Prague Travel Blog› entry 11 of 16 › view all entries
We realised too late that the woman working in the tourist information office in Cesky Krumlov had stitched us up with the bus to Prague. We were standing at the coach station waiting for the promised luxury Student Agency coach when a somewhat bedraggled old bus pulls up and starts loading up. Along with several others who had been told they were buying tickets for the Student Agency bus, we entered into a confusing conversation with the driver. It's not as if the bus was awful it's just that the pictures of the other bus and the service offered were special and it felt as though we'd been robbed of a really nice trip.
Arriving in Prague we got dropped at a station on the outskirts and had to negotiate the metro system into town which was simple and quick. Our hotel was very near the metro stop and was nice and clean which is always a relief. Having dumped our bags down we set off for a walk and found ourselves wandering the most beautiful old streets and admiring some truly beautiful architecture. We found ourselves in the Stare Mesto (Old Square) surrounded by awesome gothic looking buidings and cobbled streets with cafes and bars set up on them. Crowds of tourists were jostling for photo oppportunities and a really nice buzz was in the air.
Hungry we set off searching for some food and found an amazing restaurant called Country Life. Everything is vegan and it is a buffet style help yourself counter and your plate is then weighed and charged accordingly. The food was all delicious and it was very difficult not to pile the plate high as everything was so tempting. We knew they had a second branch and we ate there the next day and it was also delicious although the food options were more restricted as it was more for lunchtimes than the main branch.
Our second day we checked out the Charles Bridge which was fantastic and lined with dozens of artisans offering to sketch or caricature the hoards of passing tourists.
Across the bridge and up a long series of steps through yet more stunning buildings is Prague Castle. Not so much a castle in the fortress sense as a collection of buildings and cathedrals inside a big wall really. There are several tickets types you can buy which give access to different buildings and we opted to go into the the cathedral and the building housing the crown jewels.
Another must see is Wenceslas Square and the memorial to two students who burnt themsleves to death in the uprisings against communism in the late 1960's.
One thing that we have been struggling with in Europe is that bars, cafes and restaurants still allow smoking inside. We've got so used to smoke free environments that it feels really weird sitting in a smokey room. There are some amazing underground bars and beautifull old restaurants here in Prague but all of the ones we visited were exrtremely smokey and we found it impossible to stay in some of them. Luckily the weather was quite kind to us so we were able to take advantage of the outdoor seating that is so much a part of life in most European cities and we had some great people watching opportunites at the pavement cafes and bars.
Our visit to the Czech Republic has been great, although more expensive than the Eurozone by far and it must be said that the staff in the tourism offices and at service portals in the bus and train stations could definately benefit from some additional training in how to be friendly and a bit more helpful. The parts of the country we saw have a great deal to offer and Prague, in particular, is amazing.