Day 1 (Noonish-Bedtime)
“Guys? We’re in Prague!”
Commence squealing and high fives. The 7 hour train ride was over, and we were officially in the capital of the Czech Republic. Goal #1: Reaching our Hostel. We used our expert skills of observation and followed the massive crowd of people away from the platform, towards the station’s main doors. I have no idea what the train station looks like outside because we were focused on reaching our hostel. So, we stayed inside, examining the map of metro lines. We knew the name of our metro stop, it just took a bit of map reading skills to discover what metro trains we would need to board. Then we weren’t sure what to do about getting to the metro. It was obvious we had to walk down the stairs located beneath the huge Metro sign, but we weren’t sure if we needed someone to check our tickets. We had the stamp “PID” on our tickets which would allow us on most transportation around Prague, but we weren’t sure if we needed that stamped signed or punched or whatever. We tried to get assistance, but the man at the ticket stand indicated that he didn’t speak English. After discussing the issue together, and then discussing it with two other travelers, we determined that it would be fine to head down and board the metro. In Budapest, people simply board most modes of transportation without needing to show their passes to the driver, so we figured it was probably the same here.
When we reached the platform for the metro train, our guess about the passes was confirmed when a transportation controller walked over and asked us for our tickets. We showed him the stamp on our train tickets and he nodded then wandered away. I guess we looked clueless enough that he targeted us for potentially not having passes/tickets.
After the metro ride, we began walking towards our hostel. The streets were cobblestone, and I wanted to take pictures, but we had to make sure we checked in first. We followed Eliza’s directions and soon found ourselves hiking up a road, our suitcases weighing down as though the cobblestones had jumped from the street into our bags. Then we spotted our destination, Little Quarter Hostel. I’m going to keep descriptions of the Hostel confined to My Review of Little Quarter Hostel (Post Coming Soon). After storing our luggage and resting for a bit, we set out to locate the Charles Bridge, and ultimately, some food.
We clattered along the cobblestones, quickly reached the Charles Bridge, a 700 year-old, pedestrian-only bridge, and started across. The weather was beautiful and a breeze flowing down the Vltava river slid through the crowd to tease hair into my mouth. We drifted past street musicians, peddlers, and artists. Atop the castle-like arches that funnel tourists from the town onto the bridge, trumpeters stood, their melodies flowing across the river, signaling the hour. Statues of Saints lined the bridge, and people posed for photos before the statue depicting the crucifixion of Christ.
After crossing the bridge we crossed the street and decided to eat at a restaurant connected with Hotel U Zlateho Stromu. (I will have a separate post for all restaurants/food soon). After eating, we stepped back into the flow of pedestrians and followed the steps of the crowd to Old Town Square. The first building we noticed was the enormous Astronomical Clock Tower.
We drifted around the square, admiring architecture, watching children chase pigeons, and listening to the street bands. Amongst the hundreds of other tourists, we fit in perfectly, photographing every detail, gaping at buildings like nothing else was quite so beautiful and squishing through the crowd accumulating at the base of the clock tower. After several minutes of fanatical photographing everything in site, we fixed upon climbing the clock tower. We did reach the top, although instead of hauling ourselves up impossible staircases, we simply stepped into the elevator. Even with the ridiculous crowd (no longer clogging the pathway since the clock stopped ringing), there weren’t may tourists who ventured into the tower. In summer, attempting to reach the tower’s summit would have been an hour long wait, but since it was March, we were standing above Prague within a few minutes of purchasing our tickets.
Standing in the middle of Prague, at the top of the astronomical clock tower was like discovering a secret passage from which you emerge into an exquisite clearing in the forest. I almost expected fairies to drift through the afternoon light and dance across the rooftops. I could have stayed on the clock tower balcony until sunset. It was difficult to remove myself from the magic and return to inside the tower for our descent. This time, Eliza and I took the stairs while BreAnna went down in the elevator.
As the day stepped into evening, we began drifting into stores and working our way back towards our hostel. We paused for gelatos, and switched into window-shopping-mode. Later that night, we traveled back along the Charles Bridge for night pictures.
As we crossed the bridge, BreAnna threatened to throw me into the river (can’t imagine what could have provoked this declaration). I figured my being thrown over the wall into the Vltava river was begging for the creation of a song. You can sing the following lines to the tune of “Over the River and Through the Woods.”
Over the wall and through the air
Into the river she goes!
She’s swimming around, maybe she’ll drown
Thanks to Lucretia’s throw-o!
Lucretia is BreAnna’s evil twin, so it wasn’t really BreAnna who threatened to toss me into the river, it was Lucretia! Eliza continued to walk along the cobblestones in her high-heeled shoes, while BreAnna and I played a game of Lucretia and her target. Throughout our entire Prague adventure, Eliza strode along in her heels across cobblestone, conquering stairs and even climbing….. well, I’ll save that tale for another post.
After crossing the Charles Bridge, we decided to walk along the river and take photographs. We entered a tunnel that lead us beneath Karlovy Lázně, the biggest club in Central Europe (5 stories high). In the tunnel was a sign that read “Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments.” We paused for a minute when all of a sudden Eliza suggested we try purchasing the torture devices. Ensue silliness and jokes along the lines of adopting such devices for use in the bedroom.
Our night walk along the river involved pictures, laughter, and many more inappropriate jokes.