From Berlin we made our way to Prague by bus. There is a train as well, however the bus is cheaper – 19 Euros per person when purchased online a day in advance. You might find a better bargain if you book earlier but this is certainly better than the walk-up fare of 39 Euros! You can also book trains for 29 Euros if you book far enough in advance. This journey is a wonderfully scenic one, especially just after crossing the Germany/Czech Republic border. I was expecting boring motorways, but instead was greeted by quaint Czech towns on a road that almost exclusively followed the river. Sit on the left side for the best views! If you have time it’s definitely worth a visit to Dresden, which we passed through on the way. We arrived at Prague’s Florenc Bus station, which is frequented daily by shady Belorusians looking to exchange your currency for ‘fake’ Czech Korunas, technically real Belorussian currency (makes it seem legit if you don’t know what a Czech Koruna looks like!) of course it’s almost worthless. The guy at the tourist office said that people are scammed every day!
The Journey to Prague from Berlin
Prague Castle and the Historic Centre
Prague is a stunning city, however it is exceptionally busy in the summer months. The Prague Castle and Castle gardens are a must see. Go to there first and get there early! We managed a peaceful walk through a quiet residential district to the castle, being early on a Sunday morning with the sky threatening rain it remained peaceful for a little while. The other main sights in Prague are within walking distance, and you more or less follow (or better, get a ahead of!) the wave of tourists that descend the hill from the castle, across the 14th Century Charles bridge and into the old town. Just some of the sights worth visiting include the St Vitus Cathedral, the Old Town Hall with its Astronomical clock, Vysehrad National Cultural Monument, the Jewish quarter, Spanish Synagogue and Jewish Museum (to name a few!).
Getting around Prague by public transport is easy. There are trams, buses and the metro. The metro is fast if you need to get somewhere in a hurry but the tram is the best way to orient yourself take in the beauty of the city. We caught tram 20 to the Na Knížecí bus station (the station to take the bus to Český Krumlov) which travels right through the heart of the city.
There are I’m sure many other sights I’ll admit we didn’t see, as we quickly tired of the large tourist groups and much preferred the Dejvice area near our hostel. One afternoon we explored pretty Letna Park. Letna park is huge, and worth spending an afternoon, perfect for a picnic. There are bars dotted along the path, lots of outdoor activities going on – hockey, rock climbing, basketball. We stopped at Letna bar for a drink and to watch the late afternoon sun cast a warm glow over the city. We made our way back in the midst of a summer storm, cooling the air, making the view even more luscious with the warm pink sky and a full-length rainbow.
Music bar/cafe – A Maze in Tchaiovna
In our attempts to escape from the rain we stumbled upon a little hole-in-the-wall cafe/bar, A Maze in Tchaiovna. We arrived just in time for European-world music band Mzaza, to begin their set. Mzaza are actually an Australian band (hailing from Brisbane), but many of the band members have European roots and have studied music and travelled throughout Europe. We had no idea they were playing there that night, and this particular venue was a kind of last minute show, so it felt very intimate. The venue itself is what appears to be a converted house tucked away in a residential street, with lounges and chairs crowded into cosy corners, books, games and trinkets spread a random on tables and along shelves. A diverse and multicultural cast of patrons (some with their pets – Cat on a leash!?) squeezed into the back room where there is a small stage. Bitcoin is an accepted currency here!
If you love music, go to Prague! While I personally prefer to find an offbeat hideaway tucked away somewhere, classical music abounds and there are concerts everywhere! The Castle, cathedrals, theatres, restaurants. There are also multiple Jazz Clubs and talented buskers on every street.
Piána na ulici ‘Pianos on the Street’
Piana na ulici is a charity which has pianos set up in different locations throughout the city (I think, perhaps other cities as well). Anyone can sit down and play and there are live performances at different times. I was so excited to be able to play my favourite instrument despite the poor tuning (they are very old pianos and no doubt are moved around frequently!)
Prague is famous for its beer and if you’ve got the cash to splash (about 100 Euros for 2 people), you can even bathe in it! There are multiple beer spas around the city, the one most highly rated on tripadvisor is the Pivni Lazne Spa Beerland in the New Town. You bathe in a royal oak tub filled with brewers yeast, hops and malt. While you soak you have beer tap right beside you so drink beer at the same time! Sadly it was a little beyond our budget.
Prague is definitely a city deserving of more time than we gave it. It’s a place to peel back the layers and to find the hidden gems, with a bit of research and a little luck.