PRAGUE DAY 1
For our first three nights in Prague we stayed at Pension Lucie, which is highly rated. We wanted to stay for a forth night, but it was fully booked, so we moved to another hotel across town. It happened to be a long weekend for the Germans, so many were spending it in Prague, making it difficult for us to find available accommodations. Pension Lucie is a bit out of the way, but near to a metro station, so you can easily reach the sights. The room came with breakfast, which included bread, cold cuts, eggs, yogurt, and cereal.
On our first full day in Prague, May 11th, we started out by visiting Prague Castle. We took the metro to Hradcanska Station and walked from there, entering through the castle grounds. The grounds are beautifully manicured, and as we walked the winding path through various flower beds, we caught glimpses of the castle. Already we were more impressed with Prague Castle than we had been with Wawel Castle in Krakow.
Once we entered the castle we found a ticket office. We were expecting a main ticket office at the castle entrance, but instead there are multiple small ticket offices scattered throughout the castle. You can walk through the grounds and castle courtyards and enter St Vitus Cathedral for free, but to enter any of the other buildings or exhibits you need a ticket. There are two ticket options, the short tour and the long tour. We opted for the long tour, since the castle was the main sight we were planning to visit in Prague. The long tour tickets were 350 CZK/ person (USD $17), and then they wanted to rent us audio guides for an additional 850 CZK/person (USD $40)! We were almost convinced, as the girl selling tickets stressed that there was not much written information inside the castle and the audio guide would allow you to bypass the long line for St Vitus Cathedral. We thought about for a couple minutes and realized that the audio guide price was outrageous! We skipped the audio guides and found enough written info inside the castle for our tastes. Later we saw some people sharing audio guides, which is a good idea if you do decide to rent one. Also, we saved St Vitus Cathedral for last, and entered around 5pm with no line. The nice thing about the long tour tickets is that they are valid for two days, so if you don’t fit in all the exhibits on the first day, you can return the next day.
St Vitus Cathedral was the most impressive part of Prague Castle!
The long tour tickets included the “Story of Prague Castle” which was a museum-type exhibit; the Old Royal Palace; the Basillica of St George; the Convent of St George, which is actually an extensive Renaissance Art Gallery; and the Powder Tower. The long tour was also supposed to include the Golden Lane, but it was closed for renovations, and from what I’ve read it’s just a lane of souvenir shops. The exhibits were interesting, but a bit much for one day. We got through everything except the powder tower, and still had a chance to visit St Vitus Cathedral, once the crowds had thinned out. The evening sun shining through the stained glass windows bathed the cathedral in beautiful pink and purple light as we entered.
As we left the castle it started to rain. Luckily, we had brought along our umbrella.
From Prague Castle we walked down to the famous Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). We both weren’t too impressed with the bridge. It’s supposed to be one of the main attractions in Prague, but it’s not that special.
As we crossed the bridge and headed into the Old Town area we smelled something delicious. Trdelnik pastries cooking!
We got a trdelnik with almonds and Nutella to share. The shops are set up for tourists and quite expensive, but man, was it delicious!
We walked to the Starometske Nam (Old Town Square) area and sat on a bench to rest for a while before taking some photos and searching for a place to have dinner.
Click below for a video of the Astronomical Clock in action on the hour:
For dinner I wanted to try some traditional Czech food, so we found a pub-like restaurant and I ordered fried cheese. We had met another traveler back in India who told us that we should really try fried cheese in Prague, and it sounded intriguing, so I went for it. It’s a big lump of ooey gooey cheese with a consistency similar to mozzarella and a taste similar to baked brie. It was good for the first couple bites and I liked the cranberry sauce, but I couldn’t force myself to finish the last bite. Too much cheese for me :)!
After dinner it was time to get some sleep. More sightseeing tomorrow..