After partying a bit too hard in Budapest, I ended up taking it slow during my time in Prague following my stay in the former. In other words, Prague was my “recovery city,” as I spent my five nights re-exploring the places I’d seen from my first trip back in 2015— all the while checking out a few sites I hadn’t gotten to back then.
I caught my Flixbus ride to Prague close to 11:00– journey time took about seven hours as I went through three countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) that one day. There was even a brief stop in Bratislava, which I’d visited in 2016, and it was exciting to see its looming castle from the dirty windows of the bus.
All the same, the bus arrived into Prague’s main railway station around 18:00, and my Couchsurfing host picked me up there; we walked over to his flat, located in Prague 3, which was about a 15-minute walk away. Along the way, we struck up a conversation, getting to know each other– he was Russian, but currently in Prague for his Master studies in American Literature and Culture, which I found interesting, i.e. a hodgepodge of culture! It was his first time Couchsurfing, and although he was rather shy and socially-awkward, he did a good job as a first-time host. We had tea and biscuits during a couple of evenings, and we even spent a day together exploring the districts outside of the touristy attractions (i.e. Prague 1). My host offered me a separate room, which contained a couch to sleep on. Considering that it was the dead of winter when I visited, the flat was quite chilly as it didn’t have central heating– my host was kind to give me a low-energy heater, since it was quite expensive to turn on and keep the electric heater running all night while I slept. We had tea and biscuits that evening as we continued getting to know each other, and then I turned in for bed.
The next morning was my first full day of revisiting Prague. After a quick breakfast, I headed out to Old Town Square, which was about a 15 to 20-minute walk. On the way, I exchanged some euros for korunas, and I also stopped by the colorful Jerusalem Synagogue to admire its exterior– unfortunately, it was too early to go inside, but I hope to return to Prague to do so!
Passing under Henry’s Tower (Jindřišská věž), I arrived at Old Town Square. Just as lively and colorful as I’d last remembered, the square was still filled with tourists despite the wintry chill. I headed to the astronomical clock, which sadly was under construction, but the tower was still open. I paid about 8€ to access the top, and I got some decent views of Old Town Square (including the Church of Our Lady before Týn). Although it wasn’t the highest viewing point in the city, the clock tower was something that I’d wanted to do upon revisiting Prague, and I was glad that I did.
Upon descending the clock tower, I treated myself to a Nutella trdelník, which was just what I needed to power through the rest of my day entirely on foot. I made my way to the Old Jewish Cemetery (although I opted not to pay to go inside) before crossing over the Vltava River to the castle district.
I didn’t check out Prague Castle that day, instead choosing to make a deviation towards the Strahov Monastery, which was founded back in the early 12th century. I was particularly keen on visiting its library, which I’d been told is lovely– there was an admission fee of about 2€, as well as an additional 2€ for taking photos, the latter which I opted not to do. I regretted not paying extra, since I couldn’t really take photos of the unbelievably-gorgeous interior inside (did try sneaking a photo, which worked, but got caught). I would end up returning on my last day in Prague and paying full admission for it, thus satisfying my photo-loving self.
Nearing noon, I exited the Strahov Monastery library and headed out the hill, but not before getting snowy, but jaw-dropping views of the Old Town from a terrace near the monastery– in fact, much of my time in Prague was dedicated to photographing views, since there are millions of opportunities to do so. As someone who loves a good vantage point, I wasn’t complaining!
I crossed Charles Bridge (of course, packed with tourists and buskers) and strolled along the quay where I stopped by the Dancing House, which had been co-designed by famous architect Frank Gehry in the 1990’s. In jarring contrast with the Baroque and Gothic buildings that surround it, the Dancing House has received controversy since it was constructed, but all the same, it remains a popular tourist attraction today. With the blue skies behind it, the building makes for an aesthetically-pleasing photo.
Soon enough, I headed all the way to Florenc station, where I was to meet my Couchsurfing host for lunch and to hang out. Before getting lunch, we visited the National Monument on Vítkov, which is perched on a hill located in Prague 3. I’d never been to it before, and it offered probably the most-comprehensive view of the city, from Old Town Square to Prague Castle. Eventually, we headed down to get a late lunch at a sports bar, where my host had said serves a good garlic soup– although I’m not a huge soup fan, I ended up ordering and enjoying mine, along with a hearty goulash to boot.
We spent the afternoon wandering around Prague 2 and 3. My host showed me the Kostel Nejsvětějšího Srdce Páně (Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord), which had been built in the 1920’s to 1930’s and is distinctive in its modern design. We also visited a park where we got more pleasant views of Old Town in the distance before ending up on Vinohradská, the main shopping street which connects with the Národní museum. By then, it was nearing 17:00 and already dark, so we returned to my host’s flat where we relaxed for the rest of the day.
It’d been a busy, but fulfilling first day back in Prague; I’ll be recapping more of my time in the city in the next post!