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.
We flew 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 (and definitely the area I would recommend to any traveller to base themselves out of).
View of the road on which we were staying
A wonderful welcome sign by Noemi
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.
We arrived quite late in the evening, not helped by delays, and so our first few hours were spent covering the essential such as the tiny bar around the corner where they would fill any jug you took down with what is definitely one of the best beers in the World. 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 (where I wheezed for a few minutes feeling incredibly unfit whilst taking in the incredible view!) and back down towards the apartment through Nerudova Street where you can see some of the finest examples of Prague’s famous house signs such as ‘Two Suns’ and the ‘Three Little Fiddles’ and get a beer at a great little place on the corner called U Kocoura which was always full of locals when we popped in. There’s also a pharmacy on this street (just incase you need to find one!).
That tiny sign on the right was the pub where you could get your jugs filled and that archway led to a set of stairs up to the Castle
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.
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
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, very cheap compared to London travel prices, and helpfully when you are on board there is a sign that lists the next stop location and a map to help guide you.
Rooftops of Prague – the perfect spot for a coffee in the morning
The distinctive design of the City trams
The girls at the entrance to Prague Zoo
Prague Zoo completely blew me away! I’ll do another post on our top attractions for kids in Prague but this will definitely be listed as number one 🙂
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!)
On Daddy’s shoulders for a better view of the Elephants – it was amazing to see them up close and watch them interacting with the elephant calf
Just look how close we were! It’s now on my Bucket list to meet an elephant.
Pure amazement at seeing the elephants so close
Thanks to our hosts knowing the zoologists here we were so wonderfully privileged to get to meet Eberhard the Galapagos tortoise up close – he was super friendly and this was a real highlight of our trip.
Braving the chair lift to get to the very top of the Zoo
The view was worth it!
Noemi teaching Lily about the Buddhist Prayer Wheels
My very own Indiana Jones
I took about a million photos of the Zoo as I just loved every bit of it but I won’t share any more 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.
Look out for my next post all about the rest of our stay in Prague and in the meantime checkout the #ivesonsontour tag on Instagram to see more…