Day 9: First full day in Prague

So it’s been a long, but very enjoyable first day here in Prague — and we’re actually not done with our day yet (it’s now 6:30 p.m.; we left the hostel around 9:45 a.m., and only got back maybe 30 min. ago). We’re heading out to an hour-long ghost walk/tour around 8 (it came for free with the ticket to the tour we just got back from). As I type, A is zonked out on her bed. I tell you, that chick naps when and wherever she can — on the trains, on 90-minute flights, while we’re in our hostel between activities …

Anyway, when I got up around 8, I checked the weather forecast. I saw that the temperature would be the same for both today and Tuesday (upper 40s), but that while Tues. there was a 70% chance of rain, today there was only a 20% chance. So A and I decided to indeed go on the foot/boat/tram tour I mentioned in yesterday’s post. We hit the shower, and were on the road headed to Wenceslas Sqaure (same guy the Christmas song is about, although they don’t sing the song in the Czech Republic). We had to buy our tour tickets nearby, but the map and instructions were confusing. As far as I could tell, the tickets were for sale either in some place called Muzeum, or in a KFC (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken). Went to the Muzeum, which turned out to be the underground Metro station. No go. So then we wandered into the KFC. The lady at the counter was like “You don’t buy tour tickets at the KFC.” Yes, I’d also thought it hadn’t made sense, but a day of travel for us wouldn’t be complete without some sort of foible like that! Anyway, we then decided to just go across the street to the tour’s meeting place. The guy there thankfully pointed us to the actual ticket office, which was in a corridor next to the KFC (I of course looked closer at the brochure for the tour later, and discovered the fine print where they gave this vital information). We got our tickets, and then were off on our tour a few minutes later with our fun Czech guide. There were about 10 other folks with us, all from the U.K., mainly from Ireland.

The weather, though brisk and chilly, was really beautiful for an outdoor tour. And the sights…wow, they were truly amazing. I swear, every single building in this city is photogenic and photo worthy! I was snapping pictures left and right. I would love to post a ton of pics to go with this blog post, but I’m just going to choose some of the highlights for now.

So again, the tour lasted six hours. We got a quick primer on the history of Czechoslovakia, Prague and the Czech Republic, and then set out from there to walk around the Old and New Town sections on the east side of the Vltava River. We stopped for some lunch (included in our tour fee), where Anuja and I sat across a woman and her 12-year-old niece from Ireland. The niece, Kiera, was quite thrilled to hear we were from Seattle, and quickly revealed her “Twilight” obsession. Kiera and her aunt are from a small village an hour’s drive from Dublin, so Kiera was actually quite fascinated with all things American (she’s never been anywhere in the U.S.).

After lunch, we hopped onto a boat and took an hour-long cruise a bit down the river and back (to the left is a shot from inside the boat; that’s our tour guide in the yellow jacket). We also were treated to a beverage of our choice during this. We got our first glimpses of the Prague Castle (the world’s largest ancient castle) and went under the famous Charles Bridge). Then we walked across the Charles Bridge and hopped a tram up to the Castle. We spent some time walking around the castle grounds, and went on a tour of the Basilica of St. Vitus, which took 600 years to build. Then, as the sun was setting around 4:30, we parted ways with our guide. A and I took some snaps of the city from our high vantage point, and then began the walk down and toward our hostel. We stopped for some Starbucks on the way (it got a wee bit colder once the sun was fully set), and had a nice 30-minute walk along the waterfront.

… and now it’s a few hours later …

So we arrived at the start of the Ghost Walk around 8:30. Turned out there were only two other folks there, an Irish couple we’d met on our earlier tour. The “tour” (more a jaunt around a few nearby blocks) took an hour, and no offense to our guide, but even that was a bit too long for me! The stories were interesting, sure, but her delivery needed some work. Everything was a bit too dramatic.. i.e., “And THENNNNNN, out of the DAAAAAARK, the ghost of the buuuuutcher jumps OUT! WHOAAAAA!” And despite their being only four of us, she still used a microphone. We did get some laughs at certain points when someone dressed up as the ghost she’d just discussed jumped out at us from behind a building, but in general….yeah. I’m glad it was free!!

After the tour, A and I decided to walk balk to our hostel, and try to find a cool-looking place to have some dessert and drinks. A few blocks from our hotel, a group of young guys came out of a bar and said “You guys speak English?” We said yes. They said, “Do you know where ‘Dkjeoreuiysya’ [insert name of Czech dance club] is?” We said “Uh, we just got here last night.” Then they said, “Well, would you like to join us for a beer?” We said, “Um, sure!” The nearest place was the one they’d just emerged from (I think they’d been in there inquiring about said club), and A and I were amused to discover it was also the place in which we’d had dinner the night before. Turned out the guys were all from Denmark, in their mid-20s, and in Prague to do something school related (they’re going to be some kind of commercial truck drivers) and then party/drink/dance before and after the school stuff. They were all very funny and chatty. One guy was quite tipsy, and his eyes nearly popped out of his head when I said I was 31 (“WHAT?! I’m only 24! I’m a baby!”). We all hung out for just over an hour or so, as by that time their feet were itching to get to the dance club. It was quite entertaining, glad we finally got to meet and chat with some interesting people.

As far as tomorrow.. no firm plans yet. At the very least, we want to do some souvenir shopping, and then in the evening, we’re going to go on another tour with this company we did the two tours with today. This one’ll be a traditional Czech dinner, followed by a pub tour. Kinda wish we’d done an organized tour in Amsterdam, as they’re a really great way to find out interesting info about the city you’re in, and not have to deal with getting around town on your own. Plus, then you also find out the spots you want to go back and explore more on your own.

Some of my favorites for today — view of the Prague Castle from our tour boat (and yes, I believe that entire stretch of buildings comprises the castle):

Looking back on Charles Bridge:

Me and A, self-photo at the bottom of Prague Castle, with Old Town in the background:

From the Charles Bridge, looking to Old Town:


2 Responses to “Day 9: First full day in Prague”

  1. Your pics are seriously making me want to go back to eastern Europe, without even setting foot in the West. I think I'll start in Prague this time, and then just go east and south… :) So beautiful!

  2. I'm sure it won't be too long before your and Jade's travels get out out thataways (you can also just hop over there after a Lebanon visit!) :o). I'm finding it highly amusing that we of course chose three countries to visit that are on three different currencies!

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