Visiting Prague had been on my wish-list for as long as I can remember. Last month, on my first visit to Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, I truly entered a wonderland I had only seen in Disney movies. On our first evening there, my husband and I went for a stroll in the city, taking in the wonderful architecture and lively streets. As we reached Vltava River, we could see the breathtaking view of the beautifully-lit Charles Bridge and Prague Castle in the distance.
Probably the top-most attraction in Prague as I could judge by the number of visitors on the Charles Bridge at all times, this pedestrian bridge dates back to 15th century. There are many interesting and quite a few spiritually significant statues on both sides along the bridge.
Legend has it that if you want to ensure your return to Prague and good fortune, you should touch the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, the priest who was ironically thrown off this very bridge and into the river. No matter how many times I walked on the bridge, I could never get enough of the ambiance or the sheer beauty of it.
Next on our itinerary was definitely the Prague Castle but our plans were slightly altered by a heavy downpour because of which we had to take shelter in a tourist office. The rain gave me the much-needed excuse to purchase and wear the ‘I Love Prague’ sweatshirt that got me some awkward smiles from onlookers.
After a long uphill walk, we reached the largest ancient castle in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). The castle has a magnificent cathedral inside called St. Vitus Cathedral. A walk around the castle and nearby areas can take hours but you don’t realise that the clock is ticking. Speaking of which, the climb up the clock tower at St. Vitus Cathedral challenges your fitness but if you do make it, the bird’s eye view of Prague is worth all the effort. A friend of mine who has lived in Prague suggested that we visit the Starbucks café near the castle as it offers the best rooftop view of the city. This turned out to be a good suggestion since both the view and the coffee were great.
If you want to have some ‘touristy’ fun while you are in the city, the historic Old Town Square of Prague is quite popular among the visitors for its charm. It is always buzzing with activity such as musical concerts and you can also come across people giving ‘free hugs’ if you are lucky.
The quest for best view of the city took us to the extensive park on Letna Hill. The place is generally not frequented by tourists but was recommended by another friend. The boundary of Letna Park offers the most stunning view of Vltava River and the bridges. You can sit on one of the benches for hours and inhale the fresh air and absorb the breathtaking sight of Vltava running through Prague. The scene is forever etched in my mind.
Last on the itinerary was the historical fort, Vysehrad (I still don’t know how to pronounce the name). We had not done prior research on the area but it turned out be a pleasant surprise. A mix of historic sites such as Basilica of St Peter and St Paul (the ancient neo-gothic church) as well as the Cemetery, it offers scenic views of the city as it is built on a hill and lush green surroundings. The oldest surviving building of Prague from 11th century, the Rotunda of St. Martin, stands distinguished and unparalleled in its glory in Vysehrad.
Travelling on foot in the drizzle in Prague was an enthralling experience and my favourite part of the tour. By covering most of the city on foot, we not only ended up saving a lot of money but also steered clear of the infamous taxi scams. We travelled by the metro and the tram a few times, but due to the depth of metro in Prague, taking the escalators just to get to the metro is an exercise that is bound to make you dizzy — definitely not a suitable option for faint-hearted people.
On my last day in the city, I tried to fill my lungs with the jovial Prague air, hugged Charles Bridge and promised to come back again as soon as possible.
So, explore Prague on foot, let it sweep you off your feet by its charm but make sure you have a painkiller handy because all good things come at a price.