So after 3 days in Amsterdam and an average of 16km a day, we had some very sore feet on arriving in Prague! Although Prague is just as beautiful as Amsterdam, the scale of the city is much smaller and as a result we had enough time to take this part of the adventure a little more slowly. I invested in some very un-cool Sketchers (of the yoga mat sole variety for extra street-cred) and nursed the blisters so that we could get the show back on the road.
Prague, similarly to Amsterdam, is steeped in history (and tourists) and following the fall of the Soviet Union has become a thriving city in the heart of the Czech Republic. Of course, it is drowned in places by massive bar crawls and drunk tourists enjoying the cheapest pint in Europe, but should you frequent the right places it really is a classy and culture-rich destination. Local delicacies include piglet knuckle and locals seem to drink beer for breakfast, so it’s no wonder it has become one of the most popular locations in Europe.
The panoramic views are really one of the highlights of the city and the aching calves are certainly worth the breath-taking scenery. A plethora of terracotta rooftops stand shoulder to shoulder with dramatic green hills and soaring church spires- a sight not to be missed. One of the best views of the city is on the walk down from the Petrin Hill viewing point which can be accessed via furnicular if you don’t have any trusty yoga mat-soled shoes to hand. If you head towards the monastery from the peak, the stroll down the hill provides many photo opportunities.
Fortunately, our Airbnb host, Edgar, had given us his own ‘guide’ to Prague which meant that we could avoid the over-priced and bland dishes of the main square’s resutraunts. Instead we hit the ‘local cuisine ground’ running. I loved Cestr at the back of Wenceslas Square where we had some fine cuts of steak and fantastic service, as well as the wealth of choice and quality for breakfast that we found at the Bakeshop Praha and Cafe Savoy. Matthew did sample the piglet knuckle whilst I bravely went for something resembling vegetable noodles (Spatzel) which were deliciously safe….
The castle area is stunning and really reminded me of Dubrovnik- a very different city but architecturally similar to Prague without a doubt. However, the absolute hoards of tourists can really disappoint. We approached this area twice, once whilst walking generally in the area and once at the crack of dawn so that we could really enjoy the scenery without being hit over the head by a rogue selfie stick…and we could take as many selfies of our own as we liked (and I am partial to a good selfie). Especially on a Summer’s day, the castle and cathedral are really beautiful sights.
The John Lennon wall is also good fun, if a little hard to locate. The wall sprung up as a tribute to Lennon following his death as he had become a symbol of freedom during the Communist rule. People took to the streets in their grief and painted messages of peace on this stretch of bare brick. Tourists these days tend to put some coins in the jar and borrow a pot of paint to dollop their names messily a-top the layers of paint that several decades has welcomed- of course I’m a sucker for a tourist hot spot, so I tried my hand at my own bit of graffiti. However as Matthew rightly predicted I actually painted more of myself than the wall and ended up looking like a smurf on tour.
The stunning St Clement’s Cathedral was less than a minute’s walk from our apartment. From the outside the cathedral is nothing more than a jungle of scaffolding as refurbishments are currently underway but should you step inside for a Vivaldi concert (starting at 7pm several nights a week) you will find an incredible example of Czech architecture. The acoustics are amazing and, being the emotional human that I am, I had a little weep as Pachelbel’s Canon in D reverberated elegantly around the domed ceiling- the very piece to which I walked down the aisle 3 years ago (I say walked, the pictures look more like I plodded, to be honest-those pesky feet again).
Prague is a must-visit, just beware of the tourist traps and take well-soled shoes for the cobbled streets!