Part 4 of “Kerri’s Grand Tour” is officially in the books! I hopped a train from Krakow, Poland, the Prague, Czech Republic last week. This was actually my first experience taking an international train in Europe. I was a bit nervous, but it ended up being super easy!
I arrived in Prague around 6pm, and headed straight out to get some food and do some exploring. Sidenote: since I am gluten free, finding food can be a little bit tricky when I’m traveling. I use an app called “Find Me Gluten Free;” I just open the app, and look at a map of my location, and it pinpoints places with gluten free options in my area. It’s AMAZING.
Once I’d found myself a sandwich, I headed straight to Charles Bridge. This 14th century bridge was the royal roadway that linked Prague Castle with the rest of the city on the other side of the Vltava River. There are some really interesting statues, and even better views. This bridge has become a gathering place (read: tourist attraction) within Prague for local artists and musicians. I found that it was much more enjoyable to visit on my early morning jogs than during the tourist craze of midday or sunset.
The next day started with me writing a paper. Not going to lie; I had a ton of graduate school work to do during the time I was in Prague. This was AFTER I spent most of my 6.5 hour train ride doing work, as well. I put in an hour or two of work nearly every day that I was there. If my time management skills weren’t the carefully manicured machine that they are, I would never have survived it.
After the paper writing, I jogged down to the riverfront to see Prague’s famous “dancing houses.” This is actually a hotel/office space that is kind of cool looking, but not nearly as impressive as I expected.
Finally, in the afternoon, I made my way to Old Town for a walking tour. It was super hot (around 95) and the city actually had these big water trucks rolling around spraying water across the busy main squares to cool people and cobblestones down.
The walking tour was really fun; it gave me a little more information on the political history of the Czech Republic, and also gave me a better sense of direction within the city. The tour started in the Old Town Square, home to the Astronomical Clock.
We then headed up to Wencelas Square, which is massive. Wenceslas Square is where all the famous protests took place both in the 1960s following the Warsaw pact, and again in 1989 when the Velvet Revolution ended communism in then Czechoslovakia. Today the square is mostly a shopping mall, but the views of the National Museum at the top are still pretty dramatic.
We also looped through the Jewish quarter, past the historic opera house and through so, so many streets lined with pastel-colored baroque architecture.
During the the tour, I found another solo traveler from the UK, and we linked up for the next couple of days. With forecasts predicting record high temperatures for the following day, my travel buddy and I made plans to grab some traditional Czech food for lunch the next day and then head out to a small island on the Vltava River to do some stand-up paddle boarding.
Paddle-boarding turned out to be a blast! I love being near the water on a hot day, and the group we were put in was full of fun people.
After paddle-boarding, we headed back to the Old Town to get one more Czech delight; Chimney Cake! This is sort of like a cinnamon-sugar soft pretzel in the shape of an ice cream cone and filled with ice cream. It is both delicious and nauseatingly sugary; my favorite combination.
The next day, I decided to hit up the National Museum. The National Museum has two buildings, New and Old. Now, I am a huge museum fan. When I’m feeling down, museums are a sure-fire way to raise my spirits.
The Prague National Museum is not a museum. It will be a museum. Someday. But right now it is not.
Both the new and the old buildings are in the middle of some kind of renovation, which means that more than half of the rooms are blocked off. And then ⅔ of the remaining rooms that are open to visitors are completely empty.
Don’t get me wrong: the Celts exhibit at the New building and the three rooms full of artifacts at the Old building were cool. Also, the Old building’s architecture was probably worth the ~$3 entry fee. But, like… I wanted to see some art!
That afternoon, I headed up to Prague Castle for a tour of the grounds. They did not disappoint. I really loved the interior of the cathedral, especially! I’d never seen stained class quite like the windows in there.
I was really sad to leave Prague at the end of my stay there! It was truly a wonderful city, and connecting with so many other travelers while I was there was really delightful. This is the kind of place I can see myself coming back to again and again!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll update again from my next stop: Germany!