If you're looking for a culinary taste bud explosion, then Prague maybe isn't the place to go. We certainly didn't eat badly on our trip, but the local cuisines are pretty limited in their offering, consisting predominantly of cuts of pork, sauerkraut and potatoes. We mainly stuck to traditional Czech food where we could and tried most of the expected dishes.
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Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Prague is one of those cities, like Paris, where Brits go for a 'long weekend'. Unlike Paris, however, there aren't many people who can tell you what there is to see there. It's known for being picturesque, and I knew before I went that there is a river running through with a famous bridge over it, but that was pretty much it. In the three days I was there, I found out that Prague has an incredibly rich and fascinating history, and the city was truly brought to life for me through the wonderful walking tours we went on.
The architecture is staggering; not from its height, but from the intricate detail everywhere. The famous Astronomical Clock is truly beautiful, though how you tell the time from it is beyond me! Known as the City of 1000 Spires, despite being the second most atheist country in Europe, it's not difficult to see how Walt Disney found inspiration for fairytale constructions like Maleficent's castle. And he's not the only famous person to be in awe of Prague; Kafka lived and worked there, and Mozart loved the people of the city so much that he held the premiere of Don Giovanni at a theatre there, which is now the last place that he played to still be in existence. Prague has also been the foundations for myth and legend, with the story of the Gollum originating from the attic of the Old New Synagogue in the Jewish District.
Our guide Michael met us by the Rudolfinum music hall and pointed out some of the main sites including the Charles Bridge before we caught a tram up the hill to the castle.
The castle grounds is still the home of the Czech president and prime minister, as well as the senate. It is protected around the perimeter by soldiers decked out in uniforms designed by the costume designer for the Oscar winning Amadeus, carrying bayonets, and is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the city and its surroundings. The architecture again was completely stunning and we were shown an incredible example of sgraffito - a type of design where patterns are literally scratched into the brickwork giving a textured appearance that feels like looking at a Magic Eye picture.
On our own time, we wandered down to the Charles Bridge which has huge looming statues on each side, depicting various parts of Czech history or saints and other religious figures. The view from each side is completely gorgeous with towers, winding streets and petite houses by the river that I could've looked at for days (if it wasn't so bloody cold that is). Prague is one of those places where you take hundreds of photos of buildings, just because. It is also incredibly cheap, and perfect for a quick trip away with a flight time from Heathrow of only two hours. Despite the weather, it really is a beautiful city, and I'll definitely be going back to see a little further afield.