Today is the first day of 2018! And we are on a train headed to Prague. As you recall we have left Krakow in the rearview and I am beyond excited to be going back to one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been!
The train journey seemed to go quickly. I was glad we chose New Year’s Day to travel. I figured nothing would be open on a holiday, and so far I had been right. Getting to Prague, however, that was a different story! The city was abuzz! Thankfully when we arrived, we had a driver waiting for us. Just one of the perks of booking an AirBnb for our stay. Not only was our apartment completely renovated and in the perfect location, but we had a driver who would pick us up and drop us off (at the airport once we checked out). We didn’t have to worry about trying to find our way in the dark! It was great!
Once we got to our apartment, we pretty well just threw the bags down and went straight out. I couldn’t wait to show Mum and Dad this beautiful place! And ya know what….the Christmas Markets were still open here! We were literally steps away from Old Town Square, so it didn’t take us long to be in the thick of things.
The charm and beauty of this city never ceases to amaze me. I fell in love with Prague the first time I had come here in 2012. I had hoped by coming at this time of year, the sense of being in a fairy tale would only be magnified. And it was. There is something so magical about this city, I can’t quite put my finger on it. You’ll just have to see it to understand!
I couldn’t have planned this any better. Showing my parents Old Town Square at night, with all the market stalls and Christmas lights….it was truly like something out of a fairy tale. Tyn Church looked absolutely magnificent in the night sky with the glow of Christmas lights below it. It was almost too perfect!
I didn’t keep my parents out for too long tonight. It was already past 7pm when we arrived at our apartment, and it had been a long travel day for them. We grabbed a quick dinner and made our way back to the apartment. We had such an early morning in Krakow, we all knew we’d be falling asleep early tonight.
We were up early today so we could get to Klementinum. If you have never heard of Klementinum, please google it right now. I’ll wait! Or better yet, here is the link to their website right here
Ok have you seen it now? It is the most beautiful library in the world, and not because they literally say so on their website, but because it truly is! I have seen some stunning libraries in my travels, but honestly this one takes the cake. I knew that coming back to Prague, I would have to get there to see it! We arrived fairly early only to queue up outside. It took us maybe 20 minutes to actually purchase our tickets. We were given a time slot to return, so we had about 2 hours to kill. That’s the downside and the upside to visiting this library. You may not get in right away, but when you do, you’ll only be with 20 people on the tour.
We wandered the city for a bit until we were able to check in for our tour. I was allowed to take photos up until the library portion of the tour. So sadly, yet again, I have no photos to show you of the most beautiful library in the world. But if you actually looked at their website as I suggested above, then you know what it looks like 🙂
The tour is fantastic and the views from atop the Astronomical Tower are breathtaking. To see the most beautiful city in the most beautiful way….there are no words to describe how amazing that is!
Word of warning: there may not be a lot of walking involved on this tour, however, there are quite a lot of stairs. And some of these staircases are original to the building. They are narrow and tiny, so for some it may be difficult to do. Having said that, on my tour there was an 80 year old Italian who managed them just fine! He just waited for everyone else to go ahead of him so he wasn’t holding anyone up! If he can do it, so can you! And I promise, the views you will see are worth the trek up these 100+ year old staircases!
After Klementinum, we made our way to Charles Bridge. Since it was past mid-day, the bridge was quite busy. If you have been to Prague before, you know Charles Bridge can be a tourist trap. We maneuvered just fine today. Our mission was to try to fit in Prague Castle before the night fell on us. If I can give you any advice here, allow yourself more time than we did. You’ll need almost a full day to explore this beautiful place!
We stopped for some food before arriving at the Castle. We found this hidden gem just off the main drag. We popped into an alley and there was a doorway that opened to staircase. Mum was a bit skeptical, but the aroma coming up from the bottom of the stairs I couldn’t resist! I am so glad we stayed to eat here! It was one of the best meals I had had on this trip! They call them cellar restaurants because they’re underground. Some can even be inside functioning wine cellars! If you’re looking for a spot for some great local foods and drink, check out Restaurant U Laury, or Vinárna U Laury, located on Nerudova Street.
After our delicious meal, we arrived at Prague Castle. We were slowed up a bit because when we arrived they had the changing of the guard. Once inside, we had maybe just over an hour to explore. We decided to hit the main points first and see them before we had to leave.
First stop, and likely the most obvious, is St. Vitus Cathedral. This is one of the most important places in Prague. Not only do they hold their religious services here, but coronations of kings and queens also take place here. I can see why…this Cathedral is beyond any cathedral I have ever seen.
Next stop, the Basilica of St. George. Known as the second church in Prague Castle, its beauty is understated and not as grand at that of St. Vitus. Just outside of this church there were some Christmas Market stands still set up and filled with people having their dinner and drinks. It is such a picturesque spot for a market!
Onwards to the last stop of our evening at Prague Castle, Golden Lane. This quirky spot will have you believing you’re a giant. The architecture is quite small in stature. These tiny houses were occupied originally by the defenders of the Castle and goldsmiths. Hence the name, ‘Golden Lane.’ Occupation of these homes lasted until World War II. Nowadays these little homes are made up of shops and replicas of what life was like there.
Our quick tour of Prague Castle had come to an end. Instead of leaving through the main exit, we made our way back through the grounds to the entrance. Mum and dad needed to stop in the gift shop of course. Ha!
We made our way back along Charles Bridge towards what could only be described as ominous clouds. It was a good thing we were heading home, it looked like rain was on its way!
Our last full day in Prague is tomorrow! I cannot believe our European Christmas adventure has come to an end!
Stay tuned for a long walk trying to find the Jewish Quarter and a farewell to one of my favourite cities.
Until next time…