovering very popular Czech bands and listening to their local pop. That was really interesting, especially the old quirky artist dancing like a worm on a music that wasn’t really inviting, yet, you could tell he was popular here.
The beginning of the week, started with catching-up with Leanne, a friend from Australia I haven’t seen for five years, as she now lives on the other side of the country. We had a lot of catch-up to do, walked along the castle area and down to the island. The day was nice and, as it happens when you have a good time with a friend, we didn’t see the time pass. Not sure where or when we will catch-up next but Asia or Australia is my best bet, hopefully in less time than five years!
The next day was very interesting. Initially I was planning to go back to Germany, in Munich this time, to catch-up with few friends I haven’t seen in years. But looking at the map, going back West, I then going back towards France, then potentially making it to Switzerland and Italy before heading to Greece. The problem was that I would have to skip the Balkans which were a must on my list so, as I realised few of my German mates were not in their hometown (Munich), I changed my mind and decided to go further East instead, making my way to Bratislava/Slovakia. Something totally unexpected but this is part of adventure isn’t it?