learning to spontaneously travel: a weekend in Prague

On Friday after class, all eight of us that were going to Prague dashed out of class and sprinted to the train station. We had 45 minutes between the end of class and the time our bus left. Had our transit connections worked out perfectly, we would have made it to the bus stop by 12:45. Given that they didn’t, we actually got there about 12:59 as our bus was finishing boarding. I don’t remember whose idea it was to take the earlier bus but we all agreed that next time, 45 minutes wasn’t enough time to make it from the school to the bus station.

The first evening in Prague wasΒ the first time I realized that traveling with eight very different people isn’t always easy.

We walked by so many different restaurants, but either they were too expensive, too busy, or not the right kind of food. After getting a little lost looking for the street the woman at the front desk of the hostel recommended, we had wandered around for well over an hour, taking lots of pictures of cute buildings along the way. We eventually settled on a place, but we were all pretty starving and a little hangry by the time we did…

The highlight of the meal was the blueberry ricotta pancakes! I split them with a friend but definitely could have finished a portion or two on my own. (And yes, by this point I had become a *very* flexible vegan when it came to eating out).

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The portions were small and maybe not quite enough considering that most of us hadn’t really eaten much all day on the bus, but we set off in search of a bar with the plans of grabbing snacks later.

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The first place we went to was a cozy little bar with interesting cocktails and cheap beer. We sat out on the back patio and it was really nice! After a drink we headed off to find another place, and came across a slightly more upbeat place that was packed at 1 am.

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We were inside this time so there was enough lighting for some (really terrible) photos. This was our best attempt at a group photo on my phone…

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Yup, that pretty much sums up bar crawling in Prague.

 

After our late night, we got off to a bit of a slow start the next morning. We didn’t realize that breakfast at our hostel was only offered until 10, and the first of our group showed up at 9:50, asking if it was included or if we had to pay extra. Although you normally would have to pay, I guess they figured they would give it to us for free since there was only 10 minutes left and food leftover. The rest of us ran down and ate in a hurry, but it was the best free breakfast I’ve had in a long time!

Since the city was so beautiful and the weather was nice (especially compared to Berlin), we decided to walk to the castle rather than taking transit.

Along the way some of us bought ‘trdelnik’, a delicacy there that’s ice cream inside pastry cone!

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We also managed to lose two of our group, and without cell service we had no way of meeting up. We decided to move on and try to meet up with them if we could find wifi later, since at least they were together and we were all going to the same place.

This is where my photos fail me in remembering exactly what we did from there… I could have sworn that we lost them when we got trdelnik, but we went to the old town square after that and they’re in the group photos we took there.

In any case, the old town square is incredible! There’s a monument in the centre, an couple old churches, and the oldest mechanical clock tower in Europe, all surrounded by more beautiful old buildings! Here’s a picture of the eight of us before we became six and two.

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There was a guy with a giant bubble want and the kids (myself included) loved it! (what do you mean, I’m supposed to be an adult now??)

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We went inside the St. Nicholas church, which was absolutely incredible (but hard to get good pictures of because it was so huge!)

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It was the first church like it that I’d been inside in Europe and I was in awe! Since then, I’ve seen quite a few more, and I’ll admit the novelty wears off a little…

The line for going up the clock tower was crazy long, and since we had limited time in the city, we didn’t go up. The clock is quite amazing though!

We listened in on a walking tour, and apparently the Czechs were so impressed by it that they decided the guy they commissioned to make it shouldn’t make any more clocks, so they got him a little drunk and poked out his eyes. He then said there would be a curse on the clock for 100 years and jumped into its gears.

100 years later, to the day, they got the clock working again, supposedly. I keep meaning to check how much truth there is to that story, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

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Also, they sell cheap mulled wine in plastic cups on the street, so I had to get some for the road, right??

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Along our walk, we couldn’t help stopping every few seconds to take pictures of all the beautiful buildings and adorable streets!

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We made our way to the river although we missed the classic old bridge the first time… we did get some nice views of it though!

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We made our way to the old bridge and I ended up making friends with a couple coloured doves along the way…

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In that moment I hadn’t really decided how I felt about coloured doves… I felt a little bad for the birds but when I stranger puts a bird on your head, what can you really say??

It ended up being a bit of a tourist trap because the guy asked for a tip afterwards, but nothing is that expensive in Prague so it wasn’t much. I guess I should be grateful I wasn’t pickpocketed while distracted!

Looking back, I didn’t take many pictures on the bridge itself because it was so busy and I really didn’t want to lose the group…

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Once we got to the other side, it was crazy packed! I’m amazed we didn’t lose any more of our group along the way.

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Once we climbed the hill a little, we had the most amazing view of the city!

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Once in the castle, we checked out the St. Vitus Cathedral, which was incredible! We didn’t want to pay to go inside, but you could still go just inside the entryway and take pictures outside.

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It’s also really beautiful inside, but this post is already pretty long and my pictures aren’t that great so I won’t add too many!

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We wandered around the castle grounds for a little whileΒ and then went out to the gardens.

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The view from the gardens was amazing!

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After we left the gardens, we hung out near a restaurant to use some wifi and met up with the rest of our group that we lost earlier.

On the way up to the castle earlier, we saw a sign that we couldn’t read but we thought was pointing to a maze. We decided to check it out, and it ended up being a bit of a walk, but we saw a different view of the city from the other hill that it was on.

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The maze itself was a little underwhelming, but we had fun taking pictures in the mirrors at the end.

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On the walk back to the old town for dinner, we walked by the John Lennon wall. There was apparently once a portrait of John Lennon painted on the wall, but since then it’s been covered in many layers of graffiti and Beatles lyrics.

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It even got a little sunny in the evening!

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Like the first night, we ended up walking around for a pretty long time without agreeing on a place to eat dinner. We ended up back at our hostel before we could agree on a place so we ended up eating at the restaurant there, which was fine! It was inexpensive and had traditional Czech food and cheap beer so I think everyone was happy. I had spargel (white asparagus) for the first time! I was a little surprised when it was white, because it just translates to asparagus – apparently asparagus here is white unless it’s specified that it’s green!

We had originally planned on going out again that night, but we were all pretty tired after such a busy day so we ended up just hanging out at the hostel after dinner and chatting over some Czech beer from the grocery store.

The next morning, we packed up and headed out planning to see one of the really famous synagogues, but turns out you couldn’t pay to see only one of them and had to pay a fair bit to see all of them in the city. We didn’t have enough time to see all of them, so we decided to pass on that.

We wandered around and noticed a crowd and a lot of noise coming from the old town square, so we headed over, and turns out it was the Prague Marathon that day! We arrived at the finish line just as the first people were finishing so we couldn’t have timed it any better if we tried.

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We tried to go see the cathedral in the old town square afterwards, but we missed it by about 15 minutes! It closed at noon on Sundays. We could go just inside the entryway and see a little bit, but my pictures don’t really show much.

We wandered around the rest of the day before catching our bus back in the early afternoon. I slept most of the way and made it back to my host family in enough time to get some proper sleep before my second week in Berlin!

Bis spΓ€ter!

Shannon

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