We set out early today to truly explore Prague after our dysfunctional day yesterday.
Prague is always highly spoken about. I’ve heard it described as a fairy tale city out of a storybook, or the “Paris” of Eastern Europe. I think in many ways the reviews are right; no matter where we walked, we were surrounded by beautiful architecture, streets decorated with patterned stones, and a horizon of gothic spires. The Vltava river flows through the center of the city, with its main focus being the statue-lined Charles bridge. It was a city I felt you really could walk in any direction and find something to catch your eye.
The downside to all of this hype is that Prague is overflowing with tourists and much of the city is focused on catering to the tourist population. The adorable streets and shops are taken over with Prague memorabilia and with people trying to lure you in for the sale. At some of the main sites it was easy to get overwhelmed with the throngs of tourists, and we aren’t even here in high season!
Despite that, its possible to combat the crowds by seeing the city as the sun rises and sets; I feel like this is when the city is really at its most beautiful.
Prague’s skyline is dominated by what is apparently the world’s largest ancient castle, Prague Castle (you can appreciate this in yesterday’s post). The grounds here include some overwhelmingly grand cathedrals, multiple courtyards, and a palace.
Whatever your religious background, its hard to deny the beauty and intricacy of churches in Europe. It’s interesting how when you first arrive, you are taken aback by the grandeur of each church you see. However, after you see a couple, you start walking past them like they’re just another house on the street. Despite me starting to come up with various excuses to avoid going into them, this cathedral in Prague is the most stunning one I’ve seen and I would highly recommend a short visit:
Interestingly, Prague also has a bit of a quirky side. There are some questionable statues and interesting exhibits, such as the museum of medieval torture we somehow found ourselves walking through one afternoon.
We learned all sorts of compelling facts here. For example, did you know that women actually came up with the idea of a chastity belt? They would put them on when their village was at risk for invasion to prevent the soldiers from attacking them. We also learned that male chastity belts do exist (in case you were wondering).
There is also this strange astronomical clock that draws quite the crowd. Too bad I found the tourists themselves more riveting to observe than the clock itself…
We wrapped our day up with a boat ride down the Vltava river, which allows you to lazily gaze at the pretty waterside buildings, as well as float under Charles bridge. Clearly, it had to be quite captivating:
Some other interesting facts:
- The main coffee drink here is espresso, which comes in a tiny cup for like 8 dollars. My parents are going crazy trying to get their coffee fix.
- Unlike much of North America, there is no free/tap water offered in European restaurants. If you want water, you order it at the restaurant out of a glass bottle and expect to pay more for it than for alcohol. You also have to make sure to clarify “still” or you will get bubbled water instead.
- There are cigars on most menus here. Czech is also one of the few places you can order drugs at restaurants.
- Tourism is one of their main industries, so expect to pay more for things in CZ despite the country not having the strongest economy in Europe.
- Beer is BIG here. Expect to see Budweiser everywhere. And apparently Czech’s are the world’s biggest beer consumers!