Czech Republic,  Diary

Travel Diary: Exploring Prague

A few things happened before we finally arrived: a cancelled flight in Venice, rescheduled flight with a layover in Warsaw, flight to Vienna, and finally a four-hour train ride to Prague.

Note: This is normal and not uncommon in Europe. If something does go according to plan, we consider ourselves lucky.

Cancelled Flight display
Staring at the cancelled sign in disbelief

Arriving much later than intended, the station was quite vacant and suddenly I realized we didn’t know where to go. Hours of watching videos describing the process of purchasing train tickets and directions are down the drain and my cranial region feels like an empty shell with nothing useful to contribute to the current situation.

To this day I still want to believe that the man who noticed we were struggling with luggage in tow was just a genuinely nice person wanting to help without any motivation or ill will. He knew almost no English except for yes and no, so we communicated through hand gestures and head nods. After handling the ticket transaction for us, we thanked him profusely (I did know ‘thank you’ in Czech) and parted ways, Daniel and I off to navigate the streets of Prague at 11PM.

National Museum in Prague
Wenceslas Square: setting up for 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

The next morning we needed to exchange more Czech Koruna in order to purchase public transportation tickets (we gave what we had left to the nice man the previous night). We scheduled a Lyft ride to Wenceslas Square to start our first full day in Prague. The driver was also pleasant, but did not know a lick of English. She tried to converse in Czech, while we smiled and swiftly typed words into the Google Translate app.

Old Town Square at noon
Old Town Square at noon

There’s a currency exchange shop near Old Town Square that is well-known for scamming tourists, but just around the corner there is a shop that is fair and truly does not charge any commission fees. We learned this among other things from the guys of The Honest Guide. Check out all of their Prague videos as they give you the inside scoop on what’s good, where to go, and tons of tips from a local’s perspective. Read about how we ran into one of the guys!

Tapas at Spejle Bistro in Prague
Spejle Bistro: Fusion tapas

First restaurant in Prague was at Spejle, which had an interesting concept I have yet to see elsewhere. Similar to a buffet, you select the offerings spread along the counter. The catch is that each item has a skewer or two embedded into the food, so you end up paying per skewer when you finish your meal. While we probably could have eaten an entire meal here, we just wanted food to hold us over until dinner of traditional Czech cuisine. Head over here to read more of our favorite, memorable food finds in Prague!

Smetana Hall and Powder Tower in Prague
Smetana Hall: now serves as a concert hall (L)
Powder Tower: gate between Old Town & New Town, stored gunpowder in the 18th century (R)

 

Food may have been the only activity planned during our trip here. It makes a difference when you reserve your table online before arriving to secure your spot. Since there weren’t any concrete plans, we had several days to wander and explore different Prague neighborhoods. Sometimes we happened upon a really nice park and other times we searched for things that no longer existed, like the outdoor farmer’s market along the Vltava riverbank.

Prague's Allegory of Peace statue
Allegory of Peace, located in the Peace Square

We eventually found a farmer’s market by chance while wandering around a new neighborhood. We arrived in an area called the Peace Square, scattered with joggers, readers, and those who chose the location as a common meeting place. After some photos and a walk around, we casually boarded the tram in the wrong direction. After realizing the fact and stepping off the tram, we couldn’t even locate another tram that would take us back to where we came from or in the direction we needed to get to as were deep inside a residential neighborhood. Climbing up and down staircases through the hills trying to locate a main street with more transportation was an adventure in itself!

Couple on Charles Bridge in Prague
Charles Bridge

After getting a feel of the city, you know when tourists wake up and permeate the popular sights. It is recommended to wake up early in order to avoid the midday crowd on the Charles Bridge. We decided to shoot-two-birds-with-one-stone and visit Prague Castle across the Vltava River, too. If you decide to walk to the Prague Castle like we did, remember to visit a restroom because it is a long trek up the side of the mountain. There are steps so it is not an arduous journey, but it will take some time and most importantly, prepare yourself for the awesome views behind you!

Myself on Stairway to Prague Castle
Stairway to Prague Castle, coffee in hand

Hradcany or The Castle District, aptly named for the neighborhood surrounding the castle, is as immaculate as it is historic. It has a good vantage point of the city too! We walked through a monastery, vineyard, garden, brewery, and a few churches. Expect to spend a few hours there if you want to see it all!

Fun fact: Prague Castle is the world’s largest castle!

Statues in Castle District Prague
Interesting details surrounding Prague Castle

 

Prague has plenty of traditional desserts and pastries, but there was one that made me equally confused and curious. I didn’t understand why a wafer roll would be considered special, but now I know. Choco Cafe just around the corner from Old Town Square serves Hořice wafer rolls with melted chocolate. I was still skeptical about it upon seeing it in their menu, but decided to order it anyway. Let me diminish your doubts and say that those who are fans of fresh whipped cream and chocolate, you have to eat this! The delicious result from a combination of simple flavors is quite staggering. The wafer is so delicately rolled with layers of cinnamon sugar and filled with unsweetened cream that when you dip it into the pool of semi-sweet quality chocolate, it’s just perfection. I can’t confirm if there are any other places that make or serve Hořice wafer rolls, but I would definitely return here again.

Hořice wafer roll with melted chocolate at Choco Cafe Prague
Czech specialty – Hořice wafer rolls filled with sugar, cinnamon, whipped cream. Dip roll into melted 65% cacao at Choco Cafe

We stayed in an AirBnB about 25 minutes by tram on the outskirts of the city center. We were thankful to get a good rest every night as the neighborhood was quiet and not as bustling as areas like Old Town or nearby the Charles Bridge. Every morning I took a peek out the window at the colorful buildings across from us, taking in the fresh air to start our day.

 

Colorful Buildings along the street Prague
The view from our Airbnb window

Ahoj Prague! You were a great place to explore and your food was beyond my expectations. I will forever crave goulash, bread dumplings, kefir soup, and Hořice wafer rolls.

 

P.S. I’m still curious about all of the bees in the city. They are the equivalent of flies, buzzing inside garbage bins and flocking to food. They seemed to be attracted to us wherever we went.

 

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