Hi everyone! So we are still plugging along our Central European Tour. After Krakow, we took an overnight train to Prague. We luckily ended up having the entire 6-person compartment to ourselves. The train split up along the way with some cars going to Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. I slept pretty well (surprisingly) while Hoch struggled a bit. Hoch – the train would link up with other trains at major junctions which caused a noticeable rumble every time.
We arrived at the Prague train station around 6:40am and decided to go find a café while we wait to check into our Airbnb. It was still dark out even as 7am approached which made us wonder what time the sun came up there. Finally, the sky started to lighten as we were walking through the streets. I had always heard great things about Prague and was really excited to visit. Well let’s just say the city did not disappoint. Walking to the town square while the sun was coming up was a nice way to start our time there. It was quiet and we almost had all the amazing architecture to ourselves (we soon found out that it is usually crowded and touristy later in the day). Unfortunately for us, every café we came across had not opened yet so we ended up killing time on a bench taking in all the views of the city centre. Eventually we found a café that opened at 8am near our Airbnb apartment so we headed there for breakfast before checking in.
After checking in, we headed out to join a walking tour of the city. The tour was free (tips only) and was very informative and entertaining. We used a company called Sandeman Tours which offers tours in several different cities. Our guide was Czech and had an outgoing personality. We ended up booking a couple more paid tours with them because of him. We also met a couple (German guy Tom and Spanish girl Maria) during the tour that we hit it off with and ended up meeting them again every night for dinner and drinks while in Prague. H – I tend to get along very well with Germans. I like their no-bs approach to everything.
Some city shots from our walking tour:
Our second day there we walked across the popular and historic Charles Bridge and visited a nearby painted wall dedicated to John Lennon along with seeing some different areas of the city. After lunch, we then headed to the meeting point to start our walking tour of the Prague Castle. H – Lennon beat his wife and ignored his child. But he had some good songs.
The Prague Castle is the number 1 thing to see in Prague and has evolved over time. It has what our guide called “architecture lasagna”. You could see several architecture influences throughout the castle and some were even mixtures of more than one type (Baroque, Gothic, Italian renaissance were the primary types). The castle sits on a hill so we also were able to see amazing views of the city.
We ended the evening with some delicious traditional Czech dishes and beers with Tom and Maria. 🙂
For our last full day in Prague, we again signed up for a guided tour to a small town outside of Prague named Kutna Hora, the historic town centre of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a silver mining city and competed with Prague economically, culturally, and politically from the 13th to 16th centuries. We spent a full day of exploring the cute town including the following highlights:
- The Sedlec Ossuary (A Bone Chapel) – A small Roman Catholic Chapel containing the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people whose bones have been artistically arranged to form decorations in the chapel. It was a little creepy to be honest. They were currently excavating around the perimeter of the chapel and you could see that they still find several buried bones in the area even today! H – The story is that the cemetery around the chapel got too crowded but the bones couldn’t just be thrown away because there’s some dirt from Jerusalem and that makes them somewhat sacred. So they used them for cute little art pieces. As always, I think they’re full of shit. Probably just some bored weirdo with lots of time on his hands.
- Barbara’s Church – A famous Roman Catholic Gothic Church. It was built in the style of a cathedral. The plan was to build the cathedral first and then find a bishop, but since the construction was interrupted several times due to war or finances, it took close to 600 years to complete. Since it never held the seat of a bishop, it cannot officially be considered a cathedral.
Random side note, but we learned during our tour that generally Czech people are not very religious. A recent survey showed that around 70% were atheist, agnostic, or did not say while only 10% were Catholic. Of those Catholics, only half actually attend mass and usually they were 60 years old and above. So a lot of the beautiful cathedrals and churches are primarily tourist attractions. H – During the communist rule that lasted until 1989, religion was de facto banned.
- The Italian Court (Royal Mint) – Originally the seat of central Mint (manufacture of coins) of Prague and was named after the Italian experts who were leading minting reform. The primary courtyard consisted of several coin maker workshops. It eventually became a royal residence.
Instead of heading straight to Vienna after Prague, we decided we wanted to see a smaller city on the way. We stopped in a town called Cesky Krumlov which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site south of Prague near the Austrian border. The town is centered around the Vitava River that makes an S shape around the city centre. It seriously is one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever been. The autumn leaves were changing so the scenery was that much more beautiful. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the city castle (possibly my favorite castle so far) and castle gardens, walking through the town, and eating some traditional Czech dishes on our last full day in the Czech Republic.
After Cesky Krumlov, we headed out via bus and then train to Vienna, Austria so my next post will be about how we spent our time there!
If you’d like to see more photos from our time here, “Czech” out this link 😉 :
That’s it for this post! Hope you all have a happy Halloween weekend. I am jealous and can’t wait to see pictures of friends and family on social media!
Until next post!