Golden Lane – Prague Castle

Golden Lane can be found in Prague Castle.  It consists of small houses that have been compared to doll’s houses.  Franz Kafka lived here with his sister between 1916-17.  When the communists took over Czechoslovakia they nationalised the Golden Lane.  They restored the buildings.  Today the Golden Lane forms part of the Prague Castle complex.  Which ever visit option you chose will get to visit the Golden Lane.  However, you cannot visit the Lane on its own.  It is a welcome change to all the castles and churches though it does get packed during peak times.

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There is many sites to see on the Golden Lane.  Just take your time and enjoy.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

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Charles Bridge – Prague

The Charles Bridge or Karluv Most lies at the heart of Prague.  It connects the old city to the castle and is considered to be the most important bridge in Prague.

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The bridge itself measures 621 metres long with its width coming in at 10 metres wide.  It stands on 16 arches.  There are three bridge  towers that stand at either end of the bridge.  One of which stands on the Old Town side.  The other two stand on what is known as the Lesser Quarter.  The bridge tower that stands on the Old Town is considered to be one of greatest examples of gothic style buildings in Europe.

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Lining the bridge there are thirty baroque style statues.  These are now mostly replicas.  Also lining the bridge you will find plenty of artists and arts and crafts traders trying to tempt you to part with your money.  Also there will also be beggars though they ply their trade quietly.

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It has been said the best time to see the bridge is at night time when there are less crowds.  I must admit my favourite was early morning as the traders were setting up for the day.  Whenever you visit Charles Bridge is a must experience when you visit Prague.

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Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

St. Vitus Cathedral – Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral is the Roman Catholic cathedral in Prague.  It is part of the Prague Castle complex.

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Dating from the 10th century the cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture.  It is also the most important religious building in the city.

Whichever tour Prague Castle option you choose St. Vitus is always included.  However, I must warn you that it is extremely popular and you will find yourself being swept along with the crowds and tour parties.  Despite that there is always a hush inside the building.  It is only broken with sound of the staff warning you not to take photos with flash.  This is the perfect opportunity for you not to use the automatic setting on your camera.

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Inside the cathedral there is St. Wenceslas’s Chapel where the remains of the saint are kept.  Sadly you will not be able to enter the chapel itself but can be viewed via a side window.  There are plenty of statues and monuments to view that reflect the history of Prague.

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It is important to take your time to explore the cathedral in order to take everything in.  Otherwise if you allow yourself to be swept up in the crowds you may end up on missing out on a lot on what the cathedral has to offer.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – View Along Charles Bridge, Prague

This week’s photo was taken in Prague.  It is of the view along Charles Bridge.

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This was taken from one of the towers at the end of the bridge.  I was lucky that the photo was taken around 10am and I avoided the crowds that can plague the cit.  The surrounding buildings along with the bridge sum up for me the beauty of Prague.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Prague – A Reflection

What can I say about the city of Prague.  It is beautiful, historic, full of fun and crowded.  It was always a city that I wanted to visit for a long time.  Twenty three years since the full of Communism would Prague fail to live up to expectations.  The answer was that I fell in love with the city.  There is something for everybody be it culture vulture or party animal.

Everything in Prague is compact and easy to reach by foot.  However, I recommend that you start your day early if wish to avoid the crowds particularly if you are looking to cross the Charles Bridge.  I was in Prague during September and there were a lot of visitors.  Suffice to say it would be best to avoid Prague during July and August.

The best way of gaining your bearings is to go on a walking tour.  Once you see the landmarks it is easy to remember where you are going.  Plenty of companies organise walking tours.  I was lucky the my hostel operated a free one.  As a solo traveller I found it a great way of meeting people.  Walking is not the only way of seeing Prague.  There were carriage tour and even a Segway tour too.

Here are a list of must see attractions in Prague:-

  • Prague Castle
  • Charles Bridge
  • The Astronomical Clock
  • Old Town Square
  • Wenceslas Square

All of these attractions can be visited in a day, something I managed to achieve.  Admittedly it meant crossing the Charles Bridge at 09:30.

As I mentioned earlier Prague has a reputation of being a party town.  Starting with organised pub crawl from the hostel I explored the bars and clubs the city had to offer.  What I liked about the nightlife in Prague was how relaxed they were about the house rules concerning attire.  I was wearing casual clothes with black training shoes and had no problem in gaining entrance.  This is so different to the UK.  I ended up at Karlovy Lazne (5 Story Club) apparently Europe’s tallest nightclub.  A tip is the further you climb the cheesier the music becomes.  This is pleasing for an old fart like me.

