7 – Be Ready with Plenty of Coins
My Prague visit can be grouped under two big categories: the Old Town where is famed for hundreds of spires and the Prague Castle which has the best bird view of the city.
One things we learnt early: be ready with plenty of coins. You will need them to buy metro tickets. The tills at the entrance are forever closed and the auto telling machine does not accept any notes nor non-Czeck bank issued credit card. And if you think you might be lucky to get a free ride, as what we thought, there were bunch of mean looking men waiting for you at the platform and are ready to issue you a 30 Euro 1 hour ticket or threaten to send you to the police station.
Once you make sure you don’t fall in the trap, everything else is reasonably priced compared to other major European cities. 30 Euro can decently fill up two bellies.
Vysehrad is a good place to start the morning. Take the red line to Vysehrad station, the fort was about 20 minutes on foot. The Basilica protrudes on top of the hill and can be seen afar. Pass the long cobblestone paved road leading to the fort, we reached the immersing panoramic view of the teal blue Vltava river. Vysehrad also features the oldest building of Prague: Rotunda of Saint Martin which looked like a cylinder shaped windmill without its blades.
The old town is a beaten tourist route. You won’t be disappointed with its aesthetic ambience but neither can you be wholeheartedly satisfied. The old town square is surrounded by Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style century old buildings. The astronomic clock Orloj is a must see. It was the marvel to 15th century as iPhone was to modern date. Through mechanic ingeniousness, Orloj tells the position of sun and moon, sunrise and sunset time, month and phase of the moon. It can do all that without any update, beat that Apple Watch!
Move west towards the river, we reached the famous Karluv most – Charle’s Bridge which connects the old town to the Prague castle. Thirty saintly looking stone statues and numerous street vendors and talented artists compete for the attention of teeming tourists. One violinist was particularly successful – we were so mesmerized by his elegant performance that we even bought a CD from him.
The way towards the Prague Castle is a long way up hill. At the center of the Castle is the sublime Vitus’ Cathedral, stained glasses, Gothic spikes, gigantic doors and carefully carved stone statues and flying buttresses bestowed a chilling aura of mystic and divine. The cathedral opens only at a certain time and there is always a long queue before its opening time. If you’d like to visit its inside, plan ample time ahead. Walk pass the cathedral, we took a walk along the castle to reach the highest point in Prague: Petrin Tower. This miniature Eifel tower promises a breath taking view of the city like no other: emerald colored, puffy woods contrast with coarsely dotted the red roofs and white walls. The blue Vltava river artistically divided the city into half.
There is an ancient funicular which can taken you down the hill but we enjoyed a slow walk along the meandering path under the canopy of leaves. If you walk down the “Most Legil” to go back to old town, you will pass 3 small islands. On the biggest one of the three, you will find delicious sausages and fine local beer (just follow the smoke, you won’t miss it). We also went to two local restaurants recommended on Prague official site: Cestr and Lokal. Both were disappointments. There were also loads of burger, chips and fried fish but nothing distinctive of Prague. Do let me know if you find anything special!
On one of the sunny afternoon, we took the train to a random station and roamed aimlessly. But we still enjoyed a walk in a orangery in a monastery and merrily swung a trapeze in a natural conservation park. It is a culturally vibrant and historically rich city. Walk around street and let the next turn surprise you!