After nine days on the road with my G Adventures group, it was time for our final day and final destination: Prague.
Although I’d been looking forward to our time in Italy, I was most excited to see Prague because I’d heard so many good things about it from friends. I wasn’t disappointed.
Unlike Italy, where street vendors were constantly trying to get us to buy sunglasses and knockoff purses, Prague’s streets were free from bootleg goods. There’s still plenty of toursity shops and restaurants, but the cobblestone streets just felt more relaxed to me.
After dropping our things at the Czech Inn – the nicest hostel I’ve seen in quite a while – Zsofia had us hop a tram and do a little sightseeing before dinner. We crossed the river and went by the Franz Kafka Museum, then on to the Lennon Wall.
Why is there a John Lennon wall in Prague? I’m not sure, but it seems like you’ll always hear someone singing while you’re there, and you should bring a marker to leave a note of your own once you’re done taking pictures of it.
We had a wander over the Charles Bridge (where you can buy handmade jewelery, original paintings, or have your portrait drawn) and through the Old Town area and arrived in the main square in time to see the famous Astronomical Clock chime, with the moving people and skeleton putting on a little show. It’s worth seeing once, and if you have time you can grab a tasty snack of sausage or ice cream at one of the little stands around the side of the clock.
Although most of us were finishing our tour here, some people were continuing on with the next leg of the journey, and a few of us were staying on in Prague to do some exploring of our own. So over dinner at the Beer Museum (fantastic goulash and a massive choice of beverages) the conversation was all around who was going where next, swapping email addresses, and adding each other on Facebook.
The one thing Zsofia had promised us from the very beginning of our trip was that on our last night there would be absinthe. True to her word, after dinner she led us to the Comics Museum (which is not a museum but a bar with comic-themed decorations upstairs and a bar and dance floor downstairs) where absinthe was handed out.
I wish I could tell you what it was like, but after watching the first dozen people gulp it down and then make horrific, disgusted faces at the taste, I decided to pass. I may live to regret it, but probably not.
The end of a tour is a bittersweet thing. On the one hand I was happy to know that in a few days I’d be home, in my own comfy bed, with clean clothes and more than two pairs of shoes to choose from. On the other hand, I was just getting to really know some of these people, and it was sad to be leaving new friends so soon after meeting them.
That last night was a late one, but I was so excited to be in Prague that I was up at a decent hour and ready to explore some more. I met up with Melissa from my group, who was also staying in town, and we took the tram all the way up to Prague Castle.
The castle is several buildings, including a massive cathedral. There are also shops and even a little cart that sells some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of hot chocolate in my time.
Because you’re so high up you can get some really beautiful looks at Prague down below and its sea of red roofs. As you go down the hill you’re near the Kafka Museum and the Lennon Wall, so we stopped by there again for some more photos and people watching.
That all added up to a lot of walking (not to mention all we did in the ten days before), so we treated ourselves to an hour-long river cruise. There are several available, just look for the guys in sailor outfits wandering around the Charles Bridge and see what they’re offering. It was a lovely warm day, so we enjoyed the sun and the breeze as we sailed up and down the river with a drink in our hands.
We ate dinner at one of the restaurants in Old Town Square (and had another very good goulash) and then walked over to Cacao Cafe for dessert. I’ve mentioned before that I always Google for “the best chocolate in…” before a trip, and Prague had quite a list. This place has a selection of cakes and ice cream sundaes, plus hot and cold drinks and cocktails. There’s also a little outdoor market right next to it, so you can shop a little before your snack.
Melissa headed home the next day, leaving me one more day to enjoy Prague on my own. I spent it at the Choco Cafe (completely fantastic), the Dali and Mucha exhibits in Old Town Square, the Tim Burton exhibit next door to that one, and at the Klementinum.
I discovered the Klementinum by Googling for “libraries in Prague” and finding photos of one of the most gorgeous rooms I’ve ever seen. Unlike the National Library in Vienna you can’t go all the way in and walk around the room, you just get to stand at one end, behind a barrier, and take it all in. There were only two other people there though, so I felt like I had the world’s most beautiful library all to myself. The book nerd in me was in heaven.
You also can’t take photos, so here’s one from Wikipedia:
At the very top of the Klementinum is an Astronomical Tower you reach through a series of very steep staircases. This is not a place to go for anyone who has a fear of heights. Once at the top you can go out onto the balcony to get photos like this, if you dare:
And then, without really any warning at all, Prague rained on me. I spent my last night in town running from doorway to doorway, wondering why I didn’t have a clever little umbrella tucked away in my bag somewhere. After two weeks of fantastic weather, it seemed someone was telling me that vacation was over, and it was time to go home.
At least I got to see the city all lit up first.
Thanks for all the fun, G Adventures!