There’s something about Prague that made me want to go back there again. There’s something about Prague that made me enjoyed my stay in zillion awes. Big awes. There’s something about Prague that made it looked beautiful in a gloomy and cold winter.
I have been to Prague twice. One in December 2012 and then the second time in March 2013. I was hoping that my second visit in March would be a spring holiday. Well, it was supposed to be one. But, thanks to climate change, it was winter (again!). Snow fell really hard and it was uber cold. Even though it was like that, I couldn’t stop falling in love with Prague.
I went to Prague with Kak Nining, my friend from ITB who studies in Ghent University, Belgium. We took a train from Bratislava, Slovakia, and it took around 5 hours and costed us 14 euros each. The train was like those compartment train in Harry Potter. Though it was very cold outside, it was super warm inside. KFC’s chicken that we bought in Bratislava was also a good companion for us. It tasted almost the same with KFC in Indonesia. *we regretted that we bought only a portion each T_T
We arrived at night and Prague welcomed us with rain. Prague main station was connected with a metro stop. We were so confused about how to use the ticket machine. I took a Human Computer Interaction class that semester so I grumbled how bad its interaction concept with users were. Luckily, when I was staring blankly at Prague’s metro map, a woman came nearby and asked me if I needed a help. I was hesitated for a moment because she was a complete stranger, but then I gave it a try. It turned out that she was nice, she guided us until we got into a tram to reach our hostel. Plus, she gave me her validated and still valid ticket because I forgot to validate mine.
Prague’s metro map was easy to understand. It was not as complicated as London’s or Paris’. The scariest things were some of its escalators. It was super high and steep. I bet someone who has a fear of height would be afraid because I did (I don’t have that fear actually), especially when I was with my luggage around. It moved so fast as well. Scaaaaryyyyy!
After my first visit to Prague, I bragged a lot about Prague to my friend, Titis. Then, impulsively, we had this obsession to visit Prague during Spring Holiday. We had this imagination of seeing flower-full and a bit breezy spring in Prague. Which we found out later that those flowery imagination didn’t happen. My second visit to Prague was faced with a more horrible temperature. The winter lasted super long this year. Our second day in Prague was snowy. When the snow fell, it wasn’t cold. Sadly, for Indonesians like us, below 10C temperature was horrible. In fact, it was minus in Prague. We stayed at my friend’s couch, Cheryl, and my CouchSurfing’s friend, Petra, in Odolena Voda, a small village near Prague.
This time, I tried different way to go to Prague. Instead of taking a flight, we took a night coach from Venice, Italy, to Prague. We used Student Agency bus which costs us 56 euros. I did some calculations based on hostels’ price in Venice and flight ticket’s price and this option was the cheapest option. We departed at 9PM from Venice and arrived in Prague at 10 AM. In the meantime, we stopped for an hour in Brno, Czech Rep., to change the coach.
What I Visited and Did
My hostel in December was located near the Fred and Ginger building–known as the Dancing House. Do you know that famous building designed by Frank Gehry? I don’t know who Frank Gehry was but my architect father and my architect friend, Andyan, mentioned that he is an “it” name in architecture world. When I was there with Titis, there was a Spanish photographer who was also captivating the Dancing House with his camera. He laughed at us when we did those crazy poses but then I used this opportunity to ask him to take some pictures for us with my camera :p That man was strange actually, but I didn’t care. I got my pics already haha.
My favourite neighbourhood in Prague was Malá Strana that located in the west bank of the river. There were so many classic houses that mostly were cafes. This neighbourhood was not as crowded as the neighbourhood area near Charles Bridge. There was the famous John Lennon wall tho its location was a bit hidden. You need to enter a small path (which I recommend because the houses were incredible with those pastel colours), and somehow get lost there until you find it, haha xD This wall was full of John Lennon-inspired graffiti and some excerpts from the Beatles’ songs. It was said that this wall represents youth’s voices of love and peace.
There was also a big garden and statues to commemorate those who died during the World War II. Those statues were a bit creepy at night though. Behind this garden, there was a funicular to get to the Petrin Tower. I didn’t go to Petrin Tower because most of my friends told me that this tower was a replica of Eiffel Tower. In fact, it looked totally like the Eiffel Tower from afar.
At my first visit, I got lost often (to make it worse, it was raining and my map was drenched) but on the second one, I am sorry that I have to brag that finally I memorise tourist path in Prague —from Národní Muzeum until the Castle. Owyeaah! I am kind of proud of this and hoping that on my third visit, I can spend more days here (with a nice weather and companion, of course).
After Malá Strana, we took a walk until the Castle. There is no Prague without its kind-of-spooky yet famous Charles Bridge and the Castle. I should say that the castle guards are more famous than the castle itself, haha. Those guards has Ken (Barbie’s boyfriend) lookalike face. They stayed being ignorant of crazy tourists taking pictures of him (including me).
The castle itself has a big area with those classic buildings with (of course) magnificent architecture, including the castle, and a cathedral in the middle of the castle. The St. Vitus Cathedral was weirdly placed in the middle. Well, I don’t know why. Because the castle has this somehow-looks-modern architecture and St. Vitus Cathedral stays awesome with its antique Gothic architecture.
Entering St. Vitus Cathedral was free. We could take pictures inside but we need to pay if we want to go further inside. So far, I paid attention that some cathedrals and churches in Europe (at least, some countries that I have visited) have similar rooftop. Well, you can see from that picture below 😉
Strolling around the castle area was definitely A MUST! The area was calm and I loved its vibe. You know that I love hidden stairs and small alleys, right? and yes, those were there. In the meantime, if you are feeling cold, you can get a hot drink inside some cafes at that area. Cheryl took me & Titis to a cafe nearby and we had Czech dishes, dumplings and beef goulash (goulash is originally a Hungarian dish), and a pot of hot tea. Those were puurfect! An empty stomach and a cold weather wasn’t a good combination at all. Agree?
Prague didn’t stop here in giving me some surprises of its beauty and what happened to me here made me realise how small the world is. I will continue this (unfortunately) two winters in Prague story to the second part. You will definitely love Charles Bridge (I gave you a spoiler through the first pic of this post), the Old Town with almost in every corner Disney castles lookalike, christmas market, Prague old astronomical clock (plus a view from the top), and a bonus for me: a handsome Trdelnik (Czech Christmas snack) seller’s son. Oh, i forget to mention, a cute Gabinka, my Couchsurfing host’s daughter who made my life in Prague more colourful.
Update: Read the second part here and share which city do you think is romantic and makes you want to go there again & win a beautiful Prague postcard 😉
Até logo (see you). Beijinhos,