While making a list of tentative places I would travel while abroad in Europe, Prague was always at the top of my list. I had been drawn to visit Prague for a variety of reasons. It was the capital of the Czech Republic, a beautiful country whose name featured the awfully inhibiting “Cz” spelling that no one ever knows how to pronounce. My family on my grandma’s side came from Czechoslovakia and although after the country’s split they associated with Slovakia, I’ve always wanted to visit both sides. Prague seemed like a great option because everyone I know who had gone there had fallen in love with it. It looked beautiful, everything was within walking distance or a short tram ride of each other and the exchange rate was awesome.
One of the most iconic views of Prague is of the Charles Bridge. It stretches across the river in the center of the city and is the walking pathway to the opposite side of the water where the castle is. The bridge is constantly full of tourists, locals and vendors and is known as a hangout for pickpockets.
It is guarded by a series of statues, stationed above the bridge and created of religious figures, saints and important thinkers from years ago. The statues are now covered by a tarnished teal green, which creates an old-city atmosphere that could stand for the decline of the Czech Republic.
Ben and I started the hike – OK maybe not a hike, but definitely a very steep uphill climb that took almost half an hour – up to the entrance of the castle. I was immediately drawn to the lookout point that provided an impressive view of what we had just walked and the beauty of the city. It was here where we met a few more friends from Fordham and went into the exhibits of the main castle.
The castle was gorgeous and even bigger than it looked from a distance. What particularly left an impression on me was how intricately designed and detailed the outside of the cathedral was. Part of the castle was still in use by the Czech parliament, which portrayed a great contrast of the old world and the new world. It was off the balcony of one of the castle rooms where we were able to catch a glimpse of the “Mini Eiffel Tower” in the distance. As it turns out, Prague really is like a smaller version of Paris.
It wasn’t long before the hunger pangs set in and we decided it was time to find a place to eat our first Czech lunch. We came across an adorable restaurant/pub and I ordered gnocchi, beer cheese toast and a beer. These were three things on the menu that I thought I knew what I would be getting… but I was definitely wrong! I am still not sure what happened with the beer cheese toast (below), I don’t know if the bread was soaked in beer or if the cheese was, but my friend and I were unable to eat it for the most part due to a surprisingly bitter and moldy flavor.
The gnocchi, on the other hand, was amazing. It reminded me a lot of my grandma’s pirogues and was served as a plateful of potato dumplings surrounded by onions, garlic and spinach. This in addition to the giant mug of beer I was served was a lot like I had hoped the Czech food would be!
Bellies full, we continued to walk around the Old Town area and passed the famous Prague Astronomical Clock Tower, a medieval astronomical clock that is truly incredible to see. It started to drizzle and my friends decided to go back and nap, so Ben and I continued exploring on our own. As the weather cleared up it seemed like an opportune time to visit the John Lennon Wall.
The Wall looked just as cool in person as it does in pictures. The ambience of the area through which it stretched was so peaceful. A man played old Beatles songs on his guitar in front of the wall and the area was otherwise silent.
Reading all of the inspirational quotes, sayings and words was such a nice end to the afternoon. Much of what was written on the wall are things that we should be reminded of everyday. What is important in life is love and peace and getting along the best we can with what we have and who we have around us. Just reading the layers of inspiration on the Lennon Wall reminds us how simple living a good life can be.
For dinner, we found ourselves at “Dancing House,” one of the coolest and nicest restaurants in Prague. Up at the top of a building famous for its creative architecture, we enjoyed a delicious meal with a 360* panoramic view of the beautiful city surrounding us. It was a great way to wrap up our first night in Prague before going out again to a bar a few hours later.
Nicknamed “The Doghouse” for a very good reason, we went to a local nightlife hot spot to check out the atmosphere and the reason behind the name. The bar was nothing like I expected, it was rustic and filled to almost maximum capacity on its three floors. Before long live music started playing and a fire eater and dancer came out and started to perform. Where we were sitting on the second floor we heard a chorus of “awww’s” and looked over to see the actual biggest dog I’ve ever encountered in my life. It was scruffy and dirty but we found out that it belonged to the owner and loves being around people.
It was certainly an unexpected end to my first night in Prague!
Stay Classy! xx