This summer we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend a week in Prague. Our kind and generous friends Martin, Katerina and their daughter Noemi invited us to stay with them in their lovely home so that we could explore their city.
Prague is a beautiful city with a fascinating history and culture aplenty. It’s also one of the greenest and freshest feeling cities I have ever visited – it really does feel as though there is a park or garden on every street and the Vltava River lazily winding through the centre of the city lends to the feeling of space and the crispness of the air. That’s not to say it isn’t busy – the Old Town and Charles Bridge, in particular, are busy 24/7, the cobbled streets seeming to groan under the footfall of thousands of tourists however there are always little-hidden oasis’ just waiting to be found and relished.
Arriving in Prague
We flew with Ryanair from Gatwick to Vaclav Havel Airport where Martin and Noemi collected us. From the airport, it was a short drive to Malá Strana, the district of Prague where we would be spending our week. This is definitely the area I would recommend to any traveller to base themselves out of.
A home from home
Martin and Katerina’s beautiful home was a real haven from the busy city streets – with a cobbled courtyard and the perfect window seat from which to perch and sip your morning coffee. We were so grateful to them for welcoming us into their home.
Our hostess Katerina is a cordon bleu chef so after a delicious meal the girls went off to play and we took a moonlit walk up a seemingly verticle stone staircase to Prague Castle. Then back down towards the apartment through Nerudova Street. On Nerudova street you can see some of the finest examples of Prague’s famous house signs such as ‘Two Suns’ and the ‘Three Little Fiddles’. You can also get a beer at a great little place on the corner called U Kocoura.
Our first full day in Prague the weather was a little wet and miserable. Lily basically decided that she didn’t want to leave the apartment and so spent her day with Noemi whilst Scott and I went out to explore.
Lily getting creative.
Prague Old Town
There’s something very eclectic and enigmatic about Prague. It’s a city of juxtapositions – a place where history and Bohemian culture sit alongside Starbucks and McDonalds. A place where you look up at golden spires and down at broken cobblestones and pathways circled by weeds. And where incredible palaces and monstrous cement casinos jostle for space.
Some broken cobblestones at the corner of St Nicholas Church
Prague is often called ‘The city of a thousand spires’ and whilst I wouldn’t suggest trying to count them all it’s clear why the city has this particular nickname. The architecture of Prague is completely out of this World. Beautiful gothic, renaissance and baroque churches, grand palaces with private gardens, beautiful monasteries and tightly packed alleys where the colourful buildings make even dreary weather days seem brighter.
We avoided crossing the Charles Bridge. It was ram packed with people and I had no desire to battle our way across when a few minutes up the river was another empty bridge that we could cross without difficulty. In fact, we basically avoided using the Charles Bridge all week and only crossed it on our last day in the city for the sake of experience!
The sky cleared up for a little while as we made our way through the Old Town Square to see the famous Astronomical Clock. The base of the clock gets particularly clogged up with people waiting to see the hourly chime which, I’ve got to admit, I found anti-climatic.
It’s a really beautiful clock and the history of the building in which it is displayed is fascinating but I don’t think it’s as exciting as the hype makes out. The Tourist information office is just to the right of the clock tower and has lots of information on tours, leaflets to pick up etc. We grabbed a handful of leaflets to take a look at and the lady at the front desk was very helpful.
Scott and I sat and had lunch at an overpriced cafe on the square and enjoyed people watching and listening to some of the musicians busking for an hour or so until the waiter clearly wanted us to move on. Honestly, the restaurants and cafes etc around the old town square are complete tourist traps; expensive and westernised and not worth the visit.
This is one of my favourite shots that I captured that day – it’s not a great focus as it was just taken on my phone but I love the bubbles across the frame.
Scott admiring the beautiful buildings around Old Town
The blue skies came out for this shot of the Church of Our Lady before Týn
Day Two – Prague Zoo
Thankfully our second day the good weather came out to play and so after coffee and breakfast on the terrace we took the girls to Prague Zoo for the day. It was just a hop, skip and a jump from Malá Strana on the tram (a fun experience in itself!). The tram network is super efficient and also very cheap compared to London travel prices. Helpfully when you are on board there is a sign that lists the next stop location and a map to help guide you.
Lions and tigers (no bears) Oh my!
This big guy wandered inside to have a snooze, and to give us a high-5! Despite having lots of room in the enclosure he snuggled up in this little corner and watched the kids (hopefully not because he was peckish!)
Thanks to our hosts knowing the zoologists here we were so wonderfully privileged to get to meet Eberhard the Galapagos tortoise. We got to go up close enough to touch him. He was super friendly and this was a real highlight of our trip.
I’m terrified of heights but we had to brave the chair lift to get to the very top of the Zoo. Don’t worry though – if you can’t bring yourself to do it then there’s a walk instead. The view from the top was worth it!
The giraffes were another real highlight and they were in a huge enclosure. It was much bigger than any other I’ve ever seen. They looked happy and were very curious about my camera!
My very own Indiana Jones
Summing it up
I took about a million photos of the Zoo as I just loved every bit of it but I won’t share anymore here. It was hands down the best and biggest zoo I have ever visited. By the end of the day there our legs were exhausted and our hands were sticky from the ice cream but we had huge smiles on our faces.
If you like my pics then check out the Blond Wayfarer’s post on picture perfect places in Prague here!