I’ve heard people say this town is, “So lack-lustre” while others vehemently deny that absurd statement, all the while gushing about how beautiful it is. Few batted an eyelid towards Prague in my home country before a certain movie suddenly popularised this city. I belong to the category who put this place on their travel plans after the movie. I’m happy to confirm, there is nothing lack-lustre about Prague. Here’s the story of two days I spent in Prague, and how they were nothing short of magical. Though you can experience the essence of Prague in a day, there’s always room for three full days here. You could also take day trips to little towns outside the city, specifically Karlovy Vary and Cesky Krumlov.
With a suitcase and two handbags, I ran around Munich station trying to catch the train to Prague- which had left an hour ago by then. The next train wasn’t in 2 hours and I was at risk of wasting half a day in commute. After an hour spent stocking food for the journey, I walked to the train carrying a frankfurter, two smoothies, a bottle of juice and two packets of chips. One would wonder if the train ride was considerably more than 4 hours.
The train began moving through Germany’s industrial towns and tiny villages, until an hour or so into the journey it came to a screeching halt. Apparently the train I didn’t board had a minor accident, delayed all other trains as well. What we assumed would be only a small stop along the way, turned into an hour-long break during which most passengers were happy to open a few cans of Pilnsberg beer while others looked for any means possible to entertain the now restless kids on board.
The street performances
Eventually the train arrived in Prague, and I went looking for the AirBnb apartment I was renting. My host (as is always the case with AirBnb) turned out to be extremely helpful with things to see and places to visit. That evening was the first time I stepped out in Prague, and the first time I fell in love with it. As I experimented with an authentic Czech meal at an open cafe near Wenceslas Square, this guy with a set of glasses randomly broke into a performance, making music from glasses filled with water in different capacities. I had to blink twice, pinch myself a few times before I could believe how he had eased himself into it. By such time a crowd had already gathered to witness this man create magic. During my time in Prague, I was lucky to witness more than ten performances, each very unique. From magic performances to street dance, music and painting- the people of Prague are supremely talented. I was handed out free music CDs, asked to participate in magic tricks or to simply enjoy the front-row seats to the spectacle that is Praha!
Prague Castle vibes:
The next morning I hit the Prague Castle, falling in love immediately with it’s architecture and grounds. The drive up to the castle was spectacular, and as we drove up the slightly winding roads to the castle, the entire city began to unfold as we progressed. From up there, the brick-coloured roof tops that Prague is so famous for, were clearly visible. Unlike most other places where castles and monuments and sightseeing is a very strict visit-and-leave policy, Prague celebrates even the most “touristic” places. For within the vicinity of the castle is a tiny row of food stalls that sell the most delicious food, local wine and beer. There’s a coffee shop at the corner with the best view of the city. It overlooks the entire city and the roof tops we’ve all come to know Prague by. I was happy to enjoy the local wine to my heart’s content before continuing my affair with the city.
The magic that is Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge was naturally unmissable, and that’s where I headed to next. It was just as stunning as the pictures I’ve been seeing for years on Google Images, even with the maddening crowd it hosted during that time of the day. It was packed with people and yet, it’s charm was undeniable. With the river on both sides, the old town on one end and swans in the river on another, this is just the perfect “bridge” between the world now and the world whose existence we’ve only known through tales, folklore and history. I could almost imagine the Czech army march down the castle and over the bridge to old town. There’s all kinds of art, collectibles and souvenirs imaginable for sale here-highly overpriced, of course.
The best sorbet in the world:
I began my walk down to old town (a walk I remember and cherish to this day), my eyes caught a glimpse of sorbet stalls around me. True to my second nature of ogling at food, I stopped to take a look and decided to treat myself to a watermelon sorbet. That has been the single best decision of my entire life so far! I have never had better sorbet in my life and I recommend it to everyone heading to this city.
Cocktails around old town:
As I was walking through the beautiful cobbled narrow streets leading to old town, I chanced upon a liquor store that appealed to me for one reason and one only- the cocktails on display. I had to step inside, and after a lot of deliberation and picking and choosing, settled with two bottles of pre-mixed margaritas that I sipped all the way to old town. Just walking through the streets, sipping cocktails on that early summer evening with a nip in the air and a light breeze.. It’s a walk I’ll remember for a long time to come!
The sassy souvenirs:
Souvenirs are an inevitable part of traveling, and Prague has quite the witty ones to offer! I picked up a few Czech me out caps and shot glasses and came across a bunch of interesting stuff to take home. Scouting the local shops around old town is a good idea and that’s just what I did while making my way there.
Falling prey to Old Town’s charms:
I finally reached where the crowd was, a square in front of the astronomical clock where street performers were showing their craft to enchanted locals and tourists, and cafes were brimming with people sipping their fancy cocktails, all kinds of stores lined the streets one on side, and everyone was busy enjoying the bustle of the evening. I sat watching a street performer over 20 minutes before I finally made my way back to Wenceslas Square for more frankfurters and pretzels.
The freedom and the passion:
There was something in the air, the smell of freedom and liberty, of acceptance and celebration. The freedom of expressing oneself, one’s work and talents. There’s a strong, powerful smell of passion in the air that’s visible in the appreciation of street performances, the way men and women dress so tastefully yet freely, and the way this city becomes your lover, your. Prague is stunning in more ways than one can describe based purely on it’s architecture or party prospects or it’s famous Charles Bridge. There’s a depth in Prague that reveals itself as time passes by, only to keep you a prisoner forever to it’s charms.
True to that feeling and the many others I felt I was brimming with as I walked down the streets of old town, I wouldn’t call Prague the city of love, but the city of passion- every single facet of the word.