After spending so much time in Poland, and having more time left in the kids’ spring break, it felt natural to take a train to Prague. I had very fond memories of being in Prague back in 1998, and I was excited to show Marc one of my favorite cities in the world. Our night train pulled into the Prague train station around 6am and we got off the train, groggy but excited. Prague station was an absolute ghost town. Not at all what we had experienced in Krakow, which had a vibrant, lively, huge station. I hadn’t done my research and had just assumed we’d hop on public transport to our apartment, quickly and easily, as is usually the case in so many big European cities. But we couldn’t find a subway. No one to tell us where to get a bus. Taxi stand completely lifeless. Our phone batteries were dead after the power had gone out on our night train. So, we did the only thing we could think of. We sat at the taxi stand until we saw a sign of life. Two hours later, we were crabby, tired and hungry, but we were in a taxi on the way to our apartment. We were staying at James House, which is a cool aparthotel just across the Charles Bridge from the Old Town. Luckily, there is a great cafe, Bistro 34, on the ground floor so we were able to fill our bellies…and charge phones! Marc was meeting us in Prague, so having the ability to communicate again was great. A little while later, Marc arrived. We hadn’t seen in him two weeks, so there were lots of happy hugs!
We took a walk to the Old Town square. To get there, we had to cross over the Charles Bridge, which was completely packed with tourists. The bridge is massive, so it takes time to cross it, and there were people end to end. After crossing the bridge, the crowds lessened, until we tried to get near the astronomical clock. This clock might be the most famous tourist attraction in Prague, and it is beautiful, but slightly underwhelming. The crowds were massive around the clock, so perhaps that took away from it.
We took a tour of the Prague Castle and surrounding area. Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 square meters. Roughly the size of seven (American) football fields, it is HUGE! We loved the Starhov Theological Hall and Library. One of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen and well worth a visit. It’s at the back of the castle and a little hidden, but if you ask around, you’ll find it.
The coolest thing about Prague is that it’s basically been untouched since the 10th century. This is super rare. It is one of the only big cities in Europe not destroyed in WW2. Our tour guide told us that Hitler thought it was too beautiful and he intended to make it the arts and culture capital of Nazi Europe, so he did not bomb it. The world is lucky because it’s a gorgeous city. While it was still really crowded in October, I think visiting in the winter would bring less crowds, and a snowy Prague would be like a dream!