I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.
While planning this trip I think I was the most excited to visit Prague and Budapest. I had heard such beautiful things about both cities. Prague was the next stop after Dresden. We got to spend two whole days in Prague, which happened to be Christmas eve and Christmas day. The bus ride to Prague wasn’t too bad except for the dirty bathrooms, but that had sadly become the normal for riding on these buses.
We got off the bus, which luckily was also the train station. And this train map was soooooo much easier to navigate than Berlin. There were two train lines, and by total chance our hotel was located on one of the stops. Literally, you got off the train, and walked a few steps to get into the hotel. We didn’t plan this, instead we selected the hotel because it had a pool, and we thought that it’d be fun to have a pool for Christmas.
We stayed about ten minutes outside of the city center, which I didn’t mind because the train system was so easy. Everything I had heard about Prague was correct. It is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I’m mostly going to let the photos speak for this post just because my words are less interesting.
This is the first photo I took upon arriving in the city center, and every time I look at it, I can’t believe that I was there. That I saw this. It’s unreal.
In the middle of the city center there was yet another Christmas market. If you are keeping count, this was our fourth market, so I was pretty much over the Christmas spirit, which was a shame because it was Christmas eve! I loved each market for different reasons. Berlin had the best price on things, Dresden was quaint, Groningen was just so pretty because it was set along the water, and Prague had the best food options. On Christmas eve I was casually drinking mulled wine, while sitting next to a castle, was this real life? I’m still not sure.
Next to the city center is Prague’s astronomical clock, which was built in 1410, making it the third oldest astronomical clock. Definitely worth seeing.
After walking around the city, we decided to find a nice place to sit down and have dinner. The one thing I am not very good at doing is taking pictures of my food. I’m always just too excited to eat! This was one of my favorite meals, with no picture proof. I started the meal with some wine and sparkling water, followed by creamed spinach and a sheep’s milk gnocchi, with bacon, and peas. It was sooooooo good. My body was craving vegetables, and the spinach hit the spot. Also sparkling water is something I drink everyday, so I was elated to find it everywhere while in Europe!
The next day we woke up slowly, and drank coffee in the hotel room. It definitely didn’t feel like Christmas morning, but who can complain about sipping coffee and starring out over the city of Prague!
We didn’t have much of an agenda for Christmas, just a few landmarks we wanted to see. The first stop was the Charles Bridge. It’s a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. It showed up on every must-see tourist list, and I can see why. It’s a beautiful pedestrian bridge, that stretches between Old Town and Lesser Quarter.
Seriously, aren’t these photos so beautiful? As I look at them I am still in total amazement. We crossed the Charles Bridge from the Old Town side, and explored Lesser Quarter for the day. We walked through another Christmas Market (seriously, take a drink every time you read the word Christmas Market), more castles, and a cathedral. This market had amazing food, and it was measured by the pound, so you could try a small taste of a lot of foods! I tried a few different kinds of potatoes, some goulash, some veggies, and breads. Again, I suck at taking photos, so you will just have to trust me when I say it was delicious. Or you will just have to go to Prague and try it for yourself!
This is the St. Vitus Cathedral. I’m sure Adam got so sick of me because every time we’d see big, beautiful architecture like this I would say “can you imagine how long this took to build?” Or “I can’t believe people could create something this beautiful without technology.”
As we walked away from the cathedral, these are some of the views looking in the direction of Old Town, and the city of Prague.
After this we walked over to, or really I should say we walked up to the Prague Metronome. Of course I didn’t get any pictures of the metronome, just views from up top. This was seriously a hike, lots of stairs, but so worth it. Plus I enjoyed any bit of exercise I could get.
In some of these photos it looks like I photo shopped in all the clouds, but I promise that I am not that crafty with photo shop! The one thing that was hard for me in Europe was how overcast it was. Out of 16 days, I think I saw the sun maybe 5 days? I may live in the tundra that is Minnesota, but we do get quite a few sunny days, even in the winter!
After this we grabbed some snacks, and headed back to the hotel so that we could go swimming and just enjoy some downtime on Christmas. This trip was go, go, go. I’m glad I got to see so much, but it was also exhausting. Do you remember when I told you that we booked the hotel specifically for the pool? Well what the hotel (or rather hotwire) failed to mention is that you pay extra to use the pool. For $28 you could get access to the pool and gym, or just $14 for the gym. Adam and Sahar didn’t feel like spending this, but I really, really needed some time to myself. I bit the bullet and spent $14 to use the gym. And it was probably the best money I spent on the entire trip. Even though we walked an average of 7 miles everyday, using weights felt amazing. I spent two hours working out, and I felt so rejuvenated afterwards. It’s crazy what alone time, and endorphins can do for the soul.
After I was done with my workout, we headed to the casino next to the hotel, Adam wanted to spend the last of his czech koruna, since we would not be using this currency the rest of the trip. This was quite the experience. The casino was in a dark, closed strip mall. We had to take a small little elevator to the top floor, it felt a little like we were being kidnapped. Once inside we had to check our jackets, show them our passports, and get out pictures taken as proof that we had been there. We probably looked like we were up to no good because we stayed for maybe 5 minutes, but we just didn’t have that much money to gamble!
Then it was time to pack, and go to bed. Since we had two whole days in Prague, I washed some things in the sink so that I would have a few clean items. We booked a room in Budapest that had a washing machine, and I was already looking forward to it. Traveling with a backpack was smart since I was on the move so much, but I was already sick of everything I had packed.
We woke up early the next morning to board our bus to Vienna. I was about halfway through my trip at this point. At times I wondered how I was going to survive 4 more destinations, and at other times I felt that I could have traveled forever.
Favorite Parts of Prague:
- Transportation! So, so easy. And brought you everywhere you needed to go.
- The food. Very starched base, not as much emphasis on sweets, so be prepared to fill up on carbs!
- The architecture- very gothic, and well preserved, or at least felt well preserved.
- The leisurely pace. It never felt like anyone was in a hurry. In Germany I always felt like we were being rushed to leave places, but in Prague everything felt relaxed.
- The scenery. You saw the pictures, so beautiful. I could have spent a whole day just sitting on a bench taking in the scenery.
Would I go there again?
- Yes! I really hope to go to Prague again someday. However it was super touristy. I know other seasons and parts of Prague probably aren’t so touristy, so I would plan accordingly. By the end I got really sick of how many people were coming up to me trying to sell some sort of tour.