Then there is always the beer.  It is true that it is cheaper than buying soft drinks.  However, the reputation of beer’s quality is such that it represents real value for money.  There was a bar on spirits over 20% proof while I was in Prague.  This was due to poisoned alcohol being sold in the street which had claimed lives.  There are plenty of small bars that sell absinthe the strong aniseed flavoured spirit.  If that sounds too much for you then you can try the absinthe flavoured ice cream.

I was made extremely welcome in Prague.  It is a safe city to walk around.  Whatever you choose to do I am sure that you will have a good time.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Photo of the Week – Memorial to Jan Palach & Jan Zajíc

This week’s photo is of the memorial plaque to Jan Palach & Jan Zajíc.  It is located in Wenceslas Square in Prague.

As a protest to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 both set fire to themselves.  Palach happened on the 16 January 1969.  He died on 19 January.  Zajíc set himself alight and died on 25 February.  A third person Evźen Plocek died on 9 April after trying the same feat.  All three men died wanting freedom for their country.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

St. Christopher’s at the Mosaic House, Prague – A Review

During my recent trip to Prague I stayed at the St. Christopher’s at the Mosaic House.  How does it rate?

As a hostel it was different to what I expected.  It is a large building and it gives off a look of an expensive hotel.  It is located near the centre of Prague.  It is about fifteen minute walk towards Charles Bridge.

Checking in was initially difficult as the receptionist was unable to find my booking.  The booking was found eventually and I was checked in.

Entry to the dorm was by key card and there is an 150CZK deposit to pay but you get a free map of Prague.  It is refunded when you check out of the hostel.  My dorm was on the second floor.  You can either get the lift or use the stairs.  Once I entered the dorm I was pleasantly surprised.

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There were three bunks in the dorm.  There was a security box to put your rucksack in.  You would need to bring your own padlock. You can purchase one from reception. On each bed there was storage, a charging point and reading lamp.  I found this to be very useful especially when returning late at night.

The bathroom was excellent.  It was modern, in fact it could have come straight out of the Ikea catalogue.

There is no kitchen area for you to cook in.  The hostel does have a big bar area where they serve hot food.  You get a discount of 20% when you order your first meal.  However, if you are staying for a few days it can get expensive for you.  The food is of excellent standard.  I particularly recommend the Bar-b-q ribs and chicken wings, very sticky and tasty.

A buffet breakfast is also available from 7-10am.  At weekends it is available for longer.  It costs 150CZK.

There is a large bar which is always busy.  There are plenty of local beers and spirits available.  There are plenty of television screen which show various show especially sport from around Europe.  It is a good place to chill out and speak to people over a beer.  There is live music on every Thursday evening.

The hostel has plenty of activities which it organises.  As a solo traveller I would recommend the free walking tour and the pub crawl.  It is a great way of seeing the city and meeting people at the same time.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at St. Christopher’s.  The staff were friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was excellent.  If you are looking for a hostel that is in the centre of Prague than I would recommend this one.

I booked through HostelBookers.com.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Prague & Bratislava – Day 13, 22/09/2012

So this is it, I am going home today.  I did not have time to wallow in self-pity.  There was too much to do even though my coach doe  s not leave until 5pm.  First, I had to get the supplies for the journey home.  In total I will be travelling for nearly twenty-four hours.  There was a Tesco’s near the hostel.  So I brought enough baguettes, crisps, cake and iced tea to last me for that time.  I wish that I had brought my clubcard as the extra would have come in useful.

Back at the hostel the procedure of packing everything began.  Not only ensuring my belongings were packed but now I had to find room to fit the food in the small backpack.  Now it weighs a ton.  I had to check out of the hostel by 10am so I decided to have a final walk around Prague.  The sun was out and I spent the time taking in all the sights.  There was a big bicycle parade taking place in Wenceslas Square.

Cycles waiting to begin the parade.

I also needed to purchase a souvenir of my trip.  What should I buy?  I did not want another t-shirt.  Then it hit me I saw a giant cup, just the thing to enjoy a cup of tea.  My colleagues at work will be impressed.

