Friday, August 09, 2013


We have been wanting to visit Prague for about 3 years, and we were glad that Aer Lingus has direct flights out of Dublin to visit. Prague lived up to the hype, and it was a great trip!

We caught our flight out of DUB around 11am and arrived in PRG around 3pm or so. We knew we wanted to take a taxi in because the public transport options looked slow. The taxi was a good way to the Old Town Square, where our hotel was located; it was about 600 Koruna with tip, and quick. We were staying at the Hotel Černý Slon; a reasonably priced triple, steps from the Old Town Square. We were generally pleased with the hotel and would stay again. After checking in, we just wanted to walk around a bit. We thought maybe this afternoon would be good for a sightseeing tour, something we don't normally do. (We are trying to adjust how we run our trips due to 2 kids).

We did the green train that takes about an hour and drives by the castle. I do not recommend this method. There is a recording in 4 languages that plays, and the ride is quite bumpy. Even Nolan was done by the end of it! It only kind of stops once by the castle, but you don't ever get out of the thing. And, views are partially obscured by the plexiglass on one side of the car. You might be better off splurging and taking one of the old time cars around (even though these looked like they might get hot in the sun). We were actually wanting to do a golf cart tour, but couldn't find any!

After our tour, we went up the tower in the Old Town Hall for some views of Prague. Going in the late afternoon meant that we couldn't get good pictures of the castle due to the sun, but there were still good views of the square and Old Town Prague. Nolan was a little too scared to walk around the outside part. That night for dinner we just booked at our hotel as it had a decent rating. The food was good, but the menu was limited. The crispy duck with red cabbage was yummy.

Sunday was our day for the castle. First we walked over to the Old New Synagogue. This is quite old, and is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. It was no photo, but a very simple, small interior. We considered going to the cemetery because we heard it was a good sight, but the ticket was a lot more just to do that, and we were ready to go to the castle. We decided to take a quick taxi up the hill to preserve tired legs, and it was already getting hot.

The Prague Castle does not look that big at first, but it took us about 6 hours to do almost all of it, including lunch. We bought the full ticket to the castle, but quickly learned that the full ticket did not cover everything... what a pain! But buying the photo pass was definitely worth it, as it is cheap. First we saw the permanent exhibition "The Story of Prague Castle" which showed the history and growth of the castle over the years. We then ate lunch at the Lobkowicz Palace Café, rated well with a good view. The food was good and the view was nice.

Next we went to the Rosenberg Palace. This wasn't too big, just a couple rooms, but started off with a large chapel. They also had on display there many gargoyles on display from the castle. Next we walked the Golden Lane. This narrow passageway shows many of the old "homes" of people who used to work and live in the castle. This place was pretty packed and not much room to enjoy things. Next we stepped in Daliborka Tower. Once we got in, we realized this was a torture tower. Don't think Nolan really knew, but still we didn't linger.

St. George's Basilica was next. From the outside entrance, there was a nice view of St. Vitus. Inside the basilica was pretty simple. It reminded me a little bit of St. Francis of Assisi church, just not as big. Next we visited the Old Royal Palace. This started off with a large room and while mostly roped off, it was still a good place for Liana to run around a little bit. She was attracting a bit of attention! There are a few nice views of the cities from the balconies. There are also several little rooms in which to explore and see exhibits, including a room full of family crests.

Next we went to St. Vitus Cathedral. There were loads of tourists at the back who were not going to purchase a ticket I suppose. Once in, I happened to be stuck between two tour groups while walking around the back; I couldn't escape them! This church had several little chapels/prayer areas around the back of the church. They also had many areas blocked off that you normally don't see blocked off, but you could still see most of the areas just fine. Then while Kacey rested with the kids, I quickly went up the tower. There was a massive bell just barely visible on the way up. The views were pretty nice, though! It was a little hard to take some pictures due to all the iron gates over the window openings, but I was able to manage.

Next we visited the Prague Castle Picture Gallery. The air conditioning felt great! The picture gallery wasn't super special, but it is part of the full ticket and was a nice break from the sites. We lastly visited the Powder Tower. We got here just before they closed, but this is just a small military museum. We only spent 5-10 minutes here before heading out. There was a neat view of St. Vitus against the sky from near the entrance to the Powder Tower.

As we left the castle, we decided to walk back to Old Town via the Old Castle Steps. We snapped a few more pictures of the city here, and turned to look back behind us to see a HUGE storm system moving in. As we prepped the best we could for the impending rain, we scurried down the steps and quickly moved toward the Old Town. By the time we got to the river, it seemed like it was making a break, so we hung out on the bank of the river and took some pictures of Charles Bridge while picking out dinner. We picked a place, and as we started walking, the storm clouds grew even more menacing. By the time we got across the bridge, huge straight line winds blew in from over the hill and it quite out of control for a few minutes! We started nearly running toward the hotel. The rain started slowly right as we entered the Old Town Square. As we were steps from the hotel entrance, it really started to rain. We really lucked out! But, now it was raining and we had no dinner options. I peered out the window and saw one of the golf cart tour guys just sitting down there. I asked him how much to take us to our restaurant, just down the street. He said since he was done for the night, and that was on his way home, no charge. Awesome! I did tip him nicely, though.

That night we ate at Kolkovna. Non-smoking section was downstairs and while a little warm, the food did not disappoint! I had the Traditional Bohemian Platter; a wide array of meat, dumplings, and cabbage. Once dinner was done, the rain had stopped. So we decided to walk around the Old Town Square a bit at night. We stopped in a bakery because Kacey was wanting something; she ended up with a piece of chocolate cake. The Old Town Square at night was nice. I also ran over to take some pictures of the Castle at night from the bridge. Our Lady Before Tyn Church is nicely lit at night.

The next day we were just planning on a few random sites not too far away. We first tried Our Lady Before Tyn Church, next door to our hotel. It is closed Mondays! So we decided to try St. James Church. This church does not allow photo, or even walking around. It was a nice example of baroque, and had me hoping to see more at another church. Finally, we visited the St. Nicholas church. This was a nice little church with a grand chandelier in the centre.

We then decided to try a tour of the Old Town Hall, and we just barely caught the english tour. It was pretty neat, and we got to see the inner workings of the 12 Apostles inside the Astronomical Clock.

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We searched around a while for lunch and finally found Klub Architektu. The flavours were good, but my meat was low quality. We headed toward the famous Charles Bridge after lunch. As expected, it was crowded, but interesting. Once we got across the bridge, we saw some gelato and it really hit the spot! We headed toward the other St. Nicholas church, this one in Lesser Town Square. Photo was allowed here and it was a grand example of baroque! We were even allowed upstairs for a picture gallery and nice views of the church.

We were now headed off to do a few things for Nolan. We were looking for the funicular up Petrin Hill to check out some things up there. Getting a ticket to go up is quite a pain, and confusing! You have to have exact change, there are no change booths, and a ton of people forming random lines to squeeze their way on the tram. Our plan was to take Nolan to the Mirror Maze. We weren't sure what to expect here. It was quite small, but we lingered in the crazy mirrors area and goofed off for a while. Nolan enjoyed it. It isn't quite a maze, it is just a path with mirrors. After about age 7 or so, it would stop being neat I suppose.

We were then going to just walk around before heading back down. On top of the hill is also the tower, but we already had lots of views of the city, and Nolan would not have liked climbing up. Kacey went in for the restroom and found a children's exhibit in the basement! So we went in and Nolan built for a while and Liana walked around and stretched her legs. Our next stop was supposed to be the big one for Nolan, where we would relax for a while. Detsky Ostrov, which translates to Children's Island. Yes, an island in the river with a big playground on it. We got there, and it was closed! We took a picture of Nolan in front of the mean, poorly spelled construction sign, with a frowny face.

We decided to cross the river and take the metro to Wenceslas square since we were getting tired. We strolled around a bit, did some shopping, and started the short walk back to Old Town Square. It was getting late by time we picked a restaurant, but we walked over to Lokal as it was rated well. It was hard to get a seat, but we managed after a few minutes and ordered a plethora of items off the menu. I recommend eating a meal here! Different beer pours, lots of meats, and yummy dessert.

The next day we flew home, but we had time to visit a museum in the morning. We picked the Museum of Communism. It looks a little small at first, and a little hard to find, but it was packed with info and exhibits. I recommend westerners to visit and spend some time reading the material.

Prague was great! Even in the heat, it was doable. AAA Taxis are readily available, there is lots to see, food is good, and people are generally nice.

Pictures from our trip can be seen here.