After our trip to Switzerland proved that we could travel longer distances, and navigate when the Sat Nav isn’t always on top form, we decided it was time to widen the net and try making for some cities a little further afield. Breaking out our trusty Europe guide, we looked through the pages and measured off the distances, crossing Vienna, Zurich and Warsaw off the list until there was only one winner; Prague.
We booked a hotel on the outskirts that was close to the underground and filled the car up on the Belgian border, ready to head into Germany and Bohemia before hitting Prague later in the day. As we sat at the petrol station, programming the Sat Nav with the address of our hotel, the first problem arose – it didn’t cover the Czech Republic. Instead, we decided to make for the border at the other side of Germany and hope that a signpost would guide us there.
The journey was amazing, Southern Germany covered in trees and dotted with tiny villages, most with a high-spired castle on a hill overlooking them. Soon we’d made it to Bohemia and the Czech border.
Problem number two – when trying to buy a vignette (tax sticker) it turns out they didn’t take cards, and we had no Czech crowns. Instead, we drove to the nearest shell station and bought one there. A neat trick for anyone driving through the Czech Republic, don’t buy at the first place you see as you can get a sticker later and it’s cheaper.
We made it into Prague, and by incredible map reading from Michelle using a paper street map (old school), we made it to the hotel which didn’t look promising in a dull part of town. That turned out to be wrong, as the hotel was new, modern, fashionable and 5 minutes from the tube.
We dropped our gear and headed into the centre. Getting out of the tube station, we were immediately surrounded by hordes of drunken bar crawlers and our first thought (to quote our favourite Bluth) was ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’.
Luckily as we walked to the central square they thinned out and we were left viewing an amazing market square, complete with medieval clock that rang on the hour and had characters pop out of the clock face.
We walked over to the Charles Bridge, saw the statues arranged on both sides in the sunset and grabbed a bite to eat before heading back.
The next day, we got up early (for us), ate an enormous and delicious breakfast (5 courses for me!) and then headed out, taking our time by crossing the river at a lower bridge before walking through the old town and up to the parks that fringe the steep hill that looks over the north bank (it has a half size copy of the Eiffel Tower on it bizarrely).
After a drink and some shade from the sweltering sun (where’s the summer weather now?!) we walked through the little Quarter and up to a square where the Church St Nicholas was built. We wanted to have a look inside because it has an organ that Mozart played at, which we did, and then headed up to the Castle on top of the hill.
It was a struggle getting up the hill in the heat, but we made it and wandered through the castle, before dipping into St Vitus’s Cathedral to have a look at the stained glass. It was amazing, and we made our way back, stopping for a bite at a pretentious bar where the food was excellent.
Next morning, we packed up and headed home, tracing our steps back across the forests through Germany.
Our impressions of Prague – a beautiful city, no longer cheap and needs to keep the pub crawls/ stag parties under control. The rest of it was amazing, with architecture to rival any of the major European cities. We will definitely be going back to Bohemia!