We had an amazing visit to Berlin – we saw so much, learned a lot, and really explored. After such a successful time in the first city of our adventure, we were eager to go somewhere neither of us had been before – Prague! We got up early to have breakfast at the hotel and then packed and cleaned up the rest of our things. This was a hard moment for Katharina because she had to say goodbye to her boyfriend who had been traveling with us in Berlin.
We took two trams to get to the main train station where we had been the day before. We made sure to arrive early because train/tram systems are never perfect and we experienced enough delays to know it’s worth sitting around where you need to be a little longer in order to make sure you catch your main train. We took the time to check out the large station, get snacks for the trip, pay to use the bathroom, and figure out where we needed to go.
We both got re-energized when our train pulled up and we were pumped to get on and find our seats. Because this was the first train we had reservations for, I think we were both a little unsure of how it worked and if we would find everything okay, but we managed just fine! The train was extremely crowded, hot, and stuffy so we were glad to have our reserved spots because many people were wandering around with nowhere to go. This train had little compartments with six seats per space.
We shared with two girls traveling to Bratislava and a family that traded the two leftover seats throughout the five hour ride because they had not reserved seats in advance. The little boy of the family was adorable and played with us and we shared candy with him. We couldn’t understand each other because we didn’t speak the same language, but some things don’t need words (he was happy with me making goofy faces at him the whole trip).
So before telling you about our evening in Prague, let me give you some very brief background and historical information about the city. It is the capital and largest city of Czech Republic and the 15th largest city in the EU. In 2014, it was the fifth best destination for travel according to Tripadvisor. The name of the city in Czech is Praha, which originally comes from the word “prah,” meaning threshold – a rapid on the river, which is fitting as the city sits on the Vitava River. The city was once a capital of the Holy Roman Empire, important to the Habsburg Monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the capital of the former Czechoslovakia. The historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, which isn’t surprising considering the area was settled as early as the Paleolithic age and became part of the historical territory of Bohemia. The city was affected by the Thirty Years War, both World Wars, and the Cold War so the history is undeniable every place you step.
So my first impressions of Prague – cleaner than Berlin, beautiful architecture everywhere, and crowded. Considering it is the fifth most visited city in Europe following London, Paris, Istanbul, and Rome, the huge amounts of tourists wasn’t so surprising, but still overwhelming. We found our hotel after walking about fifteen minutes from the train station. Our hotel was really hip and more like a hostel with a different style from usual hotels because of its crazy lighting and decorations.
We settled into the room and then got our map, explored our options, and got ready to see the city!
We found some crazy things right away, like the Sex Machines Museum.. (you can’t make this kind of stuff up):
Then we went to the old town square, a huge tourist section of the city, to see some of the older buildings.
We found the astronomical clock, which was installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world. It is the oldest one that still functions. It was truly awesome to watch it move on the hour.
Unfortunately we didn’t get lucky with the weather for our first night in Prague. I think in hindsight this was for the best because we were both exhausted from the long train ride and the rain gave us an excuse to go to bed early. We were happy to have our raincoats though!
The legend about building in the background, Tyn Church, is that it inspired Disney for the famous castle in Sleeping Beauty. This present church has existed since the 14th century, but some form of a church has been in that spot since the 11th century. It took decades to build this. The oldest pipe organ in Prague, from 1673, sits inside this church. The towers of the building are 80 meters high. All of that is really amazing to think about!
To get out of the rain, we grabbed some dinner quickly and of course sampled ice cream! We were happy to be seated under large umbrellas when it started down-pouring around us.
After this delicious treat, we made our way back to the hotel because the next day was definitely a filled and intense one.