Kutná Hora, a popular daytrip destination from Prague, was once a grand old city. Thanks to its bountiful silver mine, the city became the financial center of Bohemia and the site of the Royal Mint in the 14th century. However, when the silver ore ran dry, the city faded into history. Now it is more known for its architectural jewels like the unique Gothic cathedral and the interesting ‘bone church.
I am not going to lie, I waited a long time to visit Prague. I had heard so many good things about the city that it was a big disappointment when my first impression did not meet my expectations. It is true that everything there is as beautiful as the photographs, but something felt off. The thing was, I didn’t think I was the only one who felt conflicted by the city’s beauty and frustrated by the hoards of tourists that seem to be everywhere. I was overwhelmed by the vendors trying to make a few bucks off of a gullible visitor. I remembered being on the phone with Fausto on the first night telling him how let down I felt considering how excited I was about going there. The whole thing just didn’t feel authentic.
Prague is known as “the city of 100 spires” with its iconic skyline. While visiting, we fell in love with the cityscape and took every chance we could to climb to the top of those towers. I will admit, we climbed what you might call an excessive number of towers, but the view from each spire was unique and special in its own way. Below are a look at each one we climbed, and some of the pros and cons of each location. Also, as a bonus they are quite effective as Stairmasters, especially if you want to digest the giant plate of meat and beer that you have just consumed.
The famous Lennon Wall in Prague was named after and inspired by John Lennon and the Beatles. The youths of Eastern Europe were moved by Lennon’s western songs praising freedom, something that did not exist in communist Czech Republic. These pop songs were banned by authorities and embraced by young activists. When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, he became a hero to the pacifists. An ordinary wall was turned into a makeshift memorial to the man that was admired by many for his fight for equality, peace, and freedom.
Many people are drawn to Prague for its incredible history, magnificent spires, and old-world charm, but you don’t often hear about Czech cuisine. There are a lot of great eating options in this beautiful city: from traditional fares, to home-cooked staples, to tempting street food; there is a deep-rooted culinary tradition inspired by classic dishes from the nearby countries of Germany, Poland, and Austria. Prague’s classic dish is usually a large platter of meat (did I mention that there are A LOT of meat?), bread, sauerkraut, and of course beer to wash it all down. Luckily, their world-famous golden lager is usually cheaper than water. Whether you’re dining on the street or on a hill terrace, the food remains highly affordable by North American standards. Here are a few places to eat in Prague:
On my last day in Europe, the weather finally got warm and sunny. We decided to take it easy and chill on a paddle boat on the Vltava River. From the water we had an amazing view of the bridges, Old Town and the castle. It was a nice change of pace to see Prague from another vantage point and a great way to end the trip.
A short train ride from Prague is the small town of Kutna Hora where you will find the Sedlec Ossuary, more commonly known as the Bone Chapel. Inside the church, bones and skulls have been made into all kinds of things, from chandeliers to coat of arms. These bones came from the victims of the Black Death who were buried, then later exhumed and stacked in the chapel.
Prague exudes old-world charm and its skyline is no different. From the iconic red rooftops to the green domes and spires, it all looks like something from another century. When visiting the city, make sure you climb up those well worn steps to the top of any one of the towers (or five of them like we did) and experience this bird’s eye view. Maybe just not after a full meal.
The very first thing we noticed in Prague was the music, ringing from every corner. Everywhere you go, there are musicians playing their instruments or singing. Here you can see a circle of people congregating in Old Town Square listening and dancing to the troubadours playing festive traditional folk songs.
After a long hiatus, I am finally back on the road, but what makes this trip special is that I am going with my baby sister. Even though we are 12 years apart, we are always on the same wavelength about everything…except when she is trying to convince me to go to a rave and I am convincing her to go to a lecture at the Reichstag. LifeAfter9-5 will be featuring Kim as a guest blogger, describing her travel experience from a student’s perspective.
Unlike my cultured sister, I am unfortunately not as worldly when it comes to travelling. I’ve been to Asia a few times but my parents tend to do all the planning, and I just have to show up at the airport. Being 22, I don’t have a lot of experience organizing big trips (yet), but I’m hoping to change that this summer. Without too many daunting obligations and a year’s attempt of saving money, I’m planning on visiting a few countries. The first stop? Germany and Czech Republic with Caitlin! While preparing for my first major trip, I’ve learnt a few tips and lessons for other aspiring travelers. Continue reading