Prague was one of our favourite destinations in Europe. We spent a week there (including day trips to Pilzen and Kutna Hora) and never got bored. When visiting the city certain places are a must, from the Charles Bridge to Prague Castle to the Vyšehrad Citadel overlooking the city. I’ll probably do them in a future post but there are a lot of other unusual and interesting sights around the city.
Except for the Uber from the airport we only used public transit in Prague. We stayed in an area outside the old town and took the tram every day. The tram system in Prague is efficient and extensive, and tickets can be purchased from automated machines on board using credit cards or phones. Once validated they can be used on all the local systems using a tap system. You can also purchase single tickets as explained in this YouTube video.
By the way, the creators of this video (Honest Guide series) are Prague locals who explain in detail all of the useful places to go in an entertaining way. They also highlight scams and other issues of interest to tourists. We used their information extensively when planning our trip to Prague and I highly recommend the video channel before you visit.
We stayed on the north side of Prague 3, a bit north of the railway station. It required a tram ride to the city centre but one somber but interesting spot nearby was the New Jewish Cemetery. It was a 25 minute walk from our place and one of the city’s more famous residents is buried there: Franz Kafka. Author of strange stories of bureaucratic nightmares and strange transformations, he died at the age of 40.
Many of the burials in this cemetery coincided with the Holocaust and markers have been made in the walls in cases were the remains were never found.
One of the more interesting art pieces closer to the downtown area is an 11 metre tall mechanical sculpture of Kafka. It is a fitting homage to the writer whose stories of bureaucratic confusion and existential dread should be represented by a head that constantly turns around, twisting the face into various positions.
On a lighter note, the downtown and old town have various things to see and do, from museums to weird sculptures.
The painted alcoves inside were entertaining.
On the edge of the city centre there are some other interesting artistic pieces.
I really enjoyed Czech goulash. Even after trying the more famous Hungarian style in Budapest a few weeks later I still preferred the Czech version. It was loaded with meat, raw onions and gravy, and the dumplings were thick like slices of bread. It was a delicious and hearty meal for only a few dollars, though more expensive in the touristy places.
As we walked through the city we often saw Trdlo being sold. It’s a very popular conical pastry dessert although it’s originally Slovak, not Czech. It’s also overpriced because it’s mainly for the tourists. Kim and I kept talking about trying one but always seemed to put it off. We never did have one, and while I don’t regret it all that much I have to admit they looked and smelled delicious.
On the other side of the river, there were other sights. The giant babies were especially weird, complete with faces that looked like microchips.
Across the bridge is the Lennon wall, a fixture in Prague since the 1980s. Locals have mixed feelings about it, but tourists love to visit and add to the graffiti there. And you’ll always find a few musicians there playing Beatles or John Lennon songs–what else would you play in front of the Lennon wall? However, things might be changing as the city is trying to control the art that goes on the wall.
Finally, we enjoyed a summer Jazz concert one evening. Organized by Bohemia Jazzfest, all events during the annual festival are free.
It was a magical night, sitting in the heart of the old town square, listening to John Coltrane and Miles Davis while a couple of grizzled, muscular old Germans slowly made their way from the spot in front of us up to the stage, where they drunkenly lurched and swayed together to the jazz notes that floated up into the fading light.