Once purchased I slowly made my way back to the hostel.  I just chilled out until the inevitable time when I had to leave.  So with rucksack weighing heavy on my back I left for the metro station.  The journey to the coach station always seems the quickest yet the time waiting for the coach is always the longest.  I found a seat at the back of the coach.  As I pulled out of the coach station I could only think about the last thirteen days.  They had been enjoyable and I cannot wait to plan my travels for 2013.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Prague & Bratislava – Day 12, 21/09/2012

My final full day of my trip.  I was determined to get as much in as I could.  Who knows when I will be back in Prague again.  So an early start was in order.  I decided I would get breakfast on the go rather than eat in the hostel.  After breakfast I made my way towards the Charles Bridge hoping that I would be able to escape the crowds.

At 09:30 in the morning I was glad to be able to miss the crowd and I could take in the sights of the bridge at my own pace rather than feeling rushed.  Once I crossed the bridge I made my way towards the Lennon Wall.  This was one place I wanted to visit after being told about it by other travellers.  When I first viewed the wall I was taken aback by the colours.  Once I started to make sense of it all.  I could see Lennon’s lyrics and I started to feel emotional.  Then I came across these two images.

It was then when my emotions overtook me.  The tears started to roll down my face.  I did not want to go home.  The last twelve days have just been so enjoyable.  Yet, all good things have to come to an end.  In my heart I knew this to be true.  I just had to compose myself again.

I just wanted to make my way back up to the castle so I walked instead of catching the tram.  I just wanted to take in all the sights and sounds that were around me.  Eventually, after a few detours I arrived at Prague Castle.  I decided that I would just purchase the Short Visit ticket.  Rather see less and savour than rush to see everything.  The Short Visit ticket started at St. Vitus cathedral.  I am a fan of churches and stained glass windows much to the amusement of my family.  In that respect St. Vitus did not disappoint me.  There were plenty of photo opportunities which I took advantage of.  Both my camera and iPhone were busy.  However, there was an over zealous member of staff who kept reminding people not to use the flash on their cameras.  Lesson for people not to set the camera to auto.

From St. Vitus I made my way to St. George’s Basilica.    This section took about forty minutes to view.  At around lunchtime things were starting to get crowded.  I needed to escape or at least needed to have something to eat.  Luckily I found a cafe that was selling a sandwich at a reasonable price.  Feeling refreshed I made my way to the Golden Avenue.  This did not disappoint me.  So much history there.  My favourite section was the museum full of amour.

I made my way to the Old Royal Palace but I found this to be disappointing.  So it was time to make my way back down the hill to the centre of Prague.

Once back I made my way to the Museum of Communism.  Though not rated too highly by Lonely Planet it was one place I wanted to see.  You cannot separate Communism from Prague as much as you may want to try.

There was one place I had yet to visit.  This was Wenceslas Square.  So much history took place there and I felt I could not miss it even if it was getting late.  It did not disappoint me.  There was almost a party atmosphere in the square.  There were lots of stalls selling souvenirs and food.  It almost felt like a Christmas market.  Must have been the Friday feeling.  It was certainly a party at the statue of King Wenceslas.

With a heavy heart I made my way back to the hostel.  Over a beer I was enjoying the company of a Canadian who reminded me that I was lucky to live so close to the mainland.  I had to agree with him.  I am a lucky man.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy, keep smiling.

Steve

Prague & Bratislava – Day 11, 20/09/2012

Time to leave Bratislava and make my way back to Prague.  It is then that the realisation I will be going home soon hits me.  My mood becomes melancholic.

As I left the Hostel Blues the feeling of saying goodbye to people had begun to tear into me.  All I could think about was the thought of being home and back to the grind that is work.  At least the sun was shining and I was listening to good music.  That had lightened the mood.

I arrived into Prague at around 5pm.  I made my way back to the hostel St. Christopher’s at Mosaic House.  It felt like an old friend to me.  I checked in and found myself sharing a dorm with five Argentinians.  Nothing wrong with that except they were a bit loud and frankly I did not feel in the mood to put up with this.  I had to go and change my Euro’s into Czech Koruna’s.  When I arrived back I bumped into one of the Argentinians who asked if I could swap rooms with one of their friends.  I was only too happy to oblige and so I moved.  I am used to this by now.

Once settled in I decided to go and have something to eat.  The bar-b-q wings and ribs were great if not a bit sticky.

However, the feeling that I was going home would not leave me and I was not enjoying the beer.  Also I was feeling tired so it was best to get off to bed early and chill out.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve