T and I have always loved vacations between the nature - either the mountains or the ocean. I am not a big fan of vacationing in cities, but Europe is just at a whole different level. History and the old town charm is so well preserved - those cities are nothing like the cities we live in! So thanks to both of us having our visas ready, we planned Home -> Prague ->Vienna -> Budapest -> Hallstatt -> Fussen -> Rothenburg -> Munich -> Home. Ten days and seven places.
I have always been so fascinated with those red roofs, so when a Europe trip was on cards, it had to include Prague in the itinerary. The rest of the trip was planned around Prague :-)
As soon as we landed and checked into the hotel around new town (the new town that is 600 years years old!!!), we walked to 'Lokal' to start the trip with some good Pilsner and authentic Czech cuisine. After dinner, we were greeted by fireworks at Charles Bridge and Prague lived up to all the expectations and hype!
Day 1: Off to an early start, we were lucky to get the tickets to the Astronomical clock bell tower without any big lines. And the trip to the top of the tower left our mouths open...
The astronomical clock in the tower was first installed in 1410 and is the oldest working astronomical clock. For the rest of the trip, we walked past the clock many times and we always stopped for the hourly chiming to see the 12 apostles bless the city and the 4 figures (vanity, miser, death, lust) shaking their heads.
The rest of the day was spent stopping at local coffee cafes, Pivo (beer) breaks, being entertained by the amazingly talented street artists and cons, walking along Charles bridge countless times and climbing up the Astronomical tower again in the evening to view the rain-soaked red roofs.
We also accidentally stumbled upon the Old Town Bridge Tower at the foot of Charles Bridge, and we climbed up the narrow staircase for more breathtaking views... This is the most picturesque city I have ever seen!
Day 2: We started off the day with a private 3 hour walking tour as we learnt about the history, demographics and the different architectural styles and eras in Praha. We started at the Astronomical tower and walked past the Old town square, Jewish quarters, Charles university (founded in 1348!) and to the Prague Palace. History is so overwhelming, it almost gave us goosebumps to walk those streets that have such an old story.
We learnt so much about the different architectural styles - Gothic (Early 13th century era that had pointed arches, tall spires, gargoyles), Renaissance (between 1400 and 1600 - with symmetrical designs on the windows and Pilasters) and Baroque (from 1600 to 1830 - with elaborate designs, lavish and complex shapes, paintings and bold colors). Fascinated by the buildings, T was very inspired to do a part-time course on architecture!
Prague is known for Garnets and I have always wanted to get a garnet ring from there. But with so many stores, it was hard to know which was a genuine stone. So the tour-guide took us to the factory outlet where the guide and T chose a ring for me :-) and that is where our tour ended. After all that walk, we headed over to 'Mlejnice' for some traditional Czech onion soup, potato croquettes and goulash.
Evening was spent walking the 200 steps up the castle and a stroll down the city with stops for wine, pivo, coffee, pastries, crepes and all the yummy street food!
Prague is beautiful. I loved every moment and it is so hard to say which was my favorite moment in this city. But recently, T and I were sipping tea at home and asked each other to pick one favorite memory from each place. I think having chocolate crepes and coffee in the old town center with the setting sun, drizzling rain, standing at the square sharing table with strangers while enjoying the hot crepes was a blessing. This was also where history was made, kings had walked and wars have been fought! T's favorite part of the trip was the walking tour where he learnt the different architectural styles and had all his questions answered by the guide!
Day 3: We packed our bags and walked up to the railway station to catch our train to Vienna. The highlight was the dining car in the train where we had finger-licking good chicken tikka masala with wine. A break from all the walking we did the last two days....
Next stop --> Vienna!