This is the second in a series of posts about a trip to Europe in the summer of 2016.
Next we drove to Prague. We never really crossed a proper ‘border’ into Germany because the GPS took us through tiny narrow back roads. We realized we entered the Czech Republic when the names of the roads became obviously ‘non-German’. We entered the city from a very industrial looking side, high rise apartments and massive billboards on highways etc. Not at all the Prague we imagined. And even though we were staying at Prague 3, it was at least a 20 minute bus ride from the city center where the Castle was situated.
We chose Elen’s Aparthotel in Prague. I would highly recommend it. Very clean and extremely functional. Clean bathroom with the best hot shower. Comfortable room with a desk and television. The kitchenette had lots of relevant crockery and cutlery. We chose apartment-hotels in most of the cities as it was easy to store snacks, milk, fruit and make quick meals for the kiddo. The staff was very friendly and quite helpful.
We spent two nights there but please dedicate at least three nights to Prague. Stroll the main areas afoot, the streets are narrow and winding, uphill and downhill. Take the tram up to the castle early one morning and spend half the day there. Drink it in. It is not like other European castles but very different. It has a dark, almost burnt façade with sudden bits of gilded iron which is incredible. There are cathedrals laden with history. The stained glass is truly something. I would ideally like to spend four hours here. We went late and on a very hot and sunny day. The immediate needs (nap, hunger and diaper demands) of a toddler had to be tended to, so spending a long time there wasn’t possible. But the downhill walk down from the castle towards the bridge while having a Pragelato made things better. We crossed Charles Bridge onto the other side of town. I don’t think there is a bridge anywhere else in the world with so much to offer. Lots of vendors selling little knick-knacks, its jet black statues looking down at all passersby. I just stood there clutching the stroller’s handles, there was so much beauty to take it. It really overwhelms you. Crossed over to the main town square to watch the astronomical clock change on the hour, and passed by Franz Kafka’s house where he wrote his major works. Had beef goulash for lunch. Visited St. Wenceslas square. This is not all. Prague has a great deal on offer. So explore. Have fun. It was torture to leave this city. I just couldn’t say bye.
Our next destination in the Czech Republic was Cesky Krumlov, a small town built entirely around a castle. The castle itself is surrounded by a moat with bears and all! This is part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and definitely a place to visit or to spend a night. It has the Prague-feel but without the the droves of tourists. The Vltava River flows through the town and the castle is built on the confluence. I promise that every view from every possible nook is just lovely. It’s so very quaint. I got rooted to every spot and took so many pictures but none of them do any justice. None. I wanted to take a part of this place with me.
Ok I forgot, ON THE WAY to Cesky Krumlov we took a detour and went to a place called Kutna Hora to visit the Bone Cathedral. As the name suggests, this cathedral is made entirely of bones! Human bones. 40,000 human corpses to be exact. Yes it sounds very macabre but that wasn’t the purpose. The idea was that all humans are equal. Each person is the same in the throne of God, and thus here all humans are together, uniformly.
On the way out from this place we got stuck in a massive traffic jam for four hours and got to Cesky Krumlov quite late. We had decided to stay at Pension Ingrid a small guesthouse run by… you guessed it – Ingrid. This was an old lady who was a bit strange to say the least. The room was clean but there was no attached bathroom (what we had paid for). There was a bathroom in the hall right next to the door. Also, she was a bit inconsiderate about the payment. Asked for cash UPFRONT and we had not even been shown the room or put our bags down when we paid. After we paid in Euros and higher rate (didn’t have enough Kuronas), she proceeded to the room that we were to take and entered the carpeted room with her slippers on and gave us a lecture about how to open and shut the windows. We had been driving since morning, it had started to rain, we had a toddler with us, but this lady was hell bent on giving us a Window Opening 101 lecture. Best part she spoke no English! I do not recommend this place. At the entrance there were many post-its stuck to a map, penned testimonials from people around the world, but I’m not so sure.
So we left for the city and had dinner at an Italian place – awesome awesome food. It rained all night and the next morning the sky was beautifully clear. We toured the castle then. We left for Austria in the am. No mean feat considering the toddler was with us. But more on that later..