An adventure in Prague

As a self-admitted history and literature nerd, I love a city break and this small partiality I have to travel and sightseeing is not something that’s gone unmissed by my boyfriend. Turns out, this observation has been great for me. When December rolls around and people start to panic about buying me a birthday and a Christmas present (shout out to all you Christmas babies), Angus keeps calm, carries on and books a city break. After having banged on to him for the best part of two years about Prague, he got the hint and this December, my gift was a trip to beautiful Prague. Despite my high expectations it didn’t disappoint.

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Friday night had us checking into the Boscolo Hotel and, full disclosure, I felt fancy AF as soon as I walked in the door. We were given the red carpet treatment (literally) as we entered the stunning traditional building which was once used as lodgings for Prague’s eminent bankers. The lobby had everything I love about grand old buildings – high ceilings, ornate carvings and marble everything. All the glamour was set off even more by the Christmas decorations that still graced the hotel for the entire length of our stay. And if there’s one thing I love more than a city break, it’s Christmas.

After a fairly lengthy check-in process, we were shown to our room. Cue more high ceilings, the most lavish set of curtains I have ever seen and a bed that was big enough for 6’3” Angus to comfortably cover his entire body, toes included – a luxury, I’m sure. On a slight side note, that bed was one of my favourite things about the entire trip.

Having settled into our room, the only logical next step was to order room service hot chocolates. So that’s exactly what we did. It even came with white chocolate buttons.

Once the hot chocolate craving was fully satisfied, I made it my mission to map out a full day of sightseeing from start to finish. Using Google, a map and more than the required amount of brain power, I planned out our entire Saturday.

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I’m happy to confirm, my mapping out was correct, a big achievement for someone with zero sense of direction. Saturday saw us wandering round the beautiful city, taking in all the sights, as well as lapping up the still Christmassy atmosphere.

We started our very busy day with a quick visit to the Museum of the Senses. Think Science Museum but on a teeny, tiny scale. The museum itself is pretty cool – it’s basically a whole bunch of sensory tricks and illusions. Disappointingly, though, there’s only about 3 exhibits so we were in and out in under an hour.

Not to be deterred, we continued on our quest to see Prague in a day, with a visit to the moving Franz Kafka statue. This is definitely a sight to behold, but getting a picture of a constantly moving statue is tricky so you’ll have to rely on good old imagination for this. Although I’m an English nerd and have read some Kafka, the fact that he was Czech passed me by somehow (or I forgot) but that just made it all the more exciting to discover his link to the city.

Post Franz Kafka and a mini English lecture for Angus, we were off again, this time in search of the Old Town. Turns out my inability to judge timings worked to our advantage. We arrived in the Old Town Square around 10:30am and, whilst the tourist in me considers this late, apparently Prague doesn’t wake up until lunchtime. Our early morning appearance meant we had plenty of time to admire the architecture, take a million photos and see the world famous astronomical clock which, incidentally, wasn’t working. As an added bonus, there was also a giant Christmas tree in the centre of the square, surrounded by the traditional Christmas market huts, giving everything a festive feel.

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Having wandered around the picturesque cobbled streets, paying a trip to the seven-foot hanging Sigmund Freud on the way past, we decided to head in the direction of the pride of Prague, the Charles Bridge. After a fruitless hunt for a padlock to hang on the railings (as cheesy tourism tradition dictates) and another round of photo ops, we crossed the bridge into possibly the most beautiful part of the city.

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Leaving the new town behind, we explored the older part of the city, trekking up what felt like a million steps to find the castle. Again, our timing was (accidentally) impeccable and we were able to see the changing of the guard at the castle (or whatever it’s known as in Prague).

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Little did we know, the trek wasn’t over and we had yet more inclines to face. Our next stop was the Petřín Observation Tower and let me say, my butt has never had a better workout. Hiking all the way up to the top we eventually reached the tower itself. To our horror, there was yet more climbing to be done, so we gritted our teeth and off we went. Believe me, there’s never been a truer representation of thighs of steel.

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Once we’d seen the sights from above – something I’d definitely recommend – we started our descent in a bid to find the Memorial to the Victims of Communism (and find lunch). Turns out, going downhill is harder than climbing and much of the work was conducted in stony, determined silence. Once we’d made it to level footing, the memorial, and lunch, were both in arms reach. But not before we discovered the railway line you can take up and down the hill. This aside, we found the memorial and it was truly harrowing, just as everyone had told me. The figure of a man wasting away into a backdrop of dead winter trees is so perfectly poignant. So poignant, in fact, I decided it was time for a mini history lesson on communism for Angus, who, by this time, just needed sustenance.

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Sustenance achieved and a quick stop into a fancy dog shop for my mum saw us heading to the John Lennon wall. A beautiful mural dedicated to love, peace and unity. And Beatles lyrics.

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With the sights seen, 26,000 steps walked and 11 miles travelled (all on foot) we decided to end Saturday with a quick trip to our hotel’s steam room for recuperation, a giant burger and an early night.

Sunday was decidedly calmer. Having planned massages in our hotel’s spa, we treated ourselves to a lie in and a late breakfast before heading down to be pampered. And pampered we were, especially after the exhaustion of Saturday’s walking.

After a relaxing hour, I was right back onto the sightseeing. So, freshly showered and oil-free, we headed back out into the city in search of a riverboat trip. Having found one with the cutest tickets and free tea, we settled in for some learning time – my favourite. Having come to the city without the foggiest idea about its history, I was intrigued by the information the tour provided.

 

With the boat trip over, I was all sightsee’d out, much to Angus’ relief. Back we went, to take advantage of the spa and steam room some more, before heading out on yet another mission for food.

Yet to sample and Czech cuisine, we decided to opt for a beef goulash with traditional bread dumplings for dinner. Of course, we had this at an Italian restaurant, the obvious choice… Our verdict: tasty but way too salty. Also, bread dumplings are weird.

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Exhausting but amazing weekend complete, it was another early night for us, before getting up for our midday Monday flight. After a couple of day’s rest, I’m ready to do it all again!