We had a little trouble getting to Prague at first; our train was packed! We literally stood cramped in the passageway for about 10-15 minutes before we could make it down the hall and into another car. Finally we found seats – but not together. I sat in a compartment with five boys from Portugal and Zach sat in another with a random assortment of bores. My ride was eventful and full of chatter as we discussed politics, culture, Texas, Portugal, and our travels. They were an entertaining bunch – around 19-20, just finishing their first years in college, and full of questions and stories.
We hadn’t made any reservations for a hostel so once we arrived we set out toward Sir Toby’s – namely because it had free wifi. It was out of the city centre which was nice – quiet and a little more relaxed. Thankfully they had vacancies and we were placed in a 10 bed dorm. For our first evening in Prague we decided to stick close to the hostel. We walked down the street a little ways to a Czech restaurant, Rustika. There we indulged in some delicious Czech beer, the World Cup, and meat and potatoes – the national dish. I had pork schnitzel with potato pancakes (so tasty) and Zach had a pork pocket filled with Parma ham and cheese and some potatoes on the side. It was a nice way to end a day of travelling.
The next morning we decided to go into the city centre and explore some of the tourist sites. We hopped onto a tram and headed toward Prague Castle. The morning was nice. There were few tourists out and the streets were still quiet. We decided to have breakfast at Bohemia Bagel and plan the day. By the time we left, the tourists had awoken and were out in full swing. Crossing the Charles Bridge was an obstacle course; dodging an Asian tour group, families, and the elderly, the bridge lost its charm entirely. Once on the other side and in Old Town we visited the Rudolfinium, Old Town Square, and Municipal House. It was beginning to warm up and we didn’t have much direction – we were basically wandering around. It wasn’t ideal. After some fruit and a short rest in the grass by the main train station we decided to give up and visit Prague Castle. We bought tickets for the short visit and finished in less than an hour. It wasn’t much to see; in fact we could have gotten away with just strolling through the courtyard. The best part is the view of Prague from the castle. We ate some ice cream and looked out over Prague and then headed back down the hill. We caught a funicular back up to Petrin Hill and strolled through the quiet park to a monastery where we intended to eat and drink some of the beer. There were no seats however, so instead we picked a nice Italian restaurant, Bella Vista, which overlooked Prague. It was definitely a better view than the monastery.
Yesterday morning we decided to stay outside of the centre. We opted for the Prague Zoo. It was about $5 for each of us – very cheap! The zoo was perfect! We had such a great time. The polar bears put on a great show – splashing and playing in the water – and it wasn’t crowded at all. For lunch we ate at their restaurant – beer was cheaper than soda – and relaxed before heading back to the hostel.
We took a short break from the afternoon heat and then headed out once again to the city centre. We walked over to Lennon Wall, across the Charles Bridge, and back to the Old Town Square. It was a much better experience in the evening with most tourists eating or resting. The weather had cooled down and we discovered the romance of Prague’s winding streets and colorful architecture. We ended our trip in Prague by seeing a film at an arthouse cinema – it had an Alamo Drafthouse feel to it. Fabulous film with English subtitles and of course, beer.