Prague is known as the city of a thousand spires, and for good reason. Just a simple glance around highlights a pointed landscape, crafted in black, gold, stone, tan and hundreds of other colours. It dawned on us that between us we actually had very little knowledge about Prague or what there was to do. Our first stop was the tourist information center to buy a decent map, which was a very good move as it revealed a wealth of sites to visit.
The first stop of the day was Kurlov Most, or Charles Bridge, a large gothic bridge opened during the reign of Charles IV who rerouted a victory parade to incorporate use of the bridge. Today it is lined with statues by various sculptures and rubbing one is said to bring good luck! During the day the bridge is lined with musicians and artists all selling their wares and making a living off the tourists that flock to the bridge. The heat was unbelievable, so we crossed as quickly as we could, getting in to a cafe to cool down again. One of the oddities of Prague is that a beer is usually more than half the price of a coke or water, rather unfortunate for those of us that don’t drink beer! We paid Kc27 (about 80p) for a half litre beer, when the same in a coke was Kc55 (Â£1.50) and water Kc90(Â£2.80)! Fortunately their beers are also different to the usual and I had one which was more of a mead than a beer, tasting like a thinner form of honey, which was bearable and remarkably refreshing.
Having long lost the others, Martin and I climbed the hill to the Gothic church Tynsky Chram at the top of the mountain and agreed with Edu and Simryn who later stated that it looked like a smaller replica of the Parisian Notre Dame. It was part of a beautiful square however, where I could just imagine centuries worth of military parades and other official occasions. It also provided a beautiful view of the river and both old and ‘new’ Prague.
Martin and I went to the toy museum, not feeling much in the mood for art galeries, and really enjoyed seeing toys and models throughout the centuries. They had cars, trains, soldiers, porcelain dolls and teddy bears as well as more archaic wooden toys. There was also an entire floor, odd as this might sound, of Barbie dolls! Luxury dolls with real diamonds for earings, avant garde dolls that were never released for mass sale, famous dolls such as Marilyn Monroe, Brittney Spears, Vanilla Ice, and Michael Jackson (I’m guessing sales of that one dropped quickly!) as well as the Coca-Cola and Disney collection of Barbies and Kens. There were also themed sets, like Holiday Barbies over the years, Sweet 16 Barbie, 40th Anniversary Barbie and Royalty Barbies from different nations. It was an oddly enjoyable experience!
We walked down the mountain again, and caught the metro to the Old Town Square, an absolutely beautiful square surrounded by stunning buildings and a famous clock tower. The tower has an astronomical clock built in 1410 and every hour stately, professorial little cuckoo clock men peer out a ‘window’ above the clock face while a skeleton below the clock bobs its head until the bell stops tolling. It’s rather bizarre, but draws a crowd every hour!
There is also a statue on the square dedicated to a man who was burned at the stake there, but we’ve not yet found out what for!
On route home to meet Edu & Simryn for dinner, we met an American mother & daughter couple also trying to make head or tail of the Prague map and spent about 45 minutes comparing notes with them on Prague and the rest of Europe. They were telling us of excellent day trips out of Prague for a less touristy, more cultural experience of the country, something we think we should certainly return for!
After discovering that Tesco (a supermarket chain in the UK) also exists here, we went there to buy ingredients for a cheap dinner alternative, and returned home to make and eat it, before we returned to Charles Bridge for some night time pictures of it, Tynsky Chram and the Vltava river.