Andrew and I went to Budapest last year, and ever since we’ve been itching to go to Prague and Vienna. They were important cities in the Habsburg Empire, and our historian brains wanted to be able to compare the three of them. So when my family told us their plan to travel around Europe for 3 1/2 weeks, we happily said we’d join them for a week in Prague and Vienna.
We stepped outside our comfort zone a bit by not getting a Prague Card, or staying in a hotel. In Budapest and Rome, Andrew and I used city cards to save on transportation and entrance fees, but we opted out to try something new on this trip. While I generally recommend city tourist cards, we found that we can get around just fine without them. My parents booked an apartment for all of us to stay in right on the Vltava River with a wonderful view.
The food did not disappoint! We had our fill of Czech goulash and dumplings, and a few other traditional dishes.
We spent a lot of time at Old Town Square since there is so much to see (and eat) there. I was impressed by how musical Prague is. Every church seemed to have a concert on, and there were lots of musicians playing in the squares and on street corners. Everywhere we went it seemed there was some form of free entertainment.
The next day we crossed the river to explore Prague Castle. The Castle is on a hill overlooking the river and Charles Bridge, and the grounds are split into multiple sections: St. Vitus Cathedral in the center, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, the Powder Tower, and Rosenberg Palace. We bought a ticket that gave us entrance into the main areas, and it took us most of the day to see everything.
It was a bright sunny day when we arrived at the Castle, but as you can see (below), the clouds started rolling in by the time we left.
We wanted to walk along the river and see Charles Bridge on our way back to the apartment, but the weather had other ideas. At first the rain came down in scattered drops, and since all of us are good sports, we decided to keep going and not be deterred by a little precipitation. I started to have my doubts after the second crash of thunder, and within minutes the rain became a torrential downpour. We were completely soaked in seconds, and took refuge under a hotel’s covered entrance. The streets flooded, and we had a group vote. The girls were all for taking the sheltered metro back to the apartment, but the guys thought wandering around in a hurricane would be fun. In the end, we all sprinted to the nearest metro station because the boys were outnumbered (and their idea was silly 🙂 ). We had a good laugh on the escalator down to the trains. All of us were drenched and leaving puddles on the platform. Luckily there was a small hairdryer in the apartment, and we managed to dry everything but our shoes.
Finally the sun returned, and we were able to go back outside.
I think we managed to see a lot in the two days we were there, but I hope to go back again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. 🙂