October is a good time to go to Prague. There is something special about walking around in the streets with the fresh autumn breeze grazing your face, your hands snug in your pockets, and the red- and orange-coloured trees creating an unusual sense of warmness as you pass by.
It was quite random that we ended up going to Prague. A friend and I wanted to do a trip together and decided to choose a spot in Europe that neither of us had been to. And so, tickets to Prague were booked. An added bonus was that I have some awesome friends residing there; meaning great local tips and recommendations, of course.
Not really knowing what to expect is sometimes a good thing. Usually, before I go somewhere new, I do quite extensive research. Not this time. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised. One of the most incredible things about Prague is how it seems to be almost untouched by World War II. Most of the buildings are still intact and plenty of those that were destroyed have been rebuilt and restored impeccably.
What else is pretty cool about Prague?
- It’s not too big like, say, Rome or even Berlin, so you can easily walk around from one neighbourhood to the next.
- If you don’t feel like walking, the public transport such as trains, trams, and buses are efficient and clean.
- There is a river. Every great city I’ve been to has a river running through it. Don’t ask me why. I just love it.
- Charles Bridge is cool in theory, I mean, its construction started in 1357 and it’s beautiful. The only problem is that it’s PACKED with people during the day. It took us forever to cross the bridge which is only about 500m long. Better to go at night or early morning.
- There is a castle. Like a real, gigantic castle complex dating back to the 9th century. It’s supposedly the biggest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 m2. It even has its own cathedral in the complex and a view that is so worth the climb. The buildings inside the Prague castle complex represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium and is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. Once upon a time it was also a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia.
- It’s relatively cheap. For the first time, I understood how people earning euros or pounds must feel when they visit South Africa!
- The food is to die for. That is if you like pork. Once again, I think autumn is a good time to visit Prague because colder weather goes so well with, well, pork. Ok and the goulash is also pretty tasty. Seriously, though, the pork… pork knuckle, slow roasted pork, pork rib, you name it, I ate it and so should you.
- Beer. Good beer.
- There is music everywhere. Prague is well known as the city of music – in the 17th and 18th centuries it was known as the conservatory of Europe. Heck, even Mozart resided there for some time after leaving Vienna and apparently wrote his Symphony No 38 to the city of Prague.Back in the day, most children were able to go to music lessons after school because it wasn’t so expensive. It’s said that the tradition was so strong and that the conservatories were something the Communists decided to keep. In a society silenced by censorship with German occupation and then decades of Communist rule, music was a means of expression – giving it even greater significance.
Out on an evening stroll, we ended up at the back of the Tyn Gothic Church in the Old Town. We heard some music coming from a small window situated 10cm above the gutter. To me, it meant one thing – an underground jazz club. We simply had to go the next night, we decided. Best night evurrrr.
- There is an underground world that exists in Prague that so many people are unaware of. I’m not usually one for tours, but when you’re in a city like this and you have the slightest idea of the wondrous mysteries underneath the streets your walking on, you just have to make a plan to see it. We booked a one hour tour (like 5 minutes in advance) which took us under the astronomical clock as well as underneath a palace which has since been turned into a beer tasting house. More than half of the people tasting beer have no clue that right underneath them is some of the oldest underground passages in the whole city!
And just for fun, here is a quick video that I think captured our lil trip quite well. #Czechitout (see what I did there?) :)
P.S. Czech out the www.myczechrepublic.com website for some great info.
Also, if you want some tips and advice, holler at me!