We weren’t planning on going to Prague. Well, actually, we were planning to go to Prague, but then we realized we had way too much on our agenda and regretfully cut it out. The plan was to spend those couple of days in Munich, and we were thrilled when we realized that our trip coincided with Oktoberfest. Now, you may wonder why a Mormon who doesn’t drink beer would be excited about Oktoberfest. Lederhosen! No, seriously, I may not drink, but I love festivals! I usually shy away from big crowds, but after experiencing the magic of Mardi Gras, I knew Oktoberfest would be worth it.
Then we tried to book a place to stay. It was near impossible to find anything and what we could find was three times more expensive than we wanted to pay. It was hard to say good-bye to Munich after anticipating it for so long, but adding Prague back to the agenda eased the pain. Oh Prague… I don’t even know how to describe it, but I fell in love with the city. I think it was the light on the rooftops. Or how every building was so rich with detail. It may also have been the pork schnitzel (but not the goulash, which was a little disappointing).
But I’m probably getting ahead of myself here. I may have been predisposed to love Prague because the train ride between Dresden and Prague was beautiful. I kept trying to capture it, but only ended up with the blur of colorful buildings and changing leaves.
We had rented an apartment with airbnb, and our host gave us excellent directions. I, however, got us on the wrong tram. I promise that I’m usually very good with directions, but I had a few flubs on this trip and this was one of the major ones. We ended up quite far from our apartment and quite turned around. But we eventually made it. The apartment was great! It was just steps away from the St. Charles Bridge and St. Nicholas Church. It was only 31 steps up and had a large bathroom (these things are very important). We dropped off our stuff and headed out to explore.
One of the things that I loved about Prague were the sidewalks. Yes, even the sidewalks were beautiful there. They were made of black and white square stones and each of them had a different design. I wish that I had made it a point to take photos of each design because I was amazed at the variation. But if you look close at the photos, I inadvertently captured some of the designs.
We were on our way to find some lunch, but we came across a door to a secret garden.
It ended up being the Wallenstein Palace Gardens full of peacocks and fountains.
After lunch, we went to the Mucha Museum. Alphonse Mucha was an Art Nouveau artist that you will probably recognize. The Mucha Museum is an unassuming, small space full of his work. Photos weren’t allowed inside, but just to give you an idea of his work:
Beautiful, right? Just imagine a whole museum full of similar works. But even better, you can see a whole building he designed just down the street in the 1912 Municipal Building.
And, if Prague hasn’t won you over yet, they were giving out free little cans of Coke.
We continued walking in search of a vintage shop called Bric-a-Brac that I had read about and eventually found it. It was very small.
A couple was inside when we got there and we had to do that awkward dance around each other to try and squeeze past shelves of pocket watches and tin cans and pipes and buttons and dolls. Unfortunately, it was kind of a spendy vintage shop, so I didn’t pick up any souvenirs. We also stopped in lots of stores selling marionettes and wooden toys. I had hoped to find a marionette, but they were actually kind of creepy and scary.
And then we stumbled upon Old Town Square. It was one of those moments where Cristen and I just looked at each other, and then we maybe went a little crazy with taking photos. We were so caught up in it that we actually lost track of each other for a while.
It was easy to get lose track of each other because the square was crowded. Most people were gathered around one feature in particular.
What could possibly attract so much attention? How about a clock? I almost felt bad taking this photo of it because I had to stand in front of everyone.
I know I’ve already complained about crowds a few times, but Prague actually felt more crowded than the other cities. I think it’s because there are a few sites that all the tourists just flock to. And why not? When you’re in Prague, of course you want to see Old Town Square and the astronomical clock and Charles Bridge, etc. But you know, the crowds just start to wear on you after a while. I found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to wander the city all by myself. After Cristen and I found each other again, we decided to ditch the crowds and take the tram to see Frank Gehry’s dancing buildings.
Followed by a walk across the Vltava River.
We picked one of the many outdoor cafes for dinner and that’s when I had the most amazing pork schnitzel. Eating out in Prague is interesting because the waiters always set up a little table next to yours with all of your condiments. I found it quite convenient. A couple across the cafe apparently ordered the big sampler because the waiter brought out a whole contraption for carving meat.
Before my trip, I asked friends for recommendations about what to see and do and places to eat. I got lots of great ones, but one piece of advice was to get up really early to walk across the Charles Bridge. We called it a night early, so we could take her advice. More of that later.