Being a December baby, there’s little opportunity to have birthday celebrations amongst work Christmas parties, people going away for the holidays and pre-planned events people attend, and so I don’t really do much for my birthdays more recently. But last year I had one of the best birthday presents and celebrations I’ve had in a long time! A weekend in Prague!
Deciding on one word to sum up Prague was the easiest one yet…
Praha is supposedly the inspiration for Disneyland and I can see why! Beautiful pastel-coloured buildings, castle on top of a hill, gorgeous old bridges crossing the river! Every little detail made me feel like I was walking down the streets about to bump into Cinderella or Belle or Elsa!
Getting from the airport into the city centre was no problem with regular airport shuttle buses, and getting around Prague itself again was simple enough as their metro is so easy to understand! The only problem we had was when we first arrived we had no coins to pay for metro tickets, only notes! A first world problem it seems!
We stayed in a quaint little hotel in the Legerova district and our room has on the top floor with one of those windows that are in the ceiling. Having to stand on the bed to open it, I could just about peek out through it to see a wonderful site of all the rooftops of the buildings and all the intricate detail on the buildings over the other side of the road! Unfortunately it didn’t snow whilst we were in Prague but I can only imagine how much more beautiful that view would have been dusted with glistening white snow! But I knew that this city was just going to be magical!
Day 1 in the Czech capital was MY BIRTHDAY! and we headed straight to the top of the landmark list, and what seemed like the top of the city too! Prague castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and perhaps the most renowned of all this city’s landmarks. Situated on top of a HUGE hill overlooking the Vltava river, the architecture is simply stunning, and the view from that vantage point is mind blowing too! The St. Vitus Cathedral found within the castle grounds is staggering! Towering over you sporting an abundance of arches, gargoyles, stunning stained glass windows and spires – it made me feel quite insignificant especially as there was an enormous Christmas tree outside it too!
In the evening, it was time for birthday celebrations! I cannot explain how cheap food and drink is in Prague! You get so much for your money! Ironically, we were in Prague but headed to an Italian restaurant for my birthday meal! Two starters, two steaks and two bottles of Prosecco all for about £40!!! After stuffing my face, we headed to a music bar just down the road from our hotel which we had visited last night too and propped up the bar for a good three hours drinking cocktails, more Prosecco, beer and, of course, Jagerbombs! It wouldn’t be a birthday celebration without them! But I had one of the best birthdays I had had in a long time!
Day 2 and time to hit the sights again! Firstly heading to one of the most popular and recognisable sights – the Charles Bridge or Karlov Most if you fancy learning some Czech!
Walking across the famous Charles Bridge which spans the Vltava river and connects the Old Town to Mala Strana (or Lesser Town!) and home to Prague Castle! The bridge is protected by three Gothic towers and is home to thirty Baroque-style statues. It is remarkable both during the day and at night – so you must go back after dark! Half way across we stopped and listened to some incredible musicians who were playing on the bridge. The sound of tubas, clarinets and trumpets just made me feel all warm inside! But again it was magical!
Across the river behind a small church courtyard lies the John Lennon Wall. This vibrant homage to the famous singer and song writer is a living art project where drawing on the wall is encouraged!
Our walking tour of the key spots in Prague continued and we headed to the Old Town Square just as the sun was starting to set in the afternoon! The Old Town Hall Tower sits imposingly in the centre of Prague in the middle of Old Town Square which was carpeted in Christmas stalls and another enormous Christmas tree! Once again it was time to stuff my face with incredible food and drink for these Christmas market stalls! With the lingering smells of cinnamon and onions frying in huge black pans, I remember standing next to one particular drinks stand and drinking cold cider still wrapped up in my hat, scarf, gloves and huge coat! Why we opted for the cold drink I will never know but it was delicious cider! We continued to mooch around all the Christmas market stalls filled with iced gingerbread biscuits in all shapes and sizes, beautiful embroidery and precious glass candle holders and Christmas baubles intricately decorated with glittery snow scenes and branded with Praha which would serve as the perfect momento. We bought some gingerbread to bring home for Christmas presents and we bought one larger blue bauble and one small red bauble for our tree at home! The only downside to this Christmas market was that although there seemed to be hundreds of different stalls, they all seemed to be selling the gingerbread, the baubles or the embroidery and a few other things.
The Old Town Square is also where you will find one of Prague’s most identifiable and iconic landmarks – the Astronomical Clock! We nearly missed this as it was round the corner and we didn’t even notice the crowd as it had all merged into one! Just make sure you don’t miss it because it is beautiful up close!
Our third and final day in this beautiful city was spent venturing towards the outskirts of this city to tick off a few more landmarks. We started off the day heading south and wandered around Vysehrad checking out some beautiful churches and standing looking out across the coloured rooftops of the city – which only made me feel even more like I was in the middle of a fairytale!
Next on todays agenda was to visit the one landmark that to me just didn’t belong in this city! From the beautiful intricate architecture of Prague to the modern, but terrifying, look of the TV Tower shown below. We hopped off at the Jinho z Podebrad stop and followed the top of the tower towards it. The shape of this structure was enough of an anomaly for me but as you got closer it revealed the hideous additions on the side. Yes, they are black statues of crawling babies! Why? I have no idea! And neither did anybody who lived there! The only thing that saved this was that we sat at the base of the tower at a restaurant. To my right was an ice rink, where I enjoyed watching the ‘pros’ and then the toodler skating around for the duration of our time sat there. This place also served the most amazing hot chocolate – I honestly think I was drinking melted chocolate topped with a little cream through a straw, but it tasted heavenly and warmed me up from the inside out!
One of the final things we did was climb up to Letna Park during the evening! Which at the time was slightly terrifying as it was dark and there were trees lining the hundreds of steps to the top so you jumped every time someone walked past you. But it was SO worth it! The views looking over the entire city with all the lights on was stunning – I was just gutted that my camera wasn’t able to get that perfect photo to capture it all – but probably means I should just learn how to take better photos.
But walking along the Vltava River that evening, looking across at the Charles Bridge and up to the castle, all I could imagine was that any second a beautiful horse-drawn carriage carrying the prince and princess was going to appear, cross the bridge and make its way up to the castle accompanied by the sound of trumpets notifying their arrival. It was magical!
Praha is super beautiful! It is definitely a city break I would recommend and definitely does not break the bank! But three days was just not enough to discover all the magic that lies in these glorious street, so I think I will just have to go back there in the future 🙂
Top tip: Go to the Christmas markets and just EAT!
Trdelnik rolls are famous in Prague! And are super tasty and can be found nearly anywhere, especially at Christmas time! They roll the dough around a stick and grill it, then add cinnamon sugar. Just divine! But please me aware that they are incredible addictive! Then there is the hot chocolate – the one I described earlier next to the ice rink and the other one was one we had next to St. Vitus cathedral where you melted the chocolate into hot milk! There was the gingerbread, the grog, the sausages and the potato chips! And it was all delicious! So you can save yourself some money on eating out in Prague at this time of year and just eat at the markets! You will not be disappointed!
It was like being in a fairy tale with cheap booze and food! The perfect birthday celebration!
How do you define Prague in one word? 🇨🇿