By Jacqui Gray
Prague is mobbed, jam-packed, overwhelmed, chocked full, swarming (and pretty much any other synonym you can think of that suggests freakin’ busy) with tourists…not what you were expecting to hear, huh? Without a doubt, Prague is a gobsmackingly beautiful city. BUT, and oh boy is this a big BUT, tourists overrun the place.
I tried my best to be a good tourist and trot around to all the places you are meant to go. Honestly, I did, but, I got distracted by beer. Which turns out is totally acceptable in Prague. Citizens of the Czech Republic routinely consume more beer each year per capita than any other country – well done, Czechs! So really, I was doing my best to fit in with locals!
One walk saw me heading to the Prague Castle, but I needed to break away from all the other sheep and kinda got lost. Actually no kinda about it, I was lost. By complete accident, I wound up at the Strahov Monastery – with beautiful churches, museums, and galleries, but most serendipitously for me, a beer garden. Klášterní Pivovar Strahov Monastery serves up its own beer (brewed on site) and some of the most delicious pork knuckle this side of Heaven. I can say that, right?
In the middle of Old Town, nestled between the Astronomical clock and the sex machine museum (yes, you read correctly) is the U Prince Hotel. On the rooftop, you will find Terasa U Prince. This is one of the most spectacular rooftop bars you will ever sip beer on. You will pay for the privilege, but when you are up for some tiny food and great views, this is the best in town.
Most other cafes and bars are underground. In its day, the Old Town was notorious for flooding. So, they simply built up the roads and paths – you may be walking along the footpath and find at your feet the top of windows. Everywhere I went into was cozy, mysterious and hipster cool… minus the actual hipsters.
Some tips for making the most of this gorgeous city:
Prague’s history reads like the eight seasons of Game of Thrones (minus some dragons). So, take a history based tour. Let’s face it that is what this beautiful city is all about. Otherwise, you are just looking at pretty buildings.
Had to get Game of Thrones reference in somehow. Just wanted to show off my great picture seated in a replica of the big chair! The city has an out of control number of very specific museums (i.e. previously mentioned sex machine museum). Inside the Recycle of Scrap Metal Museum – there is some great industrial art including The Hulk, plenty of Minions, a Transformer, the Batmobile and most importantly the replica Game of Thrones chair.
Prague is one Insta-Worthy city. In hindsight, I should have booked a photographic tour as well. Options include; day or night, on foot or to get around further on a bike. While these tours don’t give you history or context, they take you straight to the best places for those precious shots. It is purely about getting the best photos to prove you had an incredible trip.
Powder Tower – pay 100k (less than $5) and climb the many stairs to the top. Great 360 degree views and makes you realize the Old Town, even though big, is only one part of Prague.
In the Old Town look up! Some buildings have figures over entrances or on corners of streets. They did this because a large portion of the population was illiterate. So, rather than people having to read a street sign, the referred to the house or building name. House of Two Bears, House of Golden Ring. House of Black Madonna is where you find the Museum of Decorative Arts exhibition about Cubism – yep, another museum.
The Astronomical clock – do NOT bother waiting for the hourly show. A lengthy renovation was completed and every hour hundreds of tourists gather to gather to see one of the most uninspiring performances they will ever witness.
I know you aren’t going to listen to me on this one because EVERYONE else says you have to see it. Yes, you should absolutely take a look at the clock and hear about its history. Just don’t bother packing yourself in with hundreds of others for the hourly show. I was more interested in the look of bewilderment on people faces “what…. is that it”?!? Yes, my friend, that is all!
That’s my take on Prague! I had a wonderful indulging in the beer and hope, if you go, you do